Kore, Komplete, Reaktor @ cdm

Minisite with tutorials, tips, features on making the most of Native Instruments music production tools

Update: Here is a fixed version of the performance and ensemble I originally linked. Since Kore saves absolute path references in its performances, you will have to locate the BlackBox ensemble wherever you unzipped it and load it into the instance of Reaktor in the second channel. This time, doing that will fix the controller mappings. Sorry for the mix up! Hat tip to Sowari for alerting us to the problem.

The new Spark instrument for Reaktor evolved through many iterations out of Stephan Schmitt’s desire for an instrument that responds to the player in a performance situation. It’s aimed at realtime manipulation by a skilled player, and keeps the built-in LFOs and envelopes to a bare minimum.

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As I played with Spark over the weekend, I noticed that some of the richest sonic possibilities emerged from using it in Kore for hands-on control, especially when morphing between sound variations. I started thinking about ways to add motion to the sound while still respecting Stephan’s vision of a performance oriented instrument. This is what I came up with:

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It’s a Reaktor motion recorder designed especially for use in Kore in conjunction with Spark. The three knobs are mapped to the three macro controls in Spark, and record your movements, then play them back. Since the motion comes from you, from your reactions and musical intuition as you play, it’s a live and human kind of modulation source – but it also gives you three extra hands to perform.

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Here’s how it works: the three upper left knobs on the Kore controller are mapped to the BlackBox knobs, and the three buttons above them enable recording. It’s easy to hold down the record button with a middle finger and move a knob with your thumb and index. When you release the record button, the automation begins playing back and looping automatically. The three leftmost buttons on the bottom row enable or disable the automation.

Since the lengths of the recorded sequences aren’t quantized, they phase-shift against each other and against the tempo of your music. It creates an organic push and pull that I like. Here’s what it sounds like:

Native Instruments Spark plus Blackbox from Create Digital Media on Vimeo.

I’ll provide you with a Kore performance and the Blackbox ensemble, but you’ll need to go get Spark at the NI online shop. One thing you’ll also have to do is activate the MIDI in option in the properties of the three Spark macro controls, which is as simple as ticking a box:

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Remember to run the clock, otherwise BlackBox won’t record or play back.

19 Responses

  1. [...] BlackBox Recorder: Free Reaktor tool to Enhance Spark and Kore [...]

  2. sowari

    hi Peter

    thanks for this, in the Download Kore .kpe i couldn’t find the User Page (BlackBox) with the assigned knobs and buttons. do you need to provide the Kore2 Sound that goes with this Kore Performance?

    i did manage to assign the knobs and buttons, and i think that the Record buttons need to be in Gate Mode (?), but i am sure there will be some people that won’t know how to do this.

    and is the Industrial Kit from Kontakt?

    maybe it would be nice to have a version of Blackbox for Reaktor Users who don’t have Kore. that would mean changing the Record Buttons to a different mode i think.

    anyway, great work and thanks for sharing :-)

  3. [...] BlackBox Recorder — Free Reaktor tool to Enhance Spark and [...]

  4. Peter Dines

    Hey Sowari / Phil, thanks for the heads up. I had previously saved a koresound of blackbox, so maybe that’s the problem. I’ll check it out. You’re correct about using gate mode.

    For a non Kore user, what I’d suggest is mapping the knob to a MIDI CC knob and the record button to a keyboard key or MIDI CC “button” if you have one on your controller.

    I also considered having a timer with a timeout that stops recording when there hasn’t been any change for a second but that limits the kind of sequences you record. The foundation of this is the same as the freshmaker mouse-driven automatic faders, which is a better match if you want to use a pure laptop setup with no MIDI hardware.

  5. Peter Dines

    Oh and yeah, that is the industrial kit. That koresound ships with Kore – was it also missing or causing a problem?

    Ah, you know what the problem is with Blackbox’s Kore mappings – Kore saves the absolute path to the ensemble with the performance. If it can’t find the ensemble, it loses the controller mappings. For some reason, when I reloaded the ensemble in Kore in this saved version it didn’t remap properly. I’ve updated the zip and it seems to work properly now – good catch!

  6. sowari

    thanks….that’s better, it works properly :-)

    Re: Industrial Kit, I hadn’t re-connected my external Hard Drive ;-)

    btw, for Reaktor Users who assign the Record buttons to qwerty keys, you should change the buttons to “Gate” Mode.

  7. [...] Peter Dines created BlackBox Recorder, a handy motion recorder for use with KORE. It’s a Reaktor motion recorder designed especially [...]

  8. zenke

    thanks peter, took me a while to get it working but it does now and I really like it. great work. I enjoy things like this and even the struggle to get it going is a good learning process.

  9. michael uman

    i downloaded and installed blackbox yesterday after purchasing the spark pack…thanks so much for the great and useful addition.
    I have had kore since it first came out but didn’t find it as useful as i had hoped initially due to cpu overhead and my work flow…I recently installed it on a second machine(older dual 2k g5) in order to give it its own resources… i am now up and running and I built a kore self generating patch using the spiral sequencer and spark (the idea is it plays and evolves while i tweak parameters to change the ever evolving sound) and am trying to incorporate your black box…I’m not sure what i’m doing wrong..maybe its a midi channel thing but the black box info doesn’t get through to the spark synth when the spiral sequencer is chugging along. When i turn off the instance of the sequencer no problem…it works like it should. I’ve tried changing midi channels in the the black box and the spiral sequencer but that doesn’t seem to help..Any ideas or suggestions?

  10. Peter Dines

    Hi Michael,

    It depends on how you have things ordered and arranged. If you have one channel with this stack:


    …then Spiral will block the Blackbox signals from getting through, unless you mute the Reaktor instance running Spiral. Short of modding a MIDI through hack into Spiral, I think the best thing is to have this arrangement:

    top level koresound
    Spark | Spiral | Blackbox

    …with the Spiral and Blackbox sub-channels routing their MIDI to the Spark sub-channel.

  11. Ales

    Hi, can you help me i have the spark and reaktor 5 but the Kore 2 doesn’t recognices the reaktor and i can’t see in the library the reaktor presets and i can’t edit the reaktor spark in Kore 2.

  12. Peter Dines

    Hi Ales,

    By any chance are you using Komplete? I understand there can be problems if you install an update of Reaktor that is intended for the standalone product.

    Unfortunately we’re not set up here to do troubleshooting and technical support, so if that’s not the problem, I’m going to have to pass the buck and send you to the official support guys.

  13. Ales

    thanks for the answer peter but the official suport “guys” sucks. Is a fu… questionary that doesn’t resolve my questions. I have (all original) reaktor 5, massive and kore 2. The massive presets are in the browser but the reaktor presets not.

    The support guys i’m waiting for the 5 questionarys i sent to him with a problem with the link of the best of reaktor kore pack and doesn’t answer me.

    If you have a mail and not a questionary i apreciate it.

    Thanks for all and sorry for my english.

  14. [...] Peter Dines created BlackBox Recorder, a handy motion recorder for use with KORE. It’s a Reaktor motion recorder designed especially [...]

  15. GGGmusic

    thanks for the answer peter but the official suport “guys” sucks. Is a fu… questionary that doesn’t resolve my questions. I have (all original) reaktor 5, massive and kore 2. The massive presets are in the browser but the reaktor presets not.

  16. Impure

    Hi guys,

    Just bought spark and found Peter’s Blackbox recorder. I spent 30′ minutes to get it work but no succes until now.

    Somebody has posted a more detailed tutorial video?
    Would be great!

    Looking forward to integrate it in my setup!!!

    Thx Peter_


  17. Lowkus

    I had difficulties getting this to work, then I finally figured out a critical piece of the puzzle that was not mentioned…

    1) Open the Spark ensemble.
    2) Select a horizontal slider (such as “MC1″).
    3) Open the properties window for that slider, specifically looking at the tab that deals with inputs/outputs (right-most tab).
    5) Check-mark the “Activate MIDI In” option.
    6) Change that value for the other horizontal sliders as well.

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