Reason: The Alligator Drummer

When it comes to sound design and music production, GW Childs IV is very much the wizard. Armed with an idea and Reason 6, GW shows how to turn Alligator into a bite-sized drum machine!  

After toying around with the Alligator in Reason for a while, you’ve most likely noticed that the device does quite a few different things. After all, it is multi-FX device, a filter, a gate, and more. The Pattern Generator is a much-loved device because, for all intents and purposes, it instantly interjects something new, rhythmic, and inspired into your tracks. You can use it to take an old, dull, and boring track and make it instantly interesting. 

But, the pattern generator is only for the Gates, right? Actually, no! If you turn the Alligator around, you’ll notice that there are individual Control Voltage Outputs for each gate.

individual Control Voltage Outputs for each gate


As you are probably aware, the Alligator’s pattern generator is designed to trigger all three individual gates nestled inside of the Alligator. Because each gate within the Alligator technically qualifies as a different device. What the control voltages reveal at the back of the Alligator is that the Pattern Generator can technically trigger three separate devices, but it’s even more in-depth than that: within each of the Pattern Generator patterns there are (technically) 3 individual patterns. 


Step 1

Let’s test this out now! Create a Kong Drum Designer in Reason, then create an Alligator while holding down the Shift button. This will keep the Alligator from auto-routing. Make sure you load up a drum patch in Kong, as well.

Load up Kong!


Step 2

Now, turn the rack around with the Alligator button by pressing Tab. Then, run a line from the CV Gate 1 Output to the Pad 1 Gate In. Before you do this, make sure you turn your speakers down: you will get an immediate indicator of your success. 

Run a line from the Control Voltage Gate 1 Output to the Pad 1 Gate Input


If everything is working right, and you are on pattern 0, you will hear a kick drum (I’m using Analog Dreams from the Reason factory soundbank) playing in a 16th-note pattern. Try moving up to pattern 1 now. You’ll notice that the kick drum is now playing in the classic 8 beat. 


Step 3

To disable the Kick drum, you’ll need to press the Pattern On button. Unfortunately, there is no synchronization with the Alligator. However, adding the Alligator to a Combinator could easily bypass such a problem.

Now remember, we still have two more Gate Outputs to work with. Let’s try routing the Gate 3 CV output to Pad 3 Gate In now, which is a Closed Hi-hat. 

Route the Gate 3 out to Pad 3


If you decided to leave the Pattern On, you’ll notice that you now have a classic hi-hat, kick drum loop going on. Not bad for a few seconds of routing, right? And, we still have a Gate Out left! Press the Pattern On button now, so that the Pattern light is off, and there is no pattern playing. Then, Tab back around and route your Gate 2 output to the Pad 2 Gate In

route your Gate 2 output to the Pad 2 Gate Input


Press Tab again, and set your Pattern number to 28.

Pattern number to 28


Let’s hear what we have now: go ahead and turn the Pattern Back on. You now have a groovy little drum beat that you can use to build up a song. I should also encourage you to try out the different patterns. Even if you don’t get a main drum beat from the Alligator, you might find a really good fill! Don’t forget to experiment with the different resolutions, too!


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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