Before I discovered Reason, I somehow stumbled across Propellerhead’s other flagship product, the now-discontinued ReBirth RB-338. This software recreated a stack of legendary Roland instruments: the TB-303, the TR-808 and the TR-909. It was basically acid techno in a box. It sounded great and looked cool as hell. It did, however, retain some issues that the original 303 had. The sequencers on the drum machines were straightforward enough: dial in (or punch in) the sound you wanted, then set triggers for it on the step sequencer. Repeat for the various drums and you end up with a drumloop. Repeat for numerous loops and you have a slew of patterns from which to choose. The 303, however, is notoriously weird to program:
Rebirth cleaned this up a bit, so there’s not nearly as much button-punching and switch-flipping as with the original, but it’s still confusing and counterintuitive. Once you get past programming all the loops and phrases you would have to assemble them into a cohesive song, which was done in real time, as far as I could ever figure out. You’d want to keep a blank pattern, builds, breakdowns, alternates, and tons of other stuff in four banks of eight patterns for each instrument. Put ReBirth into song mode and then start recording, switching through everything manually. Fortunately you could make multiple passes at recording, adding automation to parameters and other settings while the patterns you’d arranged played out.
I never got very good at it, and soon discovered Reason, moving on to better sequencers and fuller-featured DAWs, but in the right hands ReBirth is still quite impressive:
For more from the same artist (all equally impressive,) head over here.
Note: ReBirth is available for iPad at a hefty $14.99. It is my understanding that support is discontinued, however, as Propellerhead is focusing on newer apps.