Dan Nigrin will be leading one of nine community-driven workshops at Expo ’74 in Brooklyn this October. Read on for more information about his workshop and some history of his work.
Making A Slick Max Standalone
Many people that create Max standalones like to present as professional a package as possible, mimicking other applications that users routinely encounter. This workshop will cover many aspects of this process, including: use of the standalone object, using a custom application icon, menubar customization, including documentation within your app, creating custom installers / uninstallers, removal of unnecessary Max files from within your application bundle, and application protection for commercial distribution. If you wish to practice during the workshop, you’ll need to bring a laptop with Max 5 installed.
A Short Interview with Dan Nigrin
Who are you and what do you do?
I wear several hats. On the creative side, I started out as a college and club DJ in Baltimore, MD in the mid to late-80′s, through the transition from industrial dance stuff all the way through to the beginnings of techno. DJ’ing in turn led to the creation of original new music, together with a good friend who was also a DJ, as “Glitch” – we ended up releasing records on some of the seminal independent labels of the time (early to mid-90′s), including R&S, Fax, Industrial Strength, Radikal, Antler-Subway, etc… We worked with people who are now legendary in the techno world, including Richie Hawtin, Lenny Dee, and others. Eventually, we decided to create our own label on which to release or music (and eventually many other people’s music too), and so Defective Records was born. Although we don’t put out too much music any more these days, Defective still serves as the home for my software creations (almost all of which are Max-based). Most recently I recreated some unique hardware step-sequencers using Max (the M185 and the Klee); in the past I created a “glitch” type plugin (recurring theme!) called Major Malfunction using Max 4, and also an app called MC-202 Hack, which was a reverse-engineering of the Roland MC-202′s tape save format, allowing MIDI files to be transferred to/from that old synth’s sequencer. I’m also very involved in Jack OS X, the Mac port of the Jack Audio Connection Kit. Recently, I’ve been getting into synth DIY, building a variety of synthesizer kits (e.g. x0xb0x/x0xi0, Shruthi, and WTPA).
All of the stuff above is what I do with my spare time for fun – my day job is serving as Chief Information Officer at Children’s Hospital Boston, where I’m also a pediatric endocrinologist.
When and why did you start using Max?
I started out using Max in mid-2000, when I was bemoaning the fact that there was no lightweight VST instrument plugin host to use with all of the cool plugins coming out. I wanted to be able to just fire up a simple app to host the plugin, and then play it remotely with an external keyboard. So in researching ways to do this, I found Max/MSP. I released version 1 of my VSTi Host standalone app in late 2000, which was the result. I briefly connected with Atsunori Namba from Japan soon after, who improved significantly on my original version, and from whom I learned a lot about Max just by looking at his patches! I unfortunately lost touch with him since. But by then, I had the Max bug, and I just started building more and more stuff with it over time, learning from others on mailing list and forums.
What technology or person’s work intrigues you most right now?
I mentioned synth DIY above, and one company (Mutable Instruments) and man (Olivier Gillet) impress me to no end. Starting with the Shruti-1 synth, and followed soon after by the Shruthi-1, these synths are hybrid digital/analog, and pack an incredible amount of functionality and *sound* in a small package, that you build completely on your own. Olivier self-taught himself the hardware side of things, which is amazing in its own right, but the things he does in software too are really exceptional. I predict big things for him and his company!
What is the most exciting part of attending Expo ’74?
Max has always been an “alone” exercise for me, and it will be so cool to finally put some faces to names (especially some of the folks from C74 whom I have corresponded with over the years), and to meet and chat with others who have similar interests. Not to mention learning new things and techniques about Max, and seeing the cool new Max 6 coming attractions, etc…