FAQ/Strategy Guide by tirelat

Updated: 05/16/09 | Printable Version


WII MUSIC Technique and Strategy Guide
Original version: Jan. 10, 2009
Corrections: Jan, 11, 2009
Updated: May 16, 2009 (added section on Drum Mode)

Thanks to dmmaby229 for requesting a list of Quick Jam styles, which started
the creation of this guide, and to mister_jmp for posting a partial list of
styles. I corrected two errors in my list based on a list provided by
rudolph_cloud (board topic "Hidden Styles!", Jan. 11). The European names for
the French Bistro and Woodwind styles are also from rudolph_cloud's message.


Wii Music has a surprising amount of depth for what initially appears to be a
simple casual music-making title. This guide focuses on the Custom Jam and
Quick Jam modes (although many of these techniques are also applicable to
Instrument Improv). The in-game description of how to play the instruments is
very minimal, and there are a few techniques that you just have to discover
on your own. Here are just a few of the things you can do with this game.


On all instruments, the D-pad produces various jumps, spins, poses, and
effects that vary from one stage to another. For instance, a comet appears in
the Galactic Voyage stage when using the D-pad, and dolphins leap out of the
water in Beachside Drive. When two Mii characters use the same D-pad move at
the same time, a more spectacular effect can be set off in some stages
(rainbows, explosions, or pyrotechnic flames).

When playing the instruments in Wii Music, try to be aware of the
characteristic style and natural limitations of each instrument. For
instance, rapidly repeated notes may be effective on the steel drums, but not
as natural for a harp. Arpeggiated chords are natural on the harp, but less
characteristic for steel drums. On the other hand, it can be an interesting
effect to use Wii Music instruments in ways that would be impossible for the
real instruments.

Piano-style controls

Hold the Wii Remote and Nunchuk face up straight in front of you. Swing one
or both of them downward as if holding a mallet and playing a percussion
instrument. Swing rapidly or lightly to change the volume of the sound (you
don't need much force). (Alternatively, you can hold the Wii Remote and
Nunchuk sideways, facing out, and pluck toward you as if playing a harp, or
hold them vertically, facing toward you, and tilt forward as if playing

A and C buttons (Tremolo): repeat the same note (in chord parts, play one
note at a time)

B and Z buttons (Muting): hold to play staccato, or press while the note is
playing to stop.

Control stick: plays a special effect, usually an arpeggiated chord, when
held up or down while playing a note. The dulcimer plays a different kind of
ornament. The control stick has a portamento effect on the timpani.
Handbells, dog suit, and cat suit use the control stick the same as the D-

Instruments: Piano, Galactic Piano, Toy Piano, Harpsichord, Harp, Dulcimer,
Marimba, Vibraphone, Steel Drums, Handbells, Timpani, Dog Suit, Cat Suit

Pianos have a wider dynamic range between loud and soft sounds than
harpsichords, so if you're looking for realism, keep the harpsichord notes at
a more or less constant volume level. Pitch bends on the timpani are most
effective if you stop the note with the B or Z button before playing the next
note. Frequent use of the B and Z buttons is also effective for a good
keyboard sound.

Rapper -- similar to the piano-type or drum-type controls. Holding the A, B,
C, or Z buttons while playing produces different sounds. The control stick is
the same as the D-pad.

Guitar-type controls

Hold the Nunchuk out, as if holding the neck of a guitar, and strum downward
with the Wii Remote. You can control the loudness of the sound by plucking
more lightly or more abruptly. If you hold the Wii Remote face out (away from
you) and use a curved motion for strumming chords, you can control the speed
of strumming. Shaking the Nunchuk produces a vibrato. Changing the angle of
the Nunchuk changes the angle the Mii holds the guitar, but doesn't seem to
affect the sound.

Holding down on the D-pad allows you to play more rapidly by plucking both on
the down stroke and the up stroke.

A button: repeat the last note.
B and Z buttons (Muting): plays staccato or stops a note that is playing.
C button: plays individual notes on the Chord part, or chords on the other

Control stick: does a pitch bend effect (except on chords).

Instruments: Acoustic Guitar, Ukulele, Electric Guitar, Galactic Guitar,
Banjo, Sitar, Shamisen, Jaw Harp, Electric Bass, Upright Bass, Galactic Bass

One technique that comes in handy with guitar-type instruments is alternating
single notes with chords, effectively giving you one or more extra chord
parts or harmony parts as needed. The galactic guitar has a nice wah-wah
effect that works well in chord parts. The jaw harp can be played so rapidly
that it sounds unnatural; a slower pace is better for it.

Trumpet-type controls

Hold the Wii Remote up to your mouth as if playing a trumpet, with your left
hand controlling the A and B buttons (and the D-pad), and your right hand on
the 1 and 2 buttons. Press the 1 or 2 button to play a note. Tilt the Wii
Remote up or down to control the volume of the notes. The A button repeats
the same note (or plays individual notes on the Chord part). The B button has
different effects depending on the instrument -- it may raise the pitch of
the note (as with the Clarinet and Accordion), produce an arpeggio effect (as
with the Trumpet and Saxophone), or play an ornament (on the Bagpipe).

Instruments: Trumpet, Galactic Horn, Saxophone, Clarinet, Recorder, Accordion,
 Bagpipe, NES horn, Singer, Tuba

The galactic horn more or less sounds like an electronic keyboard. The
bagpipe is best played with long, sustained notes for a more authentic sound,
although it sounds fine however you play it. The tuba is actually very nice
for melodies, but it can be tricky to find good instruments to accompany it.

Flute-type controls

The Flute and Harmonica are played the same as the Trumpet-type instruments
except that the Wii Remote is held sideways as if playing a flute. Tilt the
Wii Remote toward or away from you to change the volume of a note. Shaking
the Harmonica produces an added vibrato effect.

Instruments: Flute, Harmonica

Violin-type controls

Hold the Nunchuck as if holding the neck of a violin or cello. Move the Wii
Remote back and forth as if bowing, and press the B, C, or Z button to play a
note. The speed of the bowing controls the loudness of the sound.

A button: repeat the last note, or plays individual notes on a chord part.

Control stick: hold up while pressing the B, C, or Z button to play a double
stop (two notes at once).

Instruments: Violin, Cello

Percussion-style controls

Hold the Wii Remote and Nunchuk straight out and swing downward as with the
Piano-style controls. Holding the A or B button changes the sound from the
Wii Remote, and holding the C or Z button changes the sound from the Nunchuk.
The control stick acts like the D-pad. The Black Belt and Cheerleader make
additional sounds while using the D-pad or control stick.

Instruments: Basic Drums, Rock Drums, Jazz Drums, Latin Drums, Reggae Drums,
Ballad Drums, Galactic Drums, Marching Snare, Bass Drum, Taiko Drum, Congas,
Galactic Congas, Djembe Drum, Timbales, Maracas, Tambourine, Bells,
Castanets, Cowbell, Hand Clap, Beatboxer, Black Belt, Cheerleader

Each set of drums has its own characteristic beat. The B and Z buttons are
good for accents, and the A and C buttons typically play a cymbal crash or a
more exotic effect (like the cowbell rattle).


Hold the Wii Remote face up and swing it from side to side as if scraping
with a stick. It takes some practice to avoid extra notes at the end of a
swing. Holding the C or Z button changes the sound produced.


Move the Wii Remote forward and back to make a sound. Like the Güiro, you
need to be careful to avoid extra notes at the end of the motion. Holding the
C or Z button changes the sound produced.


Like the Trumpet-style instruments, except that the A and B button change the
sound produced.

DJ Turntables

The easiest way to play this is to think of it as a two-handed Güiro. Move
the Wii Remote from side to side to start the beat. Holding the A, B, C, or Z
button allows you to stop the beat temporarily and scrape back and forth. The
beat starts up again when you release the button. Posing by pressing down on
the D-pad or control stick also stops the beat.

Drum Mode

If you have a Wii Fit Balance Board, you can take control of the drums and
play one of four drum sets: basic, rock, jazz, and galactic drums. The right
foot plays the bass drum, and the left foot opens and closes the hi-hat
cymbal. The tricky thing with drum mode is getting the balance right. You
need to put just enough weight on the left side so that the bass drum doesn't
unintentionally set off the hi-hat, but too much weight and the bass drum
won't respond. The controls seem to be more reliable when wearing shoes.

The cymbals, hi-hat, snare drum, and toms can be played using either the Wii
Remote or Nunchuk. Typically you will hold the Z button on the Nunchuk for
the snare, and use the remote for the hi-hat. The A button on the remote and
the C button on the Nunchuk play different cymbals, so you'll want to plan
ahead if you want to use a particular cymbal. It helps to run through the
drum lessons in order to learn to coordinate your hands and feet.

Tips for arranging music

At first it seems limiting to have so little control over which note is
played, but there are still many aspects of the music under your control. Pay
attention to phrasing and articulation. Wind instruments and singers
naturally need time to breathe, although the pauses can be very brief.
Contrasting dynamics, alternating between soft and loud, can be effective in
creating variation between sections of a song.

The timing of percussion parts is important for setting the rhythm. It can be
a good idea to set a slower tempo for recording the percussion parts, and
speeding it up for the other parts.

Try using unusual combinations of instruments, or putting instruments on
unexpected parts. Set aside sections where one or more instruments take a
break to highlight the other instruments. Use the B button on the clarinet-
style instruments to change which note is played or add ornamentation. Try
changing which beat gets the stress, or playing an entirely different rhythm.
Don't be afraid to experiment -- you can come up with all sorts of crazy
ideas that actually work.

Quick Jam styles

Quick Jam has a number of styles which aren't immediately available in the
Custom Jam modes. If you want to do a Custom Jam with one of these styles,
you could save a Quick Jam video and load it into Custom Jam. Or, just make a
note of which instruments are playing on which parts, and set those up
directly. Here is a list (possibly incomplete) of styles found in the Quick
Jam mode. (The ones marked with asterisks are directly available in Custom
Jam from the menu.) Of course, you're not limited to any of these styles --
you can substitute any instrument, or come up with your own new arrangement.

                Bass             Percussion       Percussion
                Chord            Melody           Harmony

A Cappella      singer           beat boxer       hand clap
                singer           singer           singer

Acoustic        acoustic guitar  congas           maracas
                acoustic guitar  singer           banjo

African         marimba          djembe drum      congas
                marimba          marimba          marimba

Animals!        tuba             bass drum        cowbell
                dog              cat              cat

Ballad          electric bass    ballad drums     congas
                piano            saxophone        piano

Calypso         steel drum
                steel drum       steel drum       steel drum

Celtic          upright bass     bass drum        tambourine
                acoustic guitar  bagpipe          bagpipe

Classical*      cello
                harpsichord      violin           violin

Country         upright bass     cowbell          maracas
                banjo            harmonica        jaw harp

Electronic*     galactic bass    DJ turntables    hand clap
                galactic piano   vibraphone       galactic guitar

Eurobeat        galactic bass    galactic drums   tambourine
                galactic guitar  galactic horn    electric guitar

European        tuba             marching snare   castanets
                dulcimer         clarinet         violin

Exotic          sitar            djembe drum
                dulcimer         sitar            sitar

Flamenco        acoustic guitar  castanets        hand clap
                acoustic guitar  violin           violin

Folk            upright bass     bass drum        maracas
                acoustic guitar  recorder         accordion

French Bistro   upright bass     güiro            tambourine
(French Cinema) harpsichord      accordion        clarinet

Funk            electric bass    basic drums      hand clap
                galactic guitar  trumpet          saxophone

Galactic        galactic bass    galactic drums   galactic congas
                galactic piano   galactic horn    galactic guitar

Handbells       handbells        bells
                handbells        handbells        handbells

Hawaiian*       upright bass     maracas          congas
                ukulele          ukulele          ukulele

Hip Hop         galactic bass    DJ turntable     galactic congas
                galactic piano   rapper

Japanese*       shamisen         taiko drum       bells

Jazz*           upright bass     jazz drums       congas
                piano            saxophone        vibraphone

Karate!         electric bass    rock drums       black belt
                electric guitar  electric guitar  electric guitar

Latin*          electric bass    Latin drums      maracas
                marimba          trumpet          saxophone

March*          tuba             bass drum        marching snare
                trumpet          trumpet          trumpet

NES-style       NES horn
                NES horn         NES horn         NES horn

Orchestral      timpani          marching snare
                violin           flute            trumpet

Parade          tuba             whistle          cheerleader
                trumpet          trumpet          clarinet

Pop*            electric bass    basic drums      tambourine
                acoustic guitar  piano            vibraphone

Reggae*         upright bass     reggae drums
                piano            steel drum       steel drum

Rock*           electric bass    rock drums       tambourine
                galactic horn    electric guitar  electric guitar

Salsa           electric bass    congas           timbales
                acoustic guitar  trumpet          marimba

Samba           electric bass    whistle          cuica
                acoustic guitar  flute            marimba

Soul            galactic bass    basic drums      hand clap
                galactic piano   trumpet          saxophone

Soundtrack      timpani          marching snare   maracas
                harpsichord      piano            acoustic guitar

Tango*          upright bass     marching snare   castanets
                accordion        violin           piano

Toy             galactic horn    marching snare   castanets
                toy piano        galactic horn    galactic horn

Woodwind        harpsichord
(Serenade)      piano            flute            clarinet