Posted Nov. 11, 2015, 1:57 p.m.
I own LOTS of hardware. I like hardware. But when you're programming patterns and loops in hardware, you generally find you're looking at a XOXOX style row of 16 triggers. If you stick to laying out triggers in groups of 16, it's fairly easy for things to get pretty stale and repetitive. I use a number of tricks to try and avoid this, and I wanted to see if they could be replicated in Reason. The first of these is using repeated patterns of differing lengths to create polyrhythms.
Let's start with a fairly simple pattern using the kick, clap and hihat:
The kick and clap here are playing a pattern that repeats itself every bar - that is every 16 steps (where a step is a 16th note).
Let's add another voice to the pattern, but instead of a pattern that repeats every 16 steps, lets add a shorter pattern that begins again after only 6 steps. We can create a clip on the sequencer track that's just 6 steps (six 16th notes) long.
Hear how - even though it's at the same tempo - it slides out of sync with the original kick and clap pattern?
So now we have two patterns running alongside each other; one that's a bar long and one that's just a little under half a bar. It'll be three bars before these two patterns catch up with each other and start in sync again.
Now let's add another voice. This time I'm using a pattern that's 15 steps long.
Now my pattern won't start to repeat itself until after an entire 15 bars.
Let's add a last voice, this time using a pattern that repeats itself every eighteen steps.
Lay this on top of the original pattern, and now we have a lilting, rolling pattern that, while still being perfectly in time, is varied in such a way that it will only repeat itself after 45 bars!
Try creating polyrhythms yourself by building patterns for Kong or the ReDrum using clips that don't all start and end in the same place. Experiment with different lengths, and then go back and edit the parts if you want - perhaps you want to delete two voices that are triggered at the same time, for example.
And by all means, take the piece I've been using for an example here and add your ideas in Reason or Take. Here it is in its entirety - all 45 bars of it!
By request, here's a picture of the grid for this pattern - I've coloured the different voices in using their clip colours, and added boxes at the beginning of the pattern to show where each clip starts and ends.