For MIDI lovers only!

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Como Baila
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For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:46 pm

(Edit: I forgot to add that the developer is working on a VSTi plugin version, expected to be implemented shortly.)

http://www.musicdevelopments.com/index.html
http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=168

First, I have no financial interest in RapidComposer ... unless having purchased the LE version and wanting the development to continue is a financial interest. And, yes, this is gushing fanboy in the first throes of infatuation.

Second, while I know this is a Cubase forum ... and this post will probably get moved to the Lounge pretty quickly :D , I also know that there are a lot of folks here that are interested in midi composition. That's the main reason I prefer Cubase over the competition and a reason I follow this forum.

Third, ... since we're not all musically educated ... I've tried a lot of 'autocomposition' software programs like Band In A Box, Jammer and Ntonyx, and harmony programs like Harmony Navigator, Harmony Assistant, Harmony Improvisator, ChordSpace and Melody Palette.

They all have their strengths and charms ... including a few being free.

But RapidComposer takes everything to a different level ... and one I find much closer to what I always wished for in a midi composition program.

In a nut shell, when you lay out your composition by chord progressions, you can add as many midi tracks as you want ... up to at least the basic 16 (I haven't tested beyond that). Then you have a library of musical phrases that you can also edit or add to by importing sections from existing midi files. There are special ones for chords, basslines, etc. You can also 'plastically' change these phrases once they are in the composition window without changing the phrase from the library. Basically you drag and drop the phrases on top of the composition tracks. At this point they are not notes, but harmonically correct phrases correctly played in the key or chord of your composition as controlled by that section of the composition. There is a fantastic collection of chords with their harmonic neighbors available in a drop menu to make chord alterations. There are about 25 scales with modal variations of most. You also have controller information easily editable in the composition window for each track and little macros that do things like change the playback to legato or stacatto or velocity curves, etc, on a 'phrase by phrase' basis. When you get it to sound like you like, you export your composition as a type 1 smf with all your actual notes, controller and patch info, etc, for loading into your DAW.

I think it's most outstanding feature is 'phrase morphing.' 'Phrase morphing' is incredible. When you set up two musical phrase you like in your sequence ... say a way you want an 8 bar section to open in the first bar and how you want it to end in the last bar ... 'phrase morphing' will automatically fill in a harmonically correct, musically smooth bridge between the two phrases following any chord changes you've selected. Didn't like that one? Keep on morphing till it creates one that works as you want ... in perfect harmonic and rhythmic step with our original phrases.

Cubase is a fantastic program and the unquestioned leader in MIDI manipulation. But with the possible exception of flexiphrase in Halion 4 and Halion Sonic, does little to aid the 'composing/ arranging' side of things. Short of Synfire from Cognitone ... at about $1200.00 US ... there is nothing like this perfect partner for Cubase.

I am obviously extremely excited about this program. It is a new small company in start up that is doing the advances in midi that I always hoped an autocomposition would do. Check out the webpage and try the demo.

Como
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by curteye » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:45 am

Aloha C,

Another real MIDIot here and I must say
that this product looks very nice.
Nice approach. I like the kool out-of-the-box thinking.

Unfortunately for me, there is no Mac version. (yet)
Perhaps soon.

Thanx for the info.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by pete_exxtreme » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:52 pm

i had a look on your link as it looked very promising.

i've download the demo version (the full edition) and installed it. I'm running a brand new win7 64bits machine. I own ALL my software(no cracked version etc...)

Then going for the setup of the VST in Rapidcomposer resulted in :
- Kontakt4 could not be registered as a VSTi (error)
- Absynth4 could not be registered as a VSTi as the soft complains it was an FX not an instrument (it's also a FX)

and the soft finally crashed after that.

So i've dumped that useless soft. Too bad...

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:42 pm

@curteye ... a Mac version should be out within a few weeks. I understand the developer is busy porting it at this time and has stated in the forum that it's going very well.

@pete_exxtreme ... if it states it supports VSTi, it should. Have you contacted the developer? I have received prompt responses from him and on a couple of occasions he has sent me an executable with a bug fixed pending the next release.

That said, I could care less about the VSTi implementation. I run using either my Roland sound modules or GM soundfont banks. I'm working on the arrangement, not the timbres. It's part of the KISS philosophy of music production.

I think your harsh and dismissive assessment misses the point of the purpose of this software. This is a compositional/ music creation tool, not a sequencer per se. For the time being I export my midi into Cubase. In the not too distant future Rapid Composer will itself be a VSTi instrument like Consequence, Catanya, Hypercyclic, etc., to run inside Cubase. There won't be any limitation on VSTis then.

To expect small developers to be able to anticipate every possible bug as they grow their program can only choke creativity. That's how I see it, anyway.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by pete_exxtreme » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:06 pm

Como Baila wrote: I think your harsh and dismissive assessment misses the point of the purpose of this software. This is a compositional/ music creation tool, not a sequencer per se.
Como
Sorry for being so stupid. I've just tested what's written in the documentation, as i did not expect piano chords to sound like a moog modular chord. Glad that you found your jewel in the crown, but it's not mine so far.


Be sure i will not kill the "creativity" anymore... :mrgreen:

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:31 pm

pete_exxtreme wrote:
Como Baila wrote: I think your harsh and dismissive assessment misses the point of the purpose of this software. This is a compositional/ music creation tool, not a sequencer per se.
Como
Sorry for being so stupid. I've just tested what's written in the documentation, as i did not expect piano chords to sound like a moog modular chord. Glad that you found your jewel in the crown, but it's not mine so far.


Be sure i will not kill the "creativity" anymore... :mrgreen:
No need for sarcasm ... hyperbolic or otherwise.

I'm sorry the program failed your needs and/ or expectations. I wanted, fairly in my opinion ... of course :) , to bring a wider perspective of RC's usefulness beyond requisite bugless VSTi implementation. Since the program is GM based with respect to the track channel assigments, I'm sure setting up Kontakt multitimbrally is more of a challenge than using something like Halion Sonic SE in GM mode.

But as I said, in my view VSTi is a feature, not the point of the program. I think RC has a few rough edges, but those are far exceeded by its current operation ... and completely dimmed in light of its future promise.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by MrSoundman » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:51 am

Hi Como, thanks for posting this, I stumbled upon this software as well and it's on my list to try out ... interesting post, seeing as I've also tried out some of the same one you did (I still use Jammer occasionally!) -- it's good to get a recommendation from someone who's been looking in the same area for a similar solution. :)
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by pete_exxtreme » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:30 am

I gave it a second try trying to figure out what could be wrong. Finally it can work with some of my VSTi as long as they are 32bits with no external FX. So Sylenth or the Korg Wavestation did work.

Kontakt is 64bits while Absynth has external FX.

Having the right sound is important to me in my compos :)
Last edited by pete_exxtreme on Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by raino » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:34 am

Hey Como

I was looking at this a few months ago, and it didn't seem even close to ready for prime-time. Perhaps that has changed. I hope so because it seemed very intriguing. The basic problem is that their documentation sucked, and when I say sucked I mean that CAPITALIZED, bold, in italics and underlined. The problem is that they have created some program specific concepts, and failed to explain how these work. I'm a couple thousand miles from my DAW so I can't be specific with examples. But an analogy would be to be confronted by a spreadsheet program for the first time but being provided with zero information about how to use rows and columns. You are not going to figure out "=a5+b!7" without an assist.

I had several email exchanges with their team about this, but they seemed totally unconcerned about this. Their basic attitude was that yes indeed their documentation was lacking, but since folks didn't read documentation this didn't matter. And it is true that docs frequently don't matter, but when they do mater they are crucial (imagine trying to understand note expression in Cubase without a lick of documentation). So they introduce some new program-specific concepts related to how to structure composition (totally cool). But then they are dismissive of any need to explain these concepts (totally uncool).

I'm retired now, but I spent my life in IT at a major tech company that ya'all know (trust me, you're probably using its technology right now, I am). And the last several years were pretty much devoted to how to market innovative tech concepts. A huge chunk of that is how to successfully document "new" concepts. I've seen a lot of good product ideas fail precisely because the consumer couldn't figure out how to use the product.

Bottom line, I really, really, really want their product to succeed so I can use it. But they seem to be young nerds unable to see beyond their own bubble. Too bad, because they are taking a creative and innovative concept and totally screwing up the marketing. If they don't figure this out soon they will just be another failed product. I suspect they won't and that is a true pity.
Last edited by raino on Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by raino » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:41 am

Como Baila wrote:I think your harsh and dismissive assessment misses the point of the purpose of this software. This is a compositional/ music creation tool, not a sequencer per se. For the time being I export my midi into Cubase. In the not too distant future Rapid Composer will itself be a VSTi instrument like Consequence, Catanya, Hypercyclic, etc., to run inside Cubase. There won't be any limitation on VSTis then.

Como
1000% true
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:31 am

raino wrote:Hey Como

I was looking at this a few months ago, and it didn't seem even close to ready for prime-time. Perhaps that has changed. I hope so because it seemed very intriguing. The basic problem is that their documentation sucked, and when I say sucked I mean that CAPITALIZED, bold, in italics and underlined. The problem is that they have created some program specific concepts, and failed to explain how these work.

<snip>

Too bad, because they are taking a creative and innovative concept and totally screwing up the marketing. If they don't figure this out soon they will just be another failed product. I suspect they won't and that is a true pity.
Unfortunately, I can't disagree with your take on the documentation. I was intrigued enough that I was willing to spend a good deal of time trying to sort through things. Between reading the 'docs' on the web page, doing the tutorials there and some digging, I'm now getting around most of it. The 'heart' of the program is the phrase window, and I've learned pretty well how to create or import midi phrases and then save them in the library for future use. The 'IdeaTool' remains pretty much a mystery ... the developer wrote me that he did it at the request of a user, but is unsure himself how useful it really is.

But, I am not as pessimistic as you about the future or the resolve of the developer. I think the documentation deficiency is due to his not originally appreciating the necessity of it and also feeling limited as a non-native speaker of English. I'm not sure when you communicated, but he has indicated to me that he recognizes the problem and intends to remedy it.

As I said, I understand he is actively working on a MAC version, a VSTi version and v2.0. I suspect he intends to wait to tackle the documentation for the v2.0 release.

For any interested, I did write a little 'intro' tutorial in the KVR forum MusicDevelopments in response to a post 'Where do I start? http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=324234
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by raino » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:14 am

Como Baila wrote: But, I am not as pessimistic as you about the future or the resolve of the developer. I think the documentation deficiency is due to his not originally appreciating the necessity of it and also feeling limited as a non-native speaker of English. I'm not sure when you communicated, but he has indicated to me that he recognizes the problem and intends to remedy it.
Como
That's interesting about the developer being a non-native english speaker. I was dealing with them around June-July. The person I exchanged email with was clearly a native speaker (so not the main guy I guess), but totally dismissive of the importance of documentation (his attitude seemed to be that he didn't need it, so why would anyone else - always a stupid, STUPID assumption). Based on your post, I hope they have seen the light. But experience leads me to suspect they will ignore their mistakes until they become fatal (that is the MO for most tech startups). It is a pity, but many innovative tech products fall prey to similar mistakes. This really bums me out since they have developed a product I really want to use, but am unable to use until they fix these underlying issues. And I have not seen anything that leads me to suspect that they are sensitive, much less aware of the fundamentals around these underlining issues.

The attraction of shiny new technology is too often undermined by an under-appreciation of the need to explain how to use the new technologies. Myopia and hubris are a deadly combo that have caused many a business to fail. Sadly I think these folks are are following that path. My heart hopes they aren't, but my head (and experience) tells me they are.

The real shame is that their lack of business smarts will result in the world being unable to appreciate their musical smarts.
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by MrSoundman » Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:18 pm

raino wrote:I've seen a lot of good product ideas fail precisely because the consumer couldn't figure out how to use the product.
Case in point: WaveLab 7 "documentation" or rather, lack thereof .... (OT, I know!)
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by MrSoundman » Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:28 pm

pete_exxtreme wrote:Kontakt is 64bits
K4 is both 64- and 32-bit. If you really need to use the 64-bit K4 VSTi you could jBridge it. In any case, these are VSTi/computer architecture discussions and belong elsewhere. The product we are discussing is currently 32-bit and no 32-bit host can use 64-bit VSTis without something like jBridge -- there's no reason to dismiss a new product offhand simply because you're not using it properly, or because it won't work with your specific setup. Finally, let's remember, it a demo you're trying out: the purpose of demoing something is to determine whether it's right for you or not, so if it's not, just move on, rather than calling it "useless soft".
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:42 pm

I'd like to add a point about the documentation. While it is lacking, there is an extensive system of 'tool tips,' which tell you pretty much everything you need to know about various functions. It's true that there is a steep learning curve to get to the point where you understand why you need that tip, but in the end the information is mostly all there.

One of the things that took me a while to figure out ... but which I now love ... is the extensive harmonic reference for chord harmonic equivalents or progressions. A window appears when you click on the chord name in the master track. It opens as 'List,' but you need to then select 'Palette' in from the 'Display as' section.

This new window shows a column ascending of your I to IIV chords and rows across of chords up to 13ths. You then select your key and your scale (there are well over 100 scales included). If for example you chose A minor, that would be in the 'I' position in the chord matrix, C major would be in the 'III' position, D minor in the 'IV' position, etc. You then select from 'Layout' the option 'By Chord Suggestion. You click on a chord and it sounds and then which ever of the I - IIV chords might work next are highlighted, so you can work out your progression right there.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by MrSoundman » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:21 pm

Como Baila wrote:the extensive harmonic reference for chord harmonic equivalents or progressions
That is so cool! Many thanks for the insights. We are so going to get banned to the Music Lounge or even locked for this when the mods come into work on Monday morning ... but thanks anyway! :lol:
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by raino » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:00 am

Como Baila wrote:I'd like to add a point about the documentation. While it is lacking, there is an extensive system of 'tool tips,' which tell you pretty much everything you need to know about various functions. It's true that there is a steep learning curve to get to the point where you understand why you need that tip, but in the end the information is mostly all there.
Como
I think you have hit on a key element of what they are doing wrong. Tool tips are essentially a form of documenting the mechanics of a program. But they totally ignore the big picture of how to conceptually use a program. The why of it all. Proper documentation consists of both elements, the HOW and the WHY. You leave out ether of those on a non-intuitive program and you are asking for product failure.

Como, I totally appreciate your enthusiasm for this program. And based on the concept, I'd love to be standing there next to you. But based on their execution I really can't. Clearly from your posts, you spent a serious amount of time and energy learning how to use this, and that's great. But the reality is that most folks won't even think about putting in that amount of effort. And really, why should they, when proper documentation would negate that need? I'm fairly certain that I could master this program if I put in the effort, but I won't put in that effort because I suspect this product will be a market failure due to mismanagement. Why should I spend time learning something that won't be around in a few years. The bottom line is either they acknowledge and resolve this issue, or go out of business. From where I stand it appears they are hell-bent on committing business suicide.

Again, I want to emphasize I'm not just talking out of my butt here - I did this for a living. Both successfully and unsuccessfully - which is where you really learn what does and doesn't work. I have spent serious amounts of my ex-employer's (retired not fired) money hiring tech writers and web designers to document products. I would have fired anyone who gave me this level of crap documentation. But I wanted my products to succeed. Apparently they are not concerned about success enough to do the required heavy lifting.
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by jbw » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:50 am

Looks decent.

I could use something like this when just writing music, not actually orchestrating. I use Aria Maestosa. It is just a lightweight midi program with just midi sounds.

But a lot of the midi features in this other app you mention sound cool, but I can't justify the price. Seems like there are a lot more bells and whistles I wouldn't need/care for.
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:44 pm

@Raino ...

You're a persuasive rhetorician, but you sound like the Queen of Hearts: 'First the verdict, then the trial!'

Only time will render the verdict. I'm still optimistic.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Como Baila » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:48 pm

jbw wrote:Looks decent.

I could use something like this when just writing music, not actually orchestrating. I use Aria Maestosa. It is just a lightweight midi program with just midi sounds.

But a lot of the midi features in this other app you mention sound cool, but I can't justify the price. Seems like there are a lot more bells and whistles I wouldn't need/care for.
The price of the LE version, which does most everything except the phrase morphing, doesn't seem to me unreasonable, if it is otherwise useful.

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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by jbw » Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:32 am

Como Baila wrote:
jbw wrote:Looks decent.

I could use something like this when just writing music, not actually orchestrating. I use Aria Maestosa. It is just a lightweight midi program with just midi sounds.

But a lot of the midi features in this other app you mention sound cool, but I can't justify the price. Seems like there are a lot more bells and whistles I wouldn't need/care for.
The price of the LE version, which does most everything except the phrase morphing, doesn't seem to me unreasonable, if it is otherwise useful.

Como
But the phrase morphing looks like the coolest feature!
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Re: For MIDI lovers only!

Post by Reiknir » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:32 am

Como Baila wrote: Cubase is a fantastic program and the unquestioned leader in MIDI manipulation. But with the possible exception of flexiphrase in Halion 4 and Halion Sonic, does little to aid the 'composing/ arranging' side of things. Short of Synfire from Cognitone ... at about $1200.00 US ... there is nothing like this perfect partner for Cubase.
You are assuming most people compose/arrange in a classical song-writing manner and have a better than functional knowledge of classic (not classical) music theory, which is not the case at all, most music software users only have at best a rudimentary theory knowledge

But downloaded the demo anyway .....

For USD 300 I would like a bit more, like usable documentation for starters

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