Erik Hawkins

Reason Song Template

Erik Hawkins

Many students have asked me for a Reason song file template to be used as a starting point for their own projects. This sounded like a good idea to me so I’ve cooked one up that’s especially suited for most forms of popular electronic music, from hip-hop to dance. It’s not meant to be used verbatim, instead, you should modify it to your liking and save it as your own Reason song file template. It’s also pretty complex and if you’re not an advanced Reason user there may be some sections of the routing that you might not know how to use yet. Many of the techniques presented in this template are thoroughly covered in my Berkleemusic course, Producing Music with Reason.

Remember that after you create your ideal song template, you can have it loaded automatically whenever you launch Reason. This way, you’re always ready to start writing, with no time spent setting up your rack. In Reason’s Preferences, under the General tab, set the Default Song to Custom and choose your song file template. And, remember to set your song file to Read-Only. This will ensure that when you save a song it won’t write over your original template file.

Reason General Prefs

Here are some highlights and tricks (in no particular order) for using my song template and making it your own:

· Several instruments are set up as combinators. The instrument Inside the combinator is routed through compression and parametric EQ processors for mixing. To browse for any instrument while still maintaining all of the connections, find the instrument inside the combinator and use its Patch Browser. And, when browsing for patches, select the Show All Instruments option so your patch browsing is not restricted to a single device type.

· You can control either the combinator itself or the device within the combinator from a track in the Sequencer. I have both types of control tracks set up. The main advantage of using the combinator track to control a single instrument inside the combinator is that you can automate the combinator’s knobs and buttons from this track. Of course, you’d need to assign the combinator’s knobs and buttons to some device parameters for them to be active. (Keep in mind that I’m not talking about a multi instrument combinator patch here, for which you’ll always need to use the combinator track to gain control over all of the instruments inside the combinator.)

· There are several labeled clips on the Song Markers track in the Sequencer. These can be used as song markers to organize your song structure. Modify them and make your own as necessary.

· There’s a mastering combinator set up and ready to roll in the rack. Only, it’s set to Bypass because, as a rule, it’s better to produce and mix your track without monitoring your work through active mastering processors. In short, this is because the mastering processors are coloring your mix prematurely, before you’ve completed your production. Instead, save the mastering for after your mix is completed. (I’ll cover this topic in more detail in a future blog.)

· Not only are all of Redrum’s individual outputs routed through compression and parametric EQ processors, for the best control possible over each drum part in your mix, I’ve also connected Redrum’s sends to some extra parallel drum effects (a DDL-1 for delay and a Scream for lo-fi). You can use Redrum’s sends to send a drum signal to these effects before the Drums sub mixer. The effects themselves are returned on Channels 8 and 9 on the Drums sub mixer.

· I’ve set up parallel compression for your drum mix by splitting the output of the Drums sub mixer into two signal paths, one that is compressed and one that is not. Both sub mixes come up on Channels 1 and 2 of the Main mixer. This way you can easily mix in the parallel compression effect on your drums to taste.

· After the Main mixer, I set up a Sub Master mixer for some fun with global effects. The Main mixer’s output is split off to the following effects: there’s an MClass Compressor for parallel compression, an ECF-42 for that classic filtered sound, and a PH-90 for that classic phasing sound. The returns for these effects are muted on the Sub Mixer. Mix their levels to taste and automate how and when they drop into your mix (don’t leave them on all the time).

That’s the scoop. Have fun with this Reason 4 song file template.

Reason 4 Song File Template

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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