Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reason 3.0 guide: Matrix Tutorial

Hi y'all, back again with another Reason 3.0 tutorial. This time I'm going to teach you about the Matrix Pattern Sequencer. It is your basic audio step sequencer where you can create patterns or control effects and audio samples by laying out step triggers over a time grid. If you've ever used a music software sequencer program like Fruity Loops or any hardware based samplers you probably will catch on to using Matrix real quick in your Reason 3.0 audio projects.

So start Reason and load up a new rack. Now first add a synth into the empty bay. For this example I'm going to use Malstrom, which is a graintable synthesizer. It will also allow me to show you how to use Matrix to automate an effect such as Malstrom's filter.

Then right click in an empty space in the rack and load the Matrix pattern Sequencer. Alternately you can select it up in the top nav-bar under "Create".

Now you should see both units in Reason like this:


Reason 3.0 will automatically wire these together for you, so if you press play in Reaosn you will hear Malstrom firing off a steady series of notes. Also the little Run button light up in Matrix and you will see it cycling through the pattern which as of now is just the same note repeating. The fastest way to see how Matrix works is to right click it and choose "Randomize Pattern". Now if you hit play you should hear some crazy random sequence of audio notes. And you will see that the notes and volume values have all changed. To create your own step pattern just click inside the grid and set the notes to what you would like. If you flip the tiny switch labeled 1-5 directly left of the step grid you can cycle through all the different octaves to make high and low musical notes.

If you would like a longer or shorter pattern just change step LED from 16 to what ever value you need. Also turning the Resolution knob changes the note values (8th, 16th, quarter notes, ect..) Matrix lets you lay out up to 32 patterns, so once you've made a pattern you like hit the 1-8 buttons to start a new pattern and then if you fill those you got Bank A-D each containing 8 pattern slots.

The shuffle button lets you adjust the amount of swing in the pattern or loop. Flip it on and then turn the Pattern Shuffle know in the main Reason transport control to add varying amounts of swing.


Next I'll show you how to route the Matrix to control an effect. You do this by first putting Matrix into curve mode. Flip up the little switch from Keys to Curve right above the 1-5 octave switch. Then draw any random curve into the grid to test it out. Now to route this into an effect, sample, or parameter press your Tab key to flip over the Reason rack. Here you can see how all your soft sythns, drum machines, effects, whatever is wired together. So you can patch whatever you want together just like with real audio hardware. On the back of the Matrix you will see a cable insert labeled "Curve CV" this is what you use to send the curve pattern to the parameter of your choosing. Here just to test out the waters quickly since we Malstrom opened up click on the Curve CV insert and drag up into the Pitch insert on the back of Malstrom under the Modulation Input section. You will see that it creates a cable for you to drag and patch into any other unit just like in real life, pretty cool. Now if you hit play you will hear you pattern playing, but this time it's pitch is being modulated with the Matrix curve. Draw new curves in the grid with Reason playing and you'll soon get the idea of how it works.

Remember that you can patch the Matrix Curve CV into any synth, sampler, or effect and control them with it. Try it on filters, distortion, delays for example. Experimenting with drag and dropping cables in Reason 3.0 leads some interesting conclusions sometimes, so load up a bunch of units into the rack and mess around patching things together when you're looking for some inspiration.

Good luck building patterns within Reason 3.0 using Matrix. Once you get the basics down then as with all the audio tools in Reason it will let you dive deeper into your music and create many new sonic textures. Live long and prosper....

Propellerhead Reason 3.0 REsource

Monday, September 03, 2007

Reason 3.0 Tutorial: Using the Subtractor Synthesizer

In Reason there is the Subtractor. This is an analog-type polyphonic synthesizer based on subtractive synthesis, the same kind that analog synthesizers use. This tutorial will help you figure out and use this synth in your Reason audio/music projects.

Subtractor features:

Up to 99 Voice Polyphony.

Dual Filters.

A combination of a multimode filter and a second, linkable, lowpass filter allows for complex filtering effects.

Two Oscillators, each with 32 waveforms.

Frequency Modulation (FM).

Oscillator Phase Offset Modulation.

Two Low Frequency Oscillators (LFO:s)

Three Envelope Generators.

Extensive Velocity Control.

Oscillators generate two basic properties, waveform and pitch (frequency). The type of waveform the oscillator produces determines the type of sound and the timbre.

Start up Reason, go up to File at the top and select New. This will give you a blank Reason rack with a mixer on top. Now either right click in the rack space and choose the Subtractor or choose it from Create up in the navbar.

First thing to do is select an oscillator waveform. In the top middle of Subtractor you'll see both of the oscillators (Osc 1, Osc 2) along with the controls for each.


Oscillator 1 provides 32 waveforms. The first four are standard waveforms, and the rest are "special" waveforms.

If you have no idea how to use waveforms or their differing characteristics, I suggest you do a Google search and brush up on them. It will help out when using Reason 3.0 along with any other audio software programs and soft or hardware synths. There is tons of free info around the web, also check back here soon as I plan on writing a post on waveform, synthesizer basics.

Click the little up and down arrows to select a waveform. You will see the waveforms changing in the LED looking display they are shown using standard waveform symbols, and the special waveforms are numbered 5 - 32.

Now next to the waveform box you'll see three other LED's where you can set the frequency (pitch) of the waveform. Octave, Semitone, and Cent controls are here. Octave allows you to change the pitch in octaves, other words in huge leaps of pitch from high to low. I usually use this to get into the ballpark of frequency I want. Then semitones let you raise the pitch up by half-steps, think of this as going up the piano keys. Then Cent would be used for ultra fine tuning of the pitch you would like. be careful when using cent as it can throw you off of standard instrument tuning and clash with other instruments slightly, unless that's what you're going for I would suggest not messing with the Cent control while still learning the basics.

Reason 3.0 Subtractor gives you not one but two Oscillator to work with. This second one is setup basically the same but when using it you can modulate Osc 1 in certain ways as I'll get to later. By turning on Osc 2 you can build intervals using the semitone control, i.e. 5 semitones equal a Perfect 4th musical interval. Get to studying music notation and theory some time if don't understand any of this.

And of course the Mix knob will let you set the volume mix between both Oscillators.

Noise Generator
The Noise Generator produces noise instead of a pitched waveform. Noise can be used to produce a variety of sounds, such as "wind" or "crashing wave" sounds, other common applications include non-pitched sounds like drums and percussion, or simulating woodwind instruments.

To use the Noise generator first, turn Osc 2 off, then turn on the little Noise light. Now play a few notes on your MIDI keyboard and you should now hear Osc 1 mixed with the sound of the Noise Generator. Try turning the Mix knob all the way to the right, and play a few more notes. Now just the Noise Generator is coming through. There are three knobs to control the Noise Generator parameters. Noise decay controls how long it takes for the noise to fade out when you play a note. Noise Color controls the tone of the noise, left for lower tones, and right for higher pitched frequencies. And level controls the volume of the noise generator.

Experiment with these controls within Reason on the Subtractor Synthesizer and you will soon get the hang of how waveforms and sythns basically work and are set-up. In the next Reason tutorial I'll explain Subtractor's deeper controls such as, Frequency Modulation (FM), Ring Modulation, LFO's, Filters, Envelopes, ect.. Have fun implementing your new synth toy into all your Reason 3.0 or other music/MIDI projects.

Propellerhead Reason 3.0 REsource

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Beat and Sound Database

If your looking to pump up your Reason music projects with some new samples, beats, and sounds check out Beats365. This site has an excellent database of unique resources to add to your audio. They provides thousands of royalty-free beats and over 10 gigabytes of sound samples. I found some real high quality material on here to use with Reason.

  • Beats365

  • Propellerhead Reason REsource

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    Tweaking REdrum - Reason Tips

    When building patterns with Reason REdrum, take advantage of the many features available to create realistic sounding beats. Use the dynamics slider while programming on the step sequencer to alter the dynamics and velocity levels. A human drummer varies the volume levels of percussive hits, and to add some life to your audio beats and loops it is necessary to do the same. So mix it up with the Hard, Medium, and Soft dynamics settings to add accents to the track.

    Adding Flam to your drum hits adds another layer to the pattern. A flam is a brief soft tap on the instrument right before the main hit. Turn on the flam switch and experiment adding it to your REdrum patterns.

    Another thing to try out when constructing beats, is to give to pattern some shuffle. Shuffle gives the music a sense of push-pull and adds a swing feel to the track. To use Shuffle turn on the Shuffle button and adjust the amount with the Pattern Shuffle dial in the lower right of Reason’s transport control.

    Propellerhead Reason REsource

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    SubTractor Analog Synthesizer

    Propellerhead Reason features the SubTractor Analog Synthesizer; a software synthesizer based on subtractive synthesis: the two oscillators generate a "raw" waveform (e.g. a sine wave or sawtooth wave), then passed through audio filters to alter the final result.

    Apart from the 2 main oscillators, the SubTractor also contains a noise generator, high-pass filter, low-pass filter, band-pass filter and notch filter possibilities, 2 LFOs and several ADSR envelopes. The SubTractor can only produce monaural sounds. Interestingly, the subtractor is the only device in Reason whereby the user is able to loosen and remove the four outside screws.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Enhance Your Reason Tracks With Stereo Separation

    One great way to add another layer to your music is by adding subtle stereo separation. You do this by adding a tiny delay to either the right or left channel of a track. It's easy to set-up in Reason.

    First start a new project. This should start you out with mastering suite and a mixer. Now create a sound unit, I'll use Redrum Drum Computer as an example, and create a DDL-1 Digital Delay Line.

    Press Tab to flip the rack and get ready to rewire it for stereo separation. Now remove either the right or left input cable of the delay unit from the Redrum output and patch it directly into the proper mixer input. So, you should have either right or left output of Redrum going to the delay line then to the mixer, and the other output going directly into the mixer.

    Propellerhead Reason Delay LineClick to Enlarge

    Flip the rack back. On the Digital Delay Line select the little ms (milliseconds) button, this will allow you to change the time of the delay. First boost the delay time number to test the channel separation, try around 400. Now when you hit a note you will hear it first on one side then the delay on the other stereo side. As right then left or left then right, depending how you connected it. Once this is working just drop the delay time from 400 to a really quick delay time. Play around with a time of 10 to 40 ms, this should give you a great start to stereo separating your tracks.

    Now you will have a Reason track where one side triggers slightly after the other which creates a layer of time and space. This works great on drums, especially hi-hats. Experiment within Reason as it is a deep program and good luck.

    Propellerhead Reason REsource

    Propellerhead Reason History

    Reason 1.0 was released in November 2000. The program's design mimics a studio rack into which users can insert virtual devices such as instruments, effects processors and mixers. These modules can be controlled from Reason's built-in MIDI sequencer or from other sequencing applications such as Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and GarageBand via Propellerhead's ReWire protocol.

    As of version 3.0, modules available include two mixers, a subtractive synthesizer, a graintable synthesizer and four different kinds of sample players - one with a step sequencer designed for drums/percussion, two for tonal instruments, and a sliced loop playback device. Effects include distortion, reverb, chorus, a vocoder and mastering effects. The Combinator device, introduced in version 3.0, allows users to combine multiple modules into one. Another device connects Reason to Propellerhead's (now discontinued) ReBirth.

    One of the most striking aspects of Reason's interface comes into play with the Toggle Rack command, which flips the rack around to display the devices from the rear. Here the user can route virtual audio and control cables from one piece of equipment to another in an almost unlimited number of ways. This cable layout enables the creation of complex effects chains and allows devices to modulate one another in creative ways.

    Unlike many other audio applications, Reason cannot record audio tracks or be expanded with third-party plug-ins. Some users complain about these limitations; others argue that they can be easily surmounted by using Reason in tandem with another application that has these capabilities.

    A stripped-down version of Reason known as Reason Adapted is packaged as bonus software with other audio software such as Pro Tools LE. It restricts the user to a limited number of devices.

    The program's name was taken from software used by the lead character in Douglas Adams's novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Early in development it was known as Realizer (after the PPG Realizer). The English band The Prodigy has used Reason as a production tool, as has Andre 3000 (Outkast). It is required, along with a laptop computer and other music production equipment, of new students at the Berklee College of Music.

    * More Posts *