Wizards - the ideas
When you install RM, the user is set to "Caller".
The Caller user setting is simplified, for people who only want to add and update call sequences. No need to read any further if that's all you want!
The Caller setting hides two advanced features: SCHEMES, and BEATS.
Then a couple of the more complex "control" level settings for a call sequence are hidden as a Caller. One is the ability to nudge calls by 1 measure ahead or behind the beats. A naive caller might unintentionally destroy the coordination of the calls with the gear changes, so it's left as a Wizard setting.
And also the ability to label a sequence with a "tag", for control purposes. One example, a dance teacher could label a sequence for a certain class, etc.
When the "Caller" user opens a song, there are already rectangles on the Songs tab, one for each beat. How are they created? That's the BEATS file.
When the "Caller" user clicks on an open rectangle on the Songs tab... he can add a move from a picklist. How are the moves created? That's the SCHEMES: each SCHEME contains it's own moves... now you have a Moves tab to edit them.
If you want to explore or create these features... here's some starter information.
RECOMMENDED: You don't have to "do it yourself" if you need something new in Schemes or Beats. Ask a "Wizard" to create the beats, gears, and moves for you.
But you can be a Wizard yourself! This is definitely more involved... and more interesting... as you will soon see.
User = Wizard
First, just go to the top Nav bar, and click on User. One of the choices is Wizard, the other one is Caller. Click on the "WIZARD" option.
You will see a new tab becomes available, that was hidden as a "CALLER" (the default).
The MOVES TAB now visible, allows you to edit the moves that make up the current Scheme.
Also... on the SONGS TAB ... you will see new options... the Beats option appears - and the Gears option appears. The third radio button is just the default view, the one seen by the Caller user.
So... how do these "Wizard" creations support the "Caller" view?
- BEATS: The Beats option allows you to record "beats" for new songs. Those are the little rectangles you see in the Caller view, correspond to "beats".
For dance purposes, typical salsa/timba music has 8 counts per measure. You should be able to identify the 1-beat of every measure. And as you play the music, be able to hit the "space bar" to record a beat on every 1 count.
Try it: click the "Record new beats" button... and start tapping! Yes... all through the song! I would dance a simple side step... or whatever suits you, to keep your taps on time!
When the song finishes playing, you are prompted to save the beats file.
From then on, you can assign MOVES to the song (using the Caller option). And you can share the beats file (via the RM website for example) with Caller users. Technical note: your beats file will be found on your hard drive, at My Documents/RuedaMaticEditor/compases_para_canciones. As said, even people using different schemes can use your beats file. When they download, or update, any scheme, the latest collection of beats is downloaded too. Contribute beats files, and callers will see whose work they are using!
- GEARS: After you've saved the beats for a song, you can assign GEARS. These allow you to characterize what the music is doing. These hints can be seen by the Caller user as he listens to the song and decides what move to call... as the timba drama unfolds.
BEATS - more:
It'll take a little practice getting the beats right.
The program will warn you if your "space bar clicks" don't seem to have a regular tempo. As you are getting used to the program, you can just quit and start over. For example, seeing yellow colors as you tap, indicate beats that seem to be 'off'.
Ideally, you hit the space bar perfectly on time, all the way through. But RM Editor can help if you make small mistakes. You can adjust times directly, or insert missing beats.
By clicking on each beat rectangle on the Songs tab, you have editing options (try it).
EXCEPTIONS: IRREGULAR BEAT INTENDED
The song may actually have different tempos as it continues... and then, you can ignore warnings.
After you record beats, you can test them by clicking PLAY. The waveform background changes color at each 1-count that you recorded.
Now... ideally... the color change comes on the 1-count. Exactly... precisely... beautifully... on the 1-count.
It's expected that the beats you record WILL come out slightly delayed... due to keyboard mechanics and processing delays. Often hitting the "-" nudge button 2 or 3 times will correct all the beats to perfection.
And if you over-correct... fix using the "+" button. You can adjust so that color changes happen right "on the beat".
GEARS - more:
The 2nd Wizard option on the Songs tab, is GEARS. When the BEATS are saved, you can a GEAR to each beat. (because a GEAR is actually saved inside the BEATS data)
There's a short dropdown list... taking into account the "gears" and phrases the musicians are going through in the song.
Gear changes are one of the signatures of Cuban timba music... the exciting phases the music... and the dancer... should express together. Read more on timba.com!
Who are the best dancers of timba music?
They are usually right at the front of the stage... yes, the suelta dancers! Watch them respond to the gear changes and you'll know what we mean. Kevin Moore of timba.com has some interesting material about how the dancers and the band work together as a song arrangement develops... week after week... over at Salon Rosado (La Tropical) in Havana.
Up til now, it's been considered pretty impossible for rueda callers to respond to that... as well as the suelta dancers do.
RuedaMatic is here to change that...
If the gear names we use are helpful, enjoy! If not, just consider the colours of each gear as clues to the caller, to pay attention and repect something the band is doing!
And record comments with the Gear... they can be seen by the Caller composing the call sequence.
According to Kevin Moore ... a third or more of timba music has Clave changes built-in to the arrangement. Often, it's another Timba feature... that suelta dancers respond to, but usually not recognized in rueda dancing.
If you have danced with a very good rueda caller... he/she usually hears the change quickly, and spontaneously calls "FOTO!". The dancers are supposed to freeze. The caller resumes on the "right side" again.
You will notice that CAMBIO is one of the gears in RM Editor. We suggest you use that on a irregular (short) measure in this case. When creating moves to fit those irregular measures, give them zero length in the move dialog. Then, those moves are suggested when you click that beat.
EXAMPLE: suppose the clave change is like the one in Sandunguera (referring to Manolito y su Trabucos cover version here). Look half-way down THIS PAGE on timba.com.
If you want to play with this, see the "Get More" tab in the RM program. Look for the Sandunguera example, download, and play with it. I use a special mambo step called "Mambo Corto", cut to 4 beats (2 taps) instead of 8 beats (4 taps).
By the way... they deal with that in NY style dance too.
OR... you can opt for the KISS approach: dance only songs that don't have a Clave change 😉. But... that's like not eating chocolate!
NOTE: THIS FEATURE IS IN TEST STAGE!
A "Combo" is a combination of Moves. You can select this option on the Moves tab. And Combos are also available when adding moves to a song call sequence.
What are Combos?
As a real-life rueda caller, you tend to think of combinations... a cluster of related calls, mixed in various permutations.
For example, one cluster of calls in the closed position, might start with "Enchufla y Arriba". Then a selection of moves would be appropriate for that position. They can be in various orders, and they can Tarro, Coquito, Coquita, Tarro sin Soltar, Abajo, Arriba, Sacala, Adentro y Afuera etc.
Then, you can finish in various ways. For example, the exit could be "Dile que No". Or it could be "Sacala" followed by "Rodeo".
A combo is ultimately is really like a tree of may such possibilities. It's like a flowchart, with branches. Each branch can be assigned a "weight" from 1-9, which works as a probability of following that branch.
A tree of moves where the branches are randomly selected.
If you want to add moves to schemes or create your own, please read this IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
...here's where you must know all about the "file system" on your computer... if you don't know already.
If you need to... take a short course to discover all about directories, files, file names, using the File Explorer... renaming, copying, moving... what is an MP3 file, using Voice recorder programs like Audacity... converting WAV files to MP3... etc.
If that doesn't sound like your game... just set your nav bar User to Caller... ignore this page... and stick to the fun part. Let someone else can do the Wizard work!
Take a look at your "Documents" folder, and find the folder "RuedaMaticEditor". Take a look in there.
Folder for beats
One subfolder is "compases_para_canciones". That contains all the beats files for songs. They exist outside the schemes. A beats file is valid for any scheme, so it can be shared across schemes.
Folder for schemes
The remaining folders all begin with "scheme_". These are the RuedaMatic "schemes" you have on your computer. It may be there's only 1, called "scheme_rueda_basica_normal". Or you might have a "salsa suelta" calls scheme, a "structures" scheme... or any separate set of moves that might be useful to you.
In each "scheme_..." folder, there's a "vueltas" subfolder, containing all the call files used in that scheme.
And along with the call files, a "moves.xml" file. That file contains the data in the "Moves" tab of RuedaMaticEditor.
Also, along with the "vueltas" folder, there's a folder "secuencias_para_canciones" where all the sequences you've made in this scheme are kept. Notice the sequence file names correspond to the music file name while you are at it.
Start a new scheme
Yes... you CAN start your own scheme folder, located alongside the others in the RuedaMaticEditor main folder. The name of the folder must begin "scheme_...". Fill in the dots with whatever name you like. We may suggest you copy an existing scheme folder... and its subfolders... so you know that you start with a valid file structure.
Use a voice recorder program to make MP3 files with each call in the "vueltas" folder. If your best microphone is on your cell, feel free to use it (probably e-mail the voice files to your PC).
You can convert sound files to MP3 using a free utility program called Audacity (or any other tool).
We suggest making a list of all the calls you want to use. Then start recording them, one after the other, in a single file. Then use a Audacity (or other tool) to break each call into its own file, e.g. "dile que no.mp3". We have a convention of using lower case and spaces for the call files, you will notice.
After you've made an MP3 file for each call, start up RuedaMaticEditor. Select your new scheme on the top nav bar. You will see the Dashboard tab shows a list of calls that haven't been entered into the program. Go to the Moves tab, and start adding each one of them.
A move length of "zero" is special. These moves can be chosen for a short beat with a "Cambio" gear set to it. E.g. a short mambo of just 4 counts: called Mambo Corto.
When you add moves in the Moves tab, then they are available for all songs in that scheme.
What's so hard about being a Wizard?
It gets trickier when you decide to change things1
Suppose you want to DELETE a move you decided that you don't like.
You want to delete it on the Moves tab.
But what about songs that are out there already, using that move?
RM Editor does help in one way. It doesn't allow the delete as long as it finds a SEQ file locally using the move.
The program will require you to remove or change that particular call... in all the songs... and THEN you are allowed to delete it.
Still there's a possible concern: if you haven't kept ALL the seq files on your computer, there's no way for RM Editor to fix files that aren't there.
Similarly if you CHANGE a move name...
You will find RM Editor will allow that, as long as the new move name is unique. And it will automatically change the name in any SEQ files in that scheme. As long as they are found on you local computer!