Tutorial Videos mentioned in this Chapter: Part 11 - Phrase Editor

Phrase Editor Explained

The Phrase Editor is another extremely powerful tool in RapidComposer. Here is where you can create custom phrases that fit your style, genre, or workflow. Bear in mind that while this is an extremely powerful tool to use, if you don’t use it correctly it can make your phrases sound really weird or incorrect, when you intended them to sound much differently. Also, it can be one of those confusing aspects of RapidComposer.

If editing Phrases isn’t your thing at all, fear not! We have included many Phrases with the LE version, and a huge number of custom Phrases with the Full version of RapidComposer, that cover many different styles and “feels.” Also, our core users (specifically “Yellukhan” at our forum) have provided many Custom Phrases, from basic piano phrases to classically-influenced staccato string phrases. You can download them all when you join the forum, and use them in any of your Compositions!

If you’re into editing your own phrases, though… we’ve definitely got you covered here, too. Again, the Phrase Editor is extremely powerful, and confusing. So let’s get familiar with it and its functions.

Phrase Editor Functions & Parameters

At the top of the Phrase Editor are many settings (especially in the row that begins with Snap and Grid settings). To make things somewhat easy, let’s ignore most of these functions for now. What you should pay the most attention to is what scale you are in (in this case, C Major), and what the Snap and Grid settings are set to. We recommend setting Snap to 1/2 (means that if you draw notes in with the mouse, they draw and snap to eighth notes), and Grid set to 1/4 (this means 16th notes). You can see the vertical grid makes 16th note divisions inside each measure.

You can use your mouse to draw in notes (as we will do in this example), or you can record a Phrase live, with a MIDI keyboard. Since version 2.7, we have added the much-requested Metronome and Record function. There is a count-in once you press record (as long as the Metronome is enabled). RC will not record anything until you press keys on your MIDI keyboard, and it will give you three full seconds to “get ready” (you can at least get a 1-bar count-in during this time, depending on your Phrase tempo). If you don’t play anything after withing these three seconds, RC times out and says “No Phrase Was Recorded.” For full details on how to use the Phrase Editor, please see our Part 11 Tutorial video at http://musicdevelopments.com/videos.html

Let’s say you want to use the Phrase Editor to create a simple piano pattern in the style of “Imagine” by John Lennon. Knowledge of chord theory and music theory in general will help you a LOT, here. Here’s how it’s done:

If you’re familiar with the song, it begins with an alternating right-hand pattern playing a C chord (fingers play E and G, then the thumb plays C). This is a very common “ballad-style” piano pattern. Let’s say you love it, and want to use it over your own chord progressions. You’ll have to edit it a certain way. Since the song is in the key of C major, it makes it easy to get started.

1. Double-click at the beginning of the phrase, on the line that the “E” note is on. RC creates a MIDI note on the E line, and calls it “Ch(1)”.

2. Double-click at the same location, but this time at the “G” line. RC creates a MIDI note on the G line, and calls it “Ch(2)”

3. Double-click at the “and of 1”, right on the “C” line (below the E and G). RC creates a MIDI note on the C line and calls it “Ch(0)”.

Now, select the three notes by clicking/dragging around them, then hold ALT. and drag these three notes to the next beat. Repeat a couple more times. It should look like this when you’re done with these steps:

Understanding Note Indexes / Relative Notes

Now let’s take a moment to understand how RC intelligently makes phrases fit chords….

Note Index 0 means “root of chord”. Note Index 1 means “third of chord” (or it could mean the 2nd or 4th, in a suspended 2nd or suspended 4th chord) Note Index 2 means “fifth of chord” Note Index 3 means “additional chord note” (such as the 7th in a dominant 7th chord, or the 9th in an added 9th) Note Index 4 means “2nd additional chord note” (such as the 9th in a minor 9th chord)

Note Indexes in Phrases don’t have a set “minor” or “major” tonality. For example, with Note Index 1…… it can be a “major third” or a “minor third” (depending on the chord in our Composition)…. or, it could be a 2nd or 4th (if a Sus2 or Sus4 chord is in our Composition). The Note Index adapts to whatever chord we choose in our Composition, plain and simple. This is very easy to accept, but extremely complicated to grasp. RC is incredibly flexible and always “knows” what Note Index it needs to be to fit the chord.

Saving Custom Phrases

Ok, now, let’s save this custom phrase. Type a name for it in the left-side box (let’s call it “Imagine”), and you don’t have to put anything for the “Group” if you don’t want to… it will show up in the Phrase Browser immediately (at the bottom). But if you’d like to put it into a specific Group and keep things organized (we recommended doing so), here’s what you put in the other (right-side) box:

To have the Phrase appear in the Custom Phrases/Piano group… type this exactly: Custom Phrases/Piano “Imagine” (without the quotes) will then appear in the Phrase Browser (though it might show up at the bottom, until you close and restart the program. in which case it will appear in the other Custom Phrases).

To have the Phrase appear in your own, new group… put whatever you want in the box, such as MyPhrases (or MyPhrases/Piano). RC will create a new Group called MyPhrases in the Phrase Browser, with “Imagine” inside. Now, click the “Add To Phrase Browser” button. Then, go into the Composition and select the following chords (one per bar): C, Am, F, G

Then, go to the Phrase Browser, and find “Imagine”. Click it once to make it the active/selected Phrase. Now hit the letter F to fill the Track with this new, custom Phrase.

You can also make more complex phrases that work with extended chords (7ths, 9ths, add9ths, etc). We will do another Phrase Editor tutorial video in the future, explaining higher Note Indexes and what parameters need to be set to make a Custom Phrase that works with extended chord types (7ths, 9ths, 11ths, etc). It takes some experimentation, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what you can come up with! In the meantime, we’ve included many Custom Phrases for you to choose from and use!

As of version 2.9, folder and subfolder structure is supported, so in your Custom Phrases folder, you can keep all of your phrases completely organized.