ParamDrum TR Edition from Peter Dines on Vimeo.

Imagine a machine that lets you walk a thin line between control and chaos. You’ll be tweaking it, for sure – you’ll want to invest a sufficient amount of time shaping its sounds and adjusting its instruments to alter its flightpath. But once set in motion, it will give you variety and delicious insanity.

That’s the idea behind Peter Dines’ ParamDrum, a Reaktor drum machine with granular goodies inside providing sample manipulation and a set of clear sequenced controls for adjusting parameters. The “Param” bit refers to the parameters you’ll control – pitch + sample select + speed + size (of the sample) + smooth (granular) + swing. These parameters are unleashed against a sequence that you’ll likely never fully control – but that will never feel like it’s simply on autopilot, either. You can then load your samples into three players, which can be conceived as bass + clap/tom/snare + hat or something else entirely.

It may sound out of control, but “control” in the MIDI sense is essential. You can control step probability with MIDI velocity, tap in sequences with MIDI notes, and record playable automation with MIDI CCs from your hardware encoders. Pete has worked out a lovely template for Native Instruments’ Maschine controller, for instance.

ParamDrum, then, becomes a factory for variations. It allows you to iterate through plenty of results you don’t like to the one that’s perfect, for production or performance.

ParamDrum is a cheap US$12.50, though you do need a copy of Reaktor 5 (also included in Komplete) to use it. The upside is, it’s editable, and you get Pete’s immaculately well-organized patch macros, so it’s something you can modify easily or use as a model for your own patches.

Full details on Pete’s noisepages page, Modulations, which is also a new repository for his thoughts on sound design, Reaktor patching, SuperCollider learning, and other music technological geekery.


Planet ParamDrum

The other cool thing about ParamDrum in our throwaway technological world is that it’s already started to attract a little community of users.

Loopy C, master of strange sounds, has turned ParamDrum into his personal “hyperdrummer” for a track called Jah Frazzin Zooks, which he describes in a kind of experimental abstract poetry:

โ€˜Frippishโ€™, vari-tempo spectralisms meet Ornette Coleman-influenced electronica, hyperperformance machines jamming in the cafe at the end of the Universe (which for some reason look like fractal vaginas? (above)). Duo form.

The full track can be heard at his blog:
Jah Frazzin Zooks

Brettwiththedobro has a screencast (above) showing his own rig, with custom samples and the combination of Kore and Reaktor for control. (If you’re interested in the Kore and Reaktor combination, Pete’s previeous video tutorial is a great place to start.

This is a screen capture of Peter Dines Reaktor ensemble ParamDrum. I replaced the samples with my own kitchen/dobro sample map and hooked it into Kore to control various parameters. Fun, weird loops are a cinch.

Pete is also working with me on OpenSoundControl implementation in ParamDrum, which could enable cross-country ParamDrum collaboration, and via a project I’m building, visualization of parameters in Processing. Stay tuned.

  • Cool & cheap!

    but can anyone recommend a VST that will do the same thing?

  • As I plan on writing some of my own application notes on my new Noisepages blog soon, let me just say for now I am one very happy owner/user of Paradrum ๐Ÿ˜‰

    A great implementation of a great idea.

  • …and thanks for the namedrop Peter (and Peter) ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Peter Dines

    dubqnp – the thing about Reaktor is, since the development is so rapid, I can afford to implement niche ideas like this, for a low price though admittedly a limited audience. A Reaktor ensemble will run on any platform where Reaktor does – Mac and Win in various plugin formats, and (unofficially) Linux.

    Developers and companies that invest a lot of time and money into a C++ coded product generally want to do something with broader appeal.

    I am looking around (lazily) for other rapid development platforms that will allow direct VSTi export – so far Synthmaker and Synthedit don't have exactly what I need in terms of sampling and sequencing… if anyone can recommend something, I'm all ears.

    Hey Loopy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • i've been watching a lot of peter dines video's on his blog lately and it was awesome to see this new tutorial up. i'm definitely going to have to check this out. i love it.

    thanks guys!

  • ryan

    Is Christian Bale talking on the video? :-p

  • Bodhi

    @ryan I thought it was zefrank!

  • ehdyn

    Never bought any reaktor ensembles before, but this one's exceptional.

    Very simple and inspiring to use. Appreciate the fact that it's being built up in a slow and considered fashion.

    Find myself making alterations to it's guts and then rippin it all back out cause it's not adding anything to it.

    Much obliged, Peter

  • Thanks for the kind words, ehdyn! If you don't mind I'd like to quote your testimonial.

    And thanks to everyone else who's supporting further development by making a purchase. There's more goodies in the pipeline.

  • ehdyn

    Hi Peter,

    Sent you a PM.

    If you yelled and sprinkled a "fuck" in before some of your nouns you'd sound exactly like John Malkovich in that video.