Join Matt Piper for an in-depth discussion in this video Starting from scratch in a new project, part of Learning Songwriting: Reason.
- Through the years, I have used several different platforms for recording, including tape and several different DAWs, and I've really found Reason to be a very comfortable environment for writing songs. And specifically, I've had experiences with trying to get my software to work and forgetting my idea before I could get it recorded. That has not happened to me with Reason. Somehow I feel really comfortable in this environment.
I'm hoping you'll feel that way, too, and I'd like to show you some preferences that we can set and some other ways to make the Reason environment really comfortable so that as soon as you turn it on, you're ready to record your ideas and the technology doesn't get in your way. The first thing I'm going to do is set a system preference, which is specific for Mac users. I'm going to go up here to system preferences and go to the keyboard, and I want to use my F1, F2 keys as actual function keys because that will allow me to use the shortcuts that you'll see me using later on in this course.
In my setup, I've got a microphone and an audio interface, and I have a few guitars with me. I have a bass guitar, an electric guitar, and an acoustic guitar. I also have a MIDI keyboard. I'd like to go into the Reason preferences and make sure that all of these things are working as I expect them to. I'll go to the audio preferences and I see the audio interface that I'm using, the Apogee Quartet is showing up with a happy green check mark.
I have my sample rate set for 48,000 hertz. You may wish to work at 44,000 or some other sample rate. You can change it there. The buffer size is set to 512 samples. If you start working at that buffer size and you have too much latency and you feel like it would be easier to have less latency, you can turn down that slider a bit. It'll make your computer work a little harder, but it'll give you less latency. This is fine for me for now. I'm going to look at the control surfaces.
I see that my MIDI keyboard, the Line 6 Mobile Keys 25, has a green check mark, so I know that's going to work. Okay, so now if I want to record something, I'm almost ready. All I have to do is create an audio track. I can do that from the Create menu, and select "Create Audio Track." I also see the keyboard shortcut there, which I actually like to use, to cmd +t on the Mac, and ctrl + t on Windows.
There I have an audio track, and assuming I have the correct input selected here, I should be able to simply start recording. I see that the track is already armed and I see that to the right of that, the monitor is activated, so I should be able to hear whatever I am going to record. If I just press record, I'm already recording. That is very fast. I launch the program, create an audio track, once the preferences are set, you don't have to do that twice, and start recording.
But as I work on recording my song ideas, I realize there are some things that I do every single time, just about, that it would be nice to just have set up and waiting for me. The way I can do that is to create a template song. Let me first just cmd + z to undo that recording that I did. Ctrl + z on Windows. I'm usually going to use at least two audio tracks. I often like to write with an acoustic guitar, so I'm going to go ahead and label the first track "Acoustic Guitar." I'm going to cmd + t again, and create another audio track, and I'm going to call this "Vocals." I might actually like to move this to the top here.
I can do that if I want to. If I want to have the order look the same in the rack, I can do that as well. I quite often am going to track bass and electric guitar as well. Let me create another audio track for electric guitar. I'm going to use an effect for the electric guitar pretty much every time. I'm not going to be using a microphone with the electric guitar.
I'm going to go over here to effects and load in this softube amp. That's going to give me a much more pleasing sound for electric guitar. Now if you're a guitar player, you might want to find your favorite tone and save that. I think my tone's going to be different for every song, so I'm not really worried about that. I'm going to create another audio track and name this one "Bass." Most of the time, I'll be using electric bass, so I'm going to go to effects here and I can just double-click on this softube bass amp, and there it is in the insert slot for the bass.
Finally, I usually like to work with drum loops rather than taking the time to try to program a beat in some other way. I like to use loops, so in instruments, I'm going to scroll down here to the Dr. Octo Rex loop player and drag that in here. Okay. I'm going to close my browser. I don't need that at the moment.
Later on in the course, as we get deeper into the song that we'll be working on, I'll want to label the parts of the song. I want to take a step now to make that easy to do. I'm going to go to the blocks view. There are a lot of things you can do with blocks. You can record in the blocks view, you can record a chorus part that you can then draw in at several other points in the song. For more information about how to use blocks, please check out Up and Running with Reason 8. But right now, I'm simply going to use these blocks as labels.
Block 1, I'm going to relabel as Verse 1. Okay. You can probably guess what I'm going to do with Block 2. And Block 3. I'm just choosing some sort of common kind of song structure bits that I'm likely to use.
I don't need a number for the chorus. You may have other labels that you like to use. That should do it for now. Now I can go back to the song view and later you'll see how I used the blocks track to label different sections of the song. Now I've got a basic setup that fits my needs as a songwriter, and I would like to save that as a template file, so that every time I open Reason, it opens just like this, like what we see now.
I'm going to save this, and I'm going to save this as "Songwriting Template." Okay, and now let's look at just one more preference in general. If we look down in the middle where it says Default Song, the template is currently set for Empty + FX. Okay, that's a template file that comes with the program. I am going to change that, and I see that my browser opened, and I'm going to go to my desktop and exercise files, and Songwriting in Reason template.
And select, and now when I go back to preferences, I see that the template has been changed to Songwriting Template. Okay, that's great. Just to show you that this works, let's open a new document. You can see that the template that we created is the default when we open new songs. Regardless of the template you use, the name of the template will not show at the top.
You see it says untitled 2, but functionally, it is what we created. Alright, so now that we have a comfortable environment within Reason to work with, we can start recording our ideas.