Are you using Blocks mode in Sequencer

This forum is for discussing Propellerhead's music software. Questions, answers, ideas, and opinions... all apply.

Are you using Blocks mode in Sequencer?

There are Blocks in Sequencer?
5
5%
No, I don't like / find the idea very useful
29
27%
I like the idea, but the implementation is flaved
39
37%
Yes, I use it all the time - it's incredibly helpful
33
31%
 
Total votes: 106
Goodbye
Posts: 156
Joined: 21 May 2017

28 Oct 2017

raccoonboy wrote:
27 Oct 2017
The main thing I like to use it for is often I have a 2 bar loop of drum triggers which pretty much just repeats (for a hiphop song). These are placed on the grid manually with no snap to match a drum loop or whatever. I can then extend this over the entire song. Now if I need to go back and make a small adjustment to the position of the triggers then it changes everything at once. This can be necessary if I'm changing the kick or snare sound, I may need to slightly nudge one or two elements for them to fit in correctly or just for fine tuning later on without having to re-copy&paste every time.
This is exactly what I was talking about. I actually find it pretty shocking that this feature is missing. For me this would probably be the single biggest timesaver possible.

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Ixus
Posts: 155
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

28 Oct 2017

syncanonymous wrote:
28 Oct 2017
I chose option 1

Sometimes I accidentally press the B key
then I immediately press the B key again to return to vanilla
Haha same here! I press it when pressing space sometimes.. Go back go back!

Blocks have no appeal at all to me but it looks like a cool feature.

jlgrimes
Posts: 111
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

28 Oct 2017

dioxide wrote:
27 Oct 2017
Block are good but they need MIDI switching.
This.

I think this is where Props dropped the ball. It would be nice to make different sections of a song and be able to audition the transition from Part A to Part B without going into song mode.

I think a Block Player device that could be midi learned that has quantized settings that could be automated, which upon arrangement would convert your blocks to song mode.

That would be different than the Ableton Live approach and in some ways better as you would still have better control of doing Transitions and fillins which isn't as intuitive in Ableton.

jlgrimes
Posts: 111
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

28 Oct 2017

dioxide wrote:
27 Oct 2017
Block are good but they need MIDI switching.
This.

I think this is where Props dropped the ball. It would be nice to make different sections of a song and be able to audition the transition from Part A to Part B without going into song mode.

I think a Block Player device that could be midi learned that has quantized settings that could be automated, which upon arrangement would convert your blocks to song mode.

That would be different than the Ableton Live approach and in some ways better as you would still have better control of doing Transitions and fillins which isn't as intuitive in Ableton.


I'm wondering if this is some of the hint on whats to come in Reason. On the previous and current advertisement we see essentially empty "Blocks" that's either used as a structural support or decoration. Maybe it doesn't mean anything.


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NekujaK
Posts: 214
Joined: 09 Oct 2016
Location: USA

28 Oct 2017

I've tried Blocks a couple of times, but never warmed up to it. For me, it seemed like an unecessary layer of abstraction - I prefer to have more direct control over all the elements in the music. Copt/paste works just fine for me when I need it.

But I do have Blocks enabled in the sequencer, because I use them to label and color shade different sections of the music. It makes up for the lack of markers in the Reason sequencer, sort of. I think there may even be a Propellerhead quick tips video that shows how to do this, but there's nothing complicated about it, and I've been doing it since Blocks were introduced.
wreaking havoc with :reason: since 2.5

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rgdaniel
Posts: 4
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

28 Oct 2017

Not currently using it, but never say never... if it had been available when I first started using
reason, I might have incorporated it into my workflow by now. But I'm old and set in my ways now, LOL...
I did have a go at it not too long ago, but the lack of an elegant way to simply "convert selection to block" had me abandon the effort. I do like the idea of just using it document/label somg sections.

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syncanonymous
Posts: 264
Joined: 16 Mar 2015
Location: UK and France

28 Oct 2017

Ixus wrote:
28 Oct 2017
syncanonymous wrote:
28 Oct 2017
I chose option 1

Sometimes I accidentally press the B key
then I immediately press the B key again to return to vanilla
Haha same here! I press it when pressing space sometimes.. Go back go back!

Blocks have no appeal at all to me but it looks like a cool feature.
:D my keyboard shortcut typo is usually some form of cntrl+c...stretched over one key...or accidently turning the Click Track on...It’s nice to know I am not alone :)

seriously, I will look into blocks next week and then I will know whether I don’t like it or not ;-P

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Scoobyman II
Posts: 195
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

28 Oct 2017

I was surprised to see the votes on this. I find them very useful. It's what makes Reason easy for me to use.

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stfual
Posts: 105
Joined: 17 Jan 2015
Contact:

28 Oct 2017

Blocks was one of those features (like automation) that was good when introduced and then never got the development to make it great. I remember the old forum had a lot of suggestions for improvement and none of them have ever been done.


JerrelTheKing
Posts: 183
Joined: 31 Aug 2015

29 Oct 2017

This post is intriguing. I'd be interested to know how many that complained about wanting sequencer and workflow updates in R10 don't even use or know how to use such a huge tool like blocks already in the sequencer..

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CephaloPod
Posts: 170
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

29 Oct 2017

KirkMarkarian wrote:
27 Oct 2017
I chose the "I don't like it" option because I don't need more than what is already provided. Copy/paste suits me fine. I know where I have added and deleted parts, I don't need to make mass changes, and if I did, it's very easy to do already. I would say that blocks are useful for people to use if they are younger/new to Reason or make very repetitive, formulaic music, all the time. This block style of composition reminds me of Sony's Acid software or Ableton Live. I never liked those, either.
I tried it for a couple of weeks, because I do a lot of repeating music. I feel the same as quoted above.

Plus, I found it to be a momentum stopper trying to wrap my head around block mode vs song mode and what's going on where. It did not help my out at all, just made things slower and more confusing.

Copy/paste and especially Duplicate is all I need. It's a few more clicks/keystrokes, but doesn't make me change my mindset mid-flow. I never got used to it.
2011 iMac i7; 24 GB RAM; OSX Sierra; Nektar LX 49; MOTU Microbook
Reason/Logic

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Ahornberg
Posts: 1070
Joined: 15 Jan 2016
Location: Vienna, Austria
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30 Oct 2017

Blocks are very handy if you produce like ill.Gates:



Phase 1: saying YES ... go in block mode and create a loop
Phase 2: saying NO ... go in song mode and copy your block several times, then use the mute tool to delete what you don't want to hear
Phase 3: finishing up ... not the topic here but also an interesting approach (same goes for anything else in this video)

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antic604
Posts: 192
Joined: 23 Oct 2017
Location: Warsaw, Poland
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30 Oct 2017

Thank you all for the feedback!

Considering - as I've said in the OP - that I've not heard about Block before buying Reason I should expect that, but I'm still surprised how few people actually use it. I personally think it's a valuable tool, although not without its flaws, but for now it greatly replaces the need of linked clips that are missing from Reason. Actually combination of the two would be extremely powerful :)

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C//AZM
Posts: 223
Joined: 20 Jan 2015

30 Oct 2017

I use Block 75% of the time but it needs a lot of improvement. Blocks mode has been around since the first early popular sequencers "Pattern Mode", "Chunks". But most of the other sequencers seem to implement most of the common features.
  • Blocks mode needs a trigger method to play or audition block sequences on the fly,
    An easier block copy/paste method in block mode(option drag or whatever),
    An easy "convert selection to block" function.
    A way to nest Blocks within each other -this way you can have several different versions of the same song, built of the same blocks in different order or repeat length.
    A better way to convert blocks to song clip WITHOUT the original notes underneath.
I'm sure there are more I haven't thought of...

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stratatonic
Posts: 804
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: CANADA

30 Oct 2017

JerrelTheKing wrote:
29 Oct 2017
This post is intriguing. I'd be interested to know how many that complained about wanting sequencer and workflow updates in R10 don't even use or know how to use such a huge tool like blocks already in the sequencer..
There are features in Reason that are no use to me. I don't use Groove. Or the Vocoder. Or the half rack compressor.
Should I use them? Why? They aren't a tool in finishing a project.

Sometimes, you open up Reason not knowing exactly what is going to transpire. Shifting clips around in song mode is no big deal. There's a big sequencer playground canvas there and sometimes a clip is left in a random spot that just happens to coincide with what you are working on and it fits perfectly or inspires another tangent. Those happy accidents don't happen in Block mode.

Long sections of audio in Song mode layered onto your Block arrangements becomes problematic, if you are still shifting Blocks around or you change your mind about the arrangement later.

A thing that annoys me about Blocks is that the clip layering you recorded in Song mode doesn't move when you move a Block in Song mode. There should be a modifier that allows the new layered clips to follow the Block. Maybe there is an Alt command somewhere, but I'm not aware of it. Then you could drag the Block at the top and move around all effected clips.

Going back and forth between 5 or 6 Blocks in a structured song to lay down an Intro, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Solo, Outro For.Each.Instrument.Is.A.Pain.In.The.Butt. If I am going to play a guitar part Intro, I want to keep playing the guitar until I'm finished the part, and then go to the next Instrument. SO I'm going in and out of Blocks to finish the gtr, before doing the bass the same way, and then the drums etc etc

It's somewhat better to go into Song mode first and track the bare minimum measures to bang out a full tune, razor the desired clips, highlight the clips, copy the clips, press B for Blocks, click the Block area, find an open Block, paste clips into the Block, set loop point, and press B to get out of Block mode back to Song mode and rinse and repeat until the sections are complete - but I think a simple Convert Clips* to (next unused) Block for highlighted sections would be an awesome workflow enhancement and make me more apt to use Blocks.


*Between Loop Markers
Last edited by stratatonic on 15 Dec 2017, edited 1 time in total.
AND OF COURSE, I think we have all come to expect that there are SOME workflow enhancements in every upgrade.
.

.

ltbrunt00
Posts: 236
Joined: 10 Jan 2017

30 Oct 2017

It would be nice if the block sequencer overlay was represented as just a block clip in the sequencer window in the instrument path.

I don't like having to see the overlay over a portion of the sequencer window. Would rather have the block be represented on the instrument path of the sequencer.

I think blocks may have been to revolutionary for us. When I use the feature it makes a world of difference when arranging a song but I don't like switching out of the main sequencer window to the blocks screen.

Hell I only use the scratch pad in studio one to store clips I don't want to view in the main sequencer page. I normally use the same work flow between DAWS.
Reason 9.5, Bitwig.

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Innerst
Posts: 53
Joined: 05 Feb 2017
Location: Norway

01 Nov 2017

I generally find it difficult to dive straight into Song Mode from the begnning because I often have noe clue to how the final song will be structured :lol:

I only know what kind of feeling/atmosphere I want to create and have some ideas on what instruments I want to use.

Which leads me to how Block Mode is integral to my workflow:

I have found Block Mode extremely useful for sketching out ideas based on a fixed set of instruments.

- Set up a a limited number of instruments or audio tracks you want to work with
- In Block Mode sketch out several blocks with short ideas or progressions
- These first blocks I think of as 'root blocks' which contain my initial ideas
- I will then make copies of the root blocks to create more evolved blocks
- The new blocks which are based on the root blocks introduce the idea of a hierarchy
- This hierarchy I capture/document using a simple naming convention for the blocks
- Based on this I can always go back to the root or parent blocks for a full view of the initial ideas
- The further down the hiearchy the more evolved ideas
- Some blocks may produce multiple 'child blocks'
- New blocks may be based on multiple root blocks
- The naming convention I use is very simple:
- A 0 (zero) in the beginning of the block name signify a root block
- If a block name starts with 0_1 it means it is the first child block of root block zero
- A block name starting with 01_1 is based on both root block 0 & 1
- Blocks may be used in Song Mode at any stage but I prefer to to wait until I am very close to a full song
- Because my set of blocks may spawn many songs I tend to save a new Reason project when I am ready to work in Song Mode

With this workflow you will end up with multiple refined blocks based on the same instruments. This in the end may become seeds for one or more songs having the same feel or atmosphere.

This probably sounds complicated but I find the above very useful :lol:

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TheGodOfRainbows
Posts: 287
Joined: 31 Mar 2015

19 Nov 2017

Ahornberg wrote:
30 Oct 2017
Blocks are very handy if you produce like ill.Gates:



Phase 1: saying YES ... go in block mode and create a loop
Phase 2: saying NO ... go in song mode and copy your block several times, then use the mute tool to delete what you don't want to hear
Phase 3: finishing up ... not the topic here but also an interesting approach (same goes for anything else in this video)
I love the workflow tips in that video. Thanks for the link!

jlgrimes
Posts: 111
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

20 Nov 2017

I will add that lately I've been using Blocks more and more. It benefits come to life when you know beforehand that your song will have more than just an A section. So if you have an A and a B section it really helps. When you kind of plan your song out beforehand composing in Blocks actually does save some time especially if you have to go back into each block and make fine tuned edits. Another feature I like is how Blocks automatically loop based off of your End Marker position. As I said earlier Blocks are lacking in some areas:

1. When in Blocks mode, you can't easily copy the whole Block and paste it into another Block while sequencer playing (unless I'm missing something).

2. When in song mode that's built off of Blocks, slicing sections and muting them is a painful process in Reason. I think the mute tool was created to help with the Block workflow but this could be improved. Why can't you mute section by dragging over Region (would be much quicker than cutting both ends and then muting).

3. Blocks can't be triggered based off of quantized rates like Ableton (or even Redrum, Dr. Rex, Matrix for that matter). It seems like the original intent for Blocks might have been for pattern triggering as it shares similar concepts to Reason's other pattern devices, but someone either decided against it or they ran into technical issues that either never got resolved or put in the back burner. Honestly if they could figure this out (or decide to implement), I think that feature alone would give Live/Bitwig some good competition especially if they made a device like a Block Triggering device that is automatable and midi controllable.

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Flavolous
Posts: 225
Joined: 17 Aug 2016
Location: ZW | GB

09 Dec 2017

Goodbye wrote:
27 Oct 2017
I think it's overcomplicated. Just being able to turn a clip into a symbol so you could copy paste instances of it and edit one to edit all would be a massive timesaver. If you are making very formulaic electronica (formulaic not meant as an insult) then I think they are useful, but what I really need is a similar thing but on a smaller scale.
I find this pretty strange, that so many people think using blocks is formulaic. I've found using blocks is quite liberating in terms of songwriting. I'm a person that generates about 5 ideas at once and blocks gives me the opportunity to create about 20 totally different concepts based on one song. I find it incredibly useful for creating experimental song structures because it de-linearises my workflow and allows me to focus on editing smaller portions at greater detail.

Since I learned how to use blocks 100% of my new projects happen in blocks mode. And its enabled me to create about 3-4 different versions of the same songs so quickly using automation. After making a song using blocks I can completely change the vibe by automating the tempo, swapping out a few synths and using a different drum pattern, song flipped in about 20 minutes, zero formula used as the decisions are dependant on vibes. I'd encourage anyone who's not used it to try experimenting.

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tobypearce
Posts: 277
Joined: 28 Sep 2015

11 Dec 2017

Like others, I essentially use it as an organising tool, to map arrangements. I don't put any actual music in blocks, so to speak; but I do use the blocks lane to colour code the rest of the arrangement. I find this a fantastic feature.
Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 08.56.33.png
Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 08.56.33.png (174.92 KiB) Viewed 152 times

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antic604
Posts: 192
Joined: 23 Oct 2017
Location: Warsaw, Poland
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11 Dec 2017

tobypearce wrote:
11 Dec 2017
Like others, I essentially use it as an organising tool, to map arrangements. I don't put any actual music in blocks, so to speak; but I do use the blocks lane to colour code the rest of the arrangement. I find this a fantastic feature.

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 08.56.33.png
Ha! I've not thought about it before, but that's a great idea! :)

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Oquasec
Posts: 1575
Joined: 05 Mar 2017

11 Dec 2017

I don't use the block mode as much as I should tbh.
I usually just lay stuff out in the main sequencer and gloss over it.

Might use it more in the future I guess?
Reason for Electronic music, Reaper for Acoustic/Metal music.
Windows, Linux & Qube OS user.

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