Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sawmill

I have released new instrument at Kontakt Hub. It is inspired by the supersaw... In a broad sense, it doesn't try to emulate the classic supersaw sound. In fact, I don't particularly like the supersaw sound. But I think it's interesting how layering detuned oscillators turns a static waveform into something with evolving texture. I have been wondering how would it sound if you could detune other parameters, not just pitch. A filter, LFO frequency, effects... And here comes Sawmill, where you can detune... everything. For each oscillator.


There are seven oscillators in this instrument and it is quite like having a stack of seven synthesizers, with controllers conveniently grouped by type. Each oscillator has independent signal path with separate set of controllers, including effects, from filters to chorus or delay (with single exception of convolution processor, which would make it too much of CPU hog). So if you want tune a filter cutoff you have a row of seven knobs to deal with. It makes it easy to experiment with oscillator layering.
The instrument is build in Kontakt, but it's not quite a sample library. Rather a synthesizer with sampled oscillators. There are 32 waveforms, generated mostly with modular analog system and vintage analog synthesizers. The samples are fairly long to capture bits of analog drift and tiny electronic imperfections which makes it sound more alive. Each sample has been looped by hand without any additional processing, to preserve as much of the original flavor as reasonably possible. The waveform selection is focused mainly on different variations of saw, but it also includes other basic shapes, as well as some fancy waveforms you can generate in a modular by mangling the oscillator with rectifiers, ring modulators, inverters and the like, all in analog domain.
Sawmill includes nearly complete palette of what Kontakt has to offer in signal processing: full range of filter types, classic effects, different types of envelopes, LFOs with various shapes and frequency modulation.
Additionally there are several innovative functions. There is a sequenced modulator, which is a crossover between step sequencer and LFO - you can program a value pattern and shape it to LFO waveform. There are six patterns which can be combined and/or patched to different parameters, like pitch or filter cutoff. In fact, any parameter can be automated using MIDI CC. There is pitch glide function with adjustable acceleration curve. And then there is multi-arpeggiator, which is like having a stack of eight arpeggiators, which you can sequence or combine in different ways to create complex note patterns out of a simple chord.



It started from the supersaw, but it's not really just about supersaw. It can go way beyond it.

The instrument requires Kontakt 5.8.1 or newer (full version).
It it a 2GB download (unpacked samples take 2.75 GB, there are 2574 samples in wav format).
It is available at Kontakt Hub.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Kontakt multi-channel sequencer experiment

Common question about Cracklefield instrument is: Can I use it as a sequencer to play other instruments? It's tempting idea, Kontakt does output MIDI generated by loaded instruments, but the problem is, all messages are put on a single channel. As a workaround Cracklefield has MIDI recorder, so you can export it's output by MIDI clip drag'n'drop, but the clip has to be recorded beforehand and it's not quite as fun as live output.
I have been pondering this and came with somewhat convoluted solution, worthy of fairly confusing name. Kontakt has multiscript feature, you can run scripts on MIDI level before MIDI data is passed to individual patches. You can change MIDI channel for events with multiscript. So my idea was to prepare sequence data at sequencer instrument level, in a way which would include channel/cursor number. Send it to another instance of Kontakt, where it would be decoded to multichannel sequence on multiscript level. Lets' see how it works...


Maybe it's not very practical, but isn't that fun? You can make it work with Cracklefield 1.2 or Orchestra Enigmatica, both of which generate a kind of multi-channel sequence and include a function which prepares data for receiver/decoder multiscript. They convert notes to series of CC messages, which include note number, velocity and channel/sequence number and can be then interpreted by receiver multiscript.

If you'd like to try it, download the receiver multiscript here.

Mind you, this is experimental setup, not guaranteed to work for you. Also you may need a bit of advanced know-how with Kontakt and DAW configuration, for example, know how to connect one instance MIDI out to another instance MIDI in. Read included text file for more information. Have fun.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cracklefield update 1.2

I updated Cracklefield to 1.2, introducing introducing field animator, new function which can dynamically transform the whole sequencer field. The field can be scrolled, rotated or evolved using game of life family of cellular automata. Different transformation modes can be sequenced or combined for some extra generative fun.


Available at Kontakt Hub.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Orchestra Enigmatica

I released new Kontakt based instrument today. Orchestra Enigmatica is build around vintage orchestral analog synthesizer theme, a nod to times when emulating acoustic instruments with plain sawtooth wave was the thing. The base sounds come from Siel Orchestra (first version), 1979 Italian synthesizer, they are full of little quirks and imperfections, which makes them more alive. I tried to preserve their nature using long detailed samples. Sustained sounds are looped by hand without any crossfading, a task which proved to be quite challenging at times. Raw sounds can be combined and shaped in Kontakt, essentially this is more a synthesizer than a library.

In this instrument, I introduced multi-arp function, an advanced arpeggiator, which can populate up to eight patterns from a single chord. You can combine and transpose different arpeggio algorithms to create complex, evolving evolving dynamically, depending on notes being played.

Here's a sound demonstration video, where I play around with different patches:


And here's a small feature walkthough:




If you'd like to examine the details, please have a look at the manual:
http://www.fairlyconfusing.net/docs/orchestra_enigmatica.pdf

The instrument requires full version of Kontakt 5.6.6 or newer.
Unpacked files take nearly 2GB space, samples are in WAV format.
It comes with 56 snapshot presets.
The interface takes 1000x750 pixels of screen space (it is bigger than in standard Kontakt instruments).

It is now available at Kontakt Hub:
https://www.kontakthub.com/product/orchestra-enigmatica-kontakt/

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cracklefield

I have released new music machine at Kontakt Hub, it's named Cracklefield. This idea has been following me for a long time. I imagined a grid based sequencer, with objects traveling in different directions, bouncing off walls and colliding with each other, creating dynamically evolving patterns. Cracklefield is such generative music machine, experimental sequencer, more a simulation, than a loop player.


The sequencer workspace, the field, is cellular grid. The field can be read or modified by cursors, pointing at sequence track playing position. The cursors can travel the filed in any direction, horizontally, vertically or diagonally, each at it's own rate. They can bounce off field edges or obstacles (walls) and, what is the fun part, bounce off each other. Just imagine several sequencer tracks playing 'pong' with each other. On next level, cursors can interact with the field; paint, erase or flip cells, build or destroy walls, shift whole field rows or columns. It's a playground for building evolving patterns - set initial conditions and see what would it sound like.
Cracklefield can also use cellular automaton named 'Langton's ant'. An ant is basically a cursor, which changes direction depending on what kind of cell it steps on. For example, it turns right on a filled cell and turns left on an empty cell, flipping the state of cell it has visited. Sounds very simple, yet it creates surprisingly complex structures. In Cracklefield you can combine several ants of different types to explore variety of possible generative pattern setups. The machine is using a note map, assigning each cell a note number, according to one of different algorithms, to play melodies, or create round robin percussive patterns.
Cracklefield can also act as an apreggiator. Each cursor can be bound to one of notes from the chord being currently held. Arp patterns can modulated (transposed depending on cursor position) and fit to a scale pattern, while each cursor can play a different sound.

Here's a video showing some of the possibilities:

 
This machine is not really about the sounds, but it has been built on a sample player, so obviously it needs samples. I wasn't quite sure how to approach this and in the end I decided to pick a set of sounds that, most likely, nobody would have already, as it's not a kind of instrument, one would be interested in just to get more pianos. The Cracklefield sample set is mostly based on acoustic/electroacoustic instruments, or found sounds, unconventional, experimental or unusual sounds, featuring a hollow soviet balalaika, copper rod mallets made with contact microphones, experimental guitar setups, glass chimes or wire-brushed crash cymbals. On the other hand, the machine is designed, to make adding new sounds relatively easy; just duplicate a group, put new samples and refresh the instrument. There's also a built-in note recorder, it allows the user to capture multichannel MIDI clips, which then can be exported to a DAW by drag'n'drop mechanism and reused elsewhere.

Here's another video, playing with random electronic drum samples, shows how it looks and sounds to use the instrument:


It is thus far the largest, most complicated and one of the most unusual projects I put myself into. If you'd like to learn more about Cracklefield functionality, see the manual:
http://www.fairlyconfusing.net/docs/cracklefield.pdf

Or watch even more videos:





Cracklefield needs full version of Kontakt 5.6.6 or newer to run. It takes 950MB of hard drive space after unpacking (the samples are in plain wav format). You will need at least 1280x1024 screen resolution to be able to see the whole interface without scrolling, it's bigger than standard ones, as there are plenty of controllers.

It's available from Kontakt Hub:
www.kontakthub.com/product/Cracklefield

Now updated to 1.2 - with field animator...


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Midnight Bell

I had borrowed an old wall clock from my grandmother, to get the ticking sounds for another project. It's a late 19th century/early 20th century clock, my grandfather has re-built 30 years ago. Besides annoying loud ticking, it also does ring a bell. The bell itself is a spiral formed metal stripe and while it wasn't my primary interest, it just sounds too interesting to pass it by. So here's a little bell instrument made in Kontakt. Bell recordings have been widely stretched and reinforced by a layer of electronic bell sound, obtained from self resonating filter (recorded from Moogerfooger LPF, volume envelope shaped digitally). It sounds like this:


Get it here, if you like it. Only 10MB download, requires full version of Kontakt 5.6.6. There's no manual and GUI is a sonic mystery for you to solve. A perfect companion for Spookomatic.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Beat Knitter

Beat Knitter is a tiny drum machine and random drum pattern generator for Kontakt. It features a one-click-pattern generator, I've been experimenting with, it attempts to create a consistent random four track beat of bass drum, snare and open/closed hat. After some strangely complicated machines, this one has a simple approach: press the button, get a random beat.
The instrument has a very simple sound set, consisting of few one shot sounds. It has a basic four track sequencer, you can control overall velocity and a speed rate of each track. Besides one-button pattern generator, there are several other automated functions, some different, more or less random pattern generators and several pattern transformations, tracks can be shuffled, mirrored, de-synchronized, inverted and even there's 4x4 field 45 degree rotation, so you can play the pattern upward-down...
Drum pattern can be exported to MIDI clip anytime, via drag'n'drop, so the machine can be used to quickly sketch different variations of a beat to use with another instrument.

Here's how it works:

The machine is free to get and make noise with. Download here. You will need full version of NI Kontakt 5.6.6 to run it. Leave me a note if you find it fun, or useful, or garbage.