12 awesome and useful maxforlive devices

Sufi Palmas
Up to 32 pairs of hands that clap with varying stereo position, velocity, playback speed, and attack when any midi note-on message is received.

The Point Blank Riser features some neat controls, and makes it easy to set the duration of the rise, as well as sculpt its shape using the customisable envelope and controls. It features a filtered noise section for noise sweeps, and a Synth section for those long pitch rises, and both these can be modulated by the on-board LFO.

This device is a creator of complex polyrhythms. Can be used in two ways: using master tempo and strict tempo subdivision (parameter on beat) or free mode using (parameter off beat.

DSP Keyboard Control 2
A device to help add features that Push is missing to help control external devices. Mod Wheel, Breath, Sustain, After Touch, Foot Expression, Patch and Bank selection. As well as mod reset and panic buttons. Also includes a nice note and midi cc display.

Provides 8 automateable knobs that can send MIDI CC messages. Makes it possible to edit CCs in Arranger. Live 9 does not support this natively. Text fields can be used for own notes. If device is turned off, no CCs are sent out.

An effect to shape the transients of your audio signal. It works very well.

A beat repeat which reverses the slice. Top maxforlive glitchier.

August was inspired by the fat sounds of classic analog synthesizers. This two-oscillator subtractive synthesizer is simple to program, but provides great results. The first oscillator produces a pulse wave with an adjustable pulse width control, which allows for various types of sawtooth and square wave timbres. The second oscillator can be switched between a sawtooth wave and a noise generator, and a Mix knob adjusts the balance between the two oscillators. August's resonant lowpass filter can be switched between 12 and 24 dB per octave and modulated by a dedicated LFO and/or envelope. August even includes its own dedicated chorus effect for even more warmth and fatness.

One of the most popular Max for Live devices, Robert Henke’s impressive Monolake Granulator has been updated for Live 9. Transform any sound with this versatile instrument. An amazing device for creating your own textures, pads, and atmospheres, the Monolake Granulator II uses granular synthesis to create a constant stream of short crossfading samples from a source sound. The size, behavior, modulation, envelope, and other properties of the short samples can be tweaked via the Granulator’s controls.

String together four modular oscillators to weave fantastic and bizarre results. Twelve custom effects modules included. Create your own patches and mix &` match effects to create your own self-oscillating contraptions. Dope Matrix includes a free Max for Live Step Sequencer for Push, APC40 and Launchpad. It’s realtime control matrix allows for instant access to any parameter with a push of a button. 

Modular Video Plugins for Ableton Live. VIZZable2 is a suite Max for Live plugins for video manipulation and performance in Ableton Live 9. Originally based on Max’s VIZZIE devices, VIZZable has been rebuilt from the ground up to take advantage of gen which allows for very fast and efficient video processing on the GPU. VIZZable is suitable for live audio visual performance, VJing, interactive installations or audio visual composition and production. OSX users can use syphon to route video between VIZZable and other applications.

The Haas effect (actually Localization dominance) uses extremely short delays to better position your instrument in space. The pan pot only shifts volume, but this is not as naturally sounding.


Oberheim OB8

The OB-8 is a very warm and rich sounding eight voice polyphonic synthesizer with that classic Oberheim sound. via this ebay auction: Oberheim OB8


Early Rave Music

Decimus effectus est: Musica extasim causat.
Unde postquam David in Psalmo LXVIIo cecinit: "Praevenerunt principes coniuncti psallentibus, in medio iuvencularum tympanistriarum." Et paulo post subdidit: "Ibi Beniamin adolescentulus in mentis excessu." [Profecit] illud philosophus in octavo Politicorum: "Melodiae Olympi faciunt animas raptas." Ad cuius confirmationem referente Quintiliano in primo Institutionum oratoriarum ponitur: "Tibicen, qui sacrificanti Phrygium cecinerat, acto illo in insaniam et per praecipicia delato accusari, quod causa mortis extiterunt."

Johannes Tinctoris - Complexus effectuum musices (1473-74)


Interactive Composition: Strategies Using Ableton Live and Max for Live

Interactive Composition empowers readers with all of the practical skills and insights needed to compose and perform electronic popular music in a variety of popular styles. This book focuses on the implementation of compositional and production concepts with each chapter culminating in a newly composed piece created by the reader using these concepts. The book begins by introducing Ableton Live and Max for Live as the key tools involved in the creation of interactive composition. The following chapters describe particular musical styles ranging from ambient to chiptune to house to dubsteb and the ways one might compose and perform within these styles through the software. As readers progresses through the book, they will learn to use the software to facilitate their compositional objectives.


Roland Juno 106



Whales neumes

"Whale songs include a strange range of sounds, from the bowed bass beats of a giant sub-surface fiddle to the feedback squelches of an electric guitar. But we have trouble perceiving the structure by which the sounds are organized because the notes seem cast out in slow motion, with relatively long silences between each unit of sound. To better appreciate the patterns, we can speed a song up by ten times, allowing us to hear a compressed version that sounds like the song of a bird. To help see the patterns, we can use color to denote matching units. The set of shapes resembles the notation of Gregorian chants written in the tenth century. The fluid musical notes of the chants are called “neumes.” They did not represent exact pitches or rhythms, but tendencies of pattern, the same elements McVay and Payne identified in the songs of the whales."


Hand-drawn synthetic soundtracks: The Variophone optical synthesizer, 1930

"With the arrival of synchronized sound in movies, as seen and heard in the first talkie The Jazz Singer in 1927, Moholy-Nagy refined his idea believing a whole new world of abstract sound could be created from experimentation with the optical film sound track. He hoped such experimentation would “enrich the sphere of our aural experience,” by producing sounds that were “entirely unknown.” [...] The possibility of synchronized sound inspired a trio of pioneers, composer Arseny Avraamov, animator Mikhail Tsekhanovsky and engineer Evgeny Sholpo who were fascinated by the curved loops, arcs and waveforms on the optical soundtrack. The patterns made them wonder if synthetic music could be created by drawing directly onto the sound track. Of course, this they did, at first testing out vase-shapes and ellipses then Egyptian hieroglyphs—all with startling results. [...] Meanwhile back at the lab, Evgeny Sholpo was collaborating with composer Rimsky-Korsakov on building what was basically an “optical synthesizer” or Variophone that used an oscilloscope to cut waveforms on small paper discs to produce synthetic music (“ornamental sound”) that was synced to 35mm film, before being photographed onto the same film to create a continuous soundtrack."

Diagram of a Variophone

Full story @ Dangerous Minds, via @reaktorplayer


Tactus Tempus

The Greatest Hits of BIOME

Members of BIOME, a live electronic music ensemble, perform Tactus Tempus by Frank McCarty, live on KPFA on February 22, 1973. The performers are Allen Strange, Frank McCarty, Pat Strange, Boots McCarty, Steve Ruppenthal, and Steve Whealton. Following the piece, which is performed on four Synthi electronic music modules, the players talk with Charles Amirkhanian about the group and their music.


Live long and prosper


Do More With Less: Old Gear, New Music

Using old hardware to make music is a great intellectual challenge, and judging from the following videos you can get incredible results having a great time.
Moreover recycling is always better than throwing away: for those who have old stuff going bad in the garage, put all that trusty old (486/Pentium) PCs to good use trying Adlib Tracker II or Converter (MS-DOS), Non-Sequencer or Seq24 (Linux).


Ableton AAS Analog Synth Filter Envelope

Analog is a good synth, I use it a lot. I pulled out several killer sounds from this little beast (and a couple of effects). Analog filters are nicely aggressive and the management of filters' envelopes is very powerful. 
Although generally I love to program sounds by ear, under some circumstances it's good to know more 'scientifically' what the fuck is going on.
For me one of the greatest mysteries of the twenty-first century was: why the hell the filter envelope range in Analog is (-16,  +16)? 

Analog Filter Env Parameter. (-16, +16) range.
Ok, a 16-based value opens the filter relative to the starting point, set with the Freq control up there, and if you input a negative value the filter Q will swing in the opposite direction (nice stuff). But what does -16 and 16 mean in terms of frequency in Hz? Analog manual is pretty useless in this regard.
Until some time ago I stumbled across this great article by Andrew Mylko. Really worth reading: there are mentioned many important concepts the author has studied/discovered trying to make Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook patches with Analog. But that's another story.
In short, the Env values represent the multiplier of the starting frequency, in exponential flavor, through which the end (frequency point) of the filter Q swing is calculated. Look here (click to enlarge):

So, if I want the filter to start at 50Hz, and open up to 3.2kHz, I have to calculate the right multiplier, the ratio between 3200/50 = 64. Then applying the above chart put a good 6 in the Env field. Below a lin-log graph with all possible values.

x linear, y logarithmic
Seems difficult, and indeed it is! However, to facilitate the task of doing the calculations, I created a maxforlive midi device with the worst name ever: AnalogFiltEnvCalc.
Use 'Q to Env' if you want to calculate the correct Env value, also useful to copy some patch from other synths to Analog. Use 'Env to Q' if you want to calculate the frequency end point (Q End), also useful to copy some Analog patch to other synths.
Watch this short video and you'll understand everything [No audio. Just look at the spectrum with filter Q perfectly swinging to 10k with Env set @7.97]:

A side note. The funniest part was rediscovering this logarithm property: loga(x) = (logb(x)/logb(a)) where the emphasised letters represent the base of the logarithm. Prof mi sei venuto in mente.


Moog and Kurzweil at Berklee

Dr. Robert Moog and Dr. Raymond Kurzweil during a Kurzweil demostration at Berklee. From a 1991 Berklee College presentation book.


The very first music manuscript in the history of harmony in the Western tradition

Harley MS 3019, fol. 56v, detail

The above symbols, from a British Library's Harley manuscript, represent two separate voice parts - the upper part (shown with horizontal dashes) is the melody of an antiphon in honour of St Boniface, and the lower part (shown with circles) is a separate melody to be sung in harmony with the chant melody - a practice known as organum.
Giovanni Varelli, a doctoral student at Cambridge, discovered this music, which draws our knowledge of the practice of this tradition back from around 1000 (the Winchester Troper was the manuscript formerly considered to represent the beginnings of polyphonic music outside theoretical writings) to around 900. A chance discovery that has effectively changed the history of music.

Organum in modern notation, transcribed by Varelli
Harley MS 3019, fol. 56v, detail

Harley MS 3019, fol. 56v, full
Source: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/music/2014/12/earliest-polyphonic-music-discovered-in-british-library.html