Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I'm not one of those Reason users that has hundreds of refills crammed into my computer's hard drive. As I've mentioned here a few times, I tend to use my own patches and sounds when I can, so I have just a couple of commercial refills, a couple of select mini-refills from guys like Stompp and Peff, and of course a handful of Propellerheads Software refills.

I will, however, admit that I have a weakness for drum samples. If you post a set of quality samples from an old, somewhat obscure drum machine, you can bet good money that I've downloaded it and filed it away with all of the other drum machine samples I searched out. The problem is, as much as I enjoy testing out the samples when I download them, I rarely go back to them. There's nothing wrong with them, of course, they're almost always excellent quality and have intriguing sonic character, but I'm a creature of habit and tend to reach for the "usual suspects," regardless of whatever else I have stored away somewhere. So, while I've managed to be very careful and judicious about the refills I put on my laptop's hard drive, I have literally thousands of Wav files collecting digital dust in my documents folder.

The problem is compounded a little bit by this blog. As I've mentioned before, I file my patches by category, with every patch I've created stored in one of them, such as Pad, Bass, Synth, Percussion, Loops, and so on. In addition to these ever-swelling folders, I also have a copy of my Reason Patch A Day Archive Refill, Vol 1 taking up space, and duplicating literally hundreds of files.

Each file is only a few KBs, of course, but it doesn't take long for those KBs to add up and I feel like I'm suffering from a little digital bloat (don't even get me started on my iTunes music and TV show files).

So, this weekend, I'm going to pare things down a little. My goal is, by Monday, to have a lean, clean hard drive, with a svelte backup file copied over to another disc, and maybe even a burnt DVD or two to give me a redundant backup of the important stuff.

What about you? Interested in doing a little spring cleaning of your own? How often do you go through your files and weed out the unnecessary stuff?

Expect an instrument patch tonight. I overslept and didn't have a chance to put one together this morning.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Interview with Hydlide of The Sound of Reason

You may already be aware of the redesign of Hydlide's website The Sound of Reason and its metamorphosis into the new Sound of Reason Network, but you may not be familiar with the reasons behind this change or understand what Hydlide's latest venture means to the Reason community. Hydlide, who was nice enough to include Reason Patch A Day in his new community site, agreed to answer a few of my questions in this short, informal interview.

Reason Patch A Day: After building up a fairly sizable and active community with The Sound of Reason page, forums, and podcasts, what made you think there was something else that you needed to do?

Hydlide: The message that I often used in some of those "monolog" podcasts is a phrase that was: "It is not about me; it is about the community." Another thing that kind of got to me was the thought "I can't just do just all by myself." Or, let me rephrase that by saying, "I prefer not to do it all by myself," since everything that I had been doing between 2006 and 2010 was more or less a one man show. And to be honest, it is a lot of work to just maintain a website, be an admin on a forum and keep the content fresh.

I mainly used YouTube as a tool to make tutorials, since for me... it is the easy way out. I have a daytime job and while I sat on the train, I could write the plot for the next tutorial. Then, I would come home, read my mails, pop up the video recording stuff, record the video, compress it, and upload it while I sleep. This was almost done on a daily basis in 2010. It worked out for me, but I learned that I needed to combine it with written articles that gave a little bit more background information as well as to appeal to people that just like to sit back, relax and read through a complete article, rather then having someone explain hip hop in 10 minutes on a YouTube video. So it works both ways.

I had been doing a lot of website analysis and I would check out who was out there in the Reason community. And every time I started to do a rundown on certain pages, it hit me... it is always the same page that loaded, except for a few that are still active. The scene was more or less getting slow paced. I personally wanted to have a place that would always update. Give new toys to the community, keeping them up-to-date with new articles, etc.

I have done a few experiments with it, like make my patch section of the webpage, but eventually I started to work more towards the direction of "sound design" as my main topic, focus more about song structure that sort of thing. Those are things that I personally wanted to focus on. But that would mean that I needed to drop the rest. To still keep that "momentum" thing going I started to use ustream. I mean, we have a chatroom and sometimes theres a heated discussion going on like "how the heck do I do this." I pop up my ustream, and I just say to the guy... here, go to this channel and I'll show you right here how its done. These are small things that the large group does not see, since it just happens in irregular moments and it usually happened in sessions of like 30 minutes or so. People loved it....

Later, I made a segment where our own community members could provide patches and post them on the frontpage. Yet another experiment, but that one failed. I had a similar experience with "making a community refill." I had to make the complete refill myself back in 2010 since no one else was contributing to the project. So I think, all this combined taught me: If you want something done you need to do it yourself, or... have members that are already active doing it. Make them unite and just have a community that would really be one big happy family that mainly focusses on reason and record.

Reason Patch A Day: Was there any one moment or thing that started you down this line?

Hydlide: Two moments started it I think. First of all there was the moment I stopped making video tutorials. It was a big time saver for me to do something else. Second, I had to step down as being an administrator of my own forumboard because I wanted to see how the ship would float without me, and it gave me time to focus more on other things behind the scene. This happened all around November 2010, I think.

This is the moment I started to focus more on website analysis and coding stuff (since that is basically my real job). I wrote down the initial thought process about "the kernel." The system that needed to be rewritten to initially integrate my own website with the forumboard, since at the time they were 2 different things. While I was writing the whole thing down, I thought to myself... "Hey, if I can do this... I can do much more, right? Heck, I can even rewrite everything if I want too... setup an external connection to another website. etc."

Epic Design played a role in this thought process. Since we were initially setting up a centralized point to move all the podcasts there. Get rid of Soundcloud. One minor problem was, how to establish the connection with the podcasts and still keep the site updating with the latest version. I think this is the step that took it too that direction where I was really heading too... since I thought by myself, if I can do this... I can do this with any website right?

Reason Patch A Day: I'm sure plenty of people are going to have their own opinions, but what do you think is the biggest distinction between what you were doing previously with The Sound of Reason and the new Sound of Reason Network?

Hydlide: The biggest distinction would be that it is self-sustaining now. I mean, if I did it "right" I could just let it run and take a vacation for 2 years and come back and see what happened with the place. The thing with the previous setup, it was a one man show more or less. I had to provide the content myself. But with the new site, it puts the Reason/Record community more "upfront"... kind of like this is what is happening out there. And I can take this network idea pretty far. It has a lot of potential, and there all sorts of ideas that we could do to improve the network, but that is long term thinking.

I think the biggest impact it is going to have (vague assumption, but I will mention it) is that I am putting myself more in the background, more or less. Sure... all the content that I provide is still there, but eventually it will get snowed under by the network when it grows and gets larger. So in the end the old concept of The Sound of Reason will more be a melody humming in the background while the community (e.g. the people that are part of the network) will be the main trumpets making most of the noise, to put it in musical context.

Reason Patch A Day: What has been the response so far? Have you been happy with how your redesign has been received?

Hydlide: There are 3 different groups that I think have reacted to the redesign.

First of all, you have the fanbase from the original site who were already following my work and understood what I was trying to do over here. When I presented them the wall of text "this is what we did," they applauded. Then you have the larger group of Reason users that really don't understand the concept what we have been setting up, because for them it is just another website. And lastly, you have the company (Propellerheads Software), who seem to think it is "just a revamped website." But they probably haven't been following the story along how it was all setup and thought out.

The only thing that I do know is this, since the initial launch the amount of visitors have started to grow really rapidly. I think it has something to do with the way I presented it on YouTube as a big mystery plot, like "Soon it is coming." And everything I was doing on our own community was more or less building up towards this vague SOON. So, at this point people are probably still curious about what we have been establishing here. I am already seeing that part of the impact, which pretty much pleases me. But I am more curious about what happens with it in the long term. Since this is what I am good at, I take one step, analyze that step and let it run for a couple of weeks, recheck the impact, change a few things here and there and run the same circle again. But this is a process which takes time and for me it is time well spend since most of the hard work has been now, and for me its just more a moment that I can sit back, chill a bit and watch the show :)

Reason Patch A Day: Thanks for taking the time to describe a little about what you're doing with the revamped The Sound of Reason Network, Hydlide!

If you haven't taken the time to check it out, I urge you to click-through and see what Hydlide has been doing, and see what the greater Reason community as been up to recently. I'm proud to be a part of Hydlide's redesign and I am just as excited as you are to see where it goes in the months ahead.