Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

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spassbeisaite
KVRer
19 posts since 12 Feb, 2018

Post Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:58 am

Here in the forum the need for a tutorial or a manual in text form was frequently mentioned. Especially beginners lose their orientation again and again with the existing material - no matter if as text or video. I felt the same way.
Unfortunately the available texts are partly outdated or incomplete. There is also no really satisfying ordering structure.
There are a lot of video tutorials on yotube now. But, for example, if you have a specific question, you never know if you will find the answer in one of the movies, because there are hardly ever detailed tables of contents available. It is also extremely time-consuming to sort out obsolete material.
Yes, the videos are good and important, but sometimes a text would just be better, especially if you want to look something up quickly.

So we need a manual or a text tutorial.

On my third attempt to learn the program, I took a lot of notes. Then I rearranged them, added a lot of pictures and videos and would like to share them here with you:

http://inventionen.eu/en/te/swrce

The focus is on RC on the Mac in the standalone version. The use of the software as a plugin is not covered. This is not yet possible on that platform, but is supposed to come soon.

The language can be switched between German and English by mouse click.

So far 8 chapters have been completed. For beginners and interested people there should be everything worth knowing.

I make no claim to completeness. Of course I will make some additions over time.

And: I am interested in basic operating concepts rather than very specific topics.

Constructive criticism, comments and perhaps also text contributions would be very welcome :-)

Have Fun
Michael

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BlackWinny
KVRAF
4521 posts since 17 Jun, 2013 from very close to Paris, France

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:34 pm

Wow ! You've embarked on a huge project !

Respect !

A Wiki (starting from your already huge work and for which you would be the admin with all the rights) would be probably the best way to capitalize your excellent work and make it definitely perennial by real active contributions of the community.

It's just a suggestion... but I invite you to think of it and consider the very positive future that it would ensure to your work.
:tu:
Build your life everyday as if you would live for a thousand years. Marvel at the Life everyday as if you would die tomorrow.
I'm now severely diseased since September 2018.

tatanka
KVRian
1266 posts since 13 Jan, 2014

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:50 pm

Great project !

Und vielen Dank für den Umschaltbutton, das Teil ist so komplex das ich hier wirklich für "deutsch" dankbar bin obwohl ich auf Arbeit meine GIS-Programme und auch sonst alles Musiktechnische in englisch nutze :-)
Especially beginners lose their orientation again and again
Exactly that. Its so hard to keep track on the ongoing devellopment (which is of course so great, thanks to Attila for this :-) ) I must admit I have just giving up on this somewhere along the way so this might really help to get back on the track :-)

pumafred
KVRist
486 posts since 28 Oct, 2012 from Argentina

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:53 pm

Wow, thank you very much. Like tatanka, this may encourage me to try using RC again!

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yellukhan
KVRAF
1651 posts since 10 Mar, 2004

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:12 pm

:tu:

Thank you so much!

SirkusPi
KVRist
306 posts since 14 Aug, 2012

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:26 am

I will definitely be checking this out. The problem of a lack of real manual for RapidComposer is both genuine and baffling, for all the reasons you state. This omission is very frustrating, especially given that, as you observe, the videos and other material that do exist, although welcome, are often out-of-date.

On a personal level, I got RapidComposer on sale long ago, but have never really used it because I can't really figure it out. It looks like a great tool, but it is essentially unusable to me due to lack of comprehensive, up-to-date training materials. That absence has led me to steer many of my friends and colleagues away from that seems to be a very useful program, if only there were directions.

The burden shouldn't be on you as a user to remedy this situation, but I appreciate the efforts you're making (even as I continue to hope that some day an official, regularly updated manual may actually be forthcoming)!

Codetronx
KVRer
3 posts since 18 Dec, 2018

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:41 am

Wow !!!! :clap:
Thank you very much

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musicdevelopments
KVRAF
3568 posts since 9 Jan, 2010

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:12 am

Hello Michael,

I am very grateful for your contribution. Thank you! This was a lot of effort to make. :tu:

The wiki indeed has some old materials (e.g. in Basics, Phrase Editor) but the following chapters are kept up to date:
Phrase Generators, Rhythm Generators, Variations, Chord Voicings, Idea Tool, Drag And Drop, and some others.

What concerns me the most is why new users find it difficult to learn the program. It looks very similar to DAWs and other music software, so what is the reason RC is hard to grasp? What should I change in the user interface to make it friendlier? This is really driving me mad.
In theory one should not need a manual in order to use a software... at least I don't use any software for that I should read many manual pages.

Many thanks, Michael!
Attila
http://www.musicdevelopments.com
Innovative music software for creative musicians - home of RapidComposer and Syne

SirkusPi
KVRist
306 posts since 14 Aug, 2012

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:47 am

musicdevelopments wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:12 am
What concerns me the most is why new users find it difficult to learn the program. It looks very similar to DAWs and other music software, so what is the reason RC is hard to grasp? What should I change in the user interface to make it friendlier? This is really driving me mad.
In theory one should not need a manual in order to use a software... at least I don't use any software for that I should read many manual pages.
It's definitely a fair question for you to ask, and I acknowledge that I rarely open a manual when using various DAWs, synths, etc. I think there are two points.

First, although I rarely use a manual for my DAWs (or synths), I do occasionally when I have a question. It can be very frustrating trying to figure out an esoteric feature or problem without one!

But second, and more fundamentally, is that RapidComposer is not actually a DAW. It does something very different. In that regard, most DAWs in my experience function in generally similar ways. By contrast, RapidComposer is its own beast, at least to my eyes. It serves its own purpose, which is the entire attraction! But because it's not really a DAW, I don't have any similar experience to draw upon in trying to figure it out.

On some level, it's definitely just my own problem. I am certain that RapidComposer is very intuitive for some people, and they can work with it completely fine without a manual. But I just look at it and don't know where to begin, and the various videos, wikis, etc (some of which are based on older versions and so don't actually look the same as what's on my computer screen) leave me feeling lost and seem to skip issues that I need further guidance / information about. (In that regard, let me say I also appreciate how hard it would be to keep a manual up-to-date with the constant changes and improvements.)

In any event, the posts in this very thread demonstrate that at least some other people are as lost as I am. I've often thought, only half-jokingly, that someone should offer personalized Skype lessons of the latest RapidComposer version. I kind of feel like if I could get (pay) someone to spend 1-2 hours with me just explaining what the heck is going on, moving as quickly or as slowly as I need through various issues, I could take it from there.

But as it is, although I wish I could specify for you a particular aspect of the program or of the interface design that was confusing me, it's really just a matter of feeling thrown in the deep end with no idea how to start swimming.

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musicdevelopments
KVRAF
3568 posts since 9 Jan, 2010

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:43 am

Thank you for your thoughts, SirkusPi!

This is just a guess but I suppose a new user could ask questions like "what the heck can I do here?", "how to start composing in this environment?" when he sees an empty track in the beginning.
The problem is that there is no single workflow for composition because RC supports different workflows. Maybe a question-answer type of "expert system" would be useful. RC could ask "Do you want to start with a chord progression?" or "Do you want to import a MIDI file?" or similar questions, and would guide a new user.
http://www.musicdevelopments.com
Innovative music software for creative musicians - home of RapidComposer and Syne

spassbeisaite
KVRer
19 posts since 12 Feb, 2018

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:06 pm

In theory one should not need a manual in order to use a software... at least I don't use any software for that I should read many manual pages.
Yes, I know some software companies have the attitude or "philosophy" that the user should find out central operating methods himself through trial and error. And there are users who see it as fun and a challenge to "conquer" a software without any documentation (I am definitely not one of them).

With "simple" programs like e.g. GarageBand it might be possible to do this.

Complex apps, on the other hand, require a detailed and up-to-date manual and RC is definitely a complex program.

To stick with the Apple example: The big brother of GarageBand, Logic Pro X, would never be manageable without a manual. I know what I'm talking about because I've been using this program professionally since the late 80s, when it was called "Notator".

And here Apple behaves in an exemplary manner. Not only does an extensive and detailed and FREE manual exist. This is also updated when an update is released on the same day.
What concerns me the most is why new users find it difficult to learn the program. It looks very similar to DAWs and other music software, so what is the reason RC is hard to grasp?
Maybe it's just the problem that the user interface is so similar to a standard DAW. From my own experience I can say that my first steps with RC failed precisely for this reason. Editing methods, as I knew them from other programs, led in RC to completely unexpected and undesirable results, because for example the consideration of the different note types did not seem so essential to me at first.
What should I change in the user interface to make it friendlier? This is really driving me mad.
Surely there is always potential for optimization of the user interface. But that is not the main problem. The biggest lack at the moment is a missing up-to-date documentation.

The wiki

You're right, there are some relatively recent sections in the wiki.

When looking at individual articles, it is always noticeable that basic information or at least the reference to sources is missing. This leads to the fact that only connoisseurs can understand the article correctly. Beginners, on the other hand, are left helpless. They do not know: Is it because the article is now already 1 year old again? Am I just too stupid? Or did I just misunderstand something in the text?

In addition, a logical structure with articles based on each other would be important and useful.

No, the optimization of the GUI is in my opinion not the right way.
From my point of view there is no way without a reasonable manual.

nexussynth
KVRian
541 posts since 1 Jan, 2004

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:33 pm

+1
"..What is simple, is simply seen.."

tatanka
KVRian
1266 posts since 13 Jan, 2014

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:10 pm

Maybe a question-answer type of "expert system" would be useful.
This is a brilliant idea !

I think the difficult point is to have an easy start for the most common workflows people want when trying to use RC. For me I can say that for this reason I tend to use different simple tools (as a simplified example something like I2C8 for the chordprogression and simple first structure bass/accompnaiement chords, then chordpotion for the chords/riffs/bassline, melodysauce for the melody and so on) or something like Orb Composer where the workflow is given (one of the greatest strength in my mind of this tool) and you can dive deeper after easily getting the groundstructure of a song. Or something as simple as Captain plugins where you just have one simple plugin for evry task and the plugins structure the workflow in a comparable manner then the whole app Orb Composer (Captain chords to start with the progression and simple accompaniement, then Captain deep for the bass, Captain Melody for the melody and so on). And: all are very deeply based on the usual daw workflow which makes it easy to get into it.

Rapid Composer has three difficult points for me: one is exactly this "where to start" (I would for example really like a question-answer start point for starting with the idea tool till I get a groundstructure like in Orb Composer and then dive as deep as I could/like) and the other one is just keeping up with the great "rapid" devellopment :D which is great but just hard to follow. If you can keep this "expert-system" up-to-date (otherwise it would make no sense) it would not have to include more then maybe up to five different workflows which not more then 5-10 "how to point 1 to 10" leading sites. Third point: the structure and GUI is not comparable to ANYTHING I know and far away from a daw. But I think that is not a big problem (for example Band in a Box is similiar in this point) but that makes it that hard to get into it evry time again. Only thing comparable I know with this "exclusive" design is Jamstix but I must admit my get into it was that the one workflow I use for it (the midi jam) is easy once you get used to it and if you come back a year later no problem.

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musicdevelopments
KVRAF
3568 posts since 9 Jan, 2010

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:02 am

Thanks for the comments!
http://www.musicdevelopments.com
Innovative music software for creative musicians - home of RapidComposer and Syne

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BlackWinny
KVRAF
4521 posts since 17 Jun, 2013 from very close to Paris, France

Re: Rapid Composer: The Missing Manual ;-)

Post Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:35 am

Hello Tatanka, Attila, and all my friends here !
:)

I2C8 doesn't exist any more. It has been replaced by the product of their partner, W.A. Production, product which is Instachord.
https://www.re-compose.com/

I've bought it recently, at the occasion of a discount.

Not bad... but not at all an equivalent league compared to the huge chord tools available in RapidComposer. And Instachord is clearly focused on the chord progressions rules which are widely used in EDM (the two expansions for jazz are like a joke in comparison). I find it extremely poor in the more traditional styles as the classic, romantic, neo-classic, new age, ambient, krautrock, prog-rock, jazz, Asian, Indian, etc. styles.

I have also bought Instascale for the same reason (just to make a deeper experiment than just with a trial edition) during an equivalent discount and... with the same results: a huge disappointment when used in other styles than EDM, techno, hip hop, and all these overheard (and "over-marketed") styles of today.

In fact I find Sundog Studio much more versatile than these two tools from W.A. Production. And twice much more versatile and much easier to understand to get quickly a result in a lot of more traditional styles. Even for pop songs and "easy-listening".

And finally it is RapidComposer (and its awesome tools, especially its excellent implementation of the circle of fifths) which in my mind remains by far the best (and the most advanced) tool for the scales and for the chord progressions, way way way beyond the level of these aforementioned tools.

And I don't find RapidComposer so complex to use in its scales features and in its chords features. In fact it is mainly a matter of time to spend to experiment with it. Perhaps a kind of sacrifice of time... but a sacrifice of time which adds a huge huge huge value in the knowledge of the tool. Making quiet experiments in RapidComposer with concentration and pauses to clearly analyze the results of each experience as the experiments shown in The Rapid Composer User Guide Tutorial from BluGenes, then creating its own experiments in the same kind is a great, great, great way to slowly but surely get tons and tons of subtleties of RapidComposer. A good start is to try to understand what can be done not by really composing but by analyzing the demos songs featured in the "File" menu and to slowly experiment (with BluGenes' videos for example) on these demo songs. This learning path, proceeded very slowly (we have all our time) allows to understand an immense multitude of aspects of this very advanced application.

The only real thing for which I fully agree with everybody here is that it is a very complex environment which would need a huge manual, and even two manuals : a reference manual (for all the experimented users) and a teaching manual (for all the first steps to learn by the beginners in order to begin to be at ease with its most important first tools : how to manage the master track, notably, starting from scratch to make a progression in a scale and how to make simple changes on it). For that, yes, really.
Build your life everyday as if you would live for a thousand years. Marvel at the Life everyday as if you would die tomorrow.
I'm now severely diseased since September 2018.

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