Sound Layering: An intro to the Combinator

Layering sounds is a basic and old technique to turn any chord, bass or lead lines into a more harmonically complex, interesting and/or bigger and wider sound.

Electronic instruments are no exception to this. Some were even designed from the ground up with this as a key feature.

MIDI helped this technique, allowing musicians to easily play more than one synth simultaneously out of the same controlling keyboard, achieving that same layering effect even with those instruments that weren’t capable of playing different sounds (i.e. patches/presets) at the same time on their own (i.e. weren’t multi-timbral).

On early versions of Reason, one could achieve this layering of sounds by duplicating the same MIDI track and assigning those tracks to drive different instrument layers, but fortunately, since Reason 3.0, there’s a more compact and elegant solution: the Combinator! Read on for our tutorial on getting started layering sounds inside a Combinator.