Exercise B: Making a Drum Pattern 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.

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What we’re trying to do

What to turn in

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. 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. 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.

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.

  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

Copyright ©2013-2016 Alicyn Warren, John Gibson