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Your Own Music Studio on Your Laptop: An Overview of Reason

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If Reason is your first music studio, chances are the interface looks to you like a mad scientist's lab. Don't panic; this chapter will help you get your lab in order before starting to create your first monster project.
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In this chapter we'll take a quick look around the Reason interface and get an overview of what working in Reason will be like.

If Reason is your first music studio, chances are the interface looks to you like a mad scientist's lab. Don't panic; this chapter will help you get your lab in order before starting to create your first monster project.

Getting Around in Reason

The first thing you'll see when you launch Reason is the Demo Song ( Figure 3.1 ). Anytime you have Reason running, you're looking at a song—the Reason file format. We'll use the Demo Song to see and hear what Reason instruments sound and look like, and to see how music looks after it's recorded.

03fig01.gif

Figure 3.1 The Demo Song

The Demo Song is a typical finished Reason project, with stacks of knob-plastered devices and a host of music tracks.

Introduction to the Rack and Sequencer

The Reason interface has two windows: One reads music, and the other one plays it.

The lower window is your writing workspace and is called the Sequencer. Think of it as sheet music. The upper window, your studio, is called the Rack. It plays the notes and makes the sound—your orchestra (albeit a shiny modular one with lots of knobs!).

The Sequencer and Rack are invisibly connected and work together.

Start a new song by setting up the Rack. It's a one-step process, and you'll build your studio one instrument at a time as you write, adding more gear as it's needed. The Rack can be as complex or simple as you want it to be; it's up to you.

For now, let's look at the Rack used by the Demo Song ( Figure 3.2 ).

03fig02.gif

Figure 3.2 The Demo Rack

To play a song in Reason

  1. To listen to the song, press the spacebar, or click the play button on the transport bar at the bottom of the screen, under the Sequencer ( Figure 3.3 ).
    03fig03.gif

    Figure 3.3 The transport bar's play controls

    As the song plays, a position bar scrolls from left to right in the Sequencer.
  2. To stop the song, press the spacebar again or click the stop button on the transport bar.

Meet the Mixer

Now look at the Rack (top window) to see the Mixer ( Figure 3.4 ). From the Mixer you can control the volume levels of all the instruments that are playing in the song.

03fig04.gif

Figure 3.4 The Rack Mixer

Each vertical strip on the Mixer represents the sound coming from a particular instrument, and represents a Mixer audio channel. As the song plays, signal levels go up and down on the channel indicators. The Mixer funnels all these channels into one stereo sound coming through your speakers.

To use the Mixer

  1. With a song playing, move the channel fader on the Mixer up and down to change the volume for an instrument ( Figure 3.5 ).
    03fig05.gif

    Figure 3.5 Moving channel faders

  2. Hit the Solo button on a Mixer channel to hear that channel by itself. You can solo as many channels as you want—Solo just mutes the un-soloed channels.
  3. Hit the Mute button to silence a channel. (Solo overrides mute; you don't have to "unmute" in order to solo.)
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