Random Melodies

Posted Feb. 15, 2016, 9:08 a.m.

Here's a nifty trick that might not have a occurred to you before. It comes - again - from my nasty shameful habit of using hardware, where often necessity can be the mother of invention.

We're going to use the RPG-8 arpeggiator to randomly generate a melody. You might think of this as a tool for inspiration, or perhaps even some kind of semi-generative, or algorithmic method of composing. I like to think of it as cheating.

The long and the short of it is that we're going to set  up the RPG-8 to play a very slow arpeggio using a random pattern, but then we're only going to allow it to play the first note of the arpeggio. Essentially, for every note in the melody, instead of specifying a single note, we suggest several possibilities, and leave it up to chance which note is played.

First, decide the shape of your melody - where do you want the notes to play? Then decide which notes you want to select from. In this example, I've used the Akebono scale, quite common in traditional Japanese music. At each position on the grid where I want a note to sound, then, I've added all of the notes in the scale starting with A: A, B, C, E, F, and A. Where I felt the melody should descend, I used the same notes, but discarded the top A and played the E and the F an octave lower - see the screenshot below.

This clip is repeated throughout the piece - as you can hear, it plays differently each time.

The next part of the trick is setting up the RPG-8 to choose one of the notes to play at each step in the melody. Set the arpeggiator mode to random and decide on your range. If you want the melody to use ONLY the notes that you've entered, then leave the default range of one octave. I've selected two octaves, so that not only will the melody use the notes I've laid out on the grid, but also notes an octave above.

The most important step, though, is this: make sure that the step interval you choose for the rate is the same as the shortest gap between the notes in your melody. In the example here, no two notes are further than an 1/8 note apart, so I've selected a rate of 1/8.

It's adaptable, too. As noted above, if you feel that at a certain point the melody should descend (or ascend), you can shift your block of notes - all of them or just some of them - down (or up) an octave, almost like an inversion of a chord. You can add or remove notes from your block. Or, rather than leaving things up to chance, you can even remove all notes but one if it's important that a particular note plays at a particular point. And it doesn't need to be limited to melodies only - you could use the same technique to add some unpredictiability to your rhythm patterns, for example.

Posted Feb. 15, 2016, 9:08 a.m.

Two Knobs That'll Change Your Mixing

Posted Feb. 3, 2016, 12:12 p.m.



Sure, the title of this video reads like classic click-bait but in this case I actually stand by its claim! There are two knobs in Reason's mixer that far too often get overlooked by people new to mixing. Unsurprisingly, these knobs are seldom overlooked by professional mix engineers and once you learn to use them, you'll start using them just as much in everything you do.

The High Pass and Low Pass Filter in Reason's main mixer helps you achieve something called "frequency slotting," which is just jargon for this result: Your instruments won't be fighting each other for the same space in your mix. In this tutorial, Ryan shows us how to get clarity and definition out of your mix by mindfully considering the important frequencies for each instrument in your music.

Try out Reason here:
http://propellerheads.se/tryreason

Posted Feb. 3, 2016, 12:12 p.m.

Dirty Reese Bass: Custom Patch Design

Posted Jan. 22, 2016, 3:32 p.m.

People have been requesting we show a method for creating currently trending version of a classic sound: the Reese Bass - namely, the "Dirty" Reese Bass, which is characterized by heavy distortion, compression, and filtration. When it comes to dirt, grit, and nasty sounds, Malström is a fantastic tool for the job. So in this tutorial I'll show you one of the many ways you can approach this type of sound, while thinking out loud along the way so you can gain some insight into custom patch creation in the Reason Rack.

/Ryan

Routing Effects Returns to Their Own Mix Channel

Posted Dec. 7, 2015, 12:40 p.m.

I touched on this before in my earlier article about creating a Shimmer reverb, but I want to talk about it more now - routing an effects return to its own mix channel.

Normally when adding a send effect to the Reason rack, you'd route the signal from the FX send at the back of the Master Section to the input of the effects unit, and then from the output of the effects unit to the FX return at the back of the Master Section, as shown below.

Instead, let's route the output of the send effect to its own mixer channel - like this:

Why would we do this? By routing the return from the effects device to its own channel, we're effectively isolating it, and now we can do all sorts of creative stuff with it. Here's a snippet of a hang drum with a touch of chorus, delay, & reverb.

Now I've routed the same piece through a long reverb, the outputs of which are routed to their own mixer channel. This mixer track is panned 100% to the right. This gives the reverb an interesting character of its own, but also makes the pre-effect signal stand out against the background.

Here's the same thing again, but now I've added an Audiomatic Retro Transformer as an insert effect on the mixer channel and some automation, panning the mixer channel slowly from right to left and back again.

Having the effect return on its own channel in the mixer also enables setting up a feedback loop, whereby the output of the effects unit is returned to the input to be processed again. You can achieve this by activating the send that's routed to the effect that's feeding the mixer channel. Be careful with this option, and be ready with the fader if you try it, because things can get out of control very quickly!

Isolating the effect return on its own track will also enable you to use the channel strip's EQ and dynamics processing on the effect return, and you can view the return in the spectrum analyser.

Using the various bounce options availble for mixer channels, you can even render the effect return without the original signal. Here I've added some sequenced gating and filters as further insert effects and then renderned just the effect return channel in the mixer by itself, and then added a beat.

I've used a reverb in this article, mostly because it's an effect with a long tail that makes demonstration easy - but any effect is fair game. Give it a try!

- craig

Liquid Drum n' Bass: Super Neat Beat Cheat Sheet

Posted Nov. 19, 2015, 2:56 p.m.

Saying "Drum n' Bass" is practically as vague as saying Rock n' Roll. There's a world of difference between Jerry Lee Lewis and Gwar - even if they share some common heritage. Similarly, Liquid Drum n' Bass is a popular variant of the original Drum n' Bass styles coming out of the UK in the 90s. Liquid DnB fuses modern EDM production with the essence of classic DnB for an increasingly popular result.

Here, Ryan shows you how you can put together your own Liquid DnB drum sounds and perhaps most importantly, how you can tap into the Pro potential of Reason's mixer to get some seriously punchy drum sounds.