“I’ve realized a lot about music and interacted though music in a unique way through In the Groove. The game is basically an American spinoff of Dance Dance Revolution. There are four arrows — up, down, left right — and you step on the arrows to the beat of the music. That game was originally made by a Japanese company, but an American company made In the Groove, where you could actually use custom songs. Eventually, it stopped being produced because of a lawsuit, but the community still lived on and produced content for the game. The game has gotten to a point where people can pass these incredibly difficult charts, which are the set of arrows that go with a song.
For me, creating the step charts is the whole creative process in of itself. You have to think of how you want to mimic the music with the movement. I made a chart as a summer project; I’m maybe halfway up the difficulty curve, but a huge way from the top players, who can play at 250 beats per minute.
In the chart I made, there are some really dense parts. I’ll have ideas for certain patterns that I’ll determine, then the rest will be neutral material so that those parts stand out. The pattern will highlight parts of the song that I want to bring out, and the rest is just filling in the gaps. It probably looks like a bunch of notes flying around, but it’s funny how much intent you can convey with four notes and rhythm.
For example, when you don’t have your feet switching arrows, you’ll have a box, where your feet stay on the same arrow. Right foot stays on the right arrow twice, and left foot stays on the left arrow twice. I intend to emphasize the string tremolo in the back of the mix. I just listen to the music and think of what can be easily emphasized by the techniques I already know. Since this song has an A-B-A structure, I took the notes from the A section and mirrored them, so all lefts become rights and all rights become lefts. It adds cohesion to the song.
It’s very artistic, and you can convey a lot of your intent with the decisions you make, even though it’s very limited. You can make something that’s very satisfying and aesthetically pleasing to play, even though it’s a different realm of aesthetics. It’s a combination of rhythm and feeling.
After making the chart, it’s really fun to play it and finally feel the theoretical things that you had in your head. The other part of it is sharing it with people and seeing if they can understand and interpret what you’re doing.”
— Lucas Clark, San Jose, California
You can view Lucas’s Twitch streams of his In the Groove sessions here.
You can learn more about Lucas’s music at laclark.me.