Tutorials

How to Make Future Bass Tracks in Reason 10

Posted July 18, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Reason’s unique workflow and extensive sound library gives you everything you need to immerse yourself in the world of future bass production. Check out this video by producer and artist Protostar to learn!

Turn on any Top 40 radio station and you’ll hear the fresh sounds of future bass dominating airplay. But what is future bass? And how do the genre’s top producers create it?

In this tutorial, we’ll break down the defining elements of future bass and demonstrate how Reason 10’s unique workflow and vast collection of instruments and effects can help you create your next future bass anthem.

Pioneered by producers like Flume, Louis The Child, Marshmello, and The Chainsmokers, future bass is one of the hottest new EDM genres today. Combining the percussive grooves of trap and dubstep with the lush textures and gentle bounce of pop, future bass is known for its melodic arrangement of pulsing “supersaw” synth chords and rhythmic pitched vocal samples.

As with all forms of dance music, it helps to start your new song by looping a repetitive groove that makes you want to move. Reason 10 is packed with tools for creating infectious drum patterns—load up to eight percussion loops with the Dr. Octo Rex loop player, or program your own patterns from scratch using Reason’s massive sound library and Redrum drum machine. For a more experimental approach, try using Reason 10’s Kong Drum Designer to sculpt a combination of samples and synthesis and create never-before-heard drum sounds.

Once you’ve created the groove, it’s time to add the signature pulsing chord progressions of future bass. Reason 10 gives you everything you need to compose epic synth parts—choose from hundreds of presets or create your own “supersaw” patch using full-featured synthesizers like Europa, Thor, and Maelstrom. For complex, multi-timbral sounds, try blending multiple instruments and effects together in customizable Combinator devices to create your own elaborate synth sounds.

Now it’s time to focus on the notes in your chord progression. Future bass songs typically feature harmonically rich chords, so don’t be afraid to experiment with suspensions, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths and other inversions to spice up your chord progression. Not a theory whiz? No worries! Reason 10’s Chords and Scales Player will help you craft sophisticated chords and structures with ease. Once you’ve composed a harmonic bed for your song, you can utilize Reason’s intuitive sequencer and advanced automation features to add pitch bends, filter envelopes, volume swells, and LFO wobbles to make your chord progression stand out with the trademark future bass pulse.

No future bass track is complete without an earworm vocal hook—formed by editing the timing and pitch of a vocal sample to create an otherworldly chipmunk-like melody. Reason 10 includes many tools that make it easy to incorporate this trademark technique in your own productions. Pitch Edit allows you to quantize, stretch and re-pitch any vocal sample to the key and timing of your song. After your sample is locked to the scale, you can assign the vocal snippets to any MIDI keyboard using the NN-XT advanced sampler—and compose your own festival-worthy melody with the chopped vocal.

 

Now that you know the ins and outs of composing a future bass track in Reason 10, it’s time to create the next summer dance classic! Start your free trial of Reason 10 today.

 

Follow Protostar on Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Soundcloud.

 

Posted July 18, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Tutorials

How to Record Retrowave with Reason 10

Posted June 17, 2018, 2:06 p.m.

With influences ranging from 1970s and '80s film soundtracks to artists like Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and John Carpenter, Retrowave is a genre of driving, synth-based music that has surged in popularity thanks to retro-inspired shows and movies like Stranger Things and Blade Runner 2049. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to record a Retrowave track in Reason 10 using a palette of lush synthesizers, punchy drum machines, and spacey effects.

The foundation of Retrowave starts with a classic arpeggiated synth track. Retrowave relies on the iconic sounds of popular '70s and '80s keyboards—so open up Reason’s browser and try out some analog subtractive synths and early-digital FM devices. Once you've dialed up a patch you like, plug it into the RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator at 80-150 BPM to create the robotic pulse that will form the backbone of your track. Select an Up, Down, or Up+Down pattern and try out some chords until you find the right groove.

Now that you have a solid bassline or chord progression looping on the arpeggiator, take advantage of ReDrum’s authentic drum machine interface to program a simple, minimal and driving beat. Look for an electronic kit with a punchy kick and snare and tunable toms for the occasional tom fill. For a modern, danceable sound, sidechain the kick to one or more synths.

Now we’re ready to flesh out the song by layering sounds and arranging tracks. You can double your chord progression with a lush pad, program a dreamy synth drone with filter-sweeping automation, or add some soaring leads with a portamento synth or live guitar through the “lead” setting on the Softube Amp. To bring a more epic sound to your synth leads, add a healthy dose of delay or chorus.

Once you have the structure of your song laid out, it's time to fine-tune the mix and add a glossy sheen of effects. For an iconic 80’s sound, thicken up your synths with the CF-101 chorus and throw some gated reverb from the RV7000 on the drums. If things are sounding a little robotic, modulating filters with the Synchronous Effects Modulator can give your synths some extra life.  Finally, try the “Tape” or “VHS” settings on the Audiomatic Retro Transformer for an authentic lo-fi filter before rounding everything out with Reason's MClass Mastering Suite.

Now that you know how to record a Retrowave track in Reason 10, it’s time to create your own sci-fi dreamscape! Start your free trial of Reason 10 today.

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.

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:

Try Reason 9.5 free for 30 days here!

Tutorials

#ReasonQuickTip

Posted June 20, 2017, 9 a.m.

Over the last months we've been posting these #ReasonQuickTip videos on our social media channels and due to popular demand, we've now compiled them in one space. This YouTube playlist will be updated whenever a new #ReasonQuickTip gets posted so be sure to bookmark this page!

If you want to share your best tip with us, just tweet us or write to us on Facebook or Instagram! Maybe your tip will be our next video?