SF Reason Laptop JAM

Friday, August 4th, 2006 | 11:14 am and filed in Reason, Friends, Reason Users.


Last Saturday, The SF Bay Area Reason User Group finally had the chance to meet up for a full blown jam session with eight laptops running Reason + one Line6 Variax Guitar. Participating were Darin, Ed, Hayden, Mark, Mason, Mike, Nick, and me; along with a few guests. We’re lucky to have some enthusiastic people involved, because we managed to get this event organized quickly. It’s always nice to get together and talk about music and technology, but it’s definitely more fun to jam out!


We were fortunate enough to be allowed to use a massive warehouse space in SF, where Mark’s wife works. There was no lease for the space, but we couldn’t make it an all out event and invite the public. In the future we will find a more public venue if more people are interested in coming… maybe something with a bar ;-)

The afternoon passed in a blur and a few of us walked away thinking that things didn’t turn out as cool as we had expected. When we did the test run with only 4 laptops, things ran pretty smoothly. When we added another four, things seemed to get a little out of control. Ed (EditEd4TV) brought in some gear to record and videotape the session, and I just had the opportunity to listen through the session, and there were some surprisingly cool moments.


Mixing and Tempo control were handled with hardware. We had audio feeds from each person running into a Mackie, and MIDI Clock sent out from a Boss DR-202 and distributed via a MOTU MTP II. During the session, we could adjust the tempo and change up the styles from slow prog rock stuff up to some fast trance bits. We even had a few of Ed’s favorite Reason cover tracks mixed in. There were occasional problems with levels and sync, but for the most part we could just play without thinking about the technology.

The entire recording spanned about 2.5 hours, but i’ve reduced it to a few highlights in this 13 minute MP3. Bear in mind that this is mostly live - Real Time - most of the sequences were created on the fly including some drum arrangements:


We will definitely make this a regular event and perhaps start mixing it up with live instruments, vocalists, and other types of software.

10 Responses to “SF Reason Laptop JAM”

  1. Jacques Says:

    JEALOUS :-)

    I in particular loved the dreamy guitar stuff about 3/4 the way through.

  2. lagowski Says:

    These are great excerpts - the ‘Sweet Dreams’ bit brought a smile to my face. Did each person have defined roles or was it more a case of throw in what you can and see what it all amounts to? It would be great to hear the outcome of a jam where each person was given a role like percussion, sfx, main kit, bass, pads, guitar, samples etc and perhaps swapped around after 10 minute sections…

  3. Peff Says:

    This was definitely more of a free-for-all rather than an organized jam. I guess things are a bit different when you have one drummer, one bassist, one rhythm guitar, etc. rather than a bunch of players who have the ability to take on any part.

    We’ve had some ideas about assigning parts that we will try out next time. It’s a good idea, then we could have the all powerful “Solo” card which allows someone to noodle over the whole thing while the rest have to repeat their parts. Making it a completely random system has it’s merits as well, but more structure would be worth a try next time.


  4. Goh Says:

    Wow, sounds like you guys had a blast. Perhaps I can Christen the FenderHinson Twin at your next jam?

  5. Peff Says:

    Yeah you should come. Did you want to try to sync up your Jam-Mans?

    BTW How was your gig at the Museum on Thursday? I saw the article in the Hokubei Mainichi :-)

  6. Joel Says:

    Interesting.. this has definate potential.. funny thing is it sounds like the HUMANS were going out of time…

  7. RCory Says:

    Nice! I always find it amazing so many people could get in the groove at the same time… Especially in a jam session!

  8. [david.kain] Says:

    Speaking of adding other software(s), it seems like Abelton’s Live would be great for this! Loop your guest vocalist and chop it up in real time :)

    Can’t wait to get home and hear this!


  9. Andrew Says:

    Hey, awesome job guys! I thought the jam track was sweet. Anyways, I was actually wondering if you had the videotape of the session. I think it would be awesome to see what you guys do in action.

  10. ao Says:

    Wow, cool jam guys! Kinda haotic at the beginning, but you got it together real nice. This is definitely a keeper ;)

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