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Interesting piano setups for Reason

Published: 11 months ago

Welcome back to another article about Propellerhead Reason. While during this week I have been starting to explore a genre of Deep House I thought it would be fun to mainly talk about different type of piano setups you could be used in this realm. Deep House is a genre that touches the realm of Jazz, Soul, and Blues. Where a lot of instruments that are used are soft picking type of sounds. While at the same time a lot of acoustic instrument is used. This is what separates the origin of house music (since that genre was originally all based on using sampled material). At the same time, deep house is often seen as a more chilled down version of house music. While a lot has changed during the progression of time (since is a genre that started to rise up during the '90s) a lot of the basics of the genre has still remained the same. But I will go more in depth about this in a later article.

One thing I really like about this type of house music is that electronic pianos and real pianos play an important role in this genre. While real pianos are often filtered as such (to mimic the idea that it turns in to an electronic piano again). In Reason itself, there are a lot of different options that can be used to make use of a piano that could fit in a genre like Deep House itself. So I would like to share some different ideas that touch this realm. I might add, I will be using Reason 9 while writing this article. So some of the patches that I am providing may not work in older versions (just saying).

Right, that was the intro... let's start hammering on the piano.

The NN-XT Rhodes MK 1

Inside the NN-XT factory soundbank, you may find a patch that sits inside the piano section called Rhodes MK1. While this sample based piano is pretty stiff to work with it is a pretty decent starting point to have access to a cheap type of Rhodes. Why cheap may you ask? Simply because it lacks expression and character. I am not posting this just because I am a mad scientist. I am posting this because I am trying to be objective about it. 

Rhodes MK 1

The typical downside with this Rhodes patch is that it lacks certain velocity changes. While it looks originally that it uses two different velocity settings (since it uses a zone for velocity 1 till 100 and another for 101 till 127) they are still based on the exact same sample and settings. The only difference between these two sets (1-100 and 101-127) is that the release time of the Amplitude envelope is different. At some level of degree, you could turn this into a combinator patch and create a more interesting Rhodes from this by using distortion per velocity lane. This sometimes works to get a different character from the sound per velocity setting. 

Rhodes Mk3 in Reason

It's an old-school trick I used to mimic the idea that the distortion is opening up while hitting velocity settings more or less. The only problem this setup will be having is playing chords with these (since the distortion will create a lot of overtones while using this). I am just throwing this idea on the table in case you want to have a swing at it.

Download Rhodes MK3

A fake digital piano in the NN-XT

A different method is to fake the idea we are playing an electronic piano. The combination for this one would be Piano + Vibraphone. Normally you can use a combinator to pull this off. But you can also use the internal structure of the NN-XT to make one. It requires some copy/pasting from one existing patch, copy it into a new patch and load up a different patch and copy and paste that into the new patch. Maybe one day I'll post this idea again in a video (since it is in a long video instruction about the NN-XT which lasts for almost 45 minutes or so). But once you nailed down the process you can layer sounds inside the NN-XT pretty fast. 

The only thing that does require some attention for this setup to work properly is some filtering inside the Vibraphone (otherwise it may sound too much like a vibraphone) and at the same time, there might be a balance issue with the realistic piano that needs to be more into the background.

Creating a fake electronic piano

Just to save up some time for you guys I have already have an NN-XT patch setup for this. Just throw a reverb at it and you should be fine.

Download NN-XT patch

FM EPiano in the NN-XT

Another piano that might become to good use in this genre is the FM EPiano in the NN-XT factory soundbank. This one has a slightly different character when hitting the notes at a higher velocity. So you can make pretty good of that to drive the character of the sound. At the same time, this patch is also pretty decent to play together with the Rhodes piano. While the Rhodes is more an electronic piano based on a specific cabinet. The FM-EPiano is a piano based on FM synthesis. 

FM Electronic Piano

Download Orignal FM EPiano Patch

But like with the Piano + Vibraphone trick you can also apply the same idea using, for instance, an FM-Piano + Rhodes. 

Download Rhodes + FM

Reason 9 and the Factory Soundbank

While looking at Reason 9 alone, there are tons of new additions added to the piano sets. Most of these come from an existing refill (the ElectroMechanical Refill). The more interesting sounds for this specific genre would be the Rhodes Piano (which all start with the MK 2 Rhodes). Next, to this, you have the Pianet and the Wurlitzer. While the latter will sound like the Rhodes, they also have a different character at the same time. All three sound pretty classic. So if you want to have best of both you can just join all three of them inside a combinator and have a swing at those.

Electronic Piano Set

The following patch is for Reason 9 users and above!

Download Electronic Piano set

A video about layering a piano

Published on Reason Experts
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Published on Reason Experts
Published: 11 months ago

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