MY CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO MYSELF: A copy of Propellerhead’s Reason 4 software. I’ve been happily producing podcast music — “stingers” and “bleebles” as they’re known in the trade. It’s very intuitive and easy to use. By the way, you can get a free copy of the software synth I’ve loved for years — the ReBirth RB-338 — here. All you have to do is register on the site.

UPDATE: Reader John Marcoux emails:

From a long ago email to you, I related how, in a conversation with Paul Van Dyk at a club in Chicago, I learned that many of the great European DJs, including Paul, run Reason on Apple notebooks (see pic below).

I fooled around with it but found it harder to master than you apparently have. Maybe it works better on an Apple. For dabblers (at 67, that’s me) this Amazon item is pretty good and only $30. Won’t run on Vista.


Yeah, there’s a lot of good cheap software out there. Meanwhile, I certainly haven’t “mastered” Reason; I’ve just figured out how to get some sounds out of it that I like. That’s step one . . . . I didn’t realize so many DJ’s were using Reason, though — I thought it was more Ableton Live or Final Scratch, but I’ve been out of touch with the DJ scene for a few years. I blame blogging.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Preiser emails:

You’re right about Reason. It’s a great studio tool, and a lot of pros on the creative end use it (as opposed to editors and sound guys, and studio mavens, I mean). If you ever do composing or create midi files elsewhere, Reason is great for making them come alive. And it is very intuitive, but only if you’ve ever worked with real equipment, even a little bit, which I know you have. The key feature that got me making noise within minutes was the Tab button. If you’ve already discovered that, you’ll know what I mean when I say that anyone over 25 who has ever handled real equipment will be forever grateful to the folks at Propellerheads for that one.

Yeah. Reason simulates a rack of hardware, and when you hit “Tab” it rotates to let you look at the back. You can see cables connecting the different pieces of virtual equipment, and repatch them by clicking and dragging. (And when the rack flips around, the “cables” jiggle, which is a nice touch that Reason has had since earlier versions.)

MORE: Here’s a short Reason video.