Reason Exchange Challenge

September 13th, 2006 is a very cool concept where Reason Users contribute song files to a collective based on proposed criteria. From the pool of files, people can see how others have developed a solution that fits the guidelines. This will certainly be a cool way for others to learn a few tricks in producing music with Reason.

The site has been started by a fellow Reason User, Stuart aka defconx, and to get things started, he’s initiated a competition with iTunes Music Store and Amazon prizes for the first challenge:

Compose an original 30 second drum solo in Reason. Use any devices and effects that you like. Don’t brush this challenge off too quickly. As you know in Reason there are several devices you can use to create drum riffs. Will you trigger layered sounds on an NN-XT? Will you use a Matrix device? …. The only criteria are the following:

  • Must be your original work
  • Should be composed 100% in Reason
  • Must be submitted by 11:59PM EST - Friday Sept 29, 2006 (more details to come)
  • Should not exceed 30 seconds
  • Should submit a write-up with how you approach the problem and a bit about your solution.

Check out for the details.

Boston Reason User Group

September 12th, 2006

Cool news for people in New England. Fellow Reasoner, Luke, is starting up a mail-list and organizing a Reason User Group in the Boston Area. He’s secured a nice domain name and launched the site where you can join the list:

Someone bring a camera to some of these events, and flickr up some shots :-)

RB-303 Refill Version 2

August 31st, 2006

For those of you who downloaded the 50meg version of the RB-303 refill. Time to delete it! It’s being decomissioned for the new slimmed down 11meg version 2. All of the samples have been looped for unlimited sustain and thus shortened. It’s taken a year to finally get this far, and it’s still not finished…It’s very close, but my friend Hami has offered to create some cool combi skins which will be applied to the final version.

Because of the smaller samples, I’ve been able to create a new set of Combinator patches which have velocity switching layers for normal and accented notes to better simulate the dynamics of the 303 sound. Ideally you will be connecting a Matrix Pattern Sequencer to drive these combis, and the default gate level will trigger a “normal” note. Increasing the gate value to maximum will trigger an “Accent” note. There is an example song file called “Accent Demo.rns” which demonstrates this setup.

The Slide feature still does not work in the same manner as ReBirth or a 303, so as a workaround, there is an extra set of samples with moderate portamento settings. The combi simply switches between the legato set and the retrig set of samples. It’s overkill, but this was the only solution i could devise with the NN-XT.

Like the previous version, you will need the RB-338 Refill with some of the demo song files. This is still available from the Props Website.

RB-303 Combis

The RB-303 combis are based on the Bass Filter patches, released here several months ago which added filtering and specialized equalization that attempts to emulate the roland 18dB filters. Its a chains of effects that relies on the 6dB filter of the NN-XT in conjunction with an ECF-42 and a MClass Equalizer. It’s by far from a perfect copy, but it’s functional and provides a 303-ish experience.

There are now twelve different combinator patches provided in the ReFill. The original for are still there and will function with tracks you’ve created with the earlier version.

RB-303.cmb loads both the sawtooth and squarewave samples, and allows the user to switch between the two by toggling combi button 4.

RB-303 Sawtooth.cmb and RB-303 Square.cmb simply load one set of the samples.

RB-303 Sawtooth & Square.cmb loads both sets and plays both sets of samples simultaneously for a thick layered sound.

Dynamic patches have the accent feature described above. The four base patches are duplicated with this feature, and there’s an extra RB-303 Dynamic2.cmb with slight parameter tweaks.

Square Sub Dynamic.cmb was created for a 202-ish type of sub square wave oscillator sound.

RB-303 Stack Pad.cmb uses the RB-303 samples to create lush polysynth textures. Four sets of the samples are layered with some effect options.

RB-303 Sawtooth Velocity Lead.cmb is a basic monophonic sawtooth lead patch transposed for keyboard play rather than being driven from a Matrix Pattern Sequencer. It has the same parameter controls as the RB-303+Bf-318 patches, but the mod wheel controls a warbling LFO modulation like a typical lead patch. The velocity scaling is also better suited for keyboard play, and does not have the accent features.

RB-303 Combi Controls

FREQUENCY Knob controls the filter cutoff frequency and modulates the MClass EQ settings.

RESONANCE Knob controls the filter resonance on the NN-XT and the ECF-42. This control also modulates the EQ shape.

DECAY Rotary modulates the decay and release stages of the envelopes on the samplers as well as the secondary filter.

ENV.MOD Control increases the modulation intensity of the ECF-42 only.

DISTORTION Button, enables a preset distortion patch embedded in the combinator.

HYBRID FILTER Switch toggles between the 18dB Low Pass configuration and a hybrid of the NN-XT 6dB lowpass and the ECF-42 12db Band Pass filter.

SLIDE Enables the portamento feature on the NN-XT samplers nested in the combinator patch.

MUTE Button, mutes the output signal.

SQUARE-SAW Button, featured only on the RB-303 combinator, switches between the two sample sets.

RB-303 Stack Pad Combi Controls

This one came out surprisingly cool. The mysterious S+S combi in the previous version evolved into this patch. There are four NN-XT samplers that layer RB Sawtooth, RB Square, Square Sub (just the square transposed down), and a Sawtooth transposed up a 5th. It might be a bit overkill, but this patch is capable of creating some very cool polysynth textures as well as nice velvety pads.

FILTER FREQ Knob controls the filter cutoff frequency globally on the four NN-XT samplers.

SUB OSC LEVEL Rotary controls the mix level of a Sub Square sample set.

5TH SAW LEVEL Knob adjust the mix level of the Sawtooth samples transposed up a 5th.

RELEASE Control globally adjust the release time of the four sets of RB-303 samples.

EQ ENABLE Button inserts a MClass EQ which adds a touch of bass tilt to the patch.

UNISON ENABLE Button adds a UN-16 into the effect chain. Goes from a synthetic analog sound to really really synthetic.

COMP ENABLE Button engages a COMP-01 compressor. The output from four layers of NN-XT samples can get pretty loud when playing polyphonic parts. The compressor works to stablize the output levels.

REVERB ENABLE Button - duh?.

SQUARE-SAW Button, featured only on the RB-303 combinator, switches between the two sample sets.

MOD Wheel adjusts the filter resonance on the NN-XT samplers. There is a slight envelope modulation on the filters which is noticeable when the resonance is increased.

ReBirth - PCF Combi Controls

This combinator patch requires users to show devices and select a Matrix Pattern that triggers the ECF-42 envelope. Many of the Original ReBirth PCF Patterns are transcribed based on the pattern illustrations in the ReBirth manual. Other patterns, especially in Bank D, are original.

FREQUENCY Knob controls the filter cutoff frequency.

RESONANCE Knob controls the filter resonance.

AMOUNT Control adjusts the modulation intensity of the Env.AMT and Vel. parameters on the ECF-42.

DECAY Rotary modulates the decay and release envelope stages of the ECF-42

BAND - LOW PASS Switch toggles between the ECF-42 BP 12 and LP 12 modes.


A year after the ReBirth Museum was launched, most of us are still pining for the ReBirth sound in Reason. I usually tell people to get the AudioRealism 303 plugin, but I’ve recently met a few people who are busy building x0xb0xes (which btw look really cool). Until an actual rebirth of rebirth, i guess this will have to do. Like i mentioned in the beginning - THIS IS NOT THE FINAL VERSION! but you can download it anyways:

Download Peff-030 RB-303.RFL 11Mb Zip File.

Summer RML Reason Workshops

August 22nd, 2006

The Reason workshops in SF at Recombinant Media Labs were another great event; thanks to the support of the Reason User Community in the Bay Area. People came from all parts of Northern California, from SF and the East and North Bay, the Silicon Valley area, the Central Coast (like Me), and even from the Central Valley. Even though the workshops were scheduled for 6 hours, GW and I ended up extending the time on both days. We had a pretty ambitious plan to cover a lot material, and things went much smoother than the spring workshops.

I’m going to skip some of the redundant details, but the workshops had a similar schedule as the spring workshops: Spring RML Reason Workshop Report


After seeing the Native Instruments demo at Recombinant Labs, I found out that GW and I would have access to two main projectors in the RML facility. Last week, I was scrambling to put together a visual presentation in Keynote. During the workshops, the presentation ran on one screen while we demonstrated various procedures on the the other screen. For each of our presentations, GW and I were able to switch back and forth between laptops. It was a busy week for me as I was learning a new application, tweaking the course outline, answering emails, arranging for food catering and other last minute details.


At the end of the Advanced Workshop, GW and I demonstrated a little routine that was inspired from the recent Reason Laptop Jam Session. We used MIDI sync’d our laptops together, and I generated loops and played organ, bass and synth hooks in real time, while he recorded and processed them in Ableton Live. I had a rack of devices with patches and loops preloaded, and accessed each device by using the remote override track selection buttons on the Kontrol49. I would play a part and GW would record a loop clip in Ableton. While he edited the clip, i would mute myself out and start working on the next clip for him to record. It was f-ing cool!-especially in the fantastic sound system at the RML facility.


After the workshops, Bryan Gibbs, the lead engineer of Recombinant Media Labs, pulled out a vintage Minimoog and a TR-808 and hooked them into the main sound system. This was a treat as we spent another hour or so tooling around with a massive analog sound cranked through the speakers. The room was shaking pretty severely. I was burning a DVD on my MacBook, and the burn failed since the vibrations caused the writer to skip. This photograph that Mark shot is fairly blurry; not because he isn’t a good photographer, but the pressure transducers in the floor caused the whole room to vibrate :-)

GW and I are already thinking about the next set of workshops at RML, but GW wants to take it on the road. He’s going to be looking into some places around his home town in Texas. The RML people have suggested the facility at UCSB. I’m going to talk to my Alma Mater, Columbia, and see if we could organize something in NY. We’re also thinking about slimming down the outline into topic specific workshops. There never seems to be enough time to go through all of the cool features in Reason. We really should make it a week of seminars, instead of a couple of days.

There are always an endless number of questions, and GW is going to offer his time directly to people interested in one-on-one training with Reason. He’s in the North Bay Area, and you can reach him via email:

Native Lab: KORE

August 15th, 2006

Native Instruments has an intensive KORE demo on tour and last Saturday, they launched from Recombinant Media Labs in SF. Richard Devine along with NI Product Specialist, Josh Fielstra presented a fairly intensive 4 hour lecture about this new system. I figured I would drop in and say hello and see what KORE was all about.

KORE itself is simply an environment and uses virtually no CPU processing. The environment extends from the software realm to the real world through the KORE controller which is a USB audio and MIDI interface as well as custom hi resolution control surface that communicates with the software environment. The software itself hosts all of the NI products like Absynth, Reaktor Ensembles, Battery Drumsets, as well as almost any plug-in: AU, VST, RTAS, etc. Within the software, you can configure stacks of plug-ins to create instruments and effects chains and custom weird sound fx systems - as Richard so deftly demonstrated. Then save the KORE patch with Tags to describe the type of sound. You can then quickly browse or search out categories of sounds based on these tags.

I was impressed with the potential of KORE, and it only crashed twice during the four hours, so it’s pretty stable. If I were more of a plug-in user, I would probably be all over a KORE system. As it is, i’m more of a load, sequence and freeze type of user, but if you’re a KVR-addict, then you need KORE!


At the end, there was a special guest appearance from Dan The Automator. Richard interviewed him about production techniques and the audience had the opportunity to ask both of them questions about tweaking, instruments, and the music biz. People were also treated to a tour of the facility by Naut, the RML director of operations.

Later that evening there was a Remix Mag/NI party down at #111 Minna Gallery where several local bands performed including Dan The Automator and later on Richard Devine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around that late.

Cercophracta - Real World Remixed

August 10th, 2006

If you haven’t heard about Real World Remixed then you have to go check it out. Real World Records is giving people the opportunity to remix tracks from their artists, including Peter Gabriel’s classic, Shock the Monkey.

The Sample packs include individual tracks broken down into stems, so you can hear each element of the song - unmixed - and ready for remix. Once finished, you upload your remix back onto the site for others to enjoy. There is an interesting clause in the use of the samples, and distribution of a remix is only allowed through the Real World Remix site. There are some really cool ones on the site including many from fellow Reason users.

I spent a couple of free days working with the samples from Shock the Monkey. Besides Reason, I used Melodyne to tweak the pitch and groove of the vocals, and Logic Pro as a rewire host to arrange the vocal sections. Once edited, the vocals were loaded back into a NN-XT sampler and triggered in Reason. It’s ok, but I just didn’t have enough time to tweak it out more. You can have a listen here:

Cercophracta - Remix of Peter Gabriel’s Shock the Monkey

Christopher Bock

August 8th, 2006

Last week, the music industry lost a great friend, Christopher Bock. This news came as a shock, and has been looming over me since I heard. Just weeks earlier, Christopher had treated the Nathorst-Böös family and me to a lovely dinner at his restaurant near Half Moon Bay. It was one of those rare moments where you’re in the company of friends without the pressure of looming schedules. At the end of the evening, I think we all parted ways looking forward to doing it again.

Last night in San Francisco, Digidesign, organized a Memorial Service to honor his memory in a manner that suited Christopher: They had a celebration of his life. It was an evening of music, photos, film, and friends sharing their personal experiences. With Christopher’s family present, the evening was very moving especially as his friends and colleagues shared some humorous memories of a person that we will all miss.

There is an online tribute at the following URL: