Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review: Propellerhead Reason 4 Tips And Tricks, by Hollin Jones

If you remember my book review synopsis from the beginning of 2009, the name Hollin Jones might seem familiar, since his other book "Music Projects With Propellerhead Reason" was briefly discussed and rated with a few other Reason-themed books currently sitting on my bookshelf. While I appreciated the conversational tone of "Music Projects With Propellerhead Reason" and its easy to follow tutorials, I felt it was kind of lacking for the seasoned Reason user. Outside of a few interesting tips and reminders that I found useful, the book skewed a little too much toward the beginner, and I remember thinking that while the book's author knew a great deal about Reason, his format, a brief examination of several popular genres, was actually hampering his ability to provide any useful tips or workflow enhancements to those of us who've been using the program for an extended period of time.

With that in mind, I was eagerly anticipating "Propellerhead Reason 4 Tips and Tricks," hoping it would allow Jones to better display his obvious knowledge and provide some new information that would be useful, regardless of genre, about my favorite music making software. So, did Jones succeed in providing a book full of useful tips and tricks, as its title suggests?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. "Tips and Tricks," like "Music Projects With Propellerhead Reason" before it, seems written with the Reason beginner in mind, tackling very simple topics like program installation, to slightly more tricky issues like exporting your finished tracks. Like a lot of Reason books, it has separate chapters for different pieces of the Reason rack, and talks you through each device, its basic operation, and provides numerous sidebar tips for how you can tweak or use a device. Its pretty basic stuff, really, with the sidebar tips being the most interesting pieces of the book, providing little reminders and ideas for how you can use each device more efficiently or in more interesting ways.

"Propellerhead Reason 4 Tips And Tricks" is a well-written book and maintains the conversational, friendly tone of Jones' other Reason book. If I were just starting out with Reason, rather than celebrating my ninth year of using it, I think this book would be indispensable. Many of its lessons and tips seem very basic, almost frustratingly so, but for someone just starting to dip their toes into the Reason waters, this book would be a great companion to the Reason manual, or perhaps even a good replacement, until a new user feels ready to digest the more technical presentation of the Reason manual.

Using the same rating system I used with the previous books, I'd give Reason 4 Tips and Tricks:

Overall Usefulness: Great for beginners

Patch Design Tips: Poor

Reason Version: 4.0

Hollin Jones also writes for Music Tech magazine. He's a good writer and really seems to know his stuff. I don't know how well it would sell, but if he were to write a "Reason 4 for Masochists" book, I'd be first in line to buy a copy.

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