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Cakewalk: REX Files

Cakewalk By BandLab Tips & Techniques
By Craig Anderton

The top file is the original; the bottom one has been rearranged into something familiar, yet different.The top file is the original; the bottom one has been rearranged into something familiar, yet different.

Cakewalk has some powerful tools for working with REX clips.

Although Cakewalk's native loop format is the Groove Clip (aka 'Acidized') file, it can also import REX files so that they look like Groove Clips. This makes possible some tricks that are difficult, or even impossible, with traditional REX files. This month I'll talk you through some of my favourite REX file tips.

First, a little background: REX files work by slicing a file's rhythmic components into separate pieces of audio (a slice when the kick hits, another when the snare hits, another when snare and hi-hat hit at the same time, and so on), and associating each slice with a MIDI note. When you speed up or slow down the tempo, the MIDI notes move with the timeline, triggering the slices at the desired rhythm regardless of tempo.

Rearranging REX Files

One of the best features of REX files is that by moving the MIDI notes around, you can alter the clip's arrangement of slices. Rapture, Rapture Pro, Dimension Pro, and RXP Player would extract these MIDI files, which you could drag into a MIDI track. Although Cakewalk doesn't include these instruments, there is a way to move REX file slices around — and the results can often deliver better fidelity than the MIDI-based approach. The following also works with standard Groove Clips. However, note that this gives the desired results only if the REX editing was done correctly. There must be a marker for every major transient in the file: drum hits, bass notes and the like (we'll cover how to fix improperly edited REX files later).

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Published March 2019