Reason: Matrix Tricks to Change Your Life!

The Matrix in Reason can perform some excellent tricks. G.W. Childs, the ReasonMeister, reveals how to create custom gate patterns for the Alligator and use the Matrix for Drums.  

If you’re an old school Reason user, you undoubtedly know the power of the Matrix, and its ability to provide melodies, modulations, gating, and more. If you’re a new user, you may have never even looked at it. 

Either way, this article seeks to help those who have gleaned the Reason wisdom of the ages to be reminded, and for the new seekers, to discover—or rediscover—the power of the Matrix.

What is the Matrix?

By definition, the Matrix is a step sequencer with up to 32 steps, multiple resolutions, multiple pattern banks, and a curve option/output that lets you drive the control voltages of other devices in pattern—similar to an LFO—except that you design the waveform. 

When I lay it out like this, it’s not really that impressive. So, let’s put it another way: The Matrix lets you easily and quickly make bad-ass beats, melodies, and can even be used as a sick modulation source. Maybe this will perk your interest. 

One of the greatest charms of the Matrix is its simplicity and ease of use. First, let’s start the Matrix off as a beat maker. 

Trick 1 - Matrix For Drums

There are many ways to make beats with the Matrix, but try this out first: Create a Kong, and load up any old patch that you enjoy.

Load a patch into Kong

While holding down the Shift key, create a Matrix. This will keep the Matrix from auto-routing. Press Tab to turn the rack around and see what I mean.

the rack

Hold down the Option key and drag the Matrix down; this will create a second matrix. Repeat this step 3-4 times, or for the amount of drums that you plan to use out of this patch.

More than one Matrix

Route the Curve Out from each patch, to each drum that you plan to use. This will set each individual Matrix to control each individual drum.

Control a drum from a Matrix

Press Tab again now, and set your Matrix modules to Curve mode. Now, you have the ability to do highly graphical, seriously customizable drum patterns per pad. Use the Higher resolutions for triplets, flams, etc. Or, just mix and match your resolutions to get new, and strange beats.

mix and match to make strange beats!

Trick 2 - Custom Gate Patterns for the Alligator

The Alligator comes with a ton of preset patterns useful for making the most monotonous of drones rhythmic and interesting. What’s not completely advertised on the front of the unit is the fact that you can also make patterns of your own! The Matrix is perfect for this!

Create a Subtractor synthesizer, then a two-measure clip and draw two 1 Bar notes on C3.

Subtractor synthesizer

Next, create an Alligator, and disable the Pattern On button:

An Alligator

Now, create a Matrix while holding down Shift. Then follow up again by dragging down the first Matrix while holding the Option key. Do this so that you have 3 Matrix.

Create 3 Matrix's

You can also go the extra mile and send your Curve outputs to the High Pass, Band Pass, and Low Pass Frequency Inputs. This will give the curve control over your frequency to do custom frequency modulation. This actually goes beyond the basic operation of the Alligator as on its own, it relies on the LFO for modulation. This is custom!

Get down to custom frwquency modulation craziness!

Now, all that’s left is programming in your new, custom patterns. Remember to try adjusting the Matrix resolutions. You can get some very intricate patterns, especially when you start using the curves for filter modulation.

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


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