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Behind the curtain: how Cadenza works

“I kept looking back like there was an orchestra behind me.”

- Isabel, Cellist, Eastern Music Festival

This is a common reaction when people first try Cadenza. The orchestra sound feels so real, some musicians subconsciously give visual cues to the computer like nodding and taking sharp breaths.

So how do we make the experience so real? What exactly goes on behind the curtain of this invisible orchestra?

The first step is obtaining the raw material: an orchestra recording with the solo part missing, and a score of the piece. We license our recordings from Music Minus One, the largest supplier of orchestral accompaniments in the world. These are recordings of live orchestras, recorded in special sessions where the solo part was intentionally left out. We make sure that all of our recordings come as close to the live experience as possible, maybe even leading people to turn around and check if an orchestra is behind them.

We then match the recording with the score file, aligning the orchestral accompaniment with the solo part so the orchestra knows when it should come in and how it relates to the solo.

We put these files into our app, and the orchestra recording becomes flexible so it can slow down and speed up without compromising pitch or sound quality.

Now here’s where you, the musician, come in. As you begin playing your instrument, the app listens to each note you play and the rhythm and speed in which you play them, calculating and recalibrating a prediction model for when you will play the next note. These meticulous adjustments happen every millisecond.

If you save your rehearsal after you’ve run through a piece or a section of a piece, the app uses that information to train the orchestra and become more accurate based on your style. So next time you try that rubato, the orchestra will slow down more seamlessly and be more aligned with your tempo. That’s not to say you have to play it the same way every time. You can keep experimenting and the orchestra will adjust accordingly!

With the Cadenza upgrade, you can manually tweak the orchestral accompaniment so that it aligns even more closely with your playing. This is best for tricky sections like a pizzicato or a fermata where it’s hard for the app to predict when you’ll come back in, so manual adjustments can help it learn faster. Detailed instructions for how to refine the accompaniment manually are in the Cadenza Help section within the app.

Happy music-making, and as always, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions! You can email us at support@sonation.net.

2 replies
  1. Tyler Pacheco says:

    Wow! This app is amazing I can’t wait to try it! The only problem is that there are only three viola selections! I hope as this app develops the viola gets many more reputable pieces like the Walton, or Bartok Concertos! The viola needs some love too!

    Reply

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  1. […] calculating and recalibrating a prediction model for when you will play the next note,” the Cadenza site explains. “These meticulous adjustments happen every […]

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