An Electronic Orchestra That Grooves To Your Riffs

Playing solos in an orchestral musical piece is no easy task. You must know your own part cold as well as be able to keep time with the rest of the orchestra. Coda Music Technology Inc. in Eden Prairie, Minn., is working on a machine that could help budding soloists practice with a "virtual orchestra." Vivace, The Personal Accompanist, is a box of electronics that attaches to an Apple Macintosh and to a small microphone clipped to the soloist's instrument. Software cartridges containing digitized musical scores are plugged into the box, and as the musician plays the solo, no matter how hesitatingly, Vivace directs the Mac to accompany the soloist at just the right speed. The system is also designed to provide tips and exercises to improve musicians' performance. Although Vivace is still being tested and so far works only with wind instruments, Coda says a final version should be ready for schools by this fall. Expected price: Around $2,900.

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