Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee

Rimsky Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" poses an unusual challenge for an accompaniment system. The piece contains nearly non-stop 16th notes traded off between soloist and piano at the brisk tempo of about 152 quarters per minute. (I'm a little under tempo here). Many folks play this piece simply to showcase their own virtuosity, however, in my case it is the virtuosity of my Music Plus One system I wish to demonstrate. I like to think that the occasional inaccuracies on the part of the soloist serve the useful purpose of making the accompaniment task more challenging.

The "Flight of the Bumblebee" requires comparatively little musical subtlety from the accompanist. Rather, the most important task is to synchronize with the soloist, and doing so requires the system to follow a dizzying stream of notes in real-time. For this reason, the example gives a good demonstration of my system's ability to "hear" the soloist accurately and respond quickly.

A basic tenet of mine is that an accompanist, human or otherwise, cannot synchronize by waiting for an note to occur in solo part and then responding in a "reflexive" manner. There will always be some latency in detecting solo notes since one needs to hear a bit of a note before one can say where it has begun. So the reflexive approach will result in the accompaniment always being late --- sometimes quite late. My system does not synchronize in a reflexive way. Rather it continually predicts the future evolution of the solo part based on what has already been observed. Each accompaniment note is rescheduled every time new solo information is available. Usually these predictions become more and more accurate as we approach the actual playing of the accompaniment note.