Reaktor Big Band Synthesizer

This ensemble emulates big band horns in response to input from a MIDI wind controller, Haken Continuum Fingerboard, or keyboard. Solo instruments, sections, or a whole band playing as an ensemble can be synthesized in real time. One module automatically generates harmony voices underneath the melody you're playing using a variety of common big band arranging techniques. In the "Happy Birthday" mp3 below, the Reaktor ensemble is changing the horn harmonizations on the fly by detecting bass notes and chord types from an (inaudible) MIDI track.

Early Sound Examples with Yamaha Wind Controllers

These were made controlling the big band synth with a Yamaha wind controller. The ones with multiple sections were overdubbed.

Two Tracks

(424K mp3)

Two tracks of Reaktor Big Band overdubbed in Cubase with added bass & drums.

Happy Birthday

(733K mp3)

In this example, an inaudible MIDI track tells the big band synth what the current chord is while I play the melodies on the WX7 wind controller.

Freddie Freeloader
Out of Nowhere

(221 K mp3)
(381 K mp3)

In these recordings I used a version with an internal chord sequencing table, an automatic walking bass generator, and Peter Erskine jazz drumloops:

Slide Trombones & Looper

(718 K mp3)

In this mp3, I used the "slide trombone" portamento effect and overdubbed multiple tracks using a looper I built inside Reaktor

Recent Videos with the Haken Continuum Fingerboard

Later I got Ableton Live and figured out it would work great with the big band synth! There can be clips in Ableton playing into Reaktor telling the Chord Detector the chords while incoming MIDI data controls the actual horn sounds. In 2014 I rebuilt the big band synth so that the horn sections could be controlled independently and could be assigned to different areas on the Haken Continuum Fingerboard. It became possible to perform multiple parts simultaneously, as shown in these videos.

Opus One. This part is so far the only time I have been able to perform three sections at once. I hope to work out more parts like that. It can be done if the trombones aren't playing anything too complicated!

Take the A Train

In the Mood

Live Performance on WEFT Radio

Sound Files from the Above WEFT Live Performance

These have better sound quality than the YouTube video.

Pink Panther Theme
In a Mellow Tone
Take the A Train
Satin Doll
Opus One
On Green Dolphin Street
How High the Moon
My Foolish Heart

Section Descriptions

Here are links to pages describing the different parts of the big band ensemble.

Continuum Input

Chord Detector


Trumpet Section

Reed Section

Trombone Section

Bass and Drums