Tutorials

Making a Jazzy Boom Bap Beat in Reason 10

Posted Feb. 15, 2018, 10:44 a.m.

The world of hip-hop music production is full of genres and sub-genres, each with its own unique history and style. Take Boom Bap hip-hop for example. The central elements are a hard-hitting sampled kick drum (boom) and snare drum (bap), typically with the snare on two and four and the MC rapping on the beat.

Boom Bap developed out of the 1980s New York City breakbeat scene, and hit peak popularity in the 1990s, when artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Nas and A Tribe Called Quest made Boom Bap one of the defining sounds of hip hop. Hip hop production has evolved a great deal since then, with the snare sound frequently replaced with a hand clap or other sample. Still, Boom Bap remains a popular, albeit retro technique that’s sometimes incorporated into other types of hip hop.

One such variation is Jazzy Hip Hop, which is related to the electronica subgenre Chill Hop. It features a mellow, jazzy groove made up of Boom Bap drums and short chordal samples taken from jazz records that typically provide much of the harmonic content.

Reason 10 provides the perfect toolset for creating Boom Bap and Jazzy Hip Hop beats, among many other styles. With myriad instruments and sample players, a massive effects collection, and powerful recording, editing and mixing features, all you need to add is your creativity.

In this video, producer, musician and educator Stefan Guy (stefanguyaudio.com) takes you step-by-step through the creation and production of a Boom Bap/Jazzy Hip Hop beat using Reason 10. He deploys Reason instruments such as Kong Drum Designer, NN-XT Advanced Sampler, and the brand-new Humana Vocal Ensemble—along with effects like Audiomatic Retro Transformer (which he uses for vinyl emulation)—showing you lots of cool production tricks along the way.

Follow Stefan Guy on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Make a Boom Bap track yourself with a free trial of Reason 10!

Artist stories

Artist Feature: Weval

Posted Feb. 15, 2018, 10:24 a.m.

Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte Albers are the brains and muscle of Weval. Together they dream up slow-burning, emotive and highly dynamic electronic music with a taste for danceable drama and epic melodies.

Debuting in 2013 with the „Half Age EP“, Weval have since released two more EPs and in 2016, their sonic expedition moved deeper into uncharted territory with the self-titled debut-full length „Weval“ - not a mere collection of interchangeable tracks, but an organically flowing record with emotional heft and a narrative thread.

 

 

We had the chance to speak with Harm and Merijn about how they are using Reason to produce their electronic landscapes.

When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?
It depends on the mood we want to build, but mostly starting with chopping up a organic drumbeat.

What's your favorite thing in Reason?
Dr. Octo Rex - can't do anything without this tool.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
When we discovered the tape distortion setting in Scream, in combination with reverb (especially if you put the reverb before the distortion) we were extremely happy. That's one of the first things we discovered, after that we felt a lot more confident about our sounds. We still use this technique.

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Dr. Octo Rex, Scream and Redrum.

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there? How do you tackle writer’s block?
There is no simple way to tackle a writers block. If it's really there for a long time, maybe then it's time to do something totally different outside of making music, which gives you some new input.

What's the best music making tip you ever got?
Never boost a digital equalizer, especially above 500 Hz. It can destroy a sound and make it sound harsh. If we want more presence we cut out the lows instead of boosting the highs.

What’s your all-time favorite album?
Haha, that's impossible to answer! Maybe it's the first Connan Mockasin album, or Radiohead's In Rainbows.

Follow Weval on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud

Artist stories

Artist Feature: Tora

Posted Feb. 7, 2018, 12:28 p.m.

Tora is a four-piece electronic band born in Byron Bay, Australia. The group formed in 2013, fusing plush, layered production and instrumentation with graceful vocals. Their soulful electronic music has had them compared to seminal artists such as Radiohead and James Blake. Tora has been busy touring and making a name for themselves at venues and festivals such as Glastonbury, Falls Festival, Splendour In The Grass, The Great Escape UK and Canadian Music Week.

We sat down to speak with vocalist and guitar player Jo Loewenthal about their workflow in Reason both in the studio and on tour.

 

 
What's your favorite addition in Reason 10? 
I love Europa, that thing is such a beast, it’s got everything that I wished Thor had!
 
How do you get started with a new song? What sparks your creativity? 
Usually I just sit down, load up an instrument and just play the first thing that comes to my head. I find if I don’t think about it and just roll with the first ideas, and keep following that path I usually end up with something I like. Once I’ve written some parts on a couple of instruments, I tweak the sounds to be the way I can imagine them to be in my head. I find that the times when I go in trying to create a particular vibe, it restricts me and prevents me from discovering new things, so I like to approach it all freely and just listen to my subconscious ideas as they pass through my mind.
 
What's the best music making tip you ever got?
When something isn’t impacting like you want it to, try muting some layers, it creates space and helps you realise what is clashing or what isn’t working. Also make sure that every layer sounds nice on it’s own.
 
"try muting some layers, it creates space"
 
Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
I try not to use the same tricks in everything, to avoid sounding the same always, but I do love sidechaining long reverbs to give the whole track a pulsing vibe. I’ll make a parallel of an instrument or vocal part, then put a long reverb in the rack on that channel and set it to fully wet, then have a compressor after it and have a kick pattern routed into the side chain on the compressor. You can mix it in as loud or soft as you like, I usually keep it quite subtle but I find it adds a lot to the track when used in the right way.
 
The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
  • Pulveriser is easily my most used device, I use it on almost everything.
  • Audiomatic Retro Transformer is also something I use a lot, especially on synths.
  • NN-XT is the most used instrument for me, I often sample my own sounds and put them into the NN-XT, I just love how much control it gives you.
     
Jo in the Propellerhead Studio in Stockholm.

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?
Well that’s very rare, but it can happen. Usually I’ll go for a walk, or do something physical and completely unrelated to music to clear my head, then come back to the studio and listen to some music I’ve never heard before, also some of my favourite artists to get perspective. Usually by that point I’ll be ready to make music, but if not then I guess I’d just come back tomorrow, but I don’t think that’s ever happened.
 
"what am I listening to? This guy is twisted". I thought it was terrible"
 
What’s your all-time favorite album?
This question is impossible to answer, because I have too many faves. But there’s one album that really changed my perspective on music. I remember the first day I heard it I thought to myself: "what am I listening to? This guy is twisted". I thought it was terrible. But came back to it a couple of weeks later and suddenly I understood it and from that day on I had a completely different outlook on music. For me, this album is the most original and inventive piece of work I’ve ever heard, I don’t know how he imagined it up.
 
James Blake - James Blake (2011)
 
 
Follow Tora on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify or visit their website.
 
 
 
 
Artist stories

Meet Retrowave artist Michael Oakley

Posted Jan. 22, 2018, 9:20 a.m.

Michael Oakley is a Scottish electronic musician whose retro sounding music is a love letter to 1980's synth-pop. Described as "melancholic postcards from the heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines", his debut album California was released fall 2017 to critical acclaim from The Huffington Post and NewRetroWave.

We took some time off Michael's hands to talk a bit about how he works with his music in Reason.
 

What's your favorite thing in Reason 10?

Without a doubt my favourite new addition to Reason 10 is the Grain Sample Manipulator. It makes granular synthesis so easy and accessible. The possibilities are endless and I particularly like loading in vocal samples and creating lush pads or rhythmic textures. Using it makes me feel like what I imagine it must have felt like to use a Fairlight CMI for the first time all those years ago in terms of having endless possibilities for sample manipulation and new sound creation. It's so much fun to use.

"The possibilities are endless"


How do you get started with a new song? What sparks your creativity?

Prior to writing I spend time creating my own soundbank which is basically a folder on my desktop with all my favourite patches from various Reason Refills that I have or sounds I have created from scratch. I have them all categorised into subfolders like bass, pads, analog poly, leads. One of my favourite things about using Reason is that you can save sounds from different instruments into the same folder and browse through easily.

I usually find by browsing through all my hand picked favourite sounds that inspiration usually comes quickly. I like to create a mood and work with that. I then go to my piano and develop the chords/melody until I have a structure and go back to Reason to score things out more clearly.

What's the best music making tip you ever got?

Enjoy what you're doing and always make music for the love of doing it. People relate to that and can feel that energy when they listen to your music regardless of wether they like it or not. Sincerity is the best instrument you can put in your music for sure.

"Enjoy what you're doing and always make music for the love of doing it"


Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?

I like to group things together in Reason and then use the Scream 4 Tape setting to glue everything in each group. I use Scream 4 on everything nearly. It's my most used effects unit. It's so versatile.


The three most used devices in your Reason rack?

1.  Scream 4: I'm surprised this isn't available as a VST because it's the best effects unit I've used in any program. I use it to tape compress things, I use it to make lead sounds pop with the overdrive setting, I use it to bit crush drums or bass sounds and make them sound crunchy. I couldn't live without this!


2.  Thor: When this got added to Reason 4.0 I was super excited. I love the different oscillator options and programming capabilities. I would challenge anyone to name an analog or digital synthesizer sound that can't be created in Thor. It just sounds fantastic.


3.  RV7000: I use at least three of these on the main mixer's auxiliary channels. It's great for simple room reverb just to soften and give a sense of space, but is also amazing for really long spacious effects on pad sounds. I also love the DRM 80s gated plate preset for my drum machine sounds.

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?

In those moments it's usually either time to listen to some new music and discover something which moves me, or get a new Reason Refill and play through some new patches until I find a something I like. Sometimes it requires taking a break as I have been guilty in the past of spending too many hours staring at a computer screen.

What’s your all-time favorite album?

Endless Summer - The Midnight

 

Follow Michael Oakley on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube.

Start creating Retrowave music yourself with the free trial of Reason.

Tutorials

Making a Synthwave track in Reason 10

Posted Jan. 15, 2018, 12:46 p.m.

Over the last few years, a new retro music genre has emerged, bloomed and taken on a life of its own. Synthwave, or Retrowave is an electronic music genre heavily influenced by the sounds and aestethics of 1980s movies and its soundtracks (think John Carpenter, Vangelis etc) and video games. This nostalgia-induced style of electronic music pays tribute to the style, feel and sound of the 80s. Musically, Synthwave music often draws inspiration from bands that build their musical foundation on drum machines and (nowadays) classic synthesizers.

Emerging in the late 2000’s, Synthwave acts like Kavinsky, College and Com Truise were among the first to make the genre widely known and loved. Both Kavinsky and College were featured in the Synthwave-heavy soundtrack for the movie Drive, which definitely helped many discover the sounds of Synthwave and bring the genre into the mainstream. The Netflix hit show Stranger Things also features Synthwave music in its soundtrack and the whole series could of course also be considered an homage to 80s movies.

Synthwave music is often inspired by and based around 80s style components such as drum machines (such as the Linn Drum) and analogue synthesizers like the Roland Juno and Jupiter 8, mixed with more modern production techniques like creative use of sidechain compression.

With its rich plethora of drum machines and analogue inspired synthesizers, picking Reason to produce a Synthwave track is a perfect match. Here to show you how it’s done is producer and musician Paul Ortiz of Synthwave group ZETA.

Producer, musician and Reason producer Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner) is a member of Synthwave group ZETA, along with Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) and Katie Jackson. Together they fuse the retro synth heavy decade of the 80s with futuristic and breath-taking imagery, bringing past and future together in a Cyberpunk-esque package that is ZETA.

Follow ZETA on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp.

Make a Synthwave track yourself with Reason's free trial!