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Creating music with Max
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Creating music with Max
zeit
I'm temporarily moving over to software until I get better situated financially so I can buy the hardware I want.

So question, anyone here making electronic music (I mainly lean towards techno, like Monolake/Polar Inertia type of stuff) solely in Max? The learning curve seems pretty high but I enjoy learning stuff anyway so not too big of a deal.

Any reason I should stay away from it?

How about midi controllers, any that are well suited for Max?

Also, what are you using to record Max with? For example, a DAW or other ways.
Moon Indigo
I can't speak for Max, but have you considered Reaktor? It's a great standalone solution.
zeit
Moon Indigo wrote:
I can't speak for Max, but have you considered Reaktor? It's a great standalone solution.


No I haven't but thank you for mentioning it. thumbs up I will look into that as well.
adam
you can look into pd too - both pd and max are great fun to tinker around with
KaOsphere
Ok, let me complexify all this by suggestig Usine III. smile
dataf1ow
I don't use Max, or Reaktor exclusively ( I use them inside of Live) so I can't speak to the merits of an 'all in one' solution on either of those platforms. There are things that traditional daws are just better at. Recording, arranging, and archiving ideas, as well as taking care of some of the tasks we take for granted like timing, mixing, etc.

If you are just starting out in max, building a self contained music creation patch could be a tall order depending on what it is you're going for, and how much complexity that entails.

I can say that I can't imagine doing music now without some of the Max devices I've made. The great thing about these environments is that nearly anything you can think of as far as DSP goes, is more or less possible (although it can be difficult and time consuming).

As for controllers, it really depends on what you want. I'm a fan of RBG buttons, so I use a Push to interface with my Max patches (and Live). But anything that sends MIDI will do the trick.
zeit
dataf1ow wrote:
I don't use Max, or Reaktor exclusively ( I use them inside of Live) so I can't speak to the merits of an 'all in one' solution on either of those platforms. There are things that traditional daws are just better at. Recording, arranging, and archiving ideas, as well as taking care of some of the tasks we take for granted like timing, mixing, etc.

As for controllers, it really depends on what you want. I'm a fan of RBG buttons, so I use a Push to interface with my Max patches (and Live). But anything that sends MIDI will do the trick.


Yes, I think using Max as a standalone isn't necessary. I would prefer to use it inside Live, much easier for me. I won't be able to afford a Push controller just yet so an inexpensive midi controller will have to do. I'll look into that.

Thanks all!
adnauseam
I really loved Max and coming from pure data it feels really beautiful and polished. What I didn't love however was having to do so much work to have my ideas finally realized. I've also got some background in the Nord modular series which I live dearly.

About a year ago I picked up an axoloti. It's really beehive my main squeeze. It's far more abstracted than Max while allowing you to get at the nitty gritty if you wish. You can even coffee your own modules in a language something like C. The bonus is that the software runs on a small microcomputer - not your PC. The hardware is dedicated so there are no audio drop outs and almost no signal processing delay.

Reaktor is also fun and has come a long way since I last used it.

TL;dr wanted to use Max but spent too much time having to fiddle. Feel in love with the axoloti platform instead
rjungemann
I've spent a lot of time with Max and it is great fun. There are all sorts of non-linear ways of sequencing etc. That said, if it's the only way you're making music, it may be a bit daunting to get started in. Having a taste for how a traditional DAW works will only be an advantage when diving into Max. To that end, my recommendation would be to get Ableton Suite which comes with Max for Live. You can do 99.9999% in Max for Live that you can do in plain Max, and then you get the best of both worlds. You can always crossgrade to Max later.

Another fun way of using Max is to build instruments with it (using BEAP, the built-in set of high-level modules, or whatever else), then use an external sequencer to trigger them via MIDI or OSC or whatever. There's a whole continuum of possibility between using pure Max and a traditional DAW.

Another thing Max is also good at which I think is often overlooked is that it's great "glue" between controllers, applications, etc. For example, use the [hid] object to control music parameters with video game controllers, or hook up an Arduino and communicate with the [serial] object. I recently played with controlling some solenoids for striking percussion from Ableton (https://www.instagram.com/p/BULiQkfFaer/?taken-by=rjungemann).
zeit
I picked up Ableton Live Intro. I'll upgrade later if like it as I might end of hating it. Of course, it's limited but limits are good sometimes.

But picking the right vst (I guess that's the term) will be the bigger issue. Reaktor looks easy (you already have your adsr/vca/EG modules ready to patch) and I could probably could get up and running inside Ableton pretty fast.

But the "nerdiness" of Max is tempting. I already code some (mainly javascript/python) so I'm familiar with looking at code if needed. I checked out BEAP too, that would be something I could use until I get to know Max better...I wonder if you can use Max 7 within Ableton Intro w/o the MaxForLive add-on? My guess is no but I'll research on my own about that...
catchpenny
I use Max as a sort of hub for my techno live set - i have a few bits of hardware and a use a few vsts inside max as well.

I do it in max because

(a) its what i have - i've used it for years for various things and
(b) its great at making things talk to each other and sort of translating any weird issues between different environments (be it hardware or software). Also i do audiovisual stuff and its great to be able to hook up to another computer via osc and communicate like that.
(c)if there any weired DSP stuff i wanna try out i can do.

If i had spare cash it'd probably be easier to use max for live, but using stuff like the audioMix package (https://cycling74.com/articles/content-you-need-audiomix) its real easy to get that side of stuff set up. also, since max 7 you can just use max for live devices nativle so that gets you loads of sequencing options straight up.

finally you mention enjoying the geekiness of it all - me too. its maybe a waste of time musically but i absolutely love designing my own systems, the problem solving and figuring shit out.

edit: this was all done with max, absynth and a drumbrute: https://vimeo.com/225680249
rovadams
I use Ableton as a host for both Reaktor and Max stuff, that works well for me. To me, the difference between Max and Reaktor is that Max is about the programming, and the interface is an afterthought, while Reaktor is the other way around. They both end up being similar, but you come at them from opposite directions. But if you're going to get into Max, I highly recommend doing the tutorials. They're really well done and will save you a lot of time figuring stuff out. Plus their youtube videos are really good.
pskept
zeit wrote:
Any reason I should stay away from it?


I can only think of one reason: because you actually want to make music.

Max obsessed people remind me a lot of modular obsessed people where they are more interested in some calculation, toy or some goofy configuration of great scientific (egocentric?) proportions than actually making a track.

Using max as a part of the process when it solves an unsolved problem is cool. Altering existing max and ableton toys to work how you want is cool. Implementing some new fangled idea is cool... But who REALLY has those? Be honest: few to none of us.

Its like programming an entire piece of software with an assembler. No one who wants to get work done would do that. A nerd who wants to have fun learning all the intricacies of low level programming is who does this. Also, someone who needs some sort of performance gain. This is so rare.

If you really want to make music check out some of the pre built stuff like OSCiLLOT or something. Reaktor seems to have a lot of actually useful prebuilt components. http://www.automatonism.com/ seems pretty cool.
zeit
catchpenny wrote:

edit: this was all done with max, absynth and a drumbrute: https://vimeo.com/225680249


Nice! thumbs up
rovadams
adding to what pskept said, the forums for Max and Reaktor are both really useful, but in the same reverse way I was talking about - the Max forum is mostly about solving programming problems, and the Reaktor User Library is a treasure trove of creations, while problem solving on the Reaktor forum is less the focus.
gosh
I agree that going down the Max hole has greatly reduced my musical output. However it's greatly increased my understanding of so much else. I've always been into the geekier/algorithmical/conditional type of sequencing (the what if x is >y but only when a = b etc)... I've loved owning things like G2 modular, Cirklon, elektrons and now I'm building my perfect sequencer combining the things I loved and removing the constraints...for use in ableton. So I have the best of both worlds for me. The interesting / what if sequencing from Max with amazing sounding instruments (hardware and software) in Ableton.

For me I think the synthesis side of Max will be harder to learn, by which I mean that Uhe Diva (for example) Is going to sound a load better then my attempt at making a synth in max. Sure I realise the beauty of Max is not making a subtractive synth but for me it's picking my battles. Today sequencing to really get to understand how Max works (or begin to), tomorrow synthesis. Don't get me wrong I'd love to play a whole Max set a'la Autechre... that shit is incredible... but I have a day job which rather gets in the way of learning.
I'll vouch for the tutorials...so we'll written.
gosh
Ps. I'm really hoping that Ableton buying Cycling74 is going to lead to something great. Max4live is ace but sure there is room for improvement.
rjungemann
I've seen wanky Max shit, but I've seen wanky Reaktor shit too.

Max is powerful but requires some discipline. I had an idea for a pad sound for an intro of a track, and I was able to build a simple Max patch to get what I wanted. It would have been hard to do in other ways.

People spend years learning how to play a violin well, so why is it so strange that there are things in the electronic music realm that aren't necessarily instantly understandable?
zeit
Holy sh*t! w00t I finally upgraded my PC so it can run apps properly and checked out the Max 7 demo and I'm in love , this is so cool cool

I can easily see how you could get lost in this, got to get it soon....going through the well-made tutorials now.
ersatzplanet
I started using Max back when it was version 3 I believe. It really had just started making sound. It was called MAX/MSP and the MSP was the sound processor part. I used the MIDI manipulation aspects of it then, making large sequencers and computer music stuff. I have the latest version inside Ableton Live and the music aspect is much easier than it ever was. The addition of higher level libraries like Beap make creating musical instruments much easier. I also recommend getting OSCILLOT from Max for Cats. It is a full fledged modular environment built on Max that runs in Live. You can even make your own modules (using Max) and they have the graphical interface tools to integrate it into OSCILLOT.

Someone mentioned the Axoloti PCB. I have one of those too. For $80 that is a VERY powerful little piece of kit. It is like a Nord Micro-Modular in many ways. Make the patch on your computer (java based so compatible with almost everything) and disconnect and play stand-alone. There are hundreds of modules and a very vibrant user community making hundreds of more modules. There is even a suite of modules based on the Mutable Instruments Clouds and other modules. Well worth the investment.
astrodislocate
I haven't exactly made any (good) music with Max, but I'm slowly getting there I think. The key, in my mind at least, is to make it your own modular system by building up abstractions and using the snippets system. When you know the built in objects well, you can build lots of things you'd find in any sequencing-focused modular pretty easily, and add in your own ideas to boot.
astrodislocate
I also recommend finding the Prank Poles EP by DUB-Russell on Bandcamp because A) It's fucking rad and B) It comes with a download for the Max patch they improvised the whole record with. It's a good showcase on one of the ways you can use modular design, and also pretty encouraging in that it proves making music this way really isn't impossible, even if it definitely can feel that way.
peripatitis
Max and music require time and dedication so one question could be whether you can afford the time for both smile
phase ghost
pskept wrote:
zeit wrote:
Any reason I should stay away from it?

I can only think of one reason: because you actually want to make music.


That's nonsense.

I demo'd Max for a month 6 months ago. Didn't buy it because of one seemingly large problem (firing order), that I couldn't solve because of my lack of knowledge. I've since solved it, and purchased a full license back in June during their sale.

I'm using it with Logic w/ Rewire. Works great.

I'll give two scenario's where it's awesome.

1) Manipulating midi sequences. You can build sequencing tools real easy in Max. Sample and hold, clock dividers, switches, etc. I'll send a midi sequence from Logic into max for manipulation. You can take a simple 8 or 16 step sequence, feed it into max for manipulation, and back into Logic for synths.

2) FFT style effects on audio. Holy balls. Cycling74 published some youtube videos in the last 6 months or so about FFT sound effects. Shit is insane. It's not that hard to get up to speed with, and it's my new obsession.

That's just a drop in the bucket. The strength, for me, is the ability to use it along side a traditional daw. It's the same as a modular. I could use a modular to make 100% of a track. But, I prefer it much more alongside drum machines, samplers, and more traditional synths I play chords on.

To conclude, Max is fuckin' awesome. I pissed around with PureData for a while, but the lack of Rewire, and other integrations made me pony up for Max.
zeit
ersatzplanet wrote:
The addition of higher level libraries like Beap make creating musical instruments much easier. I also recommend getting OSCILLOT from Max for Cats.


BEAP is where I'm at now. Getting any deeper than that will require a lot more of my time. For now, BEAP is good enough while I play with the demo and look over the tutorials/forum postings.

When I upgrade (which will be later this year) OSCILLOT will be the first thing I get, no doubt. thumbs up

I would like to purchase one extremely good VST software instrument. Was thinking about about getting either the Operator or Analog software instrument but not 100% yet, feel free to recommend them or something else as their are lots out there.

These two particular VST's looks interesting to me: http://www.wolfgangpalm.com/wg.html + https://waldorfmusic.com/en/largo-overview ..lots out there though...
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