Using Rapid Composer to create Melody Paths


I’ve created a short video ‘Using Rapid Composer to create Melody Paths’.

As it turns out, RC can be put to the task of generating Melody Paths for any progression quite straightforwardly.

Perhaps there should be a meta-topic here in the Forum for discussing various softwares that might be used by folks to assist in following the IFR path of learning and practice.


@sj1 Hey Steve, welcome to our forum! And thank you for sharing this video. You have a real talent for demonstrating complex systems very concisely! I’ve attached a Melody Paths drawing of the chord columns for chords 1, 3-, 2- and 5D to help people visualize what’s going on melodically in your demo.

What a great project to cement your understanding of these chords. As I’m sure you know, there is a huge community of mathematicians and coders who are passionate about using harmony rules to create apps that can improvise their own music.

What I like most about this whole initiative is that by demonstrating what a machine can do, it forces us to reexamine our own attitudes about why we play music, and what it means to improvise. If you’re currently studying improvisation in a mechanical and formulaic way (which unfortunately is what a lot of people are doing), then a demo like this one can generate a bit of an existential crisis!

The other thing that I think is wonderful about this kind of project is what YOU as the coder learn from the exercise. In that sense, it’s kind of like the 21st century version of my own Melody Paths drawings, which I readily admit are unapologetically 20th century! :slight_smile:

So here we are in 2021, and our intellectual musings can take the form of animated video, auto-generated melodies and real time sound production. THANK YOU for carrying our humble Melody Paths studies with you into the future! And thank you for making such a positive and generous contribution to our group. I look forward to sharing more conversations with you.


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Hi Steve (@sj1 ), welcome to the forum.

Neat idea. Neat software implementation (I speak as a coder) .

@ImproviseForReal there’s still a place for ‘appropriate technology’. After a long day on the computer(s), I for one appreciate sitting down with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. :wink:

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Ha ha! Me too, @DavidW! Pencil and paper is still an incredible tool for projecting our ideas visually, and there is such a calming pleasure in holding those primitive tools that I can’t imagine ever living without my little paper notebooks and journals. I wish there were a more fluid interface between these two worlds. So often I find myself needing to explain something that I could illustrate on paper in 10 seconds, but it takes me 10 minutes to cobble together the same idea in Photoshop. Why is Elon Musk going to Mars? Doesn’t he see that there are more pressing problems right here in our forum? :slight_smile:


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Hi guys.

To be clear, I didn’t really “code” anything here, merely created a composition in the program Rapid Composer in a way that seemed to me to support practicing the Melody Path ideas.

Credit for Rapid Composer belongs to Attila Mezei, who is indeed an amazing coder!
( See for further info.)

Though I indeed have written code myself over the years, I consider myself only just good enough to recognize greatness when I’m in the presence of it!

So, I apologize if I created any mis-impression from the start.

In any case, thanks for the kind comments and encouragement. I love it when synergies happen. IFR and RC together are one such for me.

I do like the IFR column and circles charts. They make a very clear visual of the changes across chords as anchored in the numbers 1 thru 7. I even suggested the possibility over in the RC Forum of adding a capability to generate such to RC. Who knows if that will fly?!

IMO, nothing beats singing the numbers with Mireia, but for every progression or song where that material has not yet been prepared, I can use RC as the video shows and get right to work!

P.S. RC is great to compose with as well. (D’ya think?!) ;^)

Thanks for that clarification, Steve. I probably shouldn’t have used the word coding. I knew that you were using a program called Rapid Composer and configuring it with the logic to do what you wanted. I was just referring to this whole process of projecting your musical ideas into a program and having to define rules about which notes can be played when.

I’m glad to hear that Mireia still has at least a slight edge over her robotic competition. :slight_smile: Also, playing these Melody Paths on your instrument over the IFR Jam Tracks is one of the best exercises we know for organizing harmony in your mind. But it’s easy to see how this program could also offer other interesting ways to experience the chords. Thanks for sharing it!


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re: “robotic competition”:

You realize it would be possible to sample Mireia singing each number in each harmonic environment (key), right?
And to do the same for another beautiful bass (male) voice …
Software could then generate MIDI to trigger those samples for all variety of exercises.

Just sayin’.

IMO, this would not negate (but would complement) conventional videos which also transmit personality, enthusiasm, other learning tips, etc.

If IFR doesn’t want to go there, someone else eventually will.

AFAIK, first-mover advantage is yours to exploit (for the moment) if you elect to.

Of course, the particular -WAY- that you organize your exercises and learning paths is another aspect of the excellence of the IFR method. If IFR creates the software (or partners with someone to do it) then that sensibility can be built-in and become part of the overall value proposition environment for the customer(s).

Anyway, please forgive my yak-yak-yak. At this point in my life I’m just trying to fill in some more of the blank spots in my own musicality, to clear some more perceptual hurdles while I’m still here to attempt it.


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Me too, but personally I’m drawn to solutions that don’t involve using a computer (any more than is absolutely necessary, e.g. for transmission of the materials - so IFR courses & things like this forum are okay). :wink:

Horses for courses. Each to their own. YMMV :smiley:

Thanks for the thought provoking conversation, @sj1. I really appreciate your intentions, and your genuine desire to help us. We actually share your enthusiasm for technology. There are a hundred apps and services that we depend on to create our books, jam tracks, video courses, etc. and to run our website and marketing. Our entire business model was unthinkable even just 30 years ago. So I feel incredibly fortunate to have these awesome tools that allow me to work at what I love, create audio visual materials to express my ideas, and then reach people all over the world with these ideas. None of this would be possible without information technology and the internet.

But while there are maybe a hundred or so (no exaggeration) apps and services that we use, there are millions that we don’t. And a lot of these other apps could bring arguably interesting features into our offering. But teaching is a slippery subject. Sometimes you think you’re doing the student a favor by providing better tools or more clear information. But now the information is so clearly presented that the student doesn’t need to think about it. So the student falls into the passive role of just watching videos or clicking on apps, and you’ve inadvertently killed the student’s own autonomy and personal initiative.

So we always have to keep coming back to our mission. Our mission isn’t fundamentally about people interacting with our products. It’s to get our students connected with their instruments, making music and expressing themselves creatively. It’s a paradox because we know that our learning program needs to be engaging and enjoyable in order for people to use it. But the end goal isn’t for people to fall in love with our apps and courses. The goal is for them to fall in love with their instruments. So we have to be simultaneously attracting new students with clear and compelling ideas about how they can understand music, but then we have to also be constantly pushing them away to go make music.

None of this is an argument for or against a “Melody Paths app”. But these are some of the considerations that go into our decisions about our product roadmap. In any case, I appreciate knowing about this tool. Sometimes it takes a while before a problem and a solution find each other. But just knowing about these tools is great because it gives me more resources to imagine solutions to situations that may come up in the future. So thank you very much for this great demo!


@ImproviseForReal Thanks for expressing that. It sums up my take on this general area too. One of my great takes from the IFR ethos is to immerse myself freely in the sounds & experience how things work together with the aim of developing a personal sense of ‘where I want to take this next’. Given that, I see singing or playing a melody path as a voyage of exploration, and am happier with the idea of following my instinct & seeing what happens over folllowing ideas suggested by something else. I’ve yet to feel improvisor’s block. Maybe if that occurred an app such as this might provide a prod, so it’s good to know it exists. Thanks for making me aware @sj1 :slight_smile:

I don’t know. Part of me really likes this idea, but another part of me gets hung up on the idea of relying on randomly generated melody paths. When I listen to Mirea’s melody paths, I have some confidence that she is selecting short, simple melodies that make musical sense, and are not just random. And in listening to those, I will learn not only the sounds of the notes against the chords, but something of the connections from one melody note to another in the context of a progression. In short, I will learn phrases not just words, since melodies are not just any old series of notes that matches the chord progression.

But, since I’m not familiar with the Rapid Composer software, maybe I misunderstand.

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Very well expressed, @hender99. And you’re absolutely right that every line of our Sing the Numbers course is chosen specifically to teach a beautiful melody that we wanted to share with you, and that we think will help you remember the essence of that chord change. This isn’t to diminish the value of exploring more arbitrary connections between the chord notes, because exploring the unknown is also an important source of new discoveries. But we leave that for your creative exploration with the IFR Jam Tracks series. In Sing the Numbers, we want to make the most of our time together by thoughtfully choosing each melody to teach composing lessons as well as ear training.

This actually goes far beyond the individual melody lines. Sometimes the full musical idea is only expressed over the course of two lines or even four lines. It’s okay if the student doesn’t notice the logic of four musical lines working together like a paragraph. But on a subconscious level, our minds appreciate this symmetry and it makes the experience more memorable. So there’s a lot of love and care that goes into each audio lesson, and it’s actually super fun to compose these lessons because it’s like trying to teach music without words! We love that our students have been so receptive to the Sing the Numbers course and I appreciate your thoughtfulness about imagining the work and the love that went into creating those lessons.

@ImproviseForReal @hender99 I think that encompases another important difference.

The StN materials are a carefully designed solution to address an issue; a tool to help people develop a deep, inate (sub-conscious?), understanding for how musical sounds interact for each of us as individals.

The facility to produce randomly generated melody paths feels more like a solution in search of an issue? More of a ‘hey, if I used random generation, maybe moderated by a few options, I could add a feature to generate melody paths; that might be neat’.

That’s not meant to knock the concept, or the reason for its inclusion. I’m a software developer; I know there are features in some of my software that are there for reasons not vastly different to that. :wink: Occasionally they prove to be exactly what some later user wanted. :smiley: I hope that applies for some Rapid Cpmposer users & this feature?

In the meantime I’ll stick with absorbing StN & developing my own reactions to & interactions with the Jam Tracks. :smiley:

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