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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep-15 > Designing rhythmic sounds

Designing rhythmic sounds

Adding rhythmic elements to your patches can be the key to better sound design. Hollin Jones explains why…

Movement is one of the most crucial weapons you have at your disposal when designing sounds and making music. Many people would agree that when cycling through the ones on a synth or a virtual instrument, it’s the patches that contain elements of rhythm or movement that are the most interesting. Of course, if you play a guitar or a drum kit, you’re going to have a multi-faceted sound, but with synths – and especially software synths – it’s a slightly different matter to create a dynamic effect. Just holding a MIDI key or two is not in itself all that interesting, but it can be if you design the sound to do interesting things while that note is held.

One of Reason’s most useful devices for this kind of task is the Combinator, and by loading multiple instruments inside a combi and then creating Matrix pattern sequencers, perhaps containing various patterns, you can use control voltage to create something complex – involving rhythmic and melodic parts that trigger by playing a single note. There’s also the RPG-8 to interpret your MIDI input. Thanks to the amazing CV and audio splitter and merger modules, available to use anywhere in the Rack, you can creatively take a trigger signal from a single Matrix, for example, and use it to trigger multiple devices, or even devices outside the Combi. These pattern devices can have their data converted to regular notes and be placed into the sequencer, for when you want to perform more conventional editing on parts.

As well as Combis, Reason features some other instrument modules with rhythmic features, such as Thor and the ReDrum. Technically, these are a little different, as they actually contain mini step sequencers of the kind found on many software instruments, but they do allow you to incorporate rhythm as part of the design of a patch – especially in the case of Thor.

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About MusicTech

It’s celebration time here at MusicTech as we reveal our 150th issue! quite a milestone we’re sure you’ll agree. What an issue we’ve got to celebrate. First we’ve compiled the 150 best gear, studios, quotes and tips from the last 150 issues of MusicTech and we sit down for chats with studio legends Tony Visconti and Bob Clearmountain. We’ve also got a whole host of tutorials, reviews and a brand new feature looking at the six ways to save time when recording.