Understanding NI Massive: The Performer
Welcome back to the second installment of the Understanding NI Massive series where we are in the process of breaking down all of Massive one component at a time in easy to follow walkthroughs, thereby giving you the opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of how each piece actually works on a basic level.
In the last episode we looked at The Stepper. This time we are focusing on it’s big brother, The Performer. There is so much power in this single tool it literally allows you to change just about everything you touch in the most unique ways, and also provides a large degree of automation.
Lets get started by taking a look at The Performer panel. The first thing you should take notice of is that it is another green tab, like the Stepper This means you can set one or all of the four panels to be Performers. For now, we will just use the default panel.
Although very basic in it’s main function, the abilities are quiet vast really. Starting on the far left side of the panel you will see the Rate area where you are able to control the speed at which the Performer moves through its cycles. You can set the cycles to be anywhere from 1 to 16 steps in length. You have the option of setting the rate independently or syncing it to a set ratio. For this lesson we will set it to Sync to 1/8 which should allow us to hear the effect it has on our sound quite easily.
So let’s select a sound. For this tutorial I have randomly picked Duckorgan from the dropdown menu of OSC1. We can turn of both OSC2 and OSC3 for the time being.
The reason we have stopped and set up a basic sound now is so we can hear what we are doing with the Performer as we progress. To begin with, let’s assign it to the Pitch of the OSC1 panel, and set the value to -12.00. This means that the Performer will control the pitch of our sound in a range of one full octave. Playing a note right now will give you the basic idea of how the Performer works. The waves sleeted, along with the rate at which it moves through its cycle now moves the pitch of the oscillator accordingly.
Lets take a look at the next part of the Performer panel. You have two sliders right next to each other. The Amp Mod slider is used to place accents and the XFade Seq slider is used to cross fade between the two sequences of waves. The two rows of buttons under the sequence window are the on/off switches and are what trigger the sliders into action. Go ahead and position the Amp Mod slider to the full upright position and click on every fourth step in the bottom row of buttons, as you see in the image below. Now play a note and you will hear the accents.
For a more dramatic effect and so we can hear the changes easier, go ahead and choose a different type of wave for use in the lower sequence by clicking on the Load Curve button and inserting the desired waveform. Now move the XFade Seq slider down while playing a note. As you do, you will hear a big change as the sound changes from the first to the second pattern, mixing the two until the slider rests in the fully lowered position.
One more function I would like to point out is the Randomizing feature. As you can see int he image below, you have a few options here which give you a fair degree of control of how the sequences will be randomized. Go ahead and click through few while playing a note.
As with any of the controllers in Massive you can assign them to as many different panels as you like, as long as there is an open space to do so. For this example I have added the same Performer we have been working with to a few more panels to show the seemingly endless array of sounds made possible by using this tool. On the OSC1 panel I have assigned to both the Wt-position knob as well as the Intensity knob.
I then moved on the the FILTER 1 panel, selected the effect Daft and assigned the Performer to the Cutoff knob and the Resonance knob.
Then I added it to the NOISE panel, assigned to the Amp knob. As you can hear for your self when you play a note now, the sound has taken on a very different character and is a far cry form the simple single oscillator tone we heard in the beginning.
So that should give you enough working knowledge of how to use the Performer in your projects. Try using a few different Performers controlling different oscillators, effects, etc. The possibilities really are endless, and the automation it brings with it give you the chance to make sounds you could never achieve without it.
Now go have some fun with it!