Goals of This Tutorial
- 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.
Redrum is one of Reason’s 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.
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 on the Drum Patterns in Popular Music page. Then it explains how to store multiple patterns in one Redrum, create a drum fill, and sequence your patterns.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Next you build a pattern out of the three basic types of drum: kick, snare, and hihat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Select the open hihat (channel 9), and click every odd-numbered step, to add a hihat hit on every eighth-note.
The hihat part in particular will benefit from having hits that aren’t all the same loudness.
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.
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.
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.
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 work, learn how to sequence pattern changes for Redrum using the main sequencer.