I love the Akai MPC-3000. The drum grooves created with this instrument consistently yield a very musical flow that inspire beat oriented tracks. The design of legend, Roger Linn, combined with Akai’s sampling technology is still used by many to this day. This project was inspired by necessity to bring the feel of the MPC into Reason. I’m consistently asked how to use this song file, so the following tutorial explains the procedure of using Reason’s user groove feature.
The MPC-3000 Groove Templates are MIDI sequences extracted from sample loops created with an Akai MPC-3000 MIDI Production Center. Originally, this project involved creating MIDI files on the MPC and transferring them to a computer for import into Reason, but the results did not quite have the same feel as loops created with the MPC. The timing does not seem to capture the groove when using imported MIDI files. The problem could be the difference in PPQ (Pulse Per Quarter Note) resolution on different sequencers, or perhaps the latency and timing of the circuitry in the sampler engine.
As an alternative solution, loops, programmed on the MPC, were recorded into a digital audio workstation. Each loop is a series of 16th note hi-hat events with a length of four measures. These loops have different quantization swing settings, which range from 50% (16th Notes) to 75% (triplets). Each loop was processed in ReCycle. Once converted to REX files, these loops were loaded into Reason via a Dr.REX Loop player, and the slice data was extracted into individual sequencer tracks. The REX files provided the ideal solution as they capture all of the timing idiosyncrasies of the MPC-3000 with the precision of digital audio rather than MIDI PPQ.
Reason User Groove Feature
If you are unfamiliar with the “User Groove” feature in Reason, try the following exercise to discover how to set a groove quantization template.
1. In an empty Reason song file, create a Dr.REX Loop player.
2. Load the ReCycle Loop, “Hse06_Strictly_130_eLAB.rx2” from the Factory Sound bank \ Dr Rex Drum Loops \ House Directory.
3. Click the “To Track” button on the Dr.REX player to export the loop slice data to the Reason Sequencer. The slice data is 2 measures and will appear grouped in 2 measure segments.
4. Position the mouse cursor over a grouped segment in the sequencer, and right-click (MacOS: Hold Control & Click) to open the contextual menu.
5. Select the “Get User Groove” item from the contextual menu list. Notice that the Quantization setting on the sequencer changes from “1/16” to “User”. This indicates that the template is stored in the song, and from this point, any quantization will conform to the template extracted from the loop slice data.
6. Create a second Dr.REX Loop Player and load the ReCycle Loop, “Ahp05_Live_087_Chronic.rx2” from the Factory Sound Bank \ Dr Rex Drum Loops \ Acoustic \ Hip Hop Directory.
7. Copy the Slice data to the Dr.REX 2 sequencer track by clicking on the “To Track” button.
8. Run the Sequence to hear the two loops play at the same time. You should notice that certain timing issues conflict when both loops play simultaneously. Stop the sequence.
9. Right-Click on the Dr.REX 2 Sequencer Track name to open the contextual menu, and select the “Quantize Notes” item. This method will quantize all events on the sequencer track.
10. Run the sequence to hear the quantization of the first loop applied to the second loop.
This is the basic procedure for setting the template (User Groove) and applying a groove quantization to other tracks. While the example describes quantizing a second loop, the process can be applied to basslines and other tracks in the song.
Auditioning the ‘Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns’ File
The MPC Groove Template file is simply a Reason Song File with 26 sequencer tracks-each track having a different groove. When you open the song file, you will see all 26 tracks assigned to the Dr.REX Loop player. The following example describes simply how to audition each of the grooves.
1. Open the file “Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns”
2. Run the sequence, and you should hear a sequence of hi-hats played from one of the sequencer tracks (61%).
3. Mute the sequencer track. You should hear nothing now.
4. Unmute a different sequencer track to hear a different groove setting.
5. Continue auditioning the sequencer tracks to gain familiarity with the quantization templates.
Applying the MPC Grooves Quantization templates
To apply the groove quantization to a song, a sequencer track from the ‘MPC Grooves’ file must be copied into the sequencer of the song. This means you should first audition the grooves and find one that suits your tastes. (Refer to the previous example)
For the following example, you will need the file:
1. Open the Reason song file, “Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns”
2. Select the sequencer track labeled “64%”
3. Right-Click (MacOS: Hold Control & Click) to open the contextual menu, and select the “Copy” item.
4. Close the ‘MPC Grooves’ song file.
5. Open the Reason song file “NoGrooveSong.rns”. Run the sequence and listen to the song with its rigid 16th note quantization. Stop the sequence and proceed.
6. Click on the sequencer track list.
7. Right-Click to open the contextual menu, and select the “Paste” item.
8. You will see the MPC “64%” track appear at the bottom of the track list. Right click on this track and select, “Get User Groove”
9. From the Edit menu, select the item “Select All”. This will select all of the sequencer tracks so that quantization will applied over the entire song.
10. Right-Click over the track list and select the “Quantize Notes” item on the contextual menu.
11. Run the sequence to hear the MPC 64% swing quantization applied to the Reason song.
You will hear a distinctive bounce in the track after applying the MPC swing quantization. It’s as simple as that. This process can be applied to your own songs, however quantization only affects notes in the Reason sequencer. Redrum and Matrix patterns are not quantized. In order to apply the MPC Groove to a pattern sequence, you must first convert the patterns using the “Copy Pattern to Track” or “Convert Pattern to Track Notes” features from the edit menu. Further explanation of these procedures can be found in the Reason Documentation included with the software.