— W. Crouse


This series will review Max for live devices I really enjoy, here’s the first roundup:


Imperial Grains (need to add screenshots)

Sometimes you just need a simple granulating tool, this one lets you scan the waveform by a slider which you can then map to a knob or modulate, also using the integrated LFO’s and envelopes in M4L core will help make interesting modulations possible. It works really well with sweepy kind of waveforms. The ‘Glue’ knob is quite handy.

FMbox 1.03

A simple FM synth with an integrated steq sequencer that you can target 2 different parameters with, one can make some ridiculously good techno patterns with this device

PUSH SkinnerBox 1.0

The synth modules that were included in the Skinnerbox instrument/sequencer combo that came out around the time max for live was introduced, these are tremendously fun to sequence with push and use the new parameter step sequencing features.

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These racks we’re essential when I first started understanding the rack system that came out. Tarkerith’s racks are great ways to get some ideas on how to create some great effects by stacking everything up. Now updated for Live 9.

Tarekith DJ EFX Racks version 9.

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Getting into Eurorack modular seems pretty hard at first, and at the outset expensive. I’ve been planning a eurorack setup for a very long time (about 3 years). Tons of research; folders and folders of saved links about building my own case etc.

So by happenstance on a local forum I frequent someone happened to be selling an microZeus powersupply from tiptop audio.

This is a great way to get started, well it was cheap, so I thought I’d pick it up. Next I picked up an Ikea RAST there’s been a wealth of 19″ racks built with this setup. Next an order was placed for Z-Rails from AnalogHaven.

Now I’m merely awaiting my rails to arrive, while I’m waiting I’m on modulargrid and the wiggler like a fiend. I think I’ve decided on this though:

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Once again I find myself at a loss for time, with a lot to do.

I rambled about my workflow a few posts ago and there hasn’t been a lot of change. Today I sat down determined to mine my track folders to find something to ‘finish’. Nothing really jumped out at me and with the APC now I have a need to begin integrating it into my setup. So in the process of figuring out the macro knob banking I began creating an operator kick drum rack system (another one, you say). I created some other synth percussion tools at the same time. Then it hit me, boy do I spend a lot of time focusing on creating my own sounds, not that that is a bad thing. Thing is though, I spend that time but there’s nothing to show except more tools for later.

I’m determined to optimize my workflow. To that end I have decided to focus on sketching tracks out, using whatever sounds ‘good enough’ this will be a multi step process.

  1. Play with quick rough sounds to get a groove/chord prog/bassline I am fond of.
  2. Quickly sketch an arrangement around it with a basic drum kit.
  3. Put it away. Write something about it down on a notecard.
  4. If I’m feeling particularly inspired start at step 1 with another fresh session.
  5. One day a week, grab a notecard, finish the track by redesigning all the sounds and rough mastering.

If this goes well you should see some fresh tracks coming in.

I’ve decided to abandon my work on creating an APC40 and Reaktor tool for live stuff for now, I am going to see about assigning some of the notes to step sequencers though, maybe I can send midi out to get the feedback. Just trying not to obsess about it.

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So I played a show this weekend at the Hexagon, for More or Less’ Labor Day cookout extravaganza on Sunday. I’ll post some pics when I get them uploaded.

Saturday I picked up an APC40 Guitar Center was having a good labor day sale, it was a somewhat impulse buy. I’d been turning over the idea of picking one up for a while, but when I had the opportunity to take $50 off I was all for it. This device is really nice, what makes it nicer are the efforts that some have made to create a way for it transmit OSC to use with Max/MSP and other patches.

Currently I’ve used 64step (which I attempted to use for a live jam on Sunday), and MLR. Today I got the Reaktor patches created by kid Sputnik to work. This excites me because I’d like to figure out how to just use midi in Reaktor so I have access to all the knobs. Stay tuned.

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My recent digs into the Reaktor user library inspired some new tool design for Ableton Live’s Racks. Last night I wanted to create some glitchy drum patterns, there are a plethora of tools for such in Reaktor, but I felt creative. I made a new rack that creates random drum hits from velocities, with a selectable glitch chain after it. When I replace the samples in it with my own I’ll put it up here. It creates very interesting glitchy hat like patterns but it could be used with any sound type.

I first started making this tool with another program, I was using the patching environment VVVV to create a random CC generator, but either my virtual midi wires were crossed or it was spitting out too many value messages because it was not communicating with the knob it was assigned to very well (it was assigned to the Chain Selector). Finally I decided to use the velocity plugin, in a random mode, and  put the drum hits at different velocities. Then I use a velocity plugin after the randomization phase to put back a little oomph.

The exercise was quite fun, but it exposed some weaknesses in my ability to patch useful tools. I need to work on this.

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So I was googling for “intonarumori” a term I wasn’t familiar with, in relation to a reaktor ensemble that Richard Devine recommended on his twitter feed (“IntonaruMori v v1.1″ by Rick Scott).
I found this interesting site with a collection of Futurist manifestos. Here’s are some excerpts:

From “The Art of Noises” by Luigi Russolo:

  1. Futurist musicians must continually enlarge and enrich the field of sounds. This corresponds to a need in our sensibility. We note, in fact, in the composers of genius, a tendency towards the most complicated dissonances. As these move further and further away from pure sound, they almost achieve noise-sound. This need and this tendency cannot be satisfied except by the adding and the substitution of noises for sounds.
  2. Futurist musicians must substitute for the limited variety of tones posessed by orchestral instruments today the infinite variety of tones of noises, reproduced with appropriate mechanisms.
  3. The musician’s sensibility, liberated from facile and traditional Rhythm, must find in noises the means of extension and renewal, given that every noise offers the union of the most diverse rhythms apart from the predominant one.
  4. Since every noise contains a predominant general tone in its irregular vibrations it will be easy to obtain in the construction of instruments which imitate them a sufficiently extended variety of tones, semitones, and quarter-tones. This variety of tones will not remove the characteristic tone from each noise, but will amplify only its texture or extension.

I found these manifestos fascinating, unfortunately they seem to be written primarily by fascists. :(

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Fuckin’ around by Metaphreaq

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This weekend was somewhat lazy, ended up watching a ton of movies. Saw Rambo, that movie I think has the most kills per minute in anything I’ve seen for a while, very gruesome and over the top. Yet somehow hilarious. Jackie wanted to go see “Final Destination” in 3D, which was sort of a giggle fest as well, with all of the “hey look this is 3D” sort of shots.

On the music front, I worked with Reaktor some more. Building a few things to learn, and exploring how snapshots and such work. Last night I actually spent some time creating myself some material to ‘jam’ on and had a blast. I’m not sure the track I created was great, but I sure had a great time creating it, which is worthwhile. I think with some polishing and more precise editing it’ll be nice.

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A friend emailed me regarding my productivity issues with Music making, so I thought I’d make a follow up post.

What I feel is necessary is that I simply hit the record button during all of my ‘testing’ and ‘experimenting’ ideally one explores these thing with a sense of play. Currently I earn -zero- income from playing with sound, that’s why it should remain firmly in the play world. Remember this, self.

Saying this I mean that, perhaps I’ve been taking it too seriously. Like, “I need to finish x number of tracks soon, or no one will ever care”, it needs to be “Is this fun? Do I feel this? Am I just doing this to get something out?”

The last point can be addressed, but really I’m in an explorative process. Deep in sounddesign wrapped in envelopes, lfos and recently modular environments. Down in the weeds as I like to say. Note to self, keep playing, go even deeper, but record it so you can use it when you need to be productive.

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