Erik Hawkins

Why You Need Reason 4

Erik Hawkins

Is Reason 4 Cool? Is Tony Hawk a good skateboarder? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” But the question I inevitably hear is, “Why do I need to update Reason if I just use it as a virtual sound module.” Now, that’s an easy answer, the Thor Polysonic Synthesizer and the RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator.

You’ve heard of Thor the Norse God of Thunder, right? Initially, I thought the guys at Propellerhead were just being silly, but this new synth is aptly named because it does produce some thunderous sounds. Take for example the Moog influenced Fat Boy bass patch, or the endlessly entertaining sequenced and rhythmic patches (such as Elastic Overdrive or Modular Funk Machine). Thor has a built-in step sequencer for some amazingly complex and funky sounds. And, if designing sounds isn’t your thing, the Reason 4 Factory Sound Bank comes with a dozen folders packed full of earth shaking Thor patches: Bass, Fx, Lead Synths, Pads, Percussion, Poly Synths, Rhythmic, Sequenced, Textures, Voice and Choir, Signature Patches (patches created by well-known artist and producers), and several uncategorized patches in the Thor Patches parent folder.

At the Reason Producer’s Conference in San Francisco, just before the Release of Reason 4, I distinctly heard Propellerhead product specialist James Bernard answer a question on the possibility of having an arpeggiator function in Reason with, “There will never be an arpeggiator in Reason.” Clearly, he was pulling our collective leg. The RPG-8 is dope! It is a comprehensive arpeggiator with a load of parameters for shaping arpeggios. For example, Hold, Octave Shift, Velocity, Gate Length, it can generate up to a four octave arpeggio, and there are controls for introducing random and sequenced variations (such as the Pattern Steps with which you can mute specific steps in the arpeggio). Better still, the RPG-8 can be controlled by your ReWire master application. For example, in your ReWire master, assign a MIDI track’s output to the RPG-8, send it a chord (or even a single note) and it will play an arpeggio using the instrument device that it is connected to in the Reason rack. Talk about cool!

For those of you with Pro Tools 7.3 and Reason 4, I’m attaching a ReWire session to show you how the RPG-8 can be controlled from an Instrument track in Pro Tools and sending an arpeggio to Thor at the same time. In the Zip folder you’ll find the Pro Tools 7.3 session file and Reason 4 song file. Remember to launch the Pro Tools session first, then the Reason song file. (For those of you without Pro Tools 7.3 and Reason 4, I’m also attaching an MP3 so you can at least hear what I’m going on about.)

1) Session Zip

2) MP3 Audio File

Thor and RPG-8

Erik Hawkins
Erik Hawkins

Erik Hawkins is a composer, producer, remixer, and author whose talents and technical expertise have leaders in the music industry calling him a "taste maker." He has worked with and remixed a variety of top artists, including Scatman Crothers, Irene Cara, Digital Underground, Conscious Daughters, Strypper, Brenda Russell, and DJ Sasha. His own progressive dance music tracks have been used by major television networks and film studios, including ABC, CBS, FOX, MTV, Nickelodian, and New Line Cinema. His articles and columns have been published in Remix, Mix, Electronic Musician, MC2, Keyboard, and DigiZine. He has also written several books, including The Complete Guide to Remixing (Berklee Press), and Producing Drum Beats (Berklee Press). His Berklee Online course, Programming and Producing Drum Beats, won the UPCEA Best Online Course Award for 2011.

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