Stranger Than Fiction Department . . .

From Music Technologies, Inc. comes the announcement that the Virtuoso Violin, the world's first computer-controlled violin, debuted last week in Menlo Park, California.

This acoustic instrument produces sound by moving a bow across a violin, just as a traditional instrument does, but human hands never touch bow or instrument; instead, both are controlled completely by a built-in microcontroller circuit.

The unique, patented technology of the Virtuoso Violin makes it a complement to QRS's Pianomation system, a computer-controlled "self-playing" piano featured at Hollywood's Magic Castle. The Virtuoso Violin, a finely crafted instrument capable of achieving the full range of notes produced by an acoustical violin, can play independently or can perform duets with the piano.

"The Virtuoso Violin is the culmination of years of research devoted to the art and science of music and sound," said Fred Paroutaud, president of Paroutaud Music Laboratories (PML). "The result is a unique blend of the beauty of a classic acoustic instrument with the sophistication of state-of-the-art computer technology." The Virtuoso Violin was created by Paroutaud, a veteran composer and inventor, and former NASA administrator and Northrop CEO Thomas Paine. The first 10 production units will be manufactured at QRS's Research & Development facilities in Naples, Florida. It is expected that the Virtuoso Violin will retail for less than $10,000.