ReDrum ReGroove

November 18th, 2008

The old tutorial on MPC Groove Templates is still pretty popular, and usually ranks at the top of the stats. I figured it was about time that I updated the old tutorial with something new that explains how to use the ReGroove Mixer in Reason 4.0.

One question that frequently comes up is the matter of applying ReGroove templates to ReDrum Patterns. It would make a lot of sense if this were a feature like the shuffle button, but ReGroove templates can only be applied to events in the sequencer. The example below describes the process of programming a ReDrum pattern, converting it to a sequence clip, and applying a groove quantization template.

Before you get started with this example, you will need to download the MPC3000 ReGroove templates - Available here:

Peff 032 - MPC3000 ReGroove Templates ReFill

Place the Refill somewhere convenient, so that you can easily access the ReGroove patches - preferably in your ReFills Folder, designated in your Sound Locations prefs.

Applying ReGroove to ReDrum Patterns

1. Set the Tempo to 95BPM. Set the Loop Locators to and, and then enable Looping.

2. Create a ReDrum Drum Computer, and Click on the patch browser button. Load the Redrum Patch called “Abstract Kit 06″ from the Reason Factory Soundbank/Redrum Drum Kits/Abstract Hip Hop Kits Directory

3. Program the following pattern in the ReDrum:

Step 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Channel 1 H M H M S
Channel 2 H H
Channel 3 S M
Channel 8 H M H M H M H M
Channel 9 M
Dynamics Legend: empty = off | S = Soft | M = Medium | H = Hard

4. Right Click on the Redrum Icon in the Sequencer track list to open the Redrum Contextual Menu, and select “Convert Pattern to Track Notes”. A new Sequencer Lane is created and the ReDrum Pattern is converted to a clip the length of the song.

Optionally, you can also right click on the Redrum to open the contextual menu and select the “Copy Pattern to Track” item.

5. Trim the Redrum Sequence Clip down to 2 bars. Select the Clip and in the Sequencer Tool Bar, enter the value “2″ in the clip length field. Pressing enter, or selecting a different area in Reason executes the change.

6. On the Transport Bar, locate and click on the Regroove Mixer Button to open the console frame.

7. Select Channel A1 and open the Browser window and Navigate to the “Peff 032- MPC3000 ReGroove Templates” refill. In the REX Groove Templates folder, select the patch “MPC3K-63%”.

8. On the ReDrum Sequencer Lane 2, locate the drop menu and select ReGroove Channel A1. This will apply the MPC groove quantization to the ReDrum Sequence.

> Play the sequence to hear the MPC Groove applied to ReDrum Sequence.

This is the basic method of applying ReGroove templates to ReDrum patterns, however you are only tapping 10% of the features. In fact, if you only want to apply an MPC style swing to a pattern, you can enable the shuffle parameter on the ReDrum and adjust the Global Shuffle parameter on the ReGroove Mixer. The Global Shuffle settings are now based on the MPC metric and have a range of 50% to 75%. Having gone through the effort of converting patterns to track events, you might as well go a step further to take full advantage of the ReGroove Mixer.

ReGroove with Multiple Lanes

Exploding Drum Events to multiple tracks is an advanced technique that provides even more control over the groove of the drum sequence. Having the kick, snares, and hi-hats split to separate lanes makes it possible to apply different grooves to each part to provide more depth to the rhythm. The following steps begin where we left off above.

9. Select the ReDrum 1 Sequencer Track, and create 4 new lanes by clicking on the (+) Lanes button four times.

10. Drag Duplicate the clip in Lane 2 to each of the new Lanes by holding down the (alt/option) key and dragging the clip to each of the new lanes. Alternatively, you can use the copy and paste controls to duplicate 3 additional clips and move them. You should have four clips in four lanes that all begin at position

11. On ReDrum 1 - Lane 5, double click on the clip to enter the sequencer edit mode. Select all events except the Kicks (BD2_SupaFunky.wav), and delete them by pressing the [Delete] Key. Double click on the name (Lane 5) and change it to “Kicks”

12. Click on ReDrum 1 - Lane 4, then double click on the clip. Delete all events except the Channel 2 Snare Drums (SD_SupaFunky.wav). Rename the lane to “Snares”.

13. On ReDrum 1 - Lane 3, Delete all events except the Channel 3 Rim Shots (Rim_SupaFunky.wav). Rename this lane to “Rim Shots”

14. On ReDrum 1 - Lane 2, Delete all events except Channels 8 and 9 (Hh_SupaFunky.wav & Sd2_SupaFunky.wav). Rename the lane to “Hi-Hats”

15. On the ReGroove Mixer, Load the “MPC3K-63%” template (also from the “Peff 032- MPC3000 ReGroove Templates Refill”) into Channels A2, A3, and A4.

16. Assign the ReDrum 1 - Kicks Lane to ReGroove Channel A1, Snares to A2, Rim Shots to A3, and Hi-Hats to A4. Now each of the elements in the drum patterns are assigned to their own ReGroove Channel.

17. On the ReGroove Mixer Channel A2, set the slide parameter to 12 Ticks. On Channel A3, set the slide parameter to 6 Ticks, and on Channel A4 set the slide parameter to 19 Ticks. The slide parameter adjusts the start time of the events in each track so that the sequence now has a more layed-back feel.

18. On the ReDrum, adjust the Channel 3 level to 100. The Rim Shot sample is quiet in comparison to the snare sample, this adjustment makes it more noticable.

> Run the sequence to hear the new groove.

For most practical applications, this sequence is complete. Experiment with different groove templates and slide settings to get a better idea of the power of the ReGroove Mixer. Adjusting the slide parameter to negative tick values will rush events, while higher positive tick values push them even further back.

Mike Wells Mastering

November 12th, 2008

My friends in The Invisible Cities are putting the final touches on their new album, and they let me sit in on their mastering session. The Cities contracted the services of Mike Wells, who has a room in the Hyde Street facility in San Francisco. Even though I’ve contracted Mike for a different project, this was the first time I had a chance to see him work his mastering magic.

Mike’s setup is loaded with some killer analog gear including a Pendulum Limiter, GML 9500 and 2030 ::angel choirs sing::, and he uses the Dangerous Master transfer system at the core of his setup. What was really interesting was to see his use of various devices to color the sound with a mix and match of tube and discrete processing on the Mid-Side channels. Mike is certainly an artist when it comes to shaping the final sound of an album.

I did learn quite a bit at this session, and Mike is great at explaining the process and pointing out issues. His site is also features some articles about the process of manufacturing CDs and sorting out grace note CDDB information. It’s certainly worth a visit if you’re thinking about properly finishing your album. I encourage everyone to read his articles on CD Mastering Explained, and Is Your Audio CD *REALLY* Redbook Quality?

Also, keep an eye out for The Invisible Cities new album, Houses Shine Like Teeth

Default Song Preferences

October 28th, 2008

Customizing your preferences is important to optimize your workflow with Reason. One of these is the ‘Default Song’ setting located in the General page of the Preferences window. I prefer a minimal starting point since I like the flexibility of a blank canvas. Many others have fairly elaborate custom setups, complete with patches preloaded allowing them to get right into developing a song. It’s one of the small features in Reason, that everyone should know, but a lot of people seem to overlook.

To open the Preference panel on a Windows system, go the the Edit Menu and select the “Preferences” Item. On a Mac, the Preferences item is located under the “Reason” menu.

On the Preference menu, you have three options listed under the Default Song settings: Empty Rack (hopefully needs no explaination), Built In (Minimum setup with a Mastering Combi and Mixer), and Custom (User Definable Default Song).

As previously mentioned, I like starting with the minimal set up of the “Built In” setting. This has a MClass Mastering Combi with the Maximizer set to prevent clipping, and a ReMix 14:2 Mixer. I never know what i’m going to be working on. I might be programming synth patches one minute, or developing combis the next. Each RNS file is saved separately, so there’s no need for me to have a populated rack for each instance. The extraneous devices will clutter things up, and for me, simple is better. I also disable the “Load Default Sound in New Devices” option, preferring to work with initialized patches rather than having a patch automatically loaded.

I have a little issue with the ‘Built In’ setting: When you launch Reason, the default song opens up, so you’re required to open another “New” song file before the basic rack appears. To work around this, I have a copy of the basic rack saved in the Reason application folder and assigned as a Custom Default Song. When Reason is first launched, the initial document is the Built In rack, and not the demo song.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Open a New Reason Song Document. At this point, you can populate the Rack with the devices you want or leave it with a minimal setup.

2. Save the Reason song file in the Reason Application folder. It can be named to anything like “Built In Default.rns”

3. Open the Reason Preferences General Page, and click on the Radio button for ‘Custom:’

4. Click on the Folder Icon to open the Browser Window.

5. Navigate to the Reason Application folder - a handy shortcut is to click on the Reason Factory Soundbank, and then select the “Reason” Folder from the pull down menu.

6. Select the saved Default RNS file and click on the “Open” Button.

7. Uncheck the “Load Default Sound in New Devices” box. Skip this step if you like the default settings. The one benefit is that the patch browser is automatically directed to an appropriate directory in the Factory Soundbank, but if you have a large library of 3rd party patches, this might not be optimal.

8. Close The Preferences and quit Reason.

9. Launch Reason to verify that your default song opens automatically.

Download my Default Song: Built In

Reason 4 Change

October 27th, 2008

Like many others, i’ve been a bit absorbed with the current presidential election. I’ve already mailed in my ballot and cast my vote for Senator Barack Obama for President. Despite his lead in the polls, i’m somewhat skeptical that he will actually win. I have this feeling that voter turnout may fall short of statistics, and the electronic voting machines will engage a “vote-flipping” subroutine that alters the outcome of the election.

Anywho… I’ve been photoshopping a bit, and made a combinator skin to show support of Senator Obama. I’ve taken the illustration by Shepard Fairey and applied it to the panel. I’ve done this without permission, and i ‘Hope’ he doesn’t mind.

Download the combinator skin: HopeCombi.jpg

I thought about making a sample set with clips from speeches and such and applying the skin, but I leave that to you folks… if anyone has already made a ‘Barackombi’ sample set, please let me know! Please no “Barack your Rack” comments :p

Ulysses Released

October 26th, 2008

I’ve been talking about this project for a year. Many hours of recording and editing and mixing were followed by hours of CD booklet design and layout and mastering. Even after receiving the final product, hours of planning were consumed for promotions and the record release event. Now finally…after many weeks of preparing the site update, the Ulysses album by my friend Goh Nakamura is finally available. He is releasing a free download version. For those who are partial to look towards alternative sources of music downloads, there’s no need to look any further than Goh’s website.

Here’s a message from Goh asking people to spread the word:

“After four years in the making, my second album, Ulysses, has officially launched!

Whereas Daylight Savings, my first album, was written and recorded in solitude, Ulysses is a reaction to that; a celebration and collaboration with artists and people whom I’ve had the good fortune to meet through the first album.

The call to arms here is helping me cross the toughest threshold; getting my music out to the masses. As an independent musician, this is the bafflingly difficult part, and it’s nearly impossible to do alone. For that reason, I’m writing today to ask for your help. After much deliberation, I’ve decided to release this album as a free download.

Specifically, what I’m asking you to do is: Download the album. Listen to it. Tell your friends on Facebook about it. Twitter it. Blog about it. I really believe there’s something for everybody on this album. Ultimately, if it moves you, please purchase the limited edition CD–the beautiful packaging/artwork is worth the price alone.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for joining me in this exciting, and scary part of the journey. Something tells me it’s just the beginning.

Thank you so much for your love and support!


Buchla Modular Patching

October 6th, 2008

Here’s a video of me patching my Buchla 200 Modular system. Sorry about the crappy audio, this was just the built-in mic picking up audio from a little 4″ powered speaker. I swear it sounds better than this!

This is the video I showed at the Atlanta and NY Producers Conferences:

The Buchla is not for sale

Producers Conference - New York

September 27th, 2008

The Producers Conference coming back to New York next Saturday. We’ve got a new line up of guests including Labtekwon and Marley Marl. James, Chris, and I will also be there with our presentations on Reason 4.0 and production techniques. You can find out more information on the official conference website here: