Monthly Archives: January 2008

Very Simple Grainer

All right, enough piddling about with theory and math and such. Let’s get down to making some noisemakers. I’m going to do things a little differently this time. I have constructed a dirt simple four voice granular synth – it is cut to the bone but still usable. Here it is.

When I was a Reaktor newbie I hated the complexity of granular instruments in the factory library and the user library. I had to cut through great tangled swaths of cruft to get down to the essence. So why not start with the essence?

Play with it, mess with it and figure out what the controls do. It should be perfectly self explanatory. Dig in and have a look at the structure. Add some of your own samples. Short 10 to 30 second snippets work well. The root note should be zero – see the last post on constructing sample maps for more information.

Ask questions. Let me know what you’re not sure about, and how you think it can be improved. I have some plans for this instrument and I’ll be posting about the changes as I make them.

Above all, play the instrument. I love the sound of a naked granular synth, with no extra reverb and chorus and filtering and other extraneous glop. Hold down a couple of notes and play with the speed and grain size controls. Pitch a harmonically complex sample down or just play it in a low register and hear the details that emerge. Not too shabby for a dirt simple instrument that barely even registers on the ol’ CPU meter.

Pro tip: sample maps

Often, I want to have a whole bunch of samples with the same root key but on different notes in the map; for example, in a drum machine, where you have separate sample select and pitch controls. I like to have my root key at zero so I can add or subtract semitones with a knob to pitch things up or down.

One way to prepare a map for this is to laboriously add one sample at a time and set the root key manually. Blech! That’s no fun.

A better way is to use Reaktor’s internal browser to navigate to your sample directory and select a bunch of samples, like so:

Then – and this is the important part – drag them onto your target root key so they all stack up together like so:

Then from the functions menu choose “remap to single keys”:

…after which you will have all your ducks in a row.

Go to the sample list view to verify that they all have the same root note.

Now, wasn’t that easy? Of course you can also drag them onto key C3 to have them pitched at middle C. It all depends how your sampler instrument likes to be fed and watered.