The Axe strikes a blow for armchair musicians
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Air guitarists and musician wanna-be's everywhere now have an outlet for their musical aspirations and frustrations. Harmonix has developed The Axe - Titans of Classic Rock just for this purpose. Music enthusiasts can jam out to some of their favorite classic rock tunes by using a joystick, mouse or computer keyboard as their makeshift axe.
This program contains twelve songs from bands that include The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Frampton, Pink Floyd, The Kinks and The Who.
For the player to accompany these tunes, a variety of instruments and effects can be chosen including electric and jazz guitars, piano, saxophone, scat voice, synthesizer and trumpet. The player simply chooses the instrument that they'd like to play, selects a classic tune from the given list, and then the fun begins.
Each instrument allows the player to have a number of options as to how they want their accompaniment to sound. The player can choose to play chords, melodies, sustain sounds, try a pitch bend and numerous other effects that are more specific to the type of instrument the player chooses. To change the effect during the songs, the player just needs to manipulate his joystick, mouse or keyboard to the given settings to produce each specific sound.
The tempo and pitch of the music can also easily be changed by using the proper settings. For those who still have nightmares about their not-so-pleasant piano lesson experiences from a tender age, there is no need to worry. This software also comes complete with a tutorial that patiently and sympathetically teaches you how to produce each desired sound effect with your chosen instrument.
Not only does this program nurture the inner rocker in you musically, it also aims to delight you visually with interactive music videos. Various IMVs can be chosen by the player to accompany their own music. The visuals make for a great accompaniment in this rock n' roll fantasy.
I was quite impressed by the great sounds that this program has to offer. The instruments and effects have a nice sound quality and allow the player, regardless to level of musical knowledge and experience, to feel quite in command of their own musical adventure. The songs can be saved so that later players can share their own impressive sounds with one another.
I actually play the guitar, but found that playing with a joystick accompanying Hendrix's "Hey Joe" was a very powerfully enjoyable experience coupled with all the great visual and musical effects that came pouring out of the computer at me.
The only complaint I could see is that someone with a lot of musical knowledge might be upset that it doesn't allow you to set your own musical phrases, other than manipulating the already programmed material. But then again, this program is meant for shear musical entertainment rather than to prepare you to play at Carnegie Hall.
The Axe earns 4 GiN gems out of 5 because of the musical entertainment value of this program, and the fact that almost any age group can enjoy it.
Karen Rosenberry is GiN's Educational Reviewer. She has a Masters Degree in Education and enjoys using computer games to teach her students while they're being entertained. She can be reached at