Welcome back to another article about Propellerhead Reason. In this one I would like to address a few tricks I often apply myself to get out of the "loop". Where the original is based on a loop. Some of these ideas might be quite obvious, but then again I can just write them down in let's say 30 minutes time. The concepts off breaking out of a loop aren't that hard. It requires some logical thinking and it may require a few things to make it all work. Anyhow here are some ideas to get you started with it.
Re-arrange the loop sequence wise
If you look at what for instance a Dr OctoRex loop is doing, it plays back a loop in a sequence. Once you zoom in on a sequence you can see all the individual slices on how it plays this back.
While this order of play will always be exactly the same, sometimes it does miracles while making a few adjustments in several 'blocks' while the sequence progresses over time.
While originally this sequence will play the exact same loop at first, it starts to throw in some 'offbeat' transitions while the loop progresses over time. This may result into those "huh?! didn't expact that to happen" moments.
This one is very obvious to most of us. A break usually happens during the sequence once we want to surprise our audience or when we turn the arrangement around. These things are good moments to create that "surpriiiiiseee!!!" element. A common break technique I often use is to just remove all the notes at the end of a sequence. The duration of the break may vary depending on what comes during this transition.
Most common genres that apply this technique would be drum and bass, dubstep (aka the drop), trance or house. In recent EDM genres, this technique is also often applied.
Using an HPF filter on a loop
Filters can often be a handy tool to make changes in a loop. One method I am really a fan of is applying a High pass filter on a loop which just drives the whole song to a more "uplifting" state. To make this work, you could decide to use a HP12 filter on a Rex loop all the time while having the filter cut all the way to 0 and open it up to make the transition work. This technique comes with the drawback that it can cut away too much of the low ends even while the filter is all the way to zero. A less dramatic approach would be using the MClass Stereo Imager to do something similar. This setup requires the Solo Hi band to be enabled. The X-Over frequency can then be used to open up the filter.
Delays can play a major part in making the loop sound stepwise totally differently. Like it puts you off guard more or less. Stepping things different can also be used to create "ghost" loops in the background. While most loops are based on 4/4 or 8/4 my best practice to this would be using delays that do not fit in the 4/4 realm. Which are in this case 3/16, 5/16 or the more awkward one 7/16. When applying these gentle in the progression of time it may sound like there is an offbeat loop playing in the background or something like it (where this also depends on what type of loop you are using of course). In any case, edit automation is going to be your friend with these type of setups since it requires to automate the dry/wet balance knob a bit. In case you use the ECHO (Reason 6 and above), I would use the "Roll" effect for this one. It gives it this really nice reggae dub type of echo effect while applying this.
Slow things down
With the setting like "time-stretch" you have the option to time-stretch midi notes. While applying this on a rex loop you have the option here to slow the whole loop down. Of course, this could go together while twisting the pitch wheel (to make it resemble the idea that the tape is slowing down). Time stretching midi clips can be done by pressing the CTRL key at the end of the clip.
There are plenty of ways to make changes in a loop. A few examples I haven't mentioned in this article would be using the velocity settings in a loop and make these random using the tool window, beat repeater effects can be created to re-arrange a sequence in a different angle, different effects in a chain can play an important role while making changes in a loop and the list can go on and on forever. I just wanted to write down a quick beginners article just to help out a few people who are struggling with this 'problem' real quick. So there you have my quick list of things you can do to alter a loop.
Just as a quick reference, I will also drop a Reason file next to this. The following file is made in Reason 5 (same as the screenshots above). So you can have a quick glance on how this setup could be sounding like.
Have a nice week!
Written by hydlide