Exercise B

Making Drum Patterns with Redrum

Redrum is one of Reason’s three drum instruments. It emulates a drum machine: first you load a patch that provides a “kit” of ten drum sounds; then you construct a short pattern that will cause those sounds to play in a loop, over and over.

Before trying this yourself, watch the Drum Machine 101 with Redrum tutorial. Do not bother trying to recreate the steps in that video. Just watch it once, to understand how Redrum works.

If you’re not a drummer, it’s a good idea to learn something about how drum patterns work before trying to make some.

  • Review the popular music drum patterns we discussed in class.
  • Watch a real drummer at work on an acoustic drum kit to get a better feel for the drum types and simple rock patterns.
  • If you already feel comfortable with this material, pay close attention to these drummers:
    • Antonio Sanchez, a jazz drummer who incorporates Latin rhythms into his style. That cowbell.
    • Sarah Thawer, who interprets Indian rhythms on her drum kit. Check out right-hand cymbal work at 1:57.
    • Jojo Mayer, another jazz drummer who sometimes plays in genres that often use drum machines instead. Notice the hihat play and spots that veer off from the main tempo.

Goals of This Exercise

  • Learn to recognize drum patterns in some different styles.
  • Learn the basics of using Redrum.
  • Construct drum patterns in several different variations and styles.
  • Switch between drum patterns using the Reason Sequencer.

What You’ll Turn In

  • At least two Reason “song” files, each containing one Redrum device with at least three different patterns, stored in memory locations A1, A2, and A3 (see below).
  • Create a sequence of pattern changes that includes all three patterns (A1, A2, and A3). Do this in the Reason Sequencer for each of your song files. Do not put any notes in the sequence — just pattern changes.
  • Follow the submission instructions at the bottom of this page.

The tutorial that follows shows you how to use Redrum to make a basic rock drum pattern, like that used in the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, discussed in class. Then it explains how to store multiple patterns in one Redrum, create a drum fill, and sequence your patterns. Below that are instructions for completing the assignment.

Choosing a Drum Kit

First you create a Redrum device and load a patch, which contains ten drum sounds, forming a complete kit. Each sound goes into its own drum channel.

  1. Drag the Redrum Drum Computer from the Browser into the Rack. The default drum kit, “Disco Kit RDK,” loads.
  2. Reason Redrum Browse Patch buttons

    The Browse Patch button will be overlaid with orange, as in the picture below, which indicates that you can use the Browser to select a patch for this instrument. (If you don't see the orange overlay, click the Browse Patch button so that it turns orange.)

  3. Open the “Rock Kits” folder. Choose the third drum kit inside the Rock Kits folder: “Groovemasters Rock Kit 3.”
  4. Play the lowest note on the Korg Triton keyboard. You should hear a bass drum sound. (If you have one of the larger, 88-key keyboards, the lowest note is not right. Play up from this note until you find the bass drum. It is the C two octaves below middle C.)

    The other sounds in the kit can be triggered by playing a chromatic scale (that means the white and black keys) up from that lowest note, notes C through A.

  5. Reason Redrum note trigger play button

    As you play the first note, look at the top of the first drum channel.

    Notice that the white Trigger (arrow) button (circled above) lights up yellow when you press the key. You can also play the drum sound by simply clicking the Trigger button with your mouse.

  6. Note the names of the drum sounds in red at the top of each channel. This kit includes, in order: a bass (kick) drum, three snare drums, three toms, a closed hihat cymbal, an open hihat, and a ride cymbal. Play through them again slowly to get familiar with the sounds and the different types of drums.

Building a Pattern

Next you build a pattern out of the three basic types of drum: kick, snare, and hihat.

  • Set the tempo.

    Reason tempo controls

    The Beatles’ song is at about 108 BPM (beats per minute), so set the Reason Sequencer’s tempo to match. Double-click the BPM number to type something new, or drag up or down on the number.

  • Listen to the click, to hear the basic beat.

    Press the Click button in the sequencer’s Transport Panel (see above image), to turn on the metronome click.

    Hit the space bar to let the metronome play, and count quarter notes silently to yourself with the beats of the metronome: 1 2 3 4. Be sure that your “1” coincides with the highest-pitched click of the metronome, which only occurs every fourth click. This is the downbeat.

    Watch the changing numbers in the Transport Panel. The second number shows the quarter note count, and so it loops, showing “1 2 3 4” over and over.

    Stop playback by pressing the spacebar again.

  • The Pattern Step Sequencer

    Note that the default pattern has 16 steps, and that the resolution is set to 1/16. This means that there will be 16 sixteenth notes in the pattern. Since there are four sixteenth notes in each quarter note, and four quarter notes per bar, Redrum is set to make a drum pattern that is one bar long.

  • Enter the kick drum part.

    Drum channel number 1, the leftmost one, is already selected. You want a kick drum on quarter note beats one and three, so click on step number 1 and step number 9. There is also a kick drum hit on the “and” of beat three (i.e., the second eighth note), so click step number 11 also.

    With the metronome click still on, listen to the kick drum part. You might want to lower the level of the click so you can hear the kick drum clearly.

  • Enter the snare part.

    To do so, you first must select one of the snare drum channels. Click the Select button at the bottom of the second, third, or fourth drum channels. You want snare hits on the second and fourth quarter notes, so click on step number 5 and step number 13.

  • Enter the hihat part.

    Select the open hihat (channel 9), and click every odd-numbered step, to add a hihat hit on every eighth-note.

  • Of course, listen to your completed pattern, and don’t forget to Save!
  • If some of the drum hits sound too soft or too loud, you can adjust that using the dynamic switch.
    1. Select the drum channel you want to change.
    2. Set the switch to Hard, Medium, or Soft.
    3. Then click a step button.

    The hihat part in particular will benefit from having hits that aren’t all the same loudness.

Copy, Paste, and Alter the Pattern

You will make a copy of the pattern you just created, and then alter it to create a variation of the basic pattern.

Redrum contains 32 pattern memories, stored in a grid that you operate using alphanumeric buttons.

  1. Find the pattern grid, which is to the left of the step buttons. The current pattern is stored in memory location A1.

    Reason Redrum pattern selection grid

  2. Copy this pattern into a new location:
    1. With A and 1 still lit up orange in the pattern grid, right-click in an empty spot on Redrum, and from the contextual menu choose Copy Pattern.
    2. In the pattern grid, choose location A-2, which has no pattern stored in it.
    3. Right-click, and choose Paste Pattern.
  3. Now alter the new pattern somewhat so that it’s different from the original pattern.

    One possibility would be trying out some different eighth-note positions for the kick drum. But leave the kick on the downbeat.

    Another option is replacing the hihat 8th notes with ride cymbal 8ths. Often a drummer will use the hihat in a verse and the ride cymbal in a chorus.

Creating a Drum Fill

Let’s build a third variation that includes a drum fill. This usually makes use of some faster notes, and is a chance for drummers to show off a bit. It’s also an opportunity for the drummer to play the toms.

A fill typically places the fast notes near the end of the last measure of a phrase (often, every 4 or 8 measures). This lets the drummer lead convincingly into the next phrase.

  1. Select A-3 in the pattern grid. Press the space bar to start playing.
  2. Once again, enter the one-bar Beatles pattern, or something similar.
  3. Erase all the notes in the snare and hihat parts in the second half of the measure (step numbers 9 through 16). The drummer can’t play the toms at the same time she’s playing the snare and hihat!
  4. Play a series of four 16ths notes on two toms, one after the other:
    • Select a higher-pitched tom (channel 5 or 6), and add four 16th notes during the third beat (step numbers 9-12).
    • Select a lower-pitched tom (channel 6 or 7), and add four 16th notes during the fourth beat (step numbers 13-16).
  5. It really helps to vary the velocities of the fill notes, so try that. Otherwise, they will sound too stiff.

Switching Between Patterns in the Reason Sequencer

There is no need to move the notes from the Redrum step sequencer into the main Reason Sequencer at the bottom of your song window. When you play that sequence, the Redrum pattern plays. But it plays the same pattern all the time, and it will not stop when the rest of the tracks in your sequence end.

To complete your exercise, learn how to sequence pattern changes for Redrum using the main sequencer.

Complete your Exercise B

  • You should have at least two Reason song files, each with one Redrum device. Aim for a different drumming style in the two files — say, rock in one, and house or funk in the other. Program at least three patterns for each Redrum, stored in memory locations A1, A2, and A3.
  • Be sure that each file contains pattern changes in the Redrum track in the Reason Sequencer at the bottom of your song window.
  • Name your files “exerciseB-1,” “exerciseB-2,” etc., or something similar.
  • Follow the assignment submission instructions to submit your exercise using Canvas.