There are now plenty of ways to assign controllers to software, via old-fashioned MIDI learn and new automatic mapping features. But one major strength of Kore is that you get a number of benefits these methods don’t generally have (or don’t have all in one place):
- Hardware control with the Kore controller, not only for individual encoders but even navigating between pages and parts of the interface. (You really don’t have to touch your mouse for many features.)
- Visual feedback and navigation using the hardware, so you can always see what you’re controlling.
- Eight things: Because the layout is always eight encoders (4×2), you never have more than eight things to keep track of at a time – much easier on your brain. And you can choose those eight things:
- Custom pages: Rather than paging through the dozens of parameters in many plug-ins, you can make custom pages. This lets you choose which parameters are important and organize those parameters however you like.
- Host automation support: In addition to using control pages for physical control with the Kore controller, you can use these pages to better organize which parameters are accessed by your host. That makes it much easier and more fun, for instance, to draw in control curves in Logic or SONAR or use envelopes in Ableton Live.
Initially, though, you may find the various levels of pages Kore lets you use confusing. Before you can be productive with Kore, it helps to fully comprehend what’s going on with the different pages.
There are three basic kinds of control pages:
1. Channel pages (automatic)
2. Plug-in pages (automatic)
3. User pages (editable)
The only pages you can custom edit are actually the user pages. Both channel and plug-in pages are automatically populated by Kore’s software. It’s easier to see what this means by walking through each. I’m duplicating the manual a little bit here, but I think seeing this stuff in action is a little more manageable.
Channel Pages are automatically assigned basic mixing functions when you create new channels in your Kore performance. Open up Kore, and create a new, blank performance. When you first begin, Kore’s controller layout is blank. Click a channel (or navigate to it on the controller), and you’ll see the default channel page.
You get three encoder parameters by default – OutLvl, Pan, and InGain – plus switches for On, Mute, and Solo. You can’t modify these, but here’s the fun part: Kore automatically adds the parameters you need for managing the channel. Create a new Group channel (right click > Insert Group Channel). Select the first channel. In the channel strip, under the Audio tab, change the routing for Aux 1 to “02. Group.”
Now, automagically, you get the Aux 1 send level added to the channel’s control page. You can’t rename it, though, so you may still want to use a user page. But you do get basic access to parameters without any additional work.
To see a plug-in page, we’ll have to first insert a plug-in. Right-click on a free channel insert space in the Sound Matrix, and pick out a favorite plug-in. (Here, I’m using Image-Line’s Sytrus.) Click that insert slot, and you should see the plug-in’s Control Page. As with the Channel Control Page, the Plug-in Page populates automatically. This is similar to the way features like Novation’s Automap work; every controllable parameter is added to the control page automatically. In the case of Sytrus, that’s already 8 pages, and as you can see from the screenshot, it’s a little confusing. Plug-in Pages are useful ways of getting at every parameter – possibly even finding some you weren’t aware of – and for programming. But when it comes to making something more playable for live performance or the studio, you’ll want to use User Pages.
My colleague Eoin is working with me on a tutorial for managing plug-ins in Kore which will go into some of the considerations with plug-ins in more depth.
Now the good stuff. User Pages have none of the limitations of the other Control Pages: you can pick what you want and only what you want to control, you can organize it however you like, and you can rename each parameter to something readable. (Mvldcy and MVlsst above aren’t the best, for instance.)
Now that you’re familiar with the distinction between pages for plug-ins and channels, you already know two kinds of user pages. Both plug-ins and channels can have user pages that can be edited. To get at them, just click the User button above the on-screen controller.
To create a new page, click the New icon on the right (the one that looks like a document).
There are various levels at which you can create User Pages:
- Internal MIDI processors
- Internal effects
- SingleSounds (this means any sound displayed in the matrix that takes up a single slot)
- MultiSounds (these are sounds embedded within other sounds)
Got all that? It sounds like a lot, but the good news is that Kore’s control pages work the same way at all of these levels. What the levels allow you to do is to create pages that are meaningful at whatever level of hierarchy on which you happen to be working. If you’re not clear yet on how Kore handles this, the short version is that you have Performances, which in turn are composed of Sounds, which can themselves be composed of Sounds. Each slot in the Edit Matrix can be a plug-in from NI or some other vendor, or one of Kore’s own internal MIDI and audio effects.
Let’s go back to the example of the Channel Pages. It’s handy to be able to access output levels one channel at a time, but that’s not generally how you’d mix. Instead, you could create a User Page at the Performance level that assigned the top four encoders to output level for four channels, and the bottom four encoders to control some effects levels. You could give these levels more meaningful names, and control everything easily as you work. Then you might create an additional User Page at the Channel Level that lets you drill down to some effects parameters for an individual channel for finer control on that channel.
User Pages for Internal Effects/MIDI
Internal MIDI and Internal Effects in Kore are a special case. When you create new user pages for channels, performances, plug-ins, and most sounds, you’re initially given a blank Control Page layout to fill as you wish. But when using the internal devices, Kore sets up the first user page for you in advance.
Let’s try this out. Insert any device from the Internal Effects or Internal MIDI lists. You’ll see various parameters already assigned to your eight encoders in the Control Page layout; it’s automatic, as with the channel and plug-in pages. If you look at the top of the screen, though, you’ll see that “User” is highlighted: this is actually a User Page. To prove it, double-click one of the parameters. It’s editable, so you could change the name if you wish.
With the Arpeggiator example, I can see that one of the parameters that’s not assigned is the Repeat Steps setting. I can find it by switching to User Page 2. But what if I want a layout that includes the Steps setting, Gate, and Range? I could create my own custom User Page that had just these three settings.
So, how do you keep track of all of these pages at different levels of your sound? Where do you rename your user page to something more interesting than “User Page 1”? The answer is the Sound Manager, a hierarchical tool for navigating different control pages and other features. We’ll look at it in more detail in the next installment, but for now, open it (it’s the icon that looks like three boxes at the top) and have a look. You’ll see the pages you were just using and where they fit in. Also notice that you can control specifics of automation and, most importantly, whether or not control pages are changed when you morph or vary sounds or switch between presets. (To prevent them from being changed, you’d uncheck the box in the Variations or Perf Presets column. Otherwise, they’ll be changed along with any morphing and preset and variation switching, which most of the time will be what you want.)
Now that you understand the basic levels you’re working with, you can move onto the real work of creating pages and performing with them. In the conclusion of this tutorial, we’ll talk about how to actually make the assignments, how to store them with sounds, and give you some real-world examples of how this can be used to make setups for performance (or just to make things more playable in the studio).