Monday, December 15, 2014

Haunted Jukebox - sound exploration device

Haunted Jukebox is experimental automaton for generating abstract noise grooves, that I have built in Kontakt sampler. It is not quite a musical instrument, it doesn't take notes as input, rather it works as a jukebox, it takes a number and plays a groove. It generates pure machine music, calculating a sort of composition derived from input token. User can select the token using set of 25 buttons, each button representing single bit in token number. Then the machine creates a program for 8 track step sequencer and modulation programs for each layer, using step sequenced modulators that I used before in Quescape or Bleepman. Each of 8 tracks / layers has 12 independent modulation sequencers running at different speeds and different program length. So generated groove can get quite sophisticated. To make it more funny the machine also generates a name for each groove. It is possible to mix different tokens across layers, which can be done manually or automated with 'evolution' function which will gradually change grooves. All grooves are synchronized with host tempo. Here's a video of the machine in action:



If you'd like to get into details, try these fairly confusing manuals in funny English: operator's manualservice manual.

The machine requires full version of Kontakt 4.2 or possibly newer and considerable amount of CPU, also it relies on transport synchronization with host. It might happen, it won't initialize properly in certain hosts, at least until you start playback. In short, it may or may not work for you, you will need to find it out experimentally.

There are two free sets/configurations available:

Minimal Noise Set is made, as the name suggests, of different noise fragments. This is 10MB download and is free to get and use to make noise, privately or commercially.

Junk Percussion Set is using junk percussion samples that I recorded some time ago. It's also free to get. The download doesn't include the samples, which you need to get by separate download here. Unpack samples to 'samples' directory.

If you like the idea and the machine works for you, there is third set available at Sampleism. This version, besides different sample set, offers access to configuration panels (fine-tune engine, midi learn for keyboard automation, groove generator setup).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Alimchord: Paranoid Edition

This is follow up for Alimchord, imaginary musical instrument for Kontakt. It is built on samples from 7 tone kalimba and a wooden stick captured using various configurations of contact microphones. Paranoid edition has more controls, more samples and a preset memory function.


There is 290MB load of 96/24 wav samples, in three velocity layers and up to nine algorithmic round robins. It sounds somewhat different from regular model, percussive sound partials and release noises are the same, but tone partials is significantly more detailed.
It is available at Kontakt Hub. Note that you need full version of Kontakt 4.2 or newer to make it work. Also, this instrument can consume a lot of CPU, there are multiple sample layers and three convolution reverbs in use, if you have doubts, try regular edition first.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Alimchord

Alimchord is rare electroacoustic keyboard instrument. Few units have been produced in Poland in late 60s, however most of them broke down rather quickly. Today, I'm happy to bring it out of obscurity with a Kontakt based emulation. It does mimic most of 262144 valve switches combinations, although some of them appear to be broken. Here's screenshot and sound example.



Operating the instrument is quite simple, the set of switches will change the sound, in more or less apparent way each combination has a unique vibe. Two additional switches can be used to reset pattern or shuffle switches in random way. Ambiance knob will set the amount of ambiance effect, Stereo adjusts microphone placement and panorama and Tension will influence keys sensitivity, like a velocity curve.
This fine instrument is available free of charge, get it here, 15MB compressed archive. You need full version of Kontakt 4.2 or newer to make it work. Note that due to its triple convolution design, it is not recommended to those faint of CPU. Have fun.
If you like to have more control and more detailed sound, try paranoid edition.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Automatable MIDI channel router script for Kontakt

This is my first exercise in writing a multiscript for Kontakt. It's a little tool to route MIDI messages between channels inside Kontakt. It may be used to switching instruments with keys or controllers while playing. It looks like this:


The top row of buttons is where you select the destination channel, these buttons can be automated, with keys of CC controllers. There are two routing modes: single channel is where you redirect midi messages to a channel of choice, in multi channel you can select multiple channels as destination, so you can reprogram a multi instrument setup live.
There are three ways of automation. Use keys, is where you assign keyboard keys as channel switches. You set (manually or by learn button) "start_from" parameter to point to first key number to use, from now on following 16 keys will be used to toggle channels switches. If you don't need to automate all 16 channels, or don't want to trade off so many keys, you can reduce automation range with "size" parameter. You can do the same using CC controllers, "use multi CC" option. Or, if you only use "single channel" destination, you can "use single CC" controller to set destination channel. Automation source can be assigned to any port / any channel, or a specified channel. So you could for example use one controller to play and another controller to select instruments. And this is how it works...


If you'd like to try it, download plain text file, or Kontakt preset file (to place in Kontakt's presets/multiscripts folder). It should work in Kontakt 4.2.4 or newer, I'm not sure about earlier versions. I tested it roughly and it seems to work, but there are no guarantees, so use it at your own risk. Also remember that it is multiscript, you insert it in multi rack, on top of all instruments (use the "scroll" button to activate multiscript rack).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mufftronic Percussion and FX

Today, I am happily proud to present the mufftronic percussion set, which takes electronic drum kit idea to another level of quality. These sounds have been generated by mighty analogue table modular system, consisting of module 1: Korg Monotron Duo; and module 2: Big Muff Pi. It has been nicknamed The Mufftron and it delivers fuzzily pristine low fidelity bleeps.

It sounds like this:
http://www.fairlyconfusing.net/docs/mufftronic.mp3

There sure is some flavor of 80's arcade games / chip-tune madness in there...

The kit contains 182 samples in wav format, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit. Samples are named in somewhat abstract manner, so don't be surprised, if you pick a sample named 'snare' and you get a bleep. Volume envelopes have been superimposed digitally, either edited by hand, or copied from acoustic hit sounds (mainly junk percussion kit) via envelope follower.

You can get it here. 5MB RAR file, 12MB when unpacked. Free to download and free to use in your bleepings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scape-O-Matic

Scape-O-Matic is sound amusement, gambling device, for Native Instruments Kontakt sampler. It generates random weird and spooky sounds and soundscapes from a button press. If you like to just spin the wheel and see what happens, you may enjoy playing with it.

Here's a preview:

This machine has no user manual, so one needs to figure it out by herself/himself. I can offer few tips though.
  • Press the red button, then play the keyboard.
  • The equalizer works on dry signal only.
  • There are hidden buttons.
  • The machine will build sound out of a number of voices. Each voice is likely to have different settings for volume envelope and glide, although you only see setting for the first voice.
  • If it sounds really out of tune and you don't like it that way, try setting glide amount to zero. Even, if it seems be be set to zero already.
  • There are ways to edit single voices.
  • There is a 'data box' labeled 'lucky number', if you feel lucky, you can type in a number there. It will be used as a token for creating next sound (or for performing any randomizing procedure). Same token always creates the same sound.
Here it is. Free of change, but full of little critters. Use it at your own risk. You will need full version of Kontakt 4.2 or newer to make it work.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Key shuffler script for Kontakt

Another little Kontakt script today. This one will reorganize key-note assignments within an instrument. It can turn a pop ballad into modern atonal composition, or it can be lots of fun on drum kits. It looks like this:


Quick manual. 'Shuffle range' - here you set the range of keys to shuffle, set the lowest and highest key. To set it up quickly, use 'learn range' button, then press two keys one after another (in any order), the script will set the knob values accordingly. 'Shuffle intensity' - set how much shuffled you want keyboard to be. In one round the script takes two keys and exchange their note assignments. 'Shuffle method' - here you set the starting number for calculating key numbers to shuffle. When it's all set press 'shuffle keys' to perform the operation, or press 'restore keys' to return to 'un-shuffled' keyboard state. The shuffle is not random. It's calculated from range, intensity and method, so you can easily get back to a result you like, or you can automate shuffling in DAW. There are 1000000 possible combinations for each note range.

Here's how it works applied to one of Kontakt's factory drum machines. This machine is using 'drum computer' to create rhythms, so the notes can be shuffled. In this video I keep one rhythm pattern going while trying out different shuffle parameters.


If you like the idea, you can get the script here. It should work in Kontakt 4.2 or newer. Have fun.

Update: Revision A.

After a while of playing with drum kits, I though I would explore this idea a little further. I attempted to expand this script functionality.


First, I wanted to leave some keys out of the randomizing process. So I could e.g. have a bass drum and a snare going on, while randomizing sounds for the rest of drum pattern. I introduced two new buttons to script. 'Learn exceptions' - turn it on, now press the keys you don't want to be affected by the script, turn it off when finished. This procedure won't change the way keys are shuffled, it will just disable note properties modifications for keys in exception list. Exceptions list can be cleared any time with 'clear exceptions' button.

Another new feature is randomizing sound pitch, which can be quite fun with drums. Now every time 'shuffle keys' button is pressed, the script will create a pitch map for all keys, which will be derived from 'shuffle method' number (this is not depending on number of rounds). You can then control how much of the pitch modification to apply with 'shuffle pitch - range' knob. Also you can change pitch map polarity with the switch, mysteriously named 'pitch md. polarity'. Note that once pitch map is written, it will affect sounds also after you un-shuffle keys with 'restore' button. Pitch will be drawn from range of -24/+24 semitones. You can change maximum pitch range in the script, by editing $DETUNE_RANGE constant.

Get the expanded version of the script here.


Update 2: Small changes.

I make two small changes to the script... I have been testing its usability as a de-tuner. You can put a little life into some instruments (particularly synthetic) by de-tuning notes a little. Try this procedure: select a method number, shuffle keys, restore keys and move 'pitch range' knob just a little bit.
Some Kontakt instruments, like pianos, generate several notes, on one key stroke. It was quite disabling 'learn note range' function. As a workaround I added a condition to not to accept the same note as the second note of the range in learn function.
Another change is note range functionality, thus far it was only used when shuffle button was pressed. I added a condition, so the range is checked each time a note is played. Now you can manipulate range button while playing a shuffled keyboard, so you can automate restoring some keys original assignments and tuning.
The download link has been updated.

Update 3: Revision B.

Wouldn't it be handy, to trigger some of those buttons by a key? My controller has only knobs and sliders. Automating buttons with CC is not quite comfortable, so... Excuse me for yet another incarnation of this script. This one has 'key-learn' function for shuffle, reset and polarity buttons. They are color coded on virtual keyboard, red for shuffle, green for reset and yellow for polarity. Note that key assignments may interfere with instrument's key switches handled by other scripts, so it's best to make sure the key of choice has no other function.

Key shuffler script, revision b, download link.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fake random round robin script for Kontakt

This little tool spawned from Terrible piano instrument. It's a script for NI Kontakt which simulates round robin functionality. What is does is: take incoming note, trigger random different note from defined range and tune it to match the pitch of the incoming note. So it is using 'neighbor' notes, to introduce sound variations.
Obviously, it will only work on instruments which have different samples assigned to each note (or most of notes to some degree). If the instrument is based on a single sample, stretched all over the note range,  it will produce no audible results.
Besides 'faking round robin', it can also fake classic stereo effect, where you record two takes of the same phrase and then pan them in stereo. There are two controls. Round robin range is, how far from the original note can the machine look for substitutions. When range is set to zero, the effect if off. Stereo spread activates stereo effect. It only works when round robin is active. It simply triggers another random note and then positions both notes in stereo field according to spread value. In some cases it can produce a flanging effect.
I don't know, how to automatically detect instrument's note range in Kontakt, so it has to be set manually, by editing values in the script. Else some notes may wander off instrument range and produce no sound in effect.
Here's how it works, applied to one of Kontakt's factory e-pianos.


The effect can be subtle or weird, depending on instrument and settings. If you'd like to go weird way, try it on a choir library and push it to the limit.

The script is using classic algorithm to generate random numbers. It will restart the generator on transport start (whenever you press play in DAW), so if  you use it in a project, it will always render the same result.

You can download the script here. It will work Kontakt 4.2 or newer. Have fun with it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Terrible piano

There are countless beautiful sampled pianos, but what if you're not in the mood for a nice, quality piano sound? If this is one of these days and you want some bad, broken, out of tune, lo-fi piano with eerie sound, I may just have something for you.

Yes, this is actual photo of the piano.
This set has been recorded by accident. I happened to need to wait some hours alone in a room with this old upright piano, which has been quite obviously kept there purely for decorative reasons. I started to play around with it, recording notes to portable recorder. To make it somewhat interesting I picked rater unusual microphone position, I placed it under the piano. It barely fit the space between the floor and the instrument, and so the recording has a sort of claustrophobic, creepy vibe. If you have ever wondered, how would piano sound from a cockroach perspective, this is it.

It has been cut to samples and patched into an instrument in Kontakt. The piano was way out of tune, surely it hasn't been serviced for decades, if ever. I made a rough attempt at fixing the tuning in Kontakt, it still sounds broken, just not as much as before. Kontakt patch offers both tuning versions, it also has an EQ, convolution reverb and mono/stereo switch. Here's how it sounds, once again murdering a classic for demonstration purpose.

http://www.fairlyconfusing.net/docs/terrible_piano.mp3
First part is re-tuned version, then there's part with original (de-) tuning, then there's part in mono and finally mono + some reverb.

There are no velocity layers or round robins in this set. Not even all notes are sampled and the noise floor is noticeable. There are however release triggers. There are 41 samples for the range of 83 notes, totaling 87 samples with release triggers and some pedal noise samples. To save disk space and bandwidth, the original 96/24 stereo recording captured with Zoom H2n, has been down-sampled to 41,1/16 in SOX.


The download - 71MB zipped, is free to grab and use, contains 87 samples in wav format and patch for Kontakt sampler. You will need full version of Kontakt 4.2 or newer to open the patch. It will only work in demo mode in 'Kontakt Player'.

Update: Following a suggestion, I added 'fake random round robin' mechanism to Kontakt patch. It is using random different note samples to mimic round robin functionality. It can create some crazy sound variations at the cost of sound realism (as samples are being re-tuned in sampler). There is extra knob labeled 'fake RRR', when it's set to zero, the effect is off. If you already downloaded the whole pack, you can get new resource file here, as only the instrument script has changed.

Update 2: here are mappings for sfz, place them in root folder, along with Kontakt patches.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fog Horns

I've got a pair of these noise makers, plastic horns attached to spray cans. They are named fog horns, but people mainly use them to get deaf at sport events. These can be truly instruments of doom, as the noise is overwhelming. Obviously, I had to try to get them into sampler. I recorded a handful of sound samples in two sessions, one using portable Zoom recorder and the other in my home studio setup. I've got some sustained tones, some short horn noise bursts and some strange sounds, achieved by blocking the horn tube opening with various objects. Got me quite an ear ringing...

Later, I made experimental scripted interface for this in Kontakt, based on a kind of button matrix, which can be used, to quickly create sound combinations and play them in round robin.

Here's a sound example, generated by single instance of Kontakt instrument, changing sound clusters with mod wheel while playing...



And here's how interacting with the Kontakt device looks like...


Well, this can sound quite horrible and it sometimes gets way of of tune. It is the nature of these toys, pitch is constantly drifting along with changing air pressure and  temperature. These cans can get quite cold after longer periods of decompressing. So, this instrument has a lot of character.

Getting to the point, I've got a crooked deal on this little devil. First off, the pack of samples, 35 samples, plain wav, normalized, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit, mono - this is free to get right here. It weights 6 MB zipped, use them as you please, or as you displease. Now the other twist, Kontakt instrument based on these samples, is available at Sampleism. It comes with raw unprocessed samples, 96 kHz, 24 bit, Kontakt patch and a confusing manual in funny English. It requires full version of Kontakt 4.24 or newer to make it work. Take your pick.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bleepman

Bleepman is yet another Kontakt device with sequencers, that I wrote. It is based on Queuescape engine, but it's somewhat less complicated. As the name implies, it is aimed at retro computers muzak re-creation / chip-tune vibe. The sound source is set of 40 waveforms recorded from various forms of old electronic equipment, or generated digitally with bleeping sounds in mind. It has four step sequencers with selectable transition shapes, which can be assigned to modulate various parameters. There are two additional voices, which can be used to fatten sound or to add texture.

And here's how it sounds, this is compilation of preset examples, these sounds are included and can be loaded via instrument preset system.



If you want to sink into details try reading the manual, although I think it's quite better to try a direct approach. My writing can be more confusing than facing arrays of mysterious red knobs.

This synthesizer requires Kontakt 4.2 or newer full retail version to run. It's free to grab and use in your music. Here's the file - 1MB, zipped, includes manual and presets. Have fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Queuescape, sequencing bleeper

Queuescape is another confusing device for Kontakt 4 sampler. It's virtual re-creation of  imaginary retro synthesizer. It's based on single cycle waveforms and it has a lot of internal step-sequencers which can control various parameters. It has a kind of bleepy sound of early home computers or gaming consoles.

Here's a set of sound examples:

This device is written in Kontakt script, as a sort of experiment. It is constantly recalculating sequencing data and modulating parameters, which results in surprisingly high CPU usage. Parameters are being set according to sequenced program and tweakable frequency, transitions between sequencer steps can be more of less smooth, according to transition shape and set frequency. Sequencers can be programmed by hand or transformed in many ways with sequence tools. Alternatively you can create random programs with only few button pushes. There is a simple preset system, ready sequences can be saved to file or to memory slot (which can be then recalled by midi note).

Queuescape in numbers:
170 step-sequencers
15 KB of samples
12 pages of confusing and deceiving manual in funny English
10 oscillators
9 in-between-steps transition shapes
6 stage volume envelope
5 effects rack
1 monophonic mode

If you'd like get into details, you will need to confront the manual.

And here's how interacting with it looks like:


Download link - size 650KB. Queuescape model 10 is free to download and use in your music. Note, you need full version of Native Instruments Kontakt 4 or newer to make it work.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Junk percussion.

Junk percussion sample set is side product of Psychodrumma II development. At one point I needed more percussion sounds, I quickly collected some junk around the house and I took a long evening session of banging on stuff. Some of these sounds were incorporated into Psychodrumma soundbanks, but still there were plenty of leftovers. I finally had time to edit them, so today I'm offering household junk percussion set. With a little of reverb on, it sound like this:



List of object used for this sample set: broken 8 mm camera, empty beer cans, bicycle horn, bowed metal plate, broken heater, carton boxes, the remains of an old clothes airer, dirty lid, duct tape, dusty box, hollow plate, iron plate, metal tube, moldy books, motor oil can, oily plate, self propelled plastic toy mouse, plastic bowl, plastic rainpipe, fat chunk of rubber band, rusty lid, rusty saw, shiny lid, shiny pot, some other pot, yet another pot, stapler and woodblocks.

There are 200 wav files, 44 kHz, 16 bit, trimmed and maximized, royalty free to use in your music. Recording equipment: AT3035 microphone, Focusrite ISA One preamp, Echo Audio Audiofire card.

Download here. 13MB zip file, fresh, free and fragrant. Have fun.

For more junk percussion see here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Psychodrumma mk.II, chaos management workstation

Psychodrumma mark II is reworked and expanded version of Psychodrumma, fantasy, neo-retro drum machine/music generator for Kontakt 4 sampler. It can act as a drum machine and generate random rhythmic, ambient or melody patterns. It is based on matrix of nine synchronized step sequencers, and a meta-sequecer. Most of settings can be programmed automatically by randomizers, creating strange machine music. It has plenty of knobs and a lot of flashing lights. The device comes with three banks of 100 one shot samples each, these eclectic sets were made from synthesized sounds (digital and analog), field recordings, animal sounds, unusual percussion, bass and guitar tones and noises, voice fragments, objects (metal plates, pots, radiators, machine parts, bicycle horn, plastic tubes, firecrackers), radio noise, vinyl crackles, car engine and icy snow squeaking under heavy boots.

You can get mark I version for free two posts below.
Some of new features of mark II version:
  • algorithmic mode, makes it possible to playback or loop sequences of random events,
  • music box, tunes melodic samples to defined pattern, to create melody sequences,
  • reworked and expanded sound banks, including third tonal bank to use for generating melodies,
  • saving and loading presets, presets can then be sequenced in meta-sequencer, to create tracks inside the machine, preset-set can be then saved to file,
  • automated effects rack.
And are example tracks, sequenced entirely in machine's meta-sequencer:

Rhythm patterns were partly programmed by hand and party shuffled by the machine. Melody lines were applied entirely by machine's looped randomizers.

You can find detailed description in the manual.
To see how it works look at videos in previous post.

Psychodrumma mark II is available at Sampleism.

Note, you need full version of Native Instruments Kontakt 4 or newer to make it work. It won't work properly in Kontakt Player. Also, as it's written in KSP script, it is quite impossible to import it to any other sampler.

Psychodrumma mk.II, videos

Here's set of videos for Psychodrumma mark II.

Browsing pre-programmed sequence tapes:



Programming a sequence, a possible way to play with the machine, first I create some steady rhythm manually, then I add random patterns:


Playing piano. In this example Psychodrumma midi out is being re-routed from midi channel 1 to channel 2 and then send back to the same instance of Kontakt, where it is propelling a piano.


Metasequencer functionality and application.



Just for fun. Controlling Alchemy by Psychodrumma randomizers. First send melody, then cast drifting controllers.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Psychodrumma, machine for blinking lights and making noise.

Psychodrumma is nonsensical drum machine for NI Kontakt 4, focused on creating random and randomly evolving rhythmic patterns. It is experimental sound device and although it could be used as a regular drum machine, it would be probably impractical. It is build of nine modules, called pads, each can playback a sound from one of two banks of 100 samples each, each has separate sound control rack and its own simple sequencer. All sequencers are synchronized with host tempo, but can run at different relative speeds and their start points can be de-synchronized, so to say. The fun feature of Psychodrumma is, that it can play by itself, all of pad's settings can be randomized on user input, gradually or periodically. You can just tune settings, let it play and observe evolving waves of randomness.

This device comes with its own sample set. It is eclectic selection from variety of sounds I have recorded over the years: synthesized sounds, field recordings, animal sounds, unusual percussion, bass and guitar noises, voice fragments, household objects, radio noise, vinyl crackles, car engine, fireworks, icy snow squeaking under heavy boots or all the above mixed an layered in one sample. However, it can be used with any set of samples, you would just need to rename them and replace 'factory' files. Files are named by numbers, so it will be fairly easy, if you are familiar with any batch renaming software.

There's no point in getting further into details here.
If you like, see the PDF manual.

Now, some sound examples. First a set of nine randomly generated patterns, they change every 4 bars across 100BPM 4/4 track, at the end the track tempo is automated to slow down.



Second example is made with the same template, but 'factory' banks has been replaced by randomly selected group of acoustic drums samples, mainly from Kontakt's library, orchestral and world percussion. Note that these sounds are obviously not a part of the download, this is just an example of how the device can sound with alternative sample set.


Finally, here's a video, showing how operating it looks like. First, I construct a simple rhythm, using factory preset sequence patterns and then wash it out with randomizer functions.



Psychodrumma is free to download and use in your music. You will need full version of Kontakt 4 or newer to make it work. The download is 19MB, it contains 200 wav files, 24/44, manual in PDF and sampler program. Get it here. Have fun.

Psychodrumma is followed by Psychodrumma mark II, read about it here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Drum by mouth.

This is another unusual percussion sample set I made. This time, it is made from sounds of mouth. I took a session of myself making strange noises in front of microphone and then cut the sounds to make them drum alike. I used slower playback for some of the sounds to lower the pitch, which is something I enjoy doing with all kinds of sample recordings. Lowering the pitch was helpful in making some samples sound closer to bass drum, as I think my mouth is not big enough to emit a proper kick sound. Original recording was 88.2 kHz, some sounds has been then set to playback at 44.1 kHz and some at 22 kHz. In the end, all sounds have been re-sampled to 44.1 kHz. I used no effects, besides mentioned manipulation of playback speed. Hardware I used is Audio Technica AT3035 microphone, Focusrite ISO One preamp and Echo Audiofire card. Samples were edited in Wavosaur and re-sampled with SOX. It sounds like this:




Download - 8MB. The archive contains 222 samples, wav format, mono 44.1 kHz / 24 bit. It's free to get and use in your music. I included Battery 2 kit I assembled for demo track, made from selection of 40+ samples. I suggest you to make your own  mapping for your sampler, one included is just a hint.