Confessions of a Hard Kore mourner

NOTE: This was written on 06/11/11 with the intent of being posted that day. Sometimes stuff just gets lost. But nearly a year later I still think dumping KORE was a bad decision for Native Instruments.

In an interview I did for Stereophile Magazine about 10 years ago composer John Adams talked about how every musical turning point throughout the history of western civilization came through the spark of technological invention. Polyphony was inconceivable without the invention of notation, and vice versa. Pipe organs and harpsichords gave baroque composers ferocious and intimate tools of expression. Beethoven could never have been Beethoven without the fortepiano, nor John Cage without the prepared piano, Conlon Nancarrow without the player piano, and so on.



For electronic musicians, the introduction of hardware and software synthesizers, effects, samplers and digital recording and manipulating gear has created a new sonic palette unlike any in history.

So when a truly revolutionary musical package is taken away from the marketplace, a sense of disbelief and sadness akin to the death of a close friend surfaces.

Word this week that Native Instruments was putting its Kore hardware and software out to pasture came as a shock to many like myself who have made it our go-to synthesizer.

With literally thousands of presets and an ability to morph between sonic elements like no other synth on the market, Kore was a no-brainer where the broadest palette possible was needed.

It was love at first ad. I knew I needed Kore the first time I read about the software and its hardware controller when it was first introduced. Watching video of the whole system in action was pure synth porn. And the sound that came out of this remarkable system was mind blowing.

It took a while to put the bucks together but when I did, the out-of-the-box satisfaction was immense. It took me several years and a bunch of MacPro Video tutorials to feel like I was acquiring some Kore chops. Along the way I bought many a Kore expansion pack for both new sounds and effects. Each purchase felt like a giant leap.

There were reasons why Kore became one of my prime composing tools. For one, its organization scheme made it easy and quick to find an array of sounds close to what I was looking for. I might not remain with that sound by the final edit, but it made sketching a lot more efficient.

Then there was the sheer number of available presents, tapping into the libraries of Absynth, Reaktor and Kontakt, as well as many expansion packs that added to the enormous palette. Moreover one could click the icon of the sound being used and pull up the Absynth, Reaktor or Kontakt editors that created it to tweak the sound further. One could stack sounds and apply vst and au effects, all within the Kore software.

With the Kore hardware controller one could morph between parameters within the sound, choose the sounds and so much more. It was a hefty unification of many sonic superpowers.

The death of Kore ranks up with Gibson’s acquisition (and near immediate dispersal) of Opcode’s Studio Vision in terms of the sudden loss of a visionary digital musical product.

The need to advance other product lines that Native Instruments noted in its release about Kore’s demise is understandable. The company’s offer to sell NI’s Maschine loop controller package at a reduced price as a consolation prize to Kore users is a classy touch. But for all its beat-based power and hardware versatility, Maschine is no Kore in terms of providing keyboard players with a unique tool for so many practical musical situations.

Admittedly, NI isn’t yanking the plug on Kore just yet. There will be updates, including a 64-bit version. But NI won’t guarantee that it will dovetail cleanly into the next version of Komplete – the company’s comprehensive collection of top-notch software synthesizers, samplers, effects and drum machines – as it has in the past. In fact NI virtually guarantees it won’t.

I still don’t see myself rushing to ditch Kore from my system anytime soon. It will remain my first-choice synth, just as NI’s Kontakt remains the sampler I pull up first despite owning a number of other software synths and samplers.

In the meantime, if NI is pulling the plug on Kore it should at least upgrade our toolbags (and its position in the market) with plug-in versions of its Maschine and Traktor stand-alone sound applications. Having them under the hood of any sequencer would keep me coming back to the NI feeding troth.


~ by Daniel Buckley on April 2, 2012.

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