A WORD WITH TWISTED TOOLS

Founded in February of 2010, Twisted Tools is the brainchild of Ukrainian code-wizard Igor Shilov and American product designer Josh Hinden. The two met online in 2008 after Josh took notice of Igor’s REAKTOR Ensemble Flakes, and hired him to build a custom instrument.

Two years and many discussions about REAKTOR Instruments later, Igor and Josh decided to set up shop and are now responsible for some of the most audacious Reaktor-based tools around.

In their own words, here's what Josh and Igor had to say about POLYPLEX, developing on REAKTOR, and the future of music software.

WHY? – THE VISION BEHIND POLYPLEX


Josh: "When we design instruments, the intention is almost always to solve a problem or make a tedious task faster. And lots of fun at the same time. That’s what computers are good at, so we focus on tools that help improve the music making process rather than simply recycling classic ideas from the analog world.

With Polyplex, the ultimate goal was to create something that made it easy and fun to create and play unique drum sounds. Like with all Twisted Tools instruments, we aimed to give users the fastest and most fun workflow to instantly create unique sounds using intelligent randomization. Plus easy editing tools for fine-tuning should you wish to go deep."

GEAR AND METHODS USED


Igor: "Nothing else is really needed to build Reaktor instruments beyond a Mac or PC. In our opinion, while Reaktor certainly has some limitations, it’s the best possible tool out there to develop instruments like Polyplex. There are many details when it comes to building in Reaktor, but like any system, you get to know them by trial and error and then things just flow naturally."

Josh: "Plus it's fun to code in Reaktor because of its visual workflow. I couldn't imagine building something like Polyplex using a text-based language. Igor and I are both visual people so the visual programming environment makes sense for us.
You also need good studio monitors for critical listening and a good display for the UI design which is done almost exclusively in Photoshop. A lot of work went into designing the samples and presets by some really talented sound designers. Antonio Blanca and the guys from NI also collaborated on this and the results were fantastic."

WHAT? – FAVORITE FEATURE


Josh:
"The best feature in Polyplex has to be the randomization, which almost always results in things that sound good. We worked hard to make sure that when you load a kit and hit random, you’ve got a new, unique, and great-sounding kit in seconds.

I also like the User Map functionality, which allows you to add your own samples to the Instrument without saving over the default sample maps. Pretty handy stuff. I think Robert at NI came up with that idea."

"There are also some smaller tricks that go a long way:
  • Save loaded effects with a Kit Variation. Although this is deactivated by default, you can activate this if you want to. Open the REAKTOR structure, change the value from 0 to 1 for the constant connected to the 'fx?' input. This makes kit switching smoother, as different effects and settings are recalled with the Kit Variations.
  • Double-click a slider to isolate it from all randomization.
  • Assign all sound slots to the same MIDI note to make a mega layer of 32 sounds on one pad.
  • Copy and paste sounds between Snapshots for increased complexity."


THE FUTURE OF TWISTED TOOLS AND MUSIC SOFTWARE

Josh: “People often ask us when we’ll do a Twisted Tools synth, but unless we can come up with something unique that fills a void or solves an existing challenge, you’ll have to wait. We’ve got some ideas, though.

As for the future, I’d like to see Reaktor become a serious, standardized development platform for professional software instrument design. I hope that in some way, we can contribute to making that happen. Reaktor is a fantastic way to visually develop tools – it can make instrument design accessible to people who would otherwise avoid programming.

The other thing I’d like to see is an easy way to visually build, develop, and produce reliable hardware instruments that run Reaktor using 3D printing technologies!”

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