All posts tagged “Discovering Reason”
“More than just DX pianos”
In the last tutorial, I introduced the concept of FM algorithms, the ways in which FM operators can be connected together to create sounds. A Thor FM Pair Osc comprises two operators – a modulator that is permanently connected to the FM input of a carrier – and we can represent this as shown in figure 1.
Of course, Thor has three oscillator slots, and you can place an FM Pair in each of these so, by default, the standard algorithm offered by Thor is as shown in figure 2: three pairs that can be mixed together, but which don’t – for the moment – interact in any other way. There are many uses for this algorithm, which can be used to create very interesting string ensemble and organ patches, among others. But I fancy stepping beyond these, so I’m going to demonstrate this algorithm by showing you how to create an evolving pad that has a rich, analogue flavour.
Frequency Modulation (FM) has become the bogeyman of synthesis. Whereas, in the 1960s, people quickly grasped the concepts of these new-fangled oscillators, filters and contour thingies, the second generation of players shied away from the concepts of FM, to the extent that most FM synths were used for little more than their presets and the professionally programmed sounds that you could buy for them. Even today, if you look closely at Thor’s refills, you’ll find very few patches based upon its FM Pair Oscillator. This is a great shame, because FM is a very elegant system capable of remarkable feats of sound generation. So, this time, I’m going to introduce you to the principles of FM, and show you how to create what may well be your first FM sound.
Have you ever found yourself using a recent version of a software product like it was the same old version you used ten years ago? When you work so much with an application that the workflow migrates from your conscious mind to your muscle memory, it automatically becomes more difficult to pick up new tricks, and instead you will follow the path of least resistance and use the old method of doing things.
Over the years, Reason has seen many additions of new features, big and small. In this article we’re going to take a closer look at some of the small and sometimes overlooked items that were overshadowed by new instruments and other major features that stole the spotlight when Reason 4 was released.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how you can imitate analogue filter resonance using Phase Modulation synthesis, and offer two examples – a bass patch and a lead synth sound – that illustrate how you can use this.
Here’s a patch that I call “Grod’s Reso-Bass”:
I’m sure that you’ll recognise this type of sound, which was inspired by some old – but wonderful – analogue bass pedals that I used in the 1970s. Given that this sample was generated by Thor, it isn’t analogue of course, but it’s a great ‘virtual analogue’ sound, isn’t it? Don’t you just love that deep, resonant filter sweep? Except… this isn’t a virtual analogue patch, and that isn’t a filter sweep. Four modules generated this, and not one of them is a filter. The patch comprises just two oscillators and two envelope generators, and it’s another example of the brilliant Phase Modulation system developed by Casio in the 1980s, which has been almost universally (and unfairly) derided ever since.
In our tireless efforts to build new and exciting Reason devices from principal building blocks – because A) it’s fun, B) it showcases the modularity and flexibility of Reason, and C) we played with Lego as kids, and never really grew up – in this month’s Discovering we venture into the realm of complex delay effects. This is a category of FX for which there is no ready-made device in Reason’s toolbox; there’s the DDL-1 for your most basic delay needs, and there’s the RV7000 with its multitap and echo algorithms, but there is no Ultimate MegaDelay™ with six dozen knobs and a coffee machine.
Our mission today, then, will be to build our own in the garage. We’ll be using the trusty old DDL-1 digital delay as a starting point for these patches, and on that foundation we’ll add some flavor and spice to give the delay a unique texture. We’re presenting two patches; the first is a lo-fi delay from the olden days, and the second is a more complex and spaced out creation from an unspecified time in the future.