Kore, Komplete, Reaktor @ cdm

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

This site is back – and back to stay. We have a new server, and some new tools we’ll be able to share soon to help the CDM community share tools and techniques more easily.

And sometimes, wonderful things just happen when the time is right. Case in point: a whole new set of beginning Reaktor tutorials, covering all the basic tasks you might like to accomplish. For newcomers to Reaktor, these will be ideal, as they get you rolling on a specific tasks — like, build me a sampler or do something cool and granular and delicious — without assuming a lot of prior knowledge. But if you do have prior knowledge, these will fill in some gaps even for intermediate users.

Reaktor Tutorial

Topics so far:

  • Programming and patching: intro and a simple synth
  • Effects: envelope generator, ring mod, tape decay
  • Grain Delay
  • Sampler
  • Granulation modules (similar to our own series on the topic)

Creator Mats Claesson of Norway is interesting himself, with a background in classical guitar, a resume that includes work with John Cage and Iannis Xenakis, and ballet composition. If you can read Norwegian, there’s a lot more.

I have some additional Reaktor tutorials that, at long last, I’ll be publishing within the next two weeks – in a new format that will allow others to build upon the same work.

We won’t be disappearing for two months again, but with these tutorials and Reaktor in hand, you may.

When I look back at the Kontakt features we’ve done here at Noisepages, I notice that one feature of the software that keeps coming up is scripting. We’ve used scripts to:

As well, we’ve looked at the creative potential of the scripts that ship with Kontakt. I’ve also pointed readers towards some fine scripting resources for Kontakt users. With one exception – stereo panning – these have all been stock factory scripts, prewritten scripts from third parties, or very slightly modified versions. Now that everyone’s toes are wet it’s time to dive in and splash around with some scripting from scratch. The water’s warm and we won’t venture too deep. I guarantee there are no sharks. Continue reading »

Richard Devine’s DEVSND (working with long-time collaborator Josh Kay) is now bringing some of the strange and wonderful sound in Richard’s and Josh’s studio out to the rest of the world. And for a sampler of these sounds in Battery 3, you can get some sonic goodies for free. (Having seen these two at work away from their studios with some Doepfer modular gear along on a week-long retreat earlier this year, I can only imagine what it’s like when he has all his toys.)

Three free kits include a “heavily modded” ARP 2600, a “bent and abused” TR-808 drum machine, and a “broken & prepared” santur (which is a Persian hammered dulcimer).

To download them, just click the “Library” link on the DEVSND page. Now, Battery isn’t capable of the same scripting Kontakt is, but I imagine there are some ways to do still more damage with these downloads. Stay tuned.


Native Instruments has released Compilation Volume 1, a completely free Kore Soundpack with 100 sounds and 800 variations. In fact, you don’t even need Kore to use it: the free Kore Player will work. (I believe that means if you don’t own Kore but do, for instance, own Massive, you could open up Massive-created presets and edit them in the full synth.)

There’s lots in there:

  • Percussive sounds from Tension
  • Synth sounds from Absynth, Massive, FM8, Reaktor
  • The fantastic Reaktor Animated Circuits pack
  • Synthetic Drums
  • Kits and grooves
  • Multi-effects from Deep Transformations

Notably absent is one of our favorites from all year, Spark by NI founder and Reaktor “mastermind” Stephan Schmitt (see our interview). But there’s enough in here to give you a good preview of what’s contained in these packs – and to pass along to your friends if you want to show them a little of what Kore is about.

If you do own Kore, it can be a good way to look at what you can do with Kore controller assignments and variations in sound design, so well worth the download even if you’re not a big preset fan.

Free soundpack page at NI

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.

Last time we looked at Kontakt I showed you how to import and slice up a sample, and create new music out of an old melody. Now let’s pick up where we left off by exploring the scripts and performance views in some Kontakt and Kontakt-based Kore library instruments.

The Urban Beats collection that ships with Kontakt includes 49 instruments, each with a different set of percussion loops and samples. I’ll show you how to use the sequencing and effects scripts to create endless variation in each instrument. As well, we’ll have a look at creating and managing zone envelopes to repitch and pan loops.

Continue reading »

The shadow of Barry Altschul on drums, playing with the great Anthony Braxton. Now go make some digital drum music. Photo (CC) Tom Marcello.

If you’re looking for some drum sounds to spice up projects, there’s a really lovely set of samples from Orange Tree of jazz drum sets. I enjoy the warm sounds here – and they could be ripe for reinterpreting, coloring patterns and such. They’re already pre-built for Kontakt; Battery would have been an obvious drum-centric choice, but I find some of Kontakt’s deeper scripting powers make it my go-to sampler, even for drum/kit stuff.

Here’s what they sound like:


There doesn’t seem to be any information on Orange Tree’s site, but here’s a direct download link:


Note that you’ll need a rar decompresser; Windows users probably already have one (like my fave, 7-Zip), but Mac users, try:


Orange Tree has some other sample libraries, as well, including Kontakt-focused guitar and bass libraries:

Orange Tree

Big shout-out to Synthtopia for catching this one.

Ed.: When you think of sample design, you may think of hours spent painstakingly multisampling hundreds of audio files. Of course, that’s not the way most of us work (or have time to work). More often, you have a short recording you like that you want to manipulate. Kontakt’s functional depth need not intimidate you: you can use all that horsepower to get your sounds doing interesting stuff right away.

Here, Peter Dines walks us through in a few quick steps taking a simple sample and turning it into a complex instrument. He’s got a free download to round it out. Even if you’ve seen very little of Kontakt beyond its presets, you should be able to pick up some quick skills. And yes, you’ll even do some scripting – though thanks to the presets, you won’t have to know about scripting yourself to take advantage of this feature. (We will make all of you scripters soon, though.)

In this video, a basic set of Kontakt skills that could apply to lots of ideas:

  • Creating a sample from a file
  • Slicing up bigger samples into mapped slices with the Wave Editor
  • Correcting slice points
  • Using Script Editor performance presets to get advanced features
  • (without having to write your own scripts)
  • Simple script modification – even if you’re afraid of code

But the whole thing started (appropriately enough in the holiday season) as a gift. Peter recalls:

My brother in law came back from Vienna with a great gift for me – a music box mechanism. I recorded its output and imported the file into Kontakt. In this video, I demonstrate some of the ways you can manipulate and script your way to creative results.

Music-boxing in NI Kontakt from Create Digital Media on Vimeo.

Here’s the Kontakt instrument I created in this video:

Spaces Multi-Touch Music Environment from BricK Table on Vimeo.

Reorganizing an interface in Reaktor can make a big difference, but the team behind BricK have gone a great deal of extra distance. They couple Reaktor sounds with a multi-touch, collaborative table interface. You can read the full details on Create Digital Music, but I want to call particular attention to the Reaktor element – and how changing the interface impacts the way this works musically:

Designed as a minimalist interface to free musicians from traditional compositional markers such as frets and keys, the environment enables musicians to compose intuitively through immediate visual and sonic feedback.

In Spaces, we discussed a few different ideas about the layout and design of the interface. Ultimately, we decided on Spaces being able to control four different instruments, each with four parameters (volume, and three others). We toyed with different methods for visually representing the value of each column without turning them into a traditional slider. We felt the cool-to-hot color morph in each column was fitting: the user has to rely more specifically on the sonic result rather than exact value, veering from more traditional musical interface paradigms.

Spaces generates sounds in a number of different ways, all using Reaktor. Each of the four instruments employs a selection of synthesis methods. Some columns control pitch, other columns control combinations of filters and effects. The clicky percussive sounds are generated from an audio loop which is granulized and re-synthesized with altered delay rate, etc.

Now, you could easily implement this kind of visual interface itself in Reaktor. But in this case, there’s a lot of additional work that goes beyond Reaktor, in the form of camera tracking for fingers on the table. The creators took advantage of the fact that Reaktor can receive OpenSoundControl data, a feature I hope we’ll see revisited in the future (various iPhone apps now also send OSC, as do many VJ apps).

I also found it interesting that Jordan and Owen are interested in using Reaktor more in these sorts of works, because of the sounds it’s capable of producing. This certainly inspires me to think of Reaktor creation in new ways. We’re deep into some new tutorial creation. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Well worth checking out the full story, which goes into some of the philosophy of the project and the musical approach to the whole thing:

Spaces and Roots: Manipulating Sound with Processing + Touch, Tangible Interfaces

I began writing this post to discuss Kore 2′s performance preset system. If you’re not familiar with this, the quick lowdown is: you can store banks of settings and change between them, or automate changing between them, in a master performance. I touched on this in my last post about Reaktor.

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog. I discovered that, when using a given synth and trying to store different patches in performance presets, not all the parameters were stored and changed with the preset. On the other hand, storing patches as Koresounds does save all the parameter settings. I’m thinking this difference is because the performance presets save on the basis of host automation of the controls, so non-automatable controls won’t have their state saved. (will have to doublecheck with the NI programmers on this to be 100% sure!)

Of course I started looking for workarounds. I loaded up Massive (my go-to synth for mad fun these days) and started trying to save different Massive sounds in the sound variation grid.

In retrospect this was a dumb move, because the sound variation grid is meant to hold variations in a sound, not multiple sounds. So like the performance preset, not all parameters save. Wrong level of abstraction. What I ended up with is a single sound with unusual, in some cases meaningless, parameter settings for that sound in eight variations. You might think this would be undesirable, but my goodness, I’ve never heard anything quite like this:

Unwholesome Sound Design from Create Digital Media on Vimeo.

A sound such as this can only be called Quacking Robomultiverse, and I have named it accordingly. Notice the tuning settings of the oscillators on the left – they’re morphing in between settings that made sense in their original sound, but in this mutant superposition of sounds, things have become singularly Lovecraftian; abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours. Incidentally, I’m using the Kore knobs to morph between sound variations here, but a mouse is fine too.

Download kore performance and massive sound