Tutorials

How to Make a Drum n Bass Track in Reason

Posted June 20, 2018, 6:50 a.m.

Drum ‘N’ Bass is a dance music subgenres that evolved from the tangled web of the UK’s underground rave scene in the 1980s and ‘90s, with roots in the broader genre of Breakbeat. Drum & Bass combines heavy synthesized bass lines with vocal samples from soul and reggae records to create an bold, energetic, and supremely danceable wall of sound. In this article and accompanying video, artist and producer Protostar will show you how to record a DnB track in Reason 10.

The defining element of Drum & Bass is its signature rhythm: it starts with the kick drum on beat 1, a snare hit on beat 2, a syncopated kick just after beat 3 on the “and,” and a final snare on beat 4. This core one-two-and-four pattern forms the heart of the groove and is almost never deviated from. Finally, it needs to be fast—tempos usually range between 160 and 180 BPM.

Load a drum loop into Dr. Octo Rex (anything with “DnB” in the name should suffice) and use the beatmaking tools in Reason 10 to make it your own. Hit the “Copy Loop to Track” button to create a MIDI track from your loop, or create your own pattern in Drum Sequencer—and use it to trigger dance sounds from Umpf Club Drums, one-shot samples from ReDrum, synthesized and acoustic drums from Kong, or all of the above. Attack and decay controls come in handy for fine-tuning stacked kicks and snares: try using just the attack from one sound, the body of another, and the decay tail of a third. Then sprinkle in a variety of loops, extra hits, and dub-like reverb and delay to keep the rhythm interesting.

The addition of a pounding synth bass serves a melodic role, and is what sets DnB apart from other dance genres. Sine and Triangle waves are great for a nice round bottom, squares and saw waves add edgy harmonics, and the right wavetable or granular patch can really get things sounding nasty. All of this is possible with Europa and Thor’s multiple oscillators, but stacking several synths in a Combinator will create a thick, complex sound. Flip the rack around and experiment with patching various filters and envelopes to the Synchronous Effects Modulator and Pulsar Dual LFO devices to give the bass some movement.

Now it’s time to add some extra flavor with samples. Samples are a staple of DnB (typically vocal phrases lifted from old soul and reggae records), and serve to break up the monotony of a constantly pounding beat. Load samples into Dr. Octo Rex or record your own, then slice them up or stretch the possibilities with the Grain Sample Manipulator. Almost any other sound can be added to the mix to give it character—soft dreamy pads, sampled keyboards, erratic zaps and sweeps, or just plain old noise.

Now that you’ve learned how to make a Drum & Bass track in Reason 10, it’s time to “break” it down for yourself!

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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.

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

Tutorials

How to make a track with BIAS AMP 2 in Reason 10

Posted Feb. 14, 2018, 2:47 p.m.

Join Paul Ortiz a.k.a. Chimp Spanner as he shows you how to get started making a track using the brand new BIAS AMP 2 virtual amp designer VST plugin by Positive Grid in Reason 10. Making use of the modular approach in the Reason rack, Paul utilizes both well-known Reason devices such as the Scream 4 Distortion unit as well as POD VST plugins by Line6 along with BIAS AMP 2.

BIAS AMP 2 by Positive Grid is the ultimate virtual amp designer, authentically recreating the tone and feel of real tube amplifiers, while allowing you to mix and match components to create your ideal amp. You can use Amp Match to clone the tone of real hardware or a guitar track, or connect to the ToneCloud® to gain access to thousands of custom amps from artists and recording studios, or upload your own custom tones to the cloud.

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Click here to enter a giveaway for a chance to win Reason 10 and BIAS AMP 2!

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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!

 

 

Artist stories

Music Talk: ZETA

Posted July 7, 2017, 8:38 a.m.

ZETA is a collaboration between Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner), Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) and Katie Jackson. The UK artists seek to push their own creative boundaries by exploring epic soundscapes that intertwine with stunning visuals.

This unique project fuses the retro synth heavy decade of the 80s with futuristic and breathtaking imagery, bringing past and future together in a Cyberpunk-esque package. With a huge span of influences ranging from metal, future garage, retrowave, prog, classical and various game and film soundtracks, their music embraces the sounds of electronica, but with textures and layers inspired by the whole musical spectrum.

We had a chat with Paul about creating music for ZETA and how Reason plays a big role in the creative process.

Tell us a bit about how ZETA came about and what your intention was when launching the project!

I guess it kinda formed by accident! So I'd known our singer Dan for a while through the Progressive Metal scene - I was busy with my project Chimp Spanner and he sings for TesseracT. We'd always planned on working together but just never got around to it. It wasn't until I shared a song of my partner Katie's that he approached me, thinking it was a song of mine. After I explained the mixup we decided that it'd be awesome to all work together and, here we are! Originally we'd intended to make a futuristic/chill kind of album, and then for a while it was all-out Synthwave, and then it naturally settled somewhere in the middle. I think it works because we all have a shared love of influences old and new, ranging from Tears for Fears, George Michael and Vangelis to Ghost in the Shell, Future Garage, sci-fi games and all of that.


Being an (almost all) electronic album, what was your approach on producing the album, as opposed to any guitar centered albums you've done previously?

Well the workflow was very different for me. I'm used to just writing on my own, instrumentally. With Zeta what'd usually happen is Katie would give me a MIDI file and a demo mixdown from Cubase. I'd listen a couple of times for reference and then dump the MIDI in Reason and basically start from scratch, then embellish with guitars or add new sections, chord changes, etc. So I guess it was more like re-mixing than anything. Then we'd send it off to Dan to do his thing, get the stems back and edit them in Reason, then figure out what needed to stay or go in the mix to make them fit. So yeah; for someone who's used to doing everything all at once it was a very different experience to bounce the songs around between three people. But it seems to have worked well. Of course some songs I wrote directly in Reason from start to finish but in either case the focus was on drums and bass. I found that once I nailed the rhythm section everything else fell into place, which really isn't too dissimilar to how I approach guitar music.

I've accumulated so many REs over the years that I had a device for just about every job, and where I didn't, I just made one myself in the Combinator.


How did Reason help you creatively when writing music for the album?

It's just fun! We tried Cubase at first; Silent Waves is actually the only track not made in Reason, and it would've been if I had been able to find the project. But I just wasn't happy with the sounds I was getting. Everything was kind of "cold", and I found the environment kinda taxing to work in, especially when it comes to automation. So we made the decision early on to switch. With Reason it felt like I was playing with a bunch of cool toys rather than working. I've accumulated so many REs over the years that I had a device for just about every job, and where I didn't, I just made one myself in the Combinator. But yeah more than anything it's just that fun factor. And then of course on a technical level the clip based automation is just such a time-saver. You can go really crazy with it and not have to worry about setting things back to the right position afterwards. In Cubase I'd normally just leave stuff as it is because I can't be dealing with my parameters being left at the wrong value after MIDI or host automation.

OK, synth nerd alert: what was the most used synth on the album?

Tough one! I'd say Antidote, just because it's so versatile. It's great for those dark unison Future Garage style basslines, as well as pads and leads. But beyond that, I used a lot of The Legend and Viking (wanted that authentic Moog kinda feel). And I'm pretty sure Quadelectra's Jackboxes are on every track (707, 808, Linn Drum). The Kings of Kong ReFill is also fantastic if you want even more retro drum machines. That features a lot also.

Any special, secret Reason production trick used in the process?

Well there's a tonne of side-chaining haha. Kinda comes with the synthwave/future territory. Typically what I'd do is take all my melodic elements (except for lead instruments and vocals) and put them in a group channel called "SC". Then I'd either key the compressor using audio from the kick, or more often than not I'd just use Pump RE and trigger it via MIDI. Having certain instruments outside of the side-chain group keeps the mix from sounding too ducked and keeps those elements more in focus. Also Audiomatic's Tape and Bottom presets got a lot of use on the album. I have no idea what they do, but they make the mixes sound kinda warm and fuzzy, and I like that. Scream's Tape setting is also great for warming up basses and kick drums. Distortion isn't necessarily a destructive tool. It can be really musical.

Scream's Tape setting is also great for warming up basses and kick drums. Distortion isn't necessarily a destructive tool. It can be really musical.


Any tips and tricks for mixing vocals in Reason?

Hmm, considering this was my first time mixing vocals, I think it might be me who needs a few tips and tricks! But I mean, it was a learning
experience. I'd say automate. Lots. I'm kind of a set-and-forget guy normally, but for vocals it just doesn't work. You have to really ride the faders and "play" the mix. Also try using ducking on your reverbs. So you could send a lead vocal to a nice long reverb with a compressor after it. Then use the Spider to take a copy of that dry vocal and send it to the sidechain input of the compressor. Kinda like lazy-man's automation. When there's singing there's less reverb. When there's no singing, there's more reverb. Works pretty well most of the time.

Could you share any synth patches used on the album?

Well a lot of the patches are really not that complicated; most of the basses and pads are really sort of "naked", in that they're not dressed up with a lot of effects or complex routing. It's mostly sawtooth oscillators (either dual detuned or something with a rich/wide unison section like Korg MonoPoly or Antidote) and then a suitable amp/filter envelope depending on whether it's a bass or a pad or whatever. I've included a few patches here, although they're not much to look at!

DownloadDownload Zeta's Reason presets here!
(Please note that some of the patches requires Rack Extensions)


A few people have asked about the snare on The Distance. And I can tell you it's a layered 707 snare, 707 low tom, and the BBGunSnare_BSQ sample from the Reason FSB, all running into a gated reverb! Ohhh and guitars are almost entirely presets from Kuassa's excellent amp REs!

Follow ZETA on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp.

LIsten to ZETA's new album here:

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