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Choir sounds in Propellerhead Reason

Published: 2017-07-12

Choir sounds are quite epic to use in a musical production. In Propellerhead Reason there are different ways to create a rich full scale choir sound. If synthesizers are you game, then using the Malstrom or Thor could do the trick pretty well. When it comes to some form of realism an NN-XT patch could be ideal. Sometimes we need a bit of both. In this article we'll be looking in to our top picks to create a full scale choir using samplers, synthesizers and effects. So lets just scream right in to this.

NN-XT Sampler and Choirs

When looking at the NN-XT sampler (and the factory sound bank samples that come with it), we have a section called "Voices". These voices sometimes borrow samples from the NN-19 sampler sound bank. This is most likely obvious while loading up the Choir Wash patch. This patch in particular uses the exact same sounds from the NN-19 sampler patches. Which isn't a real problem though, since the part where the NN-XT sampler shines is layering the different sounds. This is partially the beauty behind Propellerhead Reason, sure it may seem limited at times, once you start really understanding the tools your using they tend to open up a lot of new doors. Sure, it might be a bit more work just to accomplish the task. And sometimes it is worth while to do so (why else would I be writing down this article).

The different voice layers in the sample section

Before getting started with the process, you need to understand which locations to look for. For the NN-19 sampler you have the following location:
Factory Soundbank > NN19 Sampler Patches > Voice > ChoirFemaleAhh
Factory Soundbank > NN19 Sampler Patches > Voice > OhChoir
Factory Soundbank > NN19 Sampler Patches > Voice > SmallChoirUhh
Factory Soundbank > NN19 Sampler Patches > Voice > UhhChoir

From the NN-XT you have the following location:

Factory Soundbank > NN-XT Sampler Patches > Voice > Monk Choir Samples
Factory Soundbank > NN-XT Sampler Patches > Voice > VP Voice Samples

So in theory you have 4 different types of female voices. One male voice and one 'synthetic' type of voice  (VP). This leads up to 6 different layers to choose from. However, every layer can be manipulated inside the NN-XT using zones and its settings.

Loading up one pair of choirs

To load up one set inside the NN-XT, we can start with adding an instance of the NN-XT.

Choir setup using the NN-XT sampler player

Init patch, no samples loaded. In case you have a preset loaded, use "reset device" or "initialize patch" (depending on the version of Propellerhead Reason you are using).

Next up, open up the remote editor (this is where it gets scary). Click on the little arrow (>) next to where it says "Remote Editor".

Choir setup using the NN-XT sampler

Inside the remote editor you can add the different samples by clicking "Browse Sample" button. 

Choir setup using the NN-XT

From here on you can load up any sample you like. You can either dive in to the NN-19 sampler folder or jump to the NN-XT folder. Depends on what want. In this case I am going to go for the combination of :
NN19 - ChoirFemaleAhh
NN19 - OhChoir
NN19 - UhhChoir
NN-XT -  Monk Choir Samples

Every sample section will get its own zone (load the samples, select them, then right click and select "group selected zones"). Or read the operation manual on how to operate the NN-XT. Or watch my youtube video on how to use the NN-XT sampler.

When done so you will have the following NN-XT patch.

Choir setup using the NN-XT sampler

The issue here at the moment is that all samples are mapped to all the keys. And this is where the whole "time consuming" part comes in to play. Since every zone needs to be mapped through the complete keyboard. The benefit with most samples that sit inside the NN-XT or NN-19 already contain the mapping information in the sample data. So the only thing that remains to do is to do the following steps for every zone:
- right click on the zone
- click on "set root note from pitch detection"
- right click on the zone
- click on "automap zone"

Choir setup using the NN-XT sampler

In this particular case we need to do this 4 times (since we are using 4 different layers). And when done so, we have 4 zones mapped through the keyboard, resulting in to the following patch (yeah, I will safe you some work on this one). And this should work in Propellerhead Reason 3 and upwards I believe.

full-scale-choir-nn-xt

Tweaking things in the full scale choir

Partially the beauty behind zones in the NN-XT is that every zone can have its own unique set of attributes regarding to envelopes, amplitude, modulation etc. Heck, it could be done per sample even (but just for sake of simplicity, let us not go there). 

To tweak the stage of a zone inside the NN-XT sampler, select the zone first. Then start making the adjustments. For instance in this particular patch I find the first layer (FemelaAh) way too much up front. So we'll select the femaleAh zone. Adjust the level a bit more downwards.

Choir setup using the NN-XT Sampler

A similar thing can be done with the filter type per zone, setting up the modulate envelope per layer and so on.

full-scale-choir-nn-xt-2

Horror style choirs

In case you have seen my video about the vocoder in Properllerhead Reason you may already know that the BV512 vocoder has its charm while using this on vocals.

A similar thing could be said for setting up voices inside an NN-XT patch. You can layer them with an additional BV512 vocoder and use that to blend between the vocoded signal and the dry signal. If you want to go for the more 'synthetic' type of voice you would use a simple saw wave or pulse. If you want to turn these things in to the more 'horror' type of breathing sounds, I would  suggest using a multi oscillator or noise to pull this off.

NN-XT Vocoder

The idea is to use the NN-XT as the modulator (since it is the microphone in this case) and the carrier should be the synthesizer. In the following patch I am using a combination of a multi oscillator with a noise oscillator. 

Vocoder carrier

You can see this in the following combinator patch I have setup in Propellerhead Reason 9.5 (it will most likely work in Reason 5 too).

vocoder-nn-xt

Happy Choir making!

 

 

 

Published on Reason Experts
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Published on Reason Experts
Published: 2017-07-12

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bramnaus
16 Sep 2017 

bramnaus

Hey hydlide,Just a quick question. I've downloaded a female choir sample-pack containing samples of a female choir singing different vowels. For each vowel i made a NN-XT patch (six in total). Is there a way to combine those patches in a combinator and then controle which vowel is playing? At first i tried to programm the buttons on the combinator to mute a certain channels (used a 2x6 mixer), but then 4 buttons aren't enough. Is there another way to achieve this? Is it possible to map keystrokes to play only one of the six NN-XT samplers? Thx for any tips.Bram
hydlide
 16 Sep 2017 

hydlide

In this particular case there are different ways to sort this. Personally I would go for the Velocity method (in case I would not need them). Meaning you can set the velocity range in a combinator and pin point the range that specific NN-XT will play.Of course in that case this will mean that the velocity settings inside the NN-XT patches themselves need to be ditched.But from that angle the velocity becomes the next setting to set which vowel will be playing.
bramnaus
 17 Sep 2017 

bramnaus

The NN-XT patches i made are velocity triggered allready (5 layers). Would like to try and keep them. Still some questions:A: How can i pin point the velocity rang in the combinator?B: You mentioned there are different approaches. What other option do i got?I'v tried mapping keyboard keys to solo a channel, but then you need to touch the key twice. Once for making the channel go solo, and twice for unsolo it. Could you map the key binding that it would only trigger solo when pressed?
hydlide
 17 Sep 2017 

hydlide

The velocity range can be found inside the programmer display in the combinator. Next to where you can set the range on the keyboard (C-2 till G8) you'll find the minimum velocity and maximum velocity next to this (default set to 0 till 127).A different angle (unconventional for playing it live) would be using Thor as a toggle button. The toggle button can be mapped to a specific key. So for instance I would use C octave 2 till F octave 2 in this particular case (which requires 3 thor patches where every button is set to C2, C#2, D2, D#2, E2 and F2 in this case). The next thing you'll then need is to program the Thor patch to send out the CV value. This can be done with:Source Button 1 > Amount 100 > Destination CV 1 outSource Button 2 > Amount 100 > Destination CV 2 outNext, you'll need a mixer 14:2 for this approach (mixer 6:2 does not work with this particular method because it does not have a CV for the level). The CV outs of the Thor will then go towards the Mixer 14:2 (channel 1 till 6). The default mix channel needs to be set to 0 in this case. Because the Thor buttons will open them up. You can also set the default CV input value on the rear of the mixer (in case things become to loud).Last, you'll connect the 6 nn-xt patches to the individual channels. In this case you can use the octave 2 keys (by pressing and holding them) to enable the specific channel you'll need.In case of keybindings, you could use edit override mapping on the buttons of thor, without using the "note" next to the button. In that case the keyboard will be used as a button toggle
bramnaus
 17 Sep 2017 

bramnaus

So far so good. Thx for the last tip. I've got it working as far that it works if i manually pressing button 1 or 2 in one of the Thor patches. I've selected in the box next to the button C-2 and C#-2 for thor patch one, D-2 and D#-2 for thor patch 2 and so on. But when pressing my keyboard it's not responding to anything. Any tips?
hydlide
 17 Sep 2017 

hydlide

Here's an example which works over here. I am starting with octave 2 in this case (so all keys above this range for the NN-XT have been disabled).https://www.reasonexperts.com/downloads/6-channels-out.cmb
bramnaus
 17 Sep 2017 

bramnaus

Thx for the patch. Strangely mine is very simulair, but not working. What did i do wrong?https://www.dropbox.com/s/6asberxtfyoiili/Whatswrong.cmb?dl=0
hydlide
 18 Sep 2017 

hydlide

There's nothing wrong with the patch setup itself. The only difference is the way you'll have to use yours. The keyboard mappings are set to octave -2 (which is 2 octaves below c 0).
bramnaus
 18 Sep 2017 

bramnaus

Lol, sometimes the answer is right in front of you, and you still can't see it. Thx alot ;)

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