Hard-hitting Dubstep drums

Posted Oct. 6, 2014, 2:44 p.m.

Hard-hitting drums that really cut through the mix is key to any electronic music. But how do you get it right? Luckily, Max Rehbein is here to show you. Learn how to layer your sounds, EQ to perfection and spice things up with creative FX in this advanced tutorial.

Posted Oct. 6, 2014, 2:44 p.m.

Terry Bozzio on Music Making

Posted Dec. 2, 2013, 4:11 p.m.


Terry Bozzio is one amazing drummer. He's played with countless musicians and constellations, including Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck. Terry doesn't only play the drums though! For his own compositions he often turns to Reason.

How do you approach music making in Reason?
I use reason in so many different ways. Sometimes I just search through sounds until I find something I like & then create around that sound. When I use a keyboard I always like to try the sounds at the lowest & highest registers (where the sounds were not designed to be played) to find unique effects I can compose with. I like using the keyboard to get human or loose phrasing without quantization. On the other hand, I have used no keyboard & just use the MIDI sequencer to punch in notes one at a time. I've composed many classical pieces this way. I find it much like working a crossword puzzle! It has to make sense vertically & horizontally!

I can't compose well without the feedback of good sounding instruments. Reason provides that when using realistic sounds. Also, I have put my entire drum set & many of my own percussion samples into Redrum or the NN-XT sampler. I can create beats & sounds that are truly me! I'm not a good keyboard player but I have done pretty cool solos in Reason & if I made mistakes I can go back in and correct them to make it as I intended. Using the above I have been able to create realistic sounding classical pieces, ambient electronic pieces, realistic drum playing on fusion like pieces & hybrids of all of the above.

Do you have any special tips on staying creative and productive?
I think it is to make music my "secret hobby" to act as if I am doing this only for myself & I don't have to play it for anyone for their approval. I try to act as if this was a "McGuffin" or just a private experiment done in a non-judgemental way for my own enjoyment.

And when writer's block strikes?
Just keep on or switch to another piece. Most of the best stuff I have done comes to me while watching TV with Reason! I'll mute when it gets boring & plug in some notes. Then if it sounds good in the morning I keep at it!

What has been the best moment in your music making career thus far?
I think when I enjoy listening to something I wrote over & over for myself only, and it really makes me want to hear it again!

(Aside from all the great live performance situations I have had with the greats like Zappa, Beck, Jagger, Acuna, Holdsworth, The Metropole Orkest, sold out solo theatre tours etc. etc.!!!

Any words of wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
Well, aside from the above, you have the most incredible technology to realize your ideas with! If mozart had Reason he would have composed 24/7! You have the means now to make music by yourself anywhere, anytime, even without the parameters & restrictions of a musical education! Who knows what wonderful stuff will come out of it?! Please just follow your heart & do it!

Posted Dec. 2, 2013, 4:11 p.m.

Remapping incoming MIDI from your digital drum kit

Posted Oct. 18, 2013, 9:09 a.m.

I have a digital drum kit that sends MIDI, but making sure sent notes trigger the right drum pads in Kong is a bit tricky. Hitting the floor tom triggers the snare drum, the snare drum triggers the crash, and so on. This can temporarily be solved by using the right-hand drum assignment buttons in Kong, but such changes are not persistent when changing patches. Ideally, remapping of incoming notes would happen behind the scenes so that Kong receives the proper notes to begin with. This would also enable us to load entire drum kit patches in Kong without losing the remapping.

Thanks to Thor and Combinator (and most of all to Leo who came up with this solution) I now have a general purpose Reason patch that does exactly this, and I thought I'd share it to anyone who might have the same problem. Keep reading if you want to know how it works in detail, or just download the patch right away:


It is called Millenium MPS-100 because that's the name of my drum kit but of course it applies to any kit, although you might have to edit the mapping. However, such change is trivial and you will only have to do it once. Here's how it works:

Inside the Combinator is a Kong and ten Thors, one for each drum. This includes open and closed hi-hat as well as the hi-hat pedal itself as three separate drums. Each Thor has a cable going from its CV1 output to the Gate In input on the corresponding Kong pad. The modulation matrix in Thor has one entry with the source Voice Key > Velocity, amount 100 and destination CV Output > 1. This will send any incoming notes to the CV output that is routed to Kong.

All ten Thors are set up this way, with the only difference being that they are routed to different Kong pads. Now, playing a drum will trigger a pad, but you will discover that in fact all the routed pads are played at the same time for all the drums. The last step in making this patch work is to make it only trigger a pad if one specific drum/note is played. This is done using the programmer section of the Combinator:


As seen in the image, the Thors have been appropriately named for easy reference. Each unit is then selected in the list on the left side, and its key narrowed down from the initial range over many notes to just one single note, by dragging the left and right handles right beneath the keyboard. This single note is then moved to the note coming from the drum kit. The easiest way to figure out what notes the drum kit is sending is to simply press record in Reason, hit each drum once in some order that is easy to remember, then look at the recorded notes in the sequencer.

Mission accomplished! The drum kit will now play the correct notes regardless of its initial configuration, and this patch can be saved and reused whenever you would normally use a Kong. I've seen people resort to additional MIDI software to do something like this at a system level, which just seems overkill. If your drum kit has no way to alter the MIDI out data, which is the case for most lower-end kits, this is the perfect solution. Once again, the power and versatility of Thor saves the day.

On a last note (no pun intended): If more people are doing this, a collaborative ReFill could be built and maintained with remapped Kong patches for various drum kits. Feel free to start a thread in the user forum and share your own configurations.

Posted Oct. 18, 2013, 9:09 a.m.

Drum Machine 101 with Redrum

Posted Sept. 11, 2013, 11:25 a.m.

Ever since Reason 1.0 beatmakers, producers, and button-mashers alike have all loved the venerable old Redrum Drum Computer. And it's easy to see why. Step sequencing drum machines like Redrum or even the classic Roland 808 offer a nearly perfect layout for programming the rhythmic syncopated beats used in so many popular music genres. The 16 buttons, representing the 16 steps in the beat, provide the right blend of predictable beat construction and random experimentation when you want to spice up your beats.

In this micro tutorial, we'll get you started with drum step sequencing and get familiar with the Redrum's layout. You'll soon learn why producers the world over love Kong but also keep coming back to Redrum for that special creative simplicity.

Posted Sept. 11, 2013, 11:25 a.m.

Kong's Synth Drums

Posted Sept. 7, 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Has music just not sounded the same to you since Miami Vice went off the air? Then you're in luck! The synth drums in Kong bring analog drum sounds back to your music. Most analog sounds these days are sampled, meaning the sound you load is the sound you've got. In this micro tutorial you'll see how easy it is to make wonderfully tweakable analog synth drums and assign them to your pads.

Posted Sept. 7, 2013, 11:46 a.m.