How To Use Redrum In Audio Mixing: Programming Patterns In This Drum Machine 2022

German nomenclature is the source of American musical jargon (which we mostly employ in the computer/sequencer industry). Instead of arbitrary designations like crotchets and quavers, we use mathematical divisions such as half-quarter-, sixteenth-, and so on. This assumes the most common time signature, which is 4/4 (“four-four”) time, with four beats in each bar/measure (trying to be transatlantic here). As a result, each beat is a quarter of the bar/measure and is referred to as a quarter note (crotchet in English). Even when the bar/measure has a different number of beats, such as 3/4, this terminology is used. The BPM (Beats Per Minute) number indicates the rate at which quarter notes are played; BPM=60 indicates 60 quarter notes per minute or one beat per second.

We just utilise smaller fractions when the beat is subdivided to achieve shorter notes; two eighth notes (quavers) play in the same time as one quarter, four sixteenths (semiquavers) likewise fill one-quarter beat, and so on. To divide each beat into three, we don’t construct a new time value; instead, we refer to “triplets,” which are groups of three equal notes that fit into the time ordinarily taken by two. One quarter note beat can fit three eighth triplets or six sixteenth triplets, three sixteenth triplets can fit into one ordinary eighth (half of a beat), and so on. Some software programmers (such as Emagic) refer to eighth triplets as 1/12 notes and sixteenth triplets as 1/24 notes, which makes sense to me because there are twelve 1/12 notes in a 4/4 bar/measure.

Looking At The Redrum

Yes, it is past time for us to do so. The STEPS and RESOLUTION selections directly above the step entry buttons are important (by the way, the pdf manual reference is pp. 90-91). STEPS determines the number of equal time slots in the pattern, whereas RESOLUTION determines the size of those steps. Patterns can contain any number of steps up to 64, with each step’s resolution ranging from a half note (two beats in standard time) to a 1/128 note, with each quarter note beat broken into 32 tiny parts!

Notice that the triplet subdivisions in ReDrum are given as:

  • 1/8T, (same as 1/12) each quarter note beat divided into three, useful for jazzy/bluesy patterns, the traditional “swing” feel.
  • 1/16T, (same as 1/24) each eighth divided into three, giving a more contemporary, “swung sixteenths” feel, typical of many hip hop tracks but could be used in a lot of styles.

Pay particular attention to the relationship between STEPS and RESOLUTION. (For the purposes of these images, we’ll assume the music is in 4/4 time, with four beats each bar/measure; individuals who want to experiment with other time signatures can probably adjust these figures.)

Depending on the musical style, the amount of steps required will vary. A four-beat rock drum pattern with only 1/8 notes requires only eight steps. Only the leftmost eight-step entry buttons will be useful if RESOLUTION is set to 1/8. (any hits from button 9 onwards will be ignored). Of course, you could programme a two-bar/measure phrase with the second half as a variant on the first. You can programme an eight-bar/measure phrase if you preserve the 1/8 resolution and choose all 64 steps. Note that any patterns with more than 16 steps will require familiarity with the EDIT STEPS option, which allows you to view lengthier patterns in groups of 16. (It’s a little hard to use because it’s easy to click too high and select a different group than the one you want.) Dragging it is probably easier.)

If you wish to programme a conventional jazz/blues vibe, you’ll need twelve steps per bar/measure, divided into three beats, thus your STEPS value should be 12, 24, or 48, providing for one, two, or four-bar/measure phrases. (If you’re feeling very masochistic, you can write three or five-bar phrases in 36 or 60 steps, but I wouldn’t recommend it…) Even when you select 1/8T or 1/16T, the 16 step entry buttons are still grouped in fours, indicating that the Propellerheads didn’t expect you to programme in any type of triplet feel – a useful small tweak, if you’re listening, guys? So, when programming 1/8T (or 1/12s) patterns, keep in mind that the main beat occurs every three buttons, i.e. the second bar/measure begins on button 13 and continues halfway through the following group of 16! I must admit, it’s not exactly user-friendly.

1/16 RESOLUTION is ReDrum’s home turf, and it’s what he does (or displays) best. Each beat is broken into four parts, thus one bar/measure equals one row of step entry buttons, and each of the four groups in EDIT STEPS represents a whole bar/measure. STEPS should be set to 16 for one bar/measure, 32 for two, or 64 for four bars/measures. Let’s take a moment to compare what we’ve seen so far. Click buttons 1,3,5 & 7, with buttons 2,4,6 & 8 saved for offbeats, to hear a four-to-the-floor drumbeat in 1/8 resolution (8 steps). When buttons 1, 4, 7, and 10 are pressed, the drum will beat out the same pulse with a 1/8T resolution (12 steps). On the first beat, buttons 2 and 3 are utilised for the second and third sections of the triplet, and so on. To achieve the exact same beat, use a 1/16 resolution (16 steps) and click on buttons 1, 5, 9, and 13. Let me emphasise that each of these patterns will sound identical; the only difference is the number of subdivisions available for offbeat notes. The 1/8 offbeats can be found on buttons 3, 7, 11, and 15 in 1/16 resolution. (You can’t play offbeat notes in 1/8T; it’s not built for that.)

When the resolution is increased to 1/16T, each bar/measure may be divided into 24 time slots, each beat can be broken into six pieces, and each 1/8 note can be divided into three. With so much sub-divisibility, this resolution is clearly better suited to medium to slower tempos. The bothersome problem is that you can only view one bar/measure at a time due to the limits of ReDrum’s display. The 4/4 pulse stated above will occur on buttons 1, 7, 13, and 3 of the NEXT group of steps with a STEPS setting of 24! (I hope the Props make the button numbering change when the edit group is changed in a future rewrite (ReWrite?) of ReDrum.) On the next group’s buttons 4, 10, 16, and 6, regular even offbeat 1/8s will occur.


In a roll, the individual hits blur together and are perceived almost as a sustained sound, rather than a rhythm, so to program rolls you need even higher resolutions and a correspondingly higher number of steps. The precise resolution will depend on the tempo. If we stick to a middle-of-the-road tempo of 100 BPM then a resolution of 1/64 is quite enough to reach roll speed, 16 possible hits per beat. To program this into an intelligible phrase, say one bar/measure long, we need a step size of 64, ReDrum’s maximum. This meant that each group of 16 will represent one 1/4 note beat so our four-to-the-floor pattern now becomes simply the first button of each edit group. Offbeat (1/8) hits will occur on the ninth button of each group.

Examples (in the accompanying Reason file “Patterns”)

Most patterns sound good at around 100 BPM any use only snare & bass. A4 uses a bit of hi-hat as well & benefits from being played at a slightly slower tempo, say around 80.

  • A1 – a simple 2 bar/measure rock pattern using a 1/8 resolution, visible in its entirety.
  • A2 – a two-bar/measure jazzy phrase in 1/8T resolution, click up to edit steps 17-32 to see the ending.
  • A3 – a funky one bar/measure pattern using 1/16 resolution, ’nuff said. It uses the same number of steps as the two bar/measure rock pattern in A1.
  • A4 – a hip foppish thing, one bar/measure long, using a 1/16T resolution so you’ll need to go to the second edit group again to see the ending (uses the same number of steps as the jazzy phrase in A2).
  • A5 – a one-measure pattern, all 64 steps long, using 1/64 resolution, which has a snare roll on the last beat. Like the other patterns, it just uses bass and snare though I’ve used a second snare to give the roll a bit of build. Notice the “written in” flam for the snare in channel 2 visible as the last note in edit group one and the first note in edit group 2. (It more-or-less explains by itself what a flam is!) Notice also the build-up in dynamics, soft to loud, in the snare roll. You’ll need to switch to edit steps 49-64 and alternately select drum channels 2 & 5 to see it all.

Good luck & have fun!

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