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The Virtuoso Violin





"The Virtuoso Violin… goes far beyond most electronic synthesizers"

The Wall Street Journal (March 9, 1998)


Home at last.

You step inside the doorway as the dramatic, opulent strains of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" played on violin and piano waft in from the next room. No, Itzhak Pearlman and Liberace haven't taken up residence in your den.

But the QRS Virtuoso Violin and Pianomation have.

The QRS Virtuoso Violin is a real acoustic instrument. It produces sound by moving a bow across a string, just as a traditional violin does. Only in this case, bow and string are controlled by a computer chip rather than a human hand.

Unlike the traditional violin, which has four strings, the Virtuoso Violin uses a single three-Inch steel "string-blade" to create sound. The bow, driven by motors and microchips in a box on which the violin is mounted, glides back and forth over this vibrating blade. The resulting sound rivals that of the traditional violin.

"I just flipped for this thing," said Michael Golub, the first to purchase a Virtuoso Violin. "I just had to have it." Golub wanted the Virtuoso Violin to play duets with his computer-controlled piano. And it does, with the help of a computer language called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). When connected by a single MIDI cable and supported by QRS Pianomation software, the two instruments play together seamlessly and beautifully. With the thousands of computer-controlled pianos produced, there is no shortage of accompanists for the Virtuoso Violin. The two play beautifully together, and are literally inseparable.

Featured by Cisco Systems at the January 1999 Consumer Electronics Show, the Virtuoso Violin was a hit. "We used the Violin in our keynote presentation," said Jim Grubb, technical advisor to the president of Cisco. "It was magical; the instrument looked and played just like a 'traditional' violin."

The Virtuoso Violin was invented by composer Fred Paroutaud and scientist Dr. Thomas Paine, the founders of Los Angeles-based Paroutaud Music Laboratories. Paroutaud has written and orchestrated for such productions as Murder, She Wrote, Amazing Stories, Phantom of the Opera and The Gambler II. Tom Paine was administrator of NASA during the Apollo flights to the moon, vice president of General Electric and president of Northrop Corporation.

"We began working on the Virtuoso Violin in 1989, looking at how a violin string vibrates, and how a performer controls that vibration," Paroutaud recalls. "A violin plays different notes when the performer changes the length of a string by depressing his or her fingers on it, causing the string to vibrate at different rates. We didn't want to duplicate this action with solenoid fingers-they would be too cumbersome in an instrument as small as a violin. Instead, we developed an entirely new technology. As a result, the Violin is capable of an array of nuances, including glissandos and vibratos, that solenoids are not well-suited for."

Rather than trying to change string length, Paroutaud and Paine decided to electromagnetically drive a single string (or "string-blade") at different frequencies. As the frequencies changed, so did the resulting pitch played by the violin. This eliminated the need to change the string's length, resulting in a vastly simplified mechanism.

"People are just amazed the first time they see a violin 'playing itself,' making beautiful acoustic music without a person moving the bow across the string," said Dick Dolan, president of QRS Music. "Watching its bow glide across its 'strings' as if guided by an invisible hand is likely to be one of the more memorable images you'll ever see."


You can purchase the QRS Virtuoso Violin player violin from QRS directly by calling


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If you have any questions, feel free to contact QRS Sales at:

QRS Business Center
2011 Seward Ave
Naples, FL 34109