something new for the rack?
The cat is out of the bag. Propellerheads just announced their newest technology initiative. It's called 'Rack Extensions' and you can find out all about them on Propellerheads web site. Rack Extensions are stand alone Reason devices that you can buy and integrate into your Reason Rack. Rack Extensions have knobs on the front, audio and CV plugs on the back, support undo, automation, and won't bring down your system if they crash. There will be a dedicated store and every extension comes with a demo period so you can try them out. Why did they do this? Are there any downsides? Do I REALLY like the idea, and what can we expect?
There is a NEW EWI specific web site! Our good friend John Isley has launched EWILogic - the number one resource for using your EWI with Apple's Logic.
John is a fantastic player and all around good guy. He has a lot of knowledge about Logic and the EWI and I can't wait to see his insights into this powerful combo.
One of the coolest things you can do with Logic IMHO is to ReWire Reason into it and use Reason as a synth within the logic environment. Perhaps he'll have a tutorial on this sometime, along with his own experiences working this way.
Head on over to http://www.ewilogic.com, check it out, and give John your support!
It's Music Making Month on the Propellerheads web site. Head on over and you can view archives of tutorials and interviews. Great stuff.
Check out this blog post by Aaron Mahnke. In it, he talks about how he writes a novel. I thought the tips were just as applicable to writing music. I really like the idea of removing friction. If you have to launch 3 apps, plug a bunch of stuff in, and spend minutes configuring everything, many times you'll just say "forget it, what's on tv?" That's one of the reasons I like Reason - you have everything you need to get 'er done. You don't have to plug anything in or even turn anything - just open the lid of the laptop or wake your computer from sleep. In fact, Reason is always running on my laptop, just in case I have a random idea.
With Reason 5, I like to use the on screen keyboard if I am out and about. It turns the keys of your laptop into a mini keyboard. It's not touch sensitive (obviously), and you really only get about 1 1/2 octaves, but it works in a pinch.
Another thing I like to do is always keep an acoustic guitar out, whether hanging on the wall or on a stand. Now, I am by no means an accomplished guitarist, but for some reason it's easy to walk by, pick it up and bang out a few chords if I have a spare minute or two. Sometimes, it will even spark a musical idea.
Along the same lines, you can keep your ewi out of its case just lying on your desk ready to go for when inspiration strikes.
Do you have any tips for removing friction in your musical endeavors?
A long standing bug affecting Breath Control in Thor has been fixed!
An alert reader informed me of a strange 'ripping' or 'staticy' sound he was hearing in some Thor patches. Intrigued, I was able to isolate the problem and replicate it. Interestingly enough, he was right! When you map Breath to, really anything, in Thor there was a strange 'stepping' sound. Now, this was only noticeble if the filter cutoff was low and the gain was cranked pretty high, but it was there nonetheless. Not only that, it carried over to Breath routed to the CV outs in Thor (so anything controlled with the output CV sounded stepped as well). Also, when the same breath control data was remapped to mod wheel it went away, and the transitions were smooth. As far as I could tell, this bug goes all the way back to Reason 4.
Well, it took some convincing, but the Props have fixed this in 5.0.1! The audio quality of Breath control in Thor is now greatly improved! From the release notes: "Automation of aftertouch, expression and breath are now smoothed in Thor."
Here are some before and after examples of what this sounded like.
You can hear the stepping in this sample from Reason 5.0.0, it almost sounds like a geiger counter in the background:
This one is perfectly smooth (Reason 5.0.1), the way it should be:
Here is the patch I used to test this, so you can try it out on your own system if you haven't yet downloaded the update. You'll have to turn up the volume, and it works best when you use low breath values. Translation - blow very softly into your wind controller of choice.
This is reason #76 why I love this software. The Props actually listen to their customers and fix problems as they arise.
My recommendation: If you care about your sound (and who doesn't?) upgrade to Reason 5.0.1 and/or Record 1.5.1. Not only do you get this fix, but you get all the other various fixes that go along with this maintenance release.
Thanks, Props, for making Reason work even better with wind controllers!
Here are two new, grungy, combinator skins. Hope you like them.
Here they are in a zip file for easy downloading.
After months of programming and tweaking, I'm pleased to announce our first commercial ReFill - the Cyclone Wind Synthesizer for Reason. I wanted to create a Combinator that is a tool kit for Reason for wind controllers. The main idea is to load any sound into a Combinator and have it gain a great degree of breath response without having to reprogram each and every sound.
I've largely succeeded with this ReFill, and you get 50 presets and an extensive user guide to get you started.
I think you're really going to like it. Learn more at the product page.
Don’t underestimate the Subtractor.
Everyone talks about Thor and it is an awesome synth, but if you are just getting started with programming for a wind controller, it can be intimidating, so this tutorial uses the Subtractor to introduce you to some of the techniques you can use to add breath control to your sounds. But don’t underestimate the Subtractor – it’s a great analog modeling synth, and you can make some inspiring sounds with it. We’ll start from scratch with the Subtractor ‘Init’ patch.
A Thor patch inspired by a Brecker lead from 'Beirut' by Steps Ahead. I added a little bit of breath noise, which I think gives it a little more life. Hope you like it!
Quick tip this week.
I find it quite helpful when practicing to have a visual indicator of the breath pressure that I am sending from my wind controller into Reason. I can learn if I am blowing too hard or too soft and adjust either my playing or adjust the sensitivity on the instrument itself.
There are two simple ways to do this that I would like to share.
1. Use NN-XT
If you are playing an NN-XT patch, you have the breath indicator built-in. I'm sure you've seen the 'X' wheel moving when you play a sound set up like the picture, with the X controller set to breath. This is pretty handy, but I find that there are other knobs that are easier to read - like the giant rotary knobs on the Thor synthesizer...
2. Use Thor inside a Combinator
I like the giant dials on the front panel of Thor, because they are big and easy to see. I prefer this method because I like to see a big, honkin’ dial move. This works for any Thor patch that does not use the front Rotary controls, or for any Combinator patch. This takes advantage of the fact that any control mapped in a combinator is animated when it is controlled - so it will move when it is activated. Here's how to do it:
What I Learned
When I first did this, I realized I was ‘maxing out’ the breath pressure when I was only blowing at a moderate level. I turned down the sensitivity on the EWI to compensate and I can now blow normally and get a wide range of breath sensitivity.
That's it until next time. Have fun playing your wind controller!
This is a version of 'Plated Cello' from the Reason Factory Sound Bank. I added breath control to the NN-XT cello patch. I think it came out pretty good. I originally thought I would create my own combinator, but I liked the setup of the stock patch from the Factory Sound Bank. It has controls for reverb, chorus and a bass boost. I'd use it on a gig.
I've included an mp3 demo of this patch. Hope you like it!