The ReGroove Mixer in Reason is something that, when you know how to use it, you won’t be able to live without
The ReGroove mixer in Reason is one of the tools that are rather hidden away, compared to the other rack devices. So much so, in fact, that many don’t use it at all. This is a crime.
If you read much about music production, you’ll here some producers talk about the great ‘swing’ of certain sampler-sequencers- most famously the Akai MPC range.
The ReGroove mixer allows the user to inject this sort of feel into your tracks, with the type of easy interface you’d expect from Propellerhead.
It also highlights that there are still a huge number of things that are tricky to do in other software packages that are a breeze in Reason.
Here’s how it works…
Getting in the pocket
I’m using Reason 6.5 for this tutorial. We’re going to be using Dr. Octorex to demonstrate how the ReGroove mixer works. First, create an Octorex in your rack, and click the arrow to the left to open the programmer.
1. A loop with a ‘straight’ groove (i.e. no swing) is the order of the day- we’ll be adding the swing. Select the Pwp03_College_130.rx2 drum loop from Reason Factory Sound Bank–>Dr Rex Drum Loops–>Acoustic–>Power Pop–>130 College.
I’ve dropped a Scream distortion in, too, and set it to a ‘Tape’ setting to give it a bit more punch, and tuned the loop down a bit by clicking the ‘A’ key on the mini piano icon on the Octorex.
2. Click the ‘enable loop playback’ so that the light switches off. This means that the loop won’t automatically play when you playback your track.
3. In the song arrange window, set your ‘L’ and ‘R’ locators 4 bars apart.
4. Make sure you have the correct track selected in the song window, and then click the ‘copy loop to track’ button. This creates midi data so that the loop is played back from MIDI exactly as it is the REX file.
5. To the far right of the transport bar, you’ll see a symbol that looks a bit like a ‘G’. Click it to open the ReGroove mixer.
6. A mixer will appear above the transport bar with 8 faders. Each of these corresponds to a different assignable groove, with four banks of eight faders available. On the leftmost fader, labelled A1, click the folder icon. If it doesn’t open automatically, navigate your way to Reason Factory Sound Bank–>ReGroove Patches–>MPC-60 and open 51% shuffle . We’re going to add some classic hip-hop swing.
7. Turn the ‘shuffle’ knob on this fader to about 3 o’clock.
8. Now, return to the Octorex track in your song. Just to the right of the ‘Record Arm’ button, there’s a drop down menu button. This is where you select the groove for your track. Click it and select A1.
9. Play back, and your track will now have nice, lolloping swing to nod your head to 😉 Try toggling the groove on and off with the ‘On’ button at the top of ReGroove channel A1 to hear how it changes the feel of the track.
In this track, I’ve also created a guitar part using one of the factory guitar loops (Reason Factory Sound Bank–>Dr Rex instrument Loops–>Guitar Loops–>ElGt_Cherie_Gmaj7_105.rx2)
Again, I’ve disabled the ‘enable loop playback’ feature, and copied it to the track.
To create ‘wah’ style sound, I’ve set a Bandpass filter, and set the LFO to control it, synchronized to tempo.
I’ve also connected a Scream distortion, and set it to ‘Tube’ setting to give it a bit more edge.
Finally, to give it a bit more of a syncopated feel, I adjusted the grid ‘snap’ for the song to 1/16, and nudged the part just 1/16 to the right, chopping the end bit that moved outside of the locators, and dragging in back to bar one.
Again, toggling the groove on and off shows how dramatically a track can be changed.
This tutorial shows the most basic function of the ReGroove mixer. You can edit and tweak grooves in incredible detail, making this an incredibly inspiring tool.
It can also be used effectively in situations where two parts just don’t seem to gel together rhythmically- simply set them up with the same groove to tighten them up together.
Download the song file, and audio files of the ReGrooved and un-ReGrooved tracks below.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.