A new computer programme developed by Microsoft and unveiled at the Human Computer Interaction Conference this week offers budding solo artists the supporting band they've always craved - even if they can't play a note.
Dubbed Mysong, the system analyses the sound of a person singing to pick out the individual notes they are producing, and then comes up with a suitable accompaniment based on a set of musical rules governing which chords usually tend to be played with which note sequences. The rules used by the programme were developed by analysing 300 popular songs from a variety of genres ranging from rock and pop to country and R and B.
The system is not without its critics who argue that it will contribute to a deterioration in the quality of piped music (if that's possible), but supporters of the software suggest that even professional musicians will find it useful because they can quickly test out how ideas might sound and hence could work the programme into their normal development process.
Sounds promising, if nothing else.