Percussor is a Max For Live percussion generator. It is the accumulation of far too much thinking, and a stubborn willingness to do something right, and do it myself.

Percussion synthesis has been my longest-standing frustration in electronic music production. Very few synths are adequately designed for it, and what specialist synths are available I’ve found have tended to be either limited in their feature set, or a variation of the classic, however rudimentary x0x-series drum machines. With this in mind I’ve had a few attempts at creating specialist devices in Reaktor, but with limited programming knowledge, this never really went anywhere meaningful.

As a Live user however, Max For Live is a thing, and Max has subsequently become the language in which I’ve attempted to develop, to my exact requirements and needs, a device specialised in laying down the most fundamental parts of what makes music move; percussion in all it’s forms.

At present, Percussor is very much still a work-in-progress. It works, and is showing tremendous promise,  but it has proven every bit as complex as I imagined it would, and is taking its time in taking form. Enough of it has come together though to showcase some its visual elements, along with some of the requirements I set out in creating it.

Percussor’s primary purpose is to work as a flexible percussion synth within Lives Drum Racks, and be capable of quickly generating any percussive element, using fundamental synthesis techniques, and do so to a high degree of quality. Its envelopes had to be snappy and specialised, and it needed to be able to be precisely tuned. I also needed it to be highly playable, ultimately expressive enough to be used convincingly with all types of percussion controllers, including electronic drum kits.

Those requirements in themselves are fairly simple, however expanded upon they make for a fairly daunting task, requiring a relative novice programmer to implement:

  • 2 x complex oscillators
  • 1 x flexible noise generator
  • 1 x granular sampler
  • 4 x percussive amplitude envelope generators (PAEG’s)
  • 4 x percussive pitch envelope generators (PPEG’s)
  • Flexible EQ and filter modules
  • A flexible modulation system
  • An intuitive GUI

Not a big list, but broken down it’s quite the workload, and that’s without some of the ‘what-if?’ features that I’m sensibly leaving for a potential 2.0.

I don’t have much of ETA on when it might be completed, however I’m aiming for some time in late-2019, and for those interested, I do intend on selling it once I’m happy with it.

Until then, here’s two developmental shots of the PEG and output pages of OSC A to give you an idea of what’s to come.