Monthly Archives: November 2012

ParamDrum: fun with TR samples and misc. effects

I found a terrific little dubby echo here courtesy of Boscomac and decided to hotwire it into my Paramdrum ensemble.

I added a router to the beat delay like so:
Whenever one of the beat repeat buttons is engaged, the “compare” module detects that its output is  greater than zero – this changes the multiplier from zero to one on the extra outputs where the sound is directed to the Echophonic effect. If you have ParamDrum it’s a quick and easy modification. This way, the dry signal doesn’t normally go through the Echophonic and it becomes a haze that drifts around the stuttering when you engage the beat repeat.
This is one of the many reasons I like Reaktor rather than compiled VSTs – you can do little tweaks like this to existing ensembles as the mood strikes you. Here’s how it sounds:

This uses the samples from an earlier edition of Paramdrum, the TR edition, which has a sample map of simpler, cleaner drum hits – analogue sounding but with a morphing twist. You can download the TR edition samples for free here. Of course, I think they sound best in Paramdrum. šŸ™‚

Like what you’re hearing? Buy Paramdrum here. (You need a full working installation of Reaktor 5 to use this instrument, not just Reaktor player)

(Download Boscomac’s Echophonic effect free here – he has lots of other very cool goodies too)

TB Midi Stuff

One iOS control surface that’s getting too little love in my poll on the left is TB MIDI Stuff.

It sends and receives OSC and MIDI, including NRPN, so you can do 14 bit high resolution MIDI. It even does bi-directional Sysex. The editor is built in so there’s no need to edit your layout on a computer then sync – add, delete and modify controls and pages right on your device. There are some built in control surfaces like a standard keyboard (with arp!) and an MPC type drum pad and many other editable templates.

Get it here for only $4.99 – daaaaamn that’s cheap – and I guarantee you will find uses for it. It’s worth that coffee-and-muffin price just for the default keyboard and MPC and the Wicki-Hayden templates, to say nothing of the custom templates you can put together quickly and easily. Oh, did I mention there are built in scales and customizable scales you can play from ribbons and other objects? Well, there are. It’s a Swiss army knife of MIDI features for a toothpick price.

Finally, here’s a video of one of the 1.x versions of TB MIDI Stuff (2.0 was recently released)

A Working Clock

Recently I’ve been working on some new sequenced ensembles and found to my horror that the clock macro I’d been relying on no longer worked properly. Bit rot? Slow change in behavior from version to version? I’m not sure. The problem was the old zero reset bug – old hands at Reaktor are nodding sagely right now – where the first beat or note would not fire off after resetting the song position to zero.

So I went through some frantic experiments and experienced a genuine Dark Night of the Soul until I put something together based on my old clock macros, hints from forums, and ideas from the Reaktor user library.

Unfortunately in the process I upgraded to the current version of Reaktor, 5.7.1, because there seemed to be some subtle differences in behavior between 5.6.2 and 5.7.1 and there’s a limit to how much time and effort I can dedicate to old versions.

Here’s what the new, fixed, stable, working macro looks like on the inside:

As you can see it’s fairly simple. If you’re still sticking with 5.6.2 you should be able to throw one together from this schematic in a few minutes.

Special thanks to Owen Vallis who came up with the idea of using the mod output of the Modulo module to gate the Div output. So much better than using a silly old step filter. Owen posted his fix in this thread on the Reaktor forums so go thank him there.

I’ve stuck the macro in this demo ensemble:

Click here to download the new clock macro.

Grab the macro labeled “SeqDriver 571” and use it in your own creations. Of course, nobody’s perfect and no fix lasts forever so let me know if you find a bug, a sequencer where it doesn’t work or works erratically, or if you need help wiring it into your own creations.

The Science of Surfaces

Hey kids, there’s a new poll on the left. Please vote and select multiple options if you use multiple touch surface apps. 

UPDATE: the built in Blogger poll is broken and I’ve switched to a widget from Apologies to anyone whose votes were lost… it kept resetting to different numbers of votes. (if this is actually someone messing with me through a Blogger security hole, well played sir, by which I mean, get a life šŸ˜‰


My experience of touch surfaces as controllers is that they shouldn’t be clones of what they’re controlling. I admit that there’s a certain cool factor in having a Lemur or TouchOSC template that allows full access to every parameter on a Reaktor instrument’s GUI. And in some cases, that can add to the playability and usability of the instrument.

On the other hand, though, what’s the point of replicating an instrument GUI? Generally speaking there will be too many controls, and they will be too functionally and ergonomically diverse to provide a fluid performance experience.

This is why I keep coming back to Konkreet Performer. It doesn’t attempt to provide the ability to mimic a GUI. What it does, and does well, is translate touch into control in ways that are both simple and complex, in the right ways – simple in that setting up a layout is easy and direct – and complex in that parameters can describe not just touches and movements, but the relationships between different touches and movements. Unexpectedly cool things ensue.

This is not to say that I don’t recognize the relative strengths of the other touch surface apps – maybe this is just a personal preference and I simply prefer a simple touch interface that functions as an adjunct to a standard computer setup, rather than a replacement for it.

In the long run I’m pretty sure tablets and laptops will glom together in some form – if the Microsoft Surface doesn’t succeed then something eventually will and every Reaktor ensemble or synth plugin will be its own touch surface – a situation which will bring its own set of problems and solutions.

Anyhow, please vote in the poll on the left because I’m getting ready to launch a new instrument and I’ll take into account the popularity of the apps when designing controller mappings and templates.