Have you ever thought about creating your own software-based music gadgets? Learning some programming? Well, with many of us stuck in lockdown, today has seen 2 announcements that might be your cue to make use of this time in solitary and learn some new things. First up, the free VCV Rack modular environment has added support for the widely used Pure Data programming language within their protyping module, appropriately named Prototype. Secondly, Native Instruments have updated Reaktor to version 6.4, allowing user-built blocks to have fully functioning patch capabilities, as well as a number of workflow improvements and a re-written (and very good) manual.
What is Pure Data?
To quote their website: Pd (aka Pure Data) is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing. In short, you drag stuff around and connect things to each other in a kind of mega-flow-chart to make processes and trigger events. It’s a free product too, with many developers sharing sets of elements to use in your own projects.
You can find a ton of info and download it here – puredata.info/downloads/pure-data
The official announcement and info regarding Pure Data in VCV is here – community.vcvrack.com/t/pure-data-added-to-vcv-prototype
Native Instruments Reaktor 6.4 Additions
The REAKTOR 6.4 update opens up the virtual modular ecosystem to the NI Community, with User Blocks now patchable in Racks.
Blocks from the User Library can now be configured for use in Racks mode, allowing front panel Patch’n’Play functionality and easy saving of your patches.
- User Blocks located in the User Block directory are accessible directly in the Library tab of the REAKTOR Browser, and can be found using the search box in a Rack.
- The Jam Sequencer is introduced to the User Library, for Euclidean polyrhythms inside your virtual modular synthesiser.
- Both the MASCHINE Sequencer and Niji Drums modules have also been updated to be compatible with Racks and front-panel patching.
Before I dive into what all that means, lets hold up a sec. That Jam Sequencer they’ve mentioned is something NI fans have been crying for since it was teased in 2017! We’d given up hope! Hallelujah! Check out this video and you’ll see why I’m psyched!
Anyway, the big headline in Reaktor 6.4 is the addition of user-created custom blocks to be used directly in Racks mode alongside official Native Instruments and licensed ones, as well as enabling front panel patching on them. The distinction between the user library vs. main library has always been clumsy and it’s going to be sooo much neater and easier to be able to access everything in one library area.
Reaktor is, arguably, the original software based modular programming environment for music makers, and has been online for decades now. Although moving in the more modular direction now with the Blocks off-shoot of Reaktor, there’s still a vibrant community around building effects processors, instruments and sequencers in the bare-bones Reaktor environment. One of my favourites that I use regularly is the VHS Audio Degradation Suite .
Check out the official info for Reaktor 6.4 here, and if you want to dive into programming your own Blocks, I highly recommend giving the manual a solid read, then heading here to download the Block Building Template and documentation.