Rhythm-X #2 ( 9 mins)
Rhythm-X supports two kinds of track: Percussion track and non-percussion track. Each percussion track is associated with one MIDI percussion instrument (bass drum, snare, hi-hat, …) and always uses MIDI channel 10. When a non-percussion track is created it is associated with the current virtual instrument and its current tuning (The bass and guitar can have their tuning changed, using “Instruments > Unlock tuning…” or using Tookit button “Tuning”). That instrument and tuning must be used when creating notes to be loaded into any part on that track. The choice of MIDI instrument for playing back sounds from a track can be changed.
What you will learn
In Rhythm #1, you learned how to load (imprint) a chord into an onset. You used Rhythm-X’s Refine part toolbar for that. Now you will learn how, using Rhythm-X’s Main toolbar, to add tracks for a hi-hat percussion part, a bass part, and a guitar melody part. Then, using the Refine part toolbar, you’ll look at creating a hi-hat pattern, a bass line, a guitar melody, and how to change the MIDI instruments used for playing back each track.
You’ll click in percussion notes, using “Perc Fill” to fill all the onsets. The note that is used depends on the percussion instrument associated with the track. Then you’ll learn how to (un)stress individual notes. Stressed notes sound louder. You’ll transfer notes from the “bass” and “guitar” into onsets in their parts. For this, you’ll select notes for the melody, and use “Refine Part” buttons “Part“, and “Part Wrap“. Then you’ll learn how to change the sound for each track (MIDI instrument, volume, pan, MIDI driver), and how to (un)mute tracks, part, or individual notes.
Each of the following sections can be expanded by clicking on its heading, and collapsed by clicking on the heading again.
Adding a hi-hat pattern
If you saved a snappet at the end of Rhythm-X #1 quick start, open it now from the File menu, in which case, you will see this (click to enlarge) … click on the “Refine part” button to get into the Refine Part tool.
Otherwise lets load a snappet based on the outcome of exercise in Rhythm-X #1. …
Create the percussion track first.
- Click “Back” (to go to the RhythmX Main toolbar)
- Click “New Perc.track”. This creates a new track
- Type “hi-hat” into the track name box.
- Change the instrument from “Acoustic bass drum”. Click on that button, and scroll down to “Closed High Hat”.
- Click “Create track” to create the track. Notice two buttons appear in the track list on the left.
- Click “Back” (to go to the RhythmX Main toolbar)
At this point, you have an empty percussion track. Now we add parts to it. For this exercise, we’ll add one part, which is in 4/4 time, 8 bars long (matching the existing parts), and choose our initial onset duration to be an 1/8th note, which is typical for a hi-hat.
Define (create) the part
- Click “Define part” (on the right of the button labelled “hi-hat”). The Define part toolbar appears. (The track area can be made narrower by placing the mouse over the vertical border between the track list and the track area. The mouse pointer changes shape. Hold down the left mouse button and drag that pointer. If you drag back towards the left, you won’t be able to drag after a certain point (to keep the track list visible))
- Enter “8” in the box for the # of bars.
- Click on the dropdown next to “occupy part with” and select “eighth note”
- Click “Create part“. The part appears, with 8 empty onsets (eight 1/8th note onsets) per bar. (If you make any mistakes, type “Ctl-Z” to undo to delete the part). You can abandon creating the part by clicking”Back” without clicking “Create part”. (Don’t press “Back” for now)
Refine the part.
At this point, you could either press “Back” to the Main toolbar, and use “Refine part” later … Refine part knows which part is to be refined because you always have to click on an onset in some part for the Refine part commands. Or you could immediately refine the part by pressing “Refine part” from Define part toolbar, which is what we’ll do now.
- Click “Refine part”. Its toolbar appears.
- Click “Perc.fill”, then click on any onset in the hi-hat part. Every onset now has one hi-hat note.
Changing dynamics with “Stress onset”
Now we can add some more life to the hi-hat, by making some of the notes louder. To do this …
- Click “Back” to the Main toolbar
- Click on “Stress onset” at the far right.
- Start playback
- Experiment clicking on different onsets in the hi-part. If you’ve stressed an onset before playback reaches its time for being played out, you’ll hear its effect … otherwise you’ll have to wait until the tune loops. Clicking on a stressed onset removes the stress.
- Stop playback.
Adding a bass part
We’ll do this differently. We’ll create a bass track, but we’ll take a copy of the bass drum part to use as a template for a bass part, which means you’ll get a very tight sound between the bass drum and the bass.
- Make sure playback is stopped. Enter the Toolkit. Click “Clear” to clear the instrument. Exit the Toolkit.
- Change instrument to bass (type ‘b’ … make sure the mouse is in the righthand pane)
- On the Main toolbar, click “New track” (as opposed to “New Perc.track”)
- Name the track “bass” and accept all the defaults. Click “Create track”. The bass track appears in the track list.
- Go back to the Main toolbar.
- Use the “Copy” dropdown, and choose “Copy part”. Click any onset on the bass drum part. The part is highlighted orange.
- Use the “Copy” dropdown, and choose “Paste part as template”. Click in the track area, to the right of the “bass” tracklist entry. A part appears there, with ‘x’ appearing in many onsets. This means that, when a melody is loaded into this part, onsets marked ‘x’ are skipped over … they won’t receive a melody note. (‘x’ means the onset holds a “rest”. An empty onset will receive a note, but an onset with a rest will not).
The bass drum track has 12 occupied onsets (12 purple-rimmed circles). The part you’ve just created has 12 empty onsets (no “x” in them). These onsets will receive a bass melody next.
Create melody notes on the bass
Now you’re going to create a few bass notes, and make 12 selections from these which will occupy the 12 onsets in the bass part you created above. The created notes will look like this:
- If you cannot see the anchor, use the topmost horizontal slider just above and to the left of the instrument, and drag its button right until you do see it.
- Set the anchor at the 1st fret (F) on the bass E string (4th string)
- Click the following locations in this order: 4th string, frets 0, 1, 5, 8. On the 3rd string, click fret 3
- Select (right-click) the following locations in this order: on string 4: frets 1, 0, 5, 1, 8, 5, 1, 1, 5, 0, 5, on string 3: fret 3.
And transfer the selections to the bass part …
- Go to the “Refine part” toolbar.
- Click on “Part”
- Click on the 1st onset of the bass part. The bass notes imprint (load, transfer) into the part.
Now let’s watch these bass notes.
- Go to the Main toolbar.
- Click on the “Visual feedback” dropdown and select “Link track sounds to active layer”.
- Click on any onset in the bass part.
- Start playback. Now you just see the notes making the sounds. “Link track to active layer” shows whatever notes were on instrument at the time the transfer took place, as well as highlighting which of these notes are contributing the sound at a given time.
Change instrument MIDI playback sound
Let’s change the bass sound and mix.
- Start playback
- Click the button labelled “bass” in the track list
- Click the instrument drop down and choose a bass sound (e.g. “Fingered bass”).
- You can change the volume withe the volume slider, labelled with a “-” and “+”
- You can change the pan with the pan slider, labelled L and R
- Press “Back” to go to the main toolbar
The main toolbar includes controls for (un)muting. Each control is a toggle between mute on and mute off. When toggled on, its appearance changes to pale grey. It remains active until another command is chosen (on any Rhythm-X toolbar). Here, the Onset mute button is active.
These provide four levels of muting. From low to high, these levels are:
- individual onset
If a lower level is muted when a higher level is muted, when that higher level is unmuted, the lower level remains muted. When muted, the affected onsets are shown dimmed. Additionally, if a track is muted, the track button changes appearance. The label on the track button changes to orange, with “(M)” appearing at the front of the track name:
Let’s check these out. This can be done during playback, but its quicker to demonstrate while there’s no playback.
- Click “Onset” and click on the first onset in the bass part. That onset dims.
- Click “Bar” and click any onset in the first bar (could be any bar). The other onset dims.
- Click “Part” and click any onset in the part, for exampe in the first bar. All onsets in the part dim.
- As Part is still active, click any onset in the bass drum part, to remove muting at the part level. All but onsets in the first bar unmute.
- Click “Bar”. One onset remains muted.
- Click “Onset” and click on the muted onset in the first bar. It unmutes.
- Click “Track” and click any onset in the bass drum part. All onsets mute. If there were several parts, they would all be muted. Click again to unmute.
Add a guitar melody
Finally, let’s add a guitar melody
- Change the virtual instrument back to guitar (type ‘g’)
- Stop playback (changes aren’t allowed on instrument during playback)
- Move the anchor to the 5th fret on the treble E string (1st string).
- Click the following frets on the 1st string: 5 7 8 10 12 13 15 17 19
Create a track for the melody and add the melody
- As before, from the Main toolbar, click “New track” (which is associated with the guitar as it’s the current instrument)
- Give it a name “gtr melody” and click “Create”.
- Click “Back” to the Main toolbar.
- If needed drag the top horizontal edge of Rhythm-X upwards so you can see this latest track’s buttons in the track list.
- Click its “Define Part”, and choose 4/4, 8 bars, eighth note onsets (same as you did for the hi-hat part), and click “Create part”.
- Click “Refine Part”, and choose “Part wrap”, and click on the 7th onset of the 1st bar of the “grt melody” part. The notes on the virtual guitar start loading into the part from that onset, and once all 9 notes have loaded, it continues from the first of these notes, over and over, until the part if full.
Have a listen. Now you can start experimenting with muting some of the onsets, and stressing some of the onsets. Normally, you’d build your own melody rather than using ‘Part wrap’.
Save off your work!
In the next quick start, you’ll learn about emuso’s chord inversion ability, and automatic chord generation. You’ll use these for building chord progressions with rhythm-X.