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Propellerhead Reason - Working With Song Sections
Written by Steve Nalepa - 2007, Cengage Learning. Reprinted with Permission.
This article is an excerpt from the following book: MIDI Sequencing in Reason: Skill Pack.

When you are composing and arranging your music, often you will create parts that you will repeat in various places throughout the song. One melody might become the verse, another the chorus, and so on. Reason enables you to create a group of data, essentially bunching together a series of notes into one unit, that can then be used as a building block as you create your song's arrangement.

Creating a Group
You create groups in Arrange mode either by using the Pencil tool or by opening the Edit menu and choosing Group or pressing Command-G (Mac) or Ctrl-G (PC). First, however, you use the Selection tool to select the stretch of time in the sequencer that contains the events you with to group. Groups appear as colored boxes, with groups that contain the same data boxed in the same color. If you select data across several different tracks to be grouped, one group will be created for each track.

You can also use the Pencil tool to create a group. In the appropriate track in the sequencer, click the Pencil tool where you want the group to start, drag to the right, and release the mouse button where you want the group to end. The length of a group will be constrained by the Snap Value setting if the Snap to Grid function is active, indicated by the illuminated magnet button in the toolbar.

Try this exercise, which covers both methods for creating groups:
1. Open the file CreatingGroup.rns on the CD-ROM. This file contains several tracks of data in the sequencer; you'll focus on the Malstrom track.
2. Click the Selection tool.
3. Click the Switch to Arrange Mode button.
4. Set the Snap Value setting to Bar.
5. Click and drag a rectangle around bars 1-5 in the Malstrom to select them.
6. Open the Edit menu and choose Group or press the Command-G (Mac) or Ctrl-G (PC) keyboard shortcut.
7. Next, use the Pencil tool to group the data from bar 5 to bar 9. To begin, click the Pencil tool.
8. Make sure the Snap to Grid function is on and that the Snap Value is set to Bar. Then click at bar 5, hold down the mouse button, and drag to the right to bar 9.

Selecting Groups
You can use the Selection tool to select groups of data in Arrange mode. Holding down the Shift key while clicking enables you to select multiple groups at once. You can also draw a box around several groups of data to select all of those groups at once. After you have selected a group or several groups of data, you can move them around the sequencer, delete them, or perform an editing function on them.

Opening the Edit menu and choosing Select All or pressing Command-A (Mac) or Ctrl-A (PC) in Arrange mode selects all groups and events in the sequencer, across all lanes and tracks. Select All is handy if, say, you create a nice song but realize afterward that you want to add a 16-bar intro. Simply use the Select All function and move everything to the right by 16 bars.

Moving Groups
You can move groups of data around in Arrange mode. For example, suppose you created a nice section of a song but then realized you want the section to come in at a different point in the song. If you group the melody together as one complete unit, you can easily move the group to a different location instead of trying to wrangle up individual notes and events. Groups can be moved to a different location on the same sequencer track or to a different track altogether.

If you hold down the Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) key while moving a group, a small plus sign appears letting you know that you are making a copy of the data. When you release the mouse button, a copy of the group is created at the new location. Using the Option/Alt shortcut key is very handy when you are arranging your track. It allows you to streamline your workflow. The more timesaving tricks like this you can learn, the easier you will find Reason to work with.

To practice moving around a group of data, do the following:
1. Open the file MovingGroup.rns on the included CD-ROM. Notice that there are several tracks of data in the sequencer; on the Dr REX Dub track, you see an eight-bar group of data highlighted in green.
2. Click the Selection tool on the toolbar.
3. Change the Snap Value setting to Bar.
4. Click the green group of data and drag it so it begins at bar 5.

Deleting Groups
To delete a group of data, first select the group with the Selection tool and then open the Edit menu and choose Delete or simply press the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard. Alternatively, select the Eraser tool and click the group you wish to delete. If you want to delete several groups at once, use the Eraser tool to draw a box around the groups.

I often find myself deleting groups when working with a Dr REX player. When you print the REX data to the sequencer track for a Dr REX, it fills in the entire length indicated by the left and right locator points. One of the things I like to do to give a song some variety is to alternate Dr REX beats. An easy way to do this is to delete every other group in the sequencer. To practice this, do the following:
1. Open the file DeletingGroup.rns on the included CD-ROM.
2. Open the Create menu and choose Dr REX Loop Player.
3. Click the Browse Patch folder on the Dr REX.
4. Browse to the Reason Factory Sound Bank folder, the Dr REX Drum Loops subfolder, and the Dub subfolder.
5. Double click on the file Dubi5_DubHead_eLab.rx2.
6. Set the left locator point (L) to 1.1.1 and the right locator point (R) to 17.1.1.
7. On the Dr REX device, click the To Track button to print 16 bars into the sequencer.
8. Because this loop is one bar long, there are 16 different groups printed in the sequencer. To begin deleting every other group of data, first click the Selection tool.
9. Click the second group in the track to select it.
10. Open the Edit menu and choose Delete. Alternatively, press the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard.
11. Click the Eraser tool to select it.
12. Click the group stretching from bar 4 to bar 5 to delete it.
13. Continue deleting every other group of data in the Dr REX track.

Resizing Groups
Groups appear onscreen with a small square handle on the right side. You can click this handle and drag left or right to make the group shorter or longer. If you make a group shorter, the small red vertical lines representing the events that were originally inside the group will appear, and can be individually edited and selected.

Groups cannot overlap. If you were to try to elongate a group such that it overlapped the next group, the overlapping part of the second group would be combined into the first group.

To practice resizing groups, do the following:
1. Open the file ResizingGroup.rns on the included CD-ROM. You'll see a Dr REX device loaded with a patch and the groups of data printed in the sequencer, shown in Arrange mode.
2. Click the Selection tool.
3. The first group of data in the Dr REX track in the sequencer is two bars long. Suppose, however, that you want to use only the first half of the group, making it one bar long and deleting the second half of the data. To begin, click the group to select it.
4. Click the square handle on the right side of the group.
5. Drag the handle to the left so that the group ends at bar 2 instead of bar 3. This reveals the red events between bar 2 and 3.
6. Change the Snap Value setting to Bar.
7. Using the Selection tool, draw a box around the red events between bar 2 and bar 3.
8. Open the Edit menu and choose Delete or press the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard. You now have a one-bar group from bar 1 to bar 2, a blank slate from bar 2 to bar 3, and then the original two-bar group from bar 3 to bar 5.
9. Next, combine all this into a four-bar group. Using the Selection tool, click the square handle at the end of the one-bar loop and drag it to the right all the way to bar 5. The result will be that this one-bar loop merges with the blank bar between bar 2 and bar 3 and the original two-bar group from bar 3 to bar 5. For more information, see MIDI Sequencing in Reason: Skill Pack.


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