Rapid Composer 3.8: The Missing Manual

1. Introduction and Overview

1.1 Music Prototyping

The term “music prototyping” refers to all preparatory compositional methods that (can) contribute to a complete work in the end.

The main purpose is to sketch, view, collect and categorize musical ideas such as

  • chord progressions
  • phrases
  • tunes
  • beats
  • themes, motifs, variations
  • sounds, noises
  • citations

1.2 Music Prototyping Software

Music Prototyping Software supports composers in these activities. In addition, it is also able to generate entire music parts fully automatically according to given parameters. Users are then faced with the ordeal of choosing which ingredients to finally use in a given composition.

Two notable developers offering music prototyping software are

Other software with music prototyping functions

With Band-In-A-Box by ▹ PG Music, a program has existed since the 80s that contains many typical features of music prototyping. In addition to the combination of countless patterns in various styles, musicians can also generate melodies, solos or entire pieces of music fully automatically with a mouse click.

EZ Keys by ▹ Toontrack is designed for musicians who need a useful piano track for their MIDI production without being able to play the piano themselves. Usually it is sufficient to enter a chord sequence and a music style as required and you will hear an acceptable keyboard accompaniment.

A modern DAW like Apple’s Logic Pro X with its 24333 (!) pre-installed loops also opens up a wide playing field for creating new compositions from ready-made elements.

1.3 Music Prototyping Software as an Add-on to a Standard DAW

A good music prototyping software is characterized by a comprehensive integration of music theory. When dealing with scales, chords, phrases, etc., the musician gains a deeper insight into musical contexts than would be the case with a conventional DAW.

Is the purchase of a music prototyping software paying off? Everyone has to answer this question for himself. In any case, the purchase alone is not enough. Creative use is preceded by a relatively time-consuming learning process.

1.4 Rapid Composer 3.8

The following chapters will explain how to work with the music prototyping software Rapid Composer 3.8.x (full version) of ▹ Music Developments. The program offers a wide range of possibilities which are not immediately apparent to the user. Since no official complete manual has been available for years, I will try to fill some information gaps here.

(Update: Version 4.0 was released in December 2020. It contains some important new features, especially the possibility of AU integration in Logic Pro X, which has long been missed by Mac users. Sometime in the future there will be an update on this site as well…)

1.5 Overview

2 Getting Started
  • User Interface
  • Selecting a Interface Color Scheme
  • Short Function Test
  • Special Additional Properties of MIDI Note Events in RC
  • The “Note Event > Phrase > Part > Composition” Hierarchy
3 Settings, Chord Experiments
  • Settings
  • First Chord Experiments
  • New Composition
  • Timeline
  • Mastertrack: Short Overview
  • Manual Chord Input
  • Creating a Four-Bar Piano Chord Sequence with a Quarter Note Rhythm
  • Creating a Generator Preset
  • Creating a Four Bar Piano Sequence (Whole Notes) with a Generator Preset
  • First Experiments with Different Chords in Cycle Mode
  • Saving the Data
4 Working with Tracks and Instruments
  • Track Header
  • Select Track Header
  • Solo and Mute
  • MIDI-Controller in the Track Header
  • Track Display Options
  • Zoom
  • Adding or Deleting Track
  • Track Inspector
  • Group Track
5 Working with Note Events
  • Relative and Absolute Events
  • Editing Notes in the Composition Window or in the Phrase Editor
Noten-Events in the Phrase Editor
  • Editing Notes in the Piano Roll of the Phrase Editor
  • Note Inspector
  • Examples (Videos)
6 Working with Phrases
  • On-track Placement
  • Musical Elements for Harmony, Melody and Rhythm
  • Phrase Browser: Managing Generators and Custom Phrases
  • Rhythm Browser
  • Phrase Inspector: Managing Generators and Custom Phrases
  • Phrase Magnets
  • Phrase Morphing
7 Working with the Master Track
  • Music Theory Basics
  • Basic Settings
  • Master Track Inspector 1
  • Master Track Control Switches
  • Entering and Editing Chords
  • Master Track Inspector 2
  • Chord Browser
  • Manual Input and Editing of Chord Symbols
  • Circle of Fifth
  • Chord Selector
  • Quick Suggestions
  • MIDI Instrument
  • Voicing
  • Chord Progressions
  • Manual Editing of Chord Sequences
  • Automatic Generation of Chord Progressions
8 Structure and Transport
  • Parts and Lines
  • Visualization
  • Composition Structure Panel
  • Editing Parts and Lines in the Structure Panel
  • Region
  • Transport