Berklee Online - Producing Music with Reason

October 6th, 2010
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Erik Hawkins of Berklee College of Music, has asked me to join the faculty of the Berklee Online Producing Music with Reason course.

We are in the second week of the term, and I’m really enjoying this online education format. The system and course layout is comprehensive and the online environment fosters a lot of interaction between the participants. I especially enjoy the webex conferencing system where there’s real-time interactivity with the class.

The Producing Music with Reason course starts from the very beginning, so it’s perfect for someone who knows absolutely nothing about Propellerhead Reason. Experienced users might find the beginning of the course redundant, however the pace picks up quite quickly and by the end of the 12 week semester, each person is responsible for composing, sequencing, editing, mixing and mastering a final project all in Propellerhead Reason.

For the time being, I’m focusing my efforts towards this class. This means that my other major projects have been placed on an indefinite hold.

BitCrusher BC3 Combinator

September 4th, 2010
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The combinator (version 3) in Reason 5 / Record 1.5 has a few notable improvements. Programming is easier with hierarchical destination menus - you no longer need to scroll down long lists of destination parameters. Another welcome improvement is the addition of direct CV inputs. In combinator 2 (Reason 4), a CV source such as an envelope generator, LFO, or step sequencer curve could only be routed through a rotary which subsequently modulated parameters on nested devices. Now in combinator 3, any CV modulation source can be routed directly to a parameter or group of parameters on devices in the combi sub rack.

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I put together a bitcrusher patch based around the Scream 4 ‘Digital’ algorithm. In this patch, an MClass compressor not only processes the dynamics, it’s provides a variable cv source from the compressor’s gain reduction value. The gain reduction cv is routed through the combinator CV input which then alters the DAMAGE CONTROL parameter of the Scream 4. As the input signal increases in intensity, the cv routing causes the DAMAGE CONTROL value to increase. The actively changing damage value adds a different character compared to a static setting of the Digital algorithm.

Download peff-bitcrusher_bc3.zip
Combinator TS8450 v3 patch require Reason 5 or Record 1.5+Reason 5 duo

BC3 BitCrusher Controls

wordlength - adjusts the RESOLUTION parameter of the digital algorithm

bitrate - adjusts the RATE parameter of the digital algorithm

gain - adjusts the OUTPUT GAIN amount of the MClass Compressor to drive the signal harder into the Scream 4. This parameter also offsets the gain reduction CV value causing a DAMAGE CONTROL offset.

intermodulation - controls the compression THRESHOLD and RATIO and increases the gain reduction as the rotary is turned clockwise. Increased compression causes the DAMAGE CONTROL to increase in intensity.

response - controls the compressor time constants. The ON state sets long values for the ATTACK and RELEASE parameters.

variable bitrate - When this button is enabled, the gain reduction control voltage is tapped and routed to the bitrate rotary. This causes the bitrate to decrease as the input signal increases. Thor is used as a CV on/off switch.

max - This sets the Scream 4 MASTER level to max. Enabling this button can make the signal very loud, but limits around -4dB FS.

emphasis - toggles the compressor SOFT KNEE value which changes the gain reduction curve. In turn this causes starker DAMAGE CONTROL modulation.

BC3 BitCrusher Modifications

One recommended modification is to tap the gain reduction signal and route it to the Scream 4 parameter 2 CV input to establish a variable wordlength modulation. The following steps describe how to implement this feature:

1. On Thor Mod Bus 3, set the source to CV In1.

2. Set the Amount to 80, and set the Destination to CV Output 3.

3. Tab to the rear view and connect the Thor Modulation Output CV3 to the Scream 4 P1 CV input.

4. On the BC3 panel, set wordlength to zero, bitrate to 101, gain to 56, and intermodulation to 95.

5. Disable response, variable bitrate, and max.

6. Enable the emphasis button.

7. Run a drum loop signal through the BC3 BitCrusher to to hear the distortion created by modulating wordlength.

Another suggested mod is to adjust the variable bitrate switching amount. The modulation signal starts with the MClass Compressor gain reduction CV. This CV out is connected to Thor CV 1 input and distributed via the Thor Modulation Busses. The Mod Bus 2 amount value is determined by the min/max values of combi button 2. The minimum value is set to zero, and maximum is set to -50. Changing these values will alter the dynamic modulation characteristics. The following steps describe how to establish this modification:

1. Click on the BC3 Combi Show Programmer Button.

2. Click on “Thor 1″ in the combi programmer device list.

3. On the Modulation Routing section, locate the “Button 2 | Mod 2 Dest Amount” row and set the Min value to 70 and the Max value to -100.

4. Toggle the ‘variable bitrate’ button. This sends the revised values to the Thor modulation bus.

5. Process a signal through the combi patch and toggle button 2 to hear how the values change the distortion characteristics.

CycleOn with Reason 5 + Record 1.5

August 28th, 2010

For Record Reason Duo users who have upgraded to version 5/1.5, rest assured that CycleOn still works as designed with the Dr.OctoRex. Even with the new loop run mode, there are still some benefits to using CycleOn. Namely, Loops start and stop at the beginning or end of a measure marker, instead of at the moment the [Run] button is enabled or disabled. The video below describes a modification to the combinator patch which allows you to use all eight loop slots in each Dr.OctoREX.

I will get an update out….eventually…. The new CycleOn has a better crossfader!

Neptune Audio to CV/Gate Combi

August 25th, 2010
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Propellerheads Reason 5 and Record 1.5 are finally released, and one of the things that many fellow tweak heads are curious to try is the Neptune pitch correction device in Record 1.5. Among the general pitch quantization and voice synthesis features, Neptune has a pitch-to-cv feature and an envelope follower which correspond to the ‘pitch’ and ‘amplitude’ CV output jacks.

The envelope follower is fairly straightforward and the CV generated from this output tracks the levels of the audio signal being processed through Neptune. The Pitch CV output does not conform to the standard Note CV scaling, so connecting this directly to the Note CV inputs of Reason synthesizers does not work properly. The good news is that there is a work around to creating an audio to cv/gate.

The typical Note CV is a unipolar value that corresponds to the MIDI protocol with the lowest value being zero (C-2) and the highest being 127 (G8). Neptune’s Pitch CV output is bipolar with the zero value being in the middle of the MIDI scale. The Audio to CV-Gate combinator patch uses a Thor Polysonic synthesizer to convert the value to conform to the Note CV system.

Download peff-audio-to-cvgate.zip

The archive includes the combinator patch which must receive audio from a monophonic source. The Spider Splitter A outputs should be connected to synth or sampler Note CV inputs, and the spider splitter B outputs are the Gate CV outs. Also included in the archive is a .record session that demonstrates a vocal track driving a Malstrom, a Thor, and a Subtractor - Record 1.5 and Reason 5 are required.

Analog Pitch Follower

There is also a solution to convert audio signals to cv/gate signals without using a Thor synth, and this patch, called Analog Pitch Follower [Send FX] | peff.cmb, is included in the Record 1.5 Effects Bank refill. This combinator is located in the Effects \ Pitch Processing \ Special Effects directory, and it includes ID8 sound modules triggered by the Neptune Pitch and Amplitude CVs.

The easiest way to use this is to add it on the FX bus, then route a send from a vocal source on the FX sends. This patch can easily be modified with other synth and sampler devices by inserting them in the combinator sub-rack and routing the audio outputs to the Spider Merger inputs.

Usage Tips

These patches were both created using a microphone and my voice as the control signal. With the Thor version of the converter, one issue to deal with is the envelope follower sensitivity. I recommend gating the mic signal using the Record Main Mixer dynamics section. Set the Gate with a threshold around -20 dB FS, range to -40 dB, and Fast mode enabled. This will prevent subtle noises from accidentally triggering note events.

Polyphonic patches do not play well with these audio to cv/gate configurations, so either set the device to mono (on Thor), or set the polyphony to 1, or enable Legato (Malström). These measures will set the synth or sampler to work properly when driven by the audio to cv/gate configurations. For smoother pitch transitions, set the portamento to a fairly high value. The pitch gliding then creates a ‘theremin like’ feel, as you play the synth using your voice.

TouchOSC MaxMSP Rewire Host for Record/Reason

May 26th, 2010
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My experiments with the TouchOSC app for both the iPad and iPhone have brought me back around to Cycling74 MaxMSP 5. Of all of the methods of controlling Reason and Record via open sound control, routing OSC messages directly into the MaxMSP rewire object have proven to be most responsive. This process uses MaxMSP as a Rewire host application with Record or Reason launched in Rewire Slave Mode. OSC messages are then routed directly rather than being converted to MIDI messages which are routed through the system back into the applications.

The archive contains templates for both the iPad and iPhone which can be installed using the TouchOSC editor. These templates have a 16 button interface with a MPC pad style layout with a velocity slider. These are included in the following archive:

TouchOSCReason-RecordRewire.zip

The TouchOSC templates are designed to work specifically with either of the two Rewire host patches, TouchOSC-ReasonRWHost.mxf for Reason and TouchOSC-RecordRWHost.mxf for Record. These patches require the free MaxMSP runtime that you can download from from Cycling74’s Website: http://cycling74.com/downloads/

The patch is fairly self-explanatory: there are fields for setting the local host port (typically 8000 for TouchOSC), the iPhone/iPad IP address and Port (typ. 9000). These should be set according to your network configuration and TouchOSC settings. A basic implementation of bidirectional data is incorporated in the patch, so all settings are important.

A numeric field for entering the song tempo, and rudimentary transport controls for playback. The “zero” button sets the transport back to the start position. Finally a button labelled “Propellerhead Reason” (or Record), when pressed, will set the display on the iPad or iPhone.

The patch cannot be customized in the way you can with OSCulator. The 16 buttons and velocity slider generate note messages which are sent directly to the rewire object. It’s designed for speed, not for flexibility, so there are several drawbacks to this configuration. The note mappings cannot be modified. The patch controls the tempo and defeats the songs native tempo as well as any tempo automation. Tempo and port settings cannot be saved. Despite these issues, the response is very fast and more suitable for real time midi event input.

I’ve tested this on MacOS, but not the Windows runtime. I would appreciate any feedback from Windows users. If this runs as expected, then you should be able to bypass MIDI Yoke. Once I get everything worked out flawlessly, i’ll post the maxpat files.

Propellerheads Roll Out Reason 5+Record 1.5

May 24th, 2010
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Over the next few days, Propellerheads are unveiling the new features of Reason 5 and Record 1.5! The first announcement is an upgrade of the Dr.REX Loop Player. Now called the Dr. OctoRex which allows you to trigger and control multiple loops on the fly. The loop switching and mangling possibilities are amazing, and you can now reverse slices!

http://www.propellerheads.se/reason5/

Mac Reason Users: check out the system requirements. This update will be intel only….

Mac OS X
Intel Mac (multiple cores highly recommended)
1 GB RAM or more
DVD drive
2 GB free hard disk space (program may use up to 20 GB scratch disk space)
Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
Monitor with at least 1024×768 resolution
CoreAudio compliant audio interface or built-in audio hardware

Windows
Intel P4 / AMD Athlon XP at 2GHz or better (multiple cores highly recommended)
1 GB RAM or more
DVD drive
2 GB free hard disk space (program may use up to 20 GB scratch disk space)
Windows XP (SP3), Vista or Windows 7
Monitor with at least 1024×768 resolution
Audio Interface with ASIO driver

TouchOSC / OSCulator iPad Templates

May 4th, 2010
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The files are the templates and session used in the video I posted a few weeks ago that demonstrates using the iPad and TouchOSC as a pad controller with Propellerhead Record. Naturally you will need an iPad as well as the TouchOSC app. Please note that this is not a small investment considering that the technology is still in an experimental stage. Your results can vary. The record session included in the archive is configured with remote override mappings, so no further programming is necessary.

Warning: The Delete Clip button is mapped to the “Delete/Backspace Key” and will perform a destructive process to the frontmost application!

The archive includes the ‘Record Pads.touchosc’ file which you can transfer to the iPad using the editor application from osculator.net

Also included is the ‘RecordRedrumBank.record’ session file with the various controls mapped to the osculator settings.

Download: iPadRecordRedrum.zip

I recommend reading the documentation on for TouchOSC and OSCulator to gain some familiarity with establishing a network connection between the devices.

Configuring Record MIDI Preferences

Before TouchOSC can communicate through OSCulator to Record, you must add a Keyboard Controller configuration in your preferences. This must be established manually. Like anything in Record, this is pretty easy. Click on the images for a full size view.

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1. Launch OSCulator first, and then launch Record.

2. Open the Record Preferences, and select the “Keyboard and Control Surfaces” prefs.

3. Click on the “Add” button, and an editing pane will appear.

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The Auto Detect Surfaces feature will not automatically find OSCulator.

4. Under the Manufacturer drop down menu, select “Other”.

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5. Under the Model drop down menu, select “MIDI Control Keyboard”. This configuration sends MIDI notes as well as continuous controller (CC) messages, so the MIDI Control Keyboard is the appropriate choice. The MIDI Control Surface does not receive MIDI Notes, and the the MIDI Keyboard option does not receive CC messages.

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6. On the MIDI Input menu, select “OSCulator Out.” If OSCulator does not appear in the menu, you might need to start over and make sure you first launch OSCulator before you launch Record. Otherwise, you can establish a network connection between TouchOSC and using the ‘redrum pads exp.oscd’ template, send MIDI messages to Record. Click on the “Find” button and OSCulator Out should appear.

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7. Optionally you can name the Control Surface setting. This is recommended if you have multiple alternate controllers. Simply replace the text in the field. In this case I’ve typed in “iPad OSCulator”.

8. Click OK and the editing pane will close.

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9. If you are uncertain about using multiple controllers in Reason or Record, I recommend that you make the iPad the master keyboard. Disable the other surfaces, and set the “iPad OSCulator” as your master keyboard.

10. Close the preferences and then proceed by opening the “RecordRedrumBank.record” session file. The control messages are pre-mapped in this session, so you will not need to program any override mappings.

Again, please be aware that the “Delete Clip” button on the TouchOSC interface is a keystroke assignment for the Delete/Backspace key. This will delete anything on the frontmost application. The idea is to add real time deletion while recording a MIDI clip on a sequencer track/lane. For this to work properly, the sequencer lane should be the focus before the delete clip button is pressed. If this proves to be a problem, simply disable (uncheck the box) the routing in the OSCulator mappings where it appears as:

/1/TNDelete Keycode Key 51