Reason Conference Reveals Software’s Secrets
- Words: Tomas Palermo
Can you arrange an entire song from a single Roland TR 606 drum kick? Producer James Bernard proved such a thing is possible using Reason Version 4. Is Reason’s new Thor semi-modular synth (pictured above) as “patchable” as its analog cousins? Noted ReFill creator Kurt Kurasaki showed an audience all the interesting ins and outs. This past Saturday, May 3 in San Francisco, at SOMA-based Pyramind digital media arts school, the Propellerheads Reason 4 Producers Conference focused on a range of features and techniques that may be overlooked by some users.
The conference drew a full house of Reason devotees, aspiring producers, professional musicians, producers, and sound engineers to get tips from experts like Bernard and ask questions in-person about the universally popular music software application. As an added bonus, the keynote speakers included musician and producer Tommy Coster, Jr (Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Dido) and DJ Kahlil (Angeles Records), who each discussed how to apply Reason skills to successful careers in music.
The event included in-depth tips and skills sessions. Studio owner Gerry Bassermann explained the Dr. Rex device’s new Alter effect, which enables the user to shift drum patters in novel ways and instantly get that “J Dilla” loose drum sound. Next, Kurt Kurasaki, a.k.a. "Peff," a noted ReFill innovator, covered the powerful Thor polyphonic synthesizer. Working logically from the device’s presets, through its multiple filters, oscillators, and modulation, Kurasaki blew minds covering the odd, intricate, and disturbed sounds the unit can produce.
At one point, an audience member challenged Kurasaki to make a particular “funk bass” sound with Thor and he created the tone, step-by-step, with audience input, within five minutes.
Bernard covered Reason 4’s ReGroove mixer, which allows the user to extract the groove-feel of any beat or pattern and apply it to any other beat or loop. For instance, you could sample James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” beat and apply the groove’s inflections, tempo, shuffle, etc. to your own creation.
Bernard then broke down how he created a multi-part techno song from a single Roland TR-606 hit, including every drum part, synth sound, bass line, and ambient element. As the audience left the conference–no lie–many were vocal about being newly inspired to try new techniques in their productions.
Overall this “(Reason) 4-to-the-floor” day was a success, with Pyramind and Line 6 providing professional accommodations, Propellerheads reps offering expert advice, and a room full of producers who wanted to get the most out of their software.
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