Retuning Reason 5 with LMSO
The main reason to write this article is to have a memorandum where I explain (mostly to myself) how to retune Reason 5 by Propellerheads using LMSO by X.J.Scott.
I am not going to write an exhaustive treatise on this matter, so, my article may sound incomprehensible to many, except to those having previous experience of both the aforementioned pieces of software.
Reason is not a microtonal-friendly application so you have to force it into it and LMSO does it beautifully. It has been possible to retune Reason with LMSO for a long time using the four External MIDI busses A-D and/or retuning NNXT samples.
See my old videos for a couple of examples:
...but there are other options recently showed to me by X.J.Scott.
The main one regards “locking a surface to a device”. The Reason’s manual explains: “You can lock a control surface or an additional MIDI keyboard/controller to a specific device so that it is “tweakable” and record enabled, regardless of which track has Master Keyboard input in the sequence. This enables you to play and record notes for several devices simultaneously from multiple control surfaces/keyboards”.
What does it have to do with retuning a virtual synth?
Watch this video:
Let’s explain what is going on, I suggest to see each segment, read the relative notes and then keep watching.
0:00 - 0:15 Logic Pro’s arrangement page. A MIDI sequence is sent to the LMSO input. Tracks 1 to 4 are all sent to that input but on separate MIDI channels (5 to 8). The music staff at the bottom shows the bass line.
As you can see from the above picture the incoming MIDI data come from Disarray (an utility by X.J.Scott to remap the note layout of my Opal Chameleon)
0:16 - 0:31 LMSO receives the four MIDI data streams on four independent “boxes”, each one receiving on a separate MIDI channel. The incoming data is retuned (to Carlos Beta tuning system) and sent to Reason through four (5 to 8) IACs (Inter Application Communication busses).
0:32 - 0:38 Reason is receiving the retuned MIDI data streams. Each synth is locked to a LMSO IAC (Subtractor, for example, is locked to IAC5).
Notice that there is no activity on the external MIDI bus A connected to LMSO IAC 1.
0:39 - 0:50 Back to Logic Pro. For the second part of this example (starting at bar 21) I show another technique. I asked myself: how can I record the retuned MIDI data stream? The reason to do it is that I could have a retuned sequence “embedded” in the Logic Pro file to be sent directly to the sound generator without opening LMSO.
In order to do that I took the output of the four (5 to 8) LMSO IACs (playing the first part of the song) and recorded it back to Logic Pro.
I assigned the four sequences created this way to Logic Pro’s tracks 5 to 8 and arranged them to create a finale.
You can see, for example, that track 6 is assigned to Subtractor. Compare the notes of the bass line at bar 21 with those of the same bass line at the beginning of the song. The bass line is the same but it looks diferent because at bar 1 you see notes BEFORE retuning and at bar 21 you see them AFTER it.
0:51 - 0:59 LMSO is inactive even though you hear retuned notes.
1:00 - 1:05 Logic Pro keeps playing the retuned tracks.
1:06 - 1:16 automated fade out (the only data recorded with Reason’s sequencer is automation).
Why not use Reason’s internal sequencer for recording notes? Because I prefer Logic Pro’s music staff as user interface.
Off topic: when Reason is in ReWire Slave Mode audio inputs are disabled (see the “hardware interface” ) meaning that you can not send audio from the audio host to it but only from slave to host.
You may have noticed, from the above picture of Logic Pro’s environment, that my system features 16 LMSO IACs. Why? Because there are 16 MIDI channels!
Each LMSO’s Nuscale Dynamic Retuner can receive data on a separate MIDI channel so my reasoning has been: I keep MIDI channels 1 to 4 to send data to IACs 1 to 4 and from there to Reason’s four External MIDI busses A-D (allowing me to have four POLYPHONIC retunable instruments), the remaining 12 MIDI channels may be used to send data to IACs 5 to 16 that can be “locked” to as many MONOPHONIC instruments.
For this example I have retuned NNXT and NN19 sounds with LMSO’s Nuscale Dynamic Retuner but they could also be retuned modifying their samples so, thanks to LMSO, Reason can be a very powerful microtonal rack of virtual instruments.
I wonder if Propellerheads have ever heard of LMSO!