Yes, someone has figured out how to boil bluegrass banjo technique down into a computer program that even a guitarist can understand. The program comes with pre-installed rolls, chords and banjo-like tone. It even comes with a nice Gibson-like inlay pattern on the screen.
I'd love to see what a non-bluegrass banjo player, with no idea of how roll syncopation works, could do with this tool. More interesting, I'd love to see what a really skilled banjo player could do with this, able to create picking patterns and left hand chord positions that would be near-impossible (or completely impossible) on a real instrument.
Maybe, instead of obsolete, banjo is becoming mainstream. Lots of other virtual instruments (piano, sax, drums, guitar, etc.) out there. Listened to some sample tunes, here . It sounds OK, but doesn't have the complexity of tone that a "live" player could get out of his or her banjo, at least to my ear.
Its very cool. This seems like a really nice tool when writing a song. Hear what what your song is going to sound like at speed before you have even learned to play it. I imagine one could write something in TabEdit and export the MIDI and feed that into the sample player? Might be a good learning tool too.
It won't much affect the world playing bluegrass banjo, let alone make obsolete.
I need one for a guitar that plays the chords to a song, so I can play along with my banjo.
That is fairly easy to get and use; can buy various software and guitar sampling packs; some DAWs like Cakewalk, or sampling plug-ins like above Kontakt; or stand alone like BIAB. (note: better samples take a lot of space, and can get pricey). Similar can buy, import and program tuba sampling.
Mostly these are about a different world of music, different goals and skills. Sampling technology, software and algorithms has become pretty impressive; esp Kontakt Native Instruments. Like other instruments sampling, it's a tool mainly useful for musical creating/production for recording, .or soundtrack; or perhaps somewhat for composer/orchestrator/arranger scoring. Sampling makes it easier for them to add those instrument textures in; without need of live musician, or acquiring technical skill on instrument. (somewhat less studio musician gigs).
I'd love to see what a non-bluegrass banjo player, with no idea of how roll syncopation works, could do with this tool.
Most project studio folks just use the easy plug-in algorithms; takes care of basics. (for their goal might not ned to) - To go beyond that, get into tweaking details, subtle nuances can get quite complex and time consuming. Really good results still requires musical knowledge and skills, (of things like syncopation); with attention to detail of things like timing, dynamics, tone, ornament. Learning different skills, workflow of writing, sampling and programming. My guess is most really skilled players might not bother much; as it's often easier for them to input idea by playing it.
That modern recording/sampling world is interesting but only represents a part of music. For some music/instruments; very small part IMO. Won't displace the many other reasons folks play, nor the advantages.
edit to add: this software can make it easier for more recordings, singer/songwriters, composers etc. to include the sound of banjo to listeners; to which might increase the interest, and demand for live performers.