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.
- Review the popular music drum
patterns we discussed in class [VPN].
- Watch a real drummer at work on an
acoustic drum kit to get a better feel for the drum types and simple
rock patterns [VPN].
- 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.
Sarah Thawer, who interprets Indian rhythms on her drum kit.
NOTE: You must be on the IU network (or
VPN) to view the resources marked [VPN] above, or you
will get a browser error.
What we’re trying to do
- 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 to 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
- 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
- Drag the Redrum Drum Computer from the Browser into the
Rack. The default drum kit, “Disco Kit RDK,”
- 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.)
- Open the “Rock Kits” folder. Choose the third drum kit inside
the Rock Kits folder: “Groovemasters Rock Kit 3.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
- 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
- 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
- If some of the drum hits sound too soft or too loud, you can adjust that
using the dynamic switch.
- Select the drum channel you want to change.
- Set the switch to Hard, Medium, or Soft.
- 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
- Find the pattern grid, which is to the left of the step buttons.
The current pattern is stored in memory location A1.
- Copy this pattern into a new location:
- 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.
- In the pattern grid, choose location A-2,
which has no pattern stored in it.
- Right-click, and choose Paste Pattern.
- 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
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.
- Select A-3 in the pattern grid. Press the space bar to start
- Once again, enter the one-bar Beatles pattern, or something similar.
- 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!
- 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).
- 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,
- 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.