I had the pleasure of meeting electronic music legend Christian Fennesz at the Mutek 2008 festival, and one of the things we discussed was the Reaktor user library. The great thing about Reaktor’s user library is the wealth of editable instruments and effects you can explore at your own pace. Ed.: Yes, it deserves being said, I believe there’s no shame in using some of the Reaktor presets creatively, alongside your own creations! -PK
PD: About your use of Reaktor – are you using patches you’ve created yourself?
F: I did in the beginning, yeah, but there’s so many much much better programmers than me. I’m a musician, you know? Often in early times I was trying to program in Max MSP and I did program a few patches and they were never as good as the good ones. So, I’m a user. And I don’t want to lose time by programming too much because I want to compose music.
PD: But you have enough technical knowledge to seek out – you know what you’re looking for -
PD: That brings up an interesting question – have you used downloads from the Reaktor user library?
F: Of course, many times, yes. Basically plugins, granular synthesizers and stuff like that, loop players. Always. I check at least once a month on what’s going on there.
PD: Are there any particular builders of Reaktor instruments – I’m thinking of some of the big names from the library like Martin Brinkmann -
F: I’ve been using Martin Brinkmann’s stuff, yes, and there’s another one who’s famous -
PD: Dieter Zobel?
F: Yes, I must have been using something of his… what did he do for example… those resonator effects?
PD: Yes, he did a bunch of resonator effects that are tunable and controllable -
F: I think I’ve used some of those.
Martin Brinkmann is a giant among Reaktor builders. Anyone who’s used the software at all has probably used the Grainstates instrument and effect (pictured above), which features granular resynthesis of audio and a series of sequenced “scenes” that transform and mutate the sound. That’s included with Reaktor 4 and 5, but there are lots of other great ensembles of his in the user library, like Madpad:
MadPad gives the user four effects settings or scenes and allows the user to morph between them using the XY control or an LFO. It’s one of the more popular Brinkmann downloads in the user library, but check out his other stuff as well. Some of the older material in the library has low user ratings that don’t reflect its value at all.
Here is one of the Resonator effects from Dieter Zobel we talked about in the interview:
Playing a chord into Resonatter via MIDI tunes its resonators to the notes of the incoming chord. The tuning is saved with each snapshot, so you can either play it live or switch between presets and have it remember its harmonization. A neat feature is how the polyphony works – the number of voices in the instrument sets the number of tuned resonators in the chord, so you can thin the sound out to a triad or dyad and reduce CPU usage, or go all out with seven voices (the default when you download it) – or more. I’m a fan of Herr Zobel’s work and I’m planning to look under the hood on some of his creations in upcoming Noisepages features.