Rapid Composer 3.8: The Missing Manual

7. Working with the Master Track

mastertrack legende

The Mastertrack is the control centre of each composition. In addition to the management of important basic settings (time signature, tempo, etc.), everything focuses on working with scales and chords.

Important aspects of composing are creative experiments with different keys and the construction of interesting harmony combinations. The software supports the user with various tools and suggestions, under consideration of basic harmonic rules.

7.1 Music Theory Basics

The use of Rapid Composer requires knowledge of the relevant music theoretical concepts and technical terms. This is particularly relevant for the various dialog boxes and actions in the Master Track.

Fortunately, this background knowledge is freely available on the Internet. Some relevant German and English links are listed in the following table.

Chord Degrees
Diatonic Functions Diatonic functions of notes and chords. This concept is often confused with “Stufentheorie”. So far without any consideration in Rapid Composer!

Chord Symbols Essential information about the construction of chords and the deduction of chord symbols.

Universal Notation (Roman Numeral)
Chord Substitution
Circle of Fifth
Chord Rules

7.2 Basic Settings

7.2.1 Master Track Inspector 1 Master Track Inspector 1

The control panel opens after a right click in the Master Track header, then click on the tool if necessary.

▹ Master Track – Objekteigenschaften global

  • Title, Composer
  • Chord Naming
    Chords with leading note names or with universal notation (“Roman Numeral Analysis”)
  • Scale
    The key (scale) can be set via the flip menu. A click on the small play button lets the selected scale sound up and down one time.
  • Chord Rules
    This setting is necessary for the automatic generation of chord sequences and for the chord suggestions.
    Attention: The selected chord rules must match the key! For a major key you have to select one of the major chordrules. The Chord Rules Editor (main menu) lets the editor define his own chord connection rules.
  • Tempo
  • Beats per bar
020d scale tempo beat

Key, time signature and tempo can also be controlled directly on the master track.

7.2.2 Master Track Control Switches

Master Track Control Buttons

  • Preview
    If the function is activated, the displayed chord sounds when clicking on a chord section. The preview options can be set in the Chord Selector under “Options”. A useful setting would be e.g. “Preview: Chord+Bass”.
  • Color Options
    The chord sections can be colored ▹ according to different harmonic criteria. The ▹ color palette is adjustable in the settings. The values entered here also apply to the coloration of the buttons in the Chord Selector (Chapter 7.3.4) and in the Quick Suggestions (Chapter 7.3.5). There, however, the colours are mixed again, which leads to a further enrichment of the palette. Whether this contributes to more clarity is certainly a matter of opinion. If you don’t need it, you can select the color scheme “none” in the Master Track as well as in the Chord Selector in the options.
  • Show Voicings
    The voicings for modification are displayed graphically on a separate track (see Chapter 7.4).
  • Control Magnets
    Global control of phrase magnets.
  • Chord Input with MIDI Instrument
    Instead of the displayed chords, the chord inputs of a connected MIDI instrument are applied in real time.

7.3 Entering and Editing Chords

7.3.1 Master Track Inspector 2 Master Track Inspector

The control panel opens after right-clicking on a chord section in the master track. Then click on the tool if necessary. In contrary to the Master Track Inspector 1 (see above) only settings for the selected (highlighted) harmony are made here.

▹ Master Track – Object Properties for the selected chord section

  • Chord
    ▹ Each harmonically available chord can be set via the selection menu. If required, you can also define a bass note that differs from the chord root and possibly also an alternative voicing. ▹ The correct chord symbol appears in the ruler as the result. There is a preview function (Play button above the chord root) and the possibility to play the chord via a connected MIDI keyboard (Record button above the chord root).
  • Temporary key, bar or tempo changes
    “Scale”, “Chord Rules”, “Tempo” and “Beats Per Bar” display the options previously selected in “Master Track Inspector 1” in gray (disabled). By activating and entering other values, temporary changes of key, bar or tempo▹ temporary changes of key, bar or tempo are possible for the duration of the chord section..

7.3.2 Chord Browser

The ▹ Chord Browser is helpful when defining or changing chord types. Simply drag an entry from the list to a harmony in the master track.

7.3.3 Manual Input and Editing of Chord Symbols

choose chord input mode

Chord symbols can easily be entered or changed using the keyboard in manual input mode.

  • Click on a chord section, five round buttons are displayed.
  • Selection of the keyboard top right.
  • A ▹ text input field for chord symbols appears, the active chord is selected.
  • The chord symbols are now entered via the keyboard. For the use of progressions, the individual ▹ symbols are simply separated by a blank space. outside chord
  • The editing is completed with Enter/Return and the symbols appear in the master track. Chords with a different key are displayed in red.

7.3.4 Circle of Fifth

(Theoretical basics see chapter 7.1)

choose circle of 5th mode

RC presents a circle of fifths editor for the chord selection if required. The precondition for a perfect function is the use of one of the diatonic keys major, natural minor or a church mode.

  • Click on a chord section, five round buttons are displayed
  • Selection of the circular icon in the upper left corner
  • A ▹ window with the circle of fifths appears directly below the selected section. There the scale triads are laid out as buttons. When you click on it, the corresponding chord sounds and its symbol is immediately transferred to the active section in the ruler.
  • When you select another section in the ruler, the window moves with it, and the selected harmony is highlighted at its position in the ring.
  • The Chord Builder, which can be activated by clicking on the ▹ “hamburger” symbol in the Options menu at the top right is used to enter ▹ four-, five- or six-part chords.

7.3.5 Chord Selector

choose chord selectorThe Chord Selector opens in a separate freely positionable window.

  • Options
    The Options menu in the upper right corner contains the setting options for Color, Preview and MIDI.
  • ▹ For Master Track
    As in the Master Track Inspector 2, every possible chord can be selected here, depending on the filter setting, but the harmonies in the Chord Selector are arranged according to different order classifications (Chord List, Scale Degrees, Palette, Builder, Circle Of Fifth) as sounding buttons. Chord ruler and chord selector are coupled with each other as already described in chapter 7.3.4. This means that a click on a section in the ruler immediately affects the display in the Chord Selector and vice versa.
  • ▹ For Chord Progression
    In this operating mode the chord ruler and the selection in the Chord Selector are decoupled. Any changes in one of the two editors leave the values in the other unchanged. When working with chord connections in the Chord Selector, unintentional changes in the Master Track can be avoided.
  • For Preview
    Chord Playback Selection for the Preview Function
    ▹ in the Phrase Editor,
    ▹ in the Phrase Browser,
    ▹ in the main window when clicking on a phrase.

7.3.6 Quick Suggestions

Quick Suggestions

The Quick Suggestions dialog offers ▹ chord alternatives for the selected section. This is done under consideration of the preset key, the selected chord rules as well as the preceding and following harmonies. Under “More suggestions…” you can also find suggestions ▹ for several following chords möglich. With every click on the dice, RC always generates new variants. The ▹ level of predictability is adjustable. The chord connection rules can be changed in the ▹ Chord Rules Editor if required.

7.3.7 MIDI Instrument

MIDI Keyboard

The harmonies for the master track can also be recorded live via a connected MIDI controller (Settings > MIDI > MIDI in).

RC recognizes the chords in real time and enters them as symbols in the ruler.

 7.4 Voicing

▹ Voicings can be modified in RC using various dialogs and editors.

7.5 Chord Progressions

The input of individual chords has already been described in detail in the last two chapters. Some interesting concepts are also available for working with chord progressions.

7.5.1 Manual Editing of Chord Progressions

7.5.2 Automatic Generation of Chord Progressions

RC is not only able to suggest individual chord alternatives. Longer chord progressions are also possible. The most important specifications for this are the key and the chord rules.