The earliest analog synthesizers required you to connect different
modules — oscillators, envelope generators, LFOs, filters
— using patch cords. (Looking at a Moog modular synthesizer will give you an appreciation of the
patch cord “spaghetti” that resulted.) Some of the patch
cords carried audio signals, such as the ones connecting the
outputs of oscillators to the inputs of filters. Other cords carried
control voltage signals. These signals were not meant to be
heard; rather, they were used to control parameters like oscillator
frequency or filter cutoff.
Reason preserves some of this way of doing things, with its audio
patch cords and flexible modulation features. Sections within a
synthesizer — like the LFO section in SubTractor — can
control another section within the same synthesizer. And, of course,
patch cords route audio signals between devices. But Reason takes the
analogy to analog synthesizers further by providing various CV
(control voltage) connections on the back of the rack. A CV connection
lets one device control some aspect of another device.
Some analog synthesizers had step sequencers, which generated
a repetitive sequence of control voltages, some with as many as 256
steps. Each step stored a voltage that the user could adjust
with a knob. The steps were of equal duration, and the user could
change the tempo. At each step, the sequencer would emit the stored
control voltage, which could be routed to control most anything, such
as oscillator frequency, amplitude, filter parameters, etc. When the
sequencer performed the last step, it would start the sequence over
from the beginning. You can hear a step sequencer at work in the Pink
“On the run,” played on an
EMS Synthi AKS synthesizer.
Reason has a step sequencer, called the Matrix Pattern
Sequencer, which can store 32 different patterns (or
sequences of steps). In this part of the assignment, we’ll learn
how to control SubTractor with this sequencer. Of course, the Redrum
drum machine also has a step sequencer.