We were saddened to learn of the passing earlier this week of David Wessel, Professor of Music at UC Berkeley and founder of the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). More than any other single individual, David was responsible for the shape of the music tools we all use today. His innovations are everywhere in the field of real-time computer music: scheduling and operating system design, music perception, instrument building, real-time performance analysis, networking, timbre spaces, machine learning, complex synthesis control, gesture analysis — the list goes on and on. He defined new concepts of musicianship and performance, whether in a solo context or in collaboration with musicians across an amazing variety of genres. This interview we published in 2005 is a small peek into David’s remarkable life and career. I hope you enjoy it.
As we continue to work hard here at Cycling ’74 finishing up the Max 7 release, we’d like to share with you another fun video from the inimitable Sam Tarakajian having the happiest day of his life with Max 7. We can’t guarantee Max 7 will give you the same joy it gives Sam, but we’re having a lot of fun with it here and can’t wait to get it in your hands. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, if you don’t already have Max 6, it’s currently on sale and includes getting the Max 7 upgrade for free.
Our good buddy Sam is back with the second installment of his Max 7 preview series. Moving beyond the humble singing mushroom, Sam has turned his attention to mankind’s existential struggle in the post-feline digital age. My colleagues and I appreciate this struggle; it drives us to make life easier for the common Maxer (and Womaxer).
One of the ways we’ve been trying to make life easier has been to simplify the notoriously complex world of OpenGL. I’ve been working on developing a multi-pass rendering framework that allows you to drop in complex scene-processing effects, such as depth-of-field and SSAO* and start tweaking parameters with no knowledge of shaders or render targets.
Advanced users will still have access to all the gnarly lower level details, plus the ability to package and share their own custom effects. So yes, with the click of a toggle, we have shadows. I hope the ease of making shadows in Max 7 does not provoke an existential crisis for you as it seems to have done for Ms. Blancmange. Cat rave indeed.
* screen space ambient occlusion — this could also be a sound Maru makes
As I write this from an airport terminal somewhere in the world, we are hard at work finishing the Max 7 release. The last weeks before a release are an interesting time for our organization. Meetings are short (as are tempers in some cases) and everyone seems almost magically focused on a common goal. Long ago I realized I am incapable of competently organizing an event, whether it was my kids’ birthday parties or a complex software release. I just try to work on my small piece of the software. Our CTO Joshua Kit Clayton leads the process and I am eternally grateful for him for taking on this ridiculously complicated task, one I probably make even more complicated.
We asked Sam Tarakajian, who has been participating in our alpha testing process, to make a series of videos this month giving you a sense of what we’re up to with Max 7. (Sam’s collection of tutorials under the name dude837 on YouTube is a requirement for any Max user. Even if you think you’re an expert I guarantee you will learn something from them.) I feel fortunate he was willing to lend his comedic touch to these videos. In the first episode, Sam wonders whether Max 7 can solve a critical problem facing many Max users: explaining what the software does to your friends.
However, we don’t intend to use Sam’s videos to be a comprehensive explanation of Max 7 to you. The first episode will just give you a brief taste of what’s to come. Stay tuned — there’s lots more to talk about.
It doesn’t officially turn one year old until October, but Darwin Grosse has spent the last year having rich, deep conversations with a broad spectrum of artists for his Art + Music + Technology podcast. The guests have included big names like Pauline Oliveros and Richard Devine, as well as Cycling ’74 co-workers (who also have a pretty rich creative life) and a whole range of synth freaks, programmers, and artists working in Art, Music, and Technology.
I caught up with Darwin to find out how the podcast has gone, and asked him to share some of his favorite moments:
“I actually learn from everyone that I talk to – so it feels odd to pick out favorites. Personally:
But each one of the podcasts hits me in the heart, because it shows me that there is a real person behind the work that is being done. Talking to someone like Richard Devine, who is kind of a star in certain circles, reveals that we both grew up on Ministry/Skinny Puppy industrial; Dan Snazelle and I had the same kooky religious background. This personalizes their work in a way that no written interview (or, for that matter, any pre-planned study) could have done.
Probably the best thing that has happened is that I now prepare less – and edit less. Unless I’m completely in the dark about someone’s work, I generally spend less than 5 minutes checking on people’s work. Rather, I open the door for them to talk about their work (which means that they talk about the stuff they are interested in, rather than what the public is interested in…), and then ask about their background (which always gives me the next 20 questions to ask!).
It is really incredibly fun for me, but also has totally changed the way I think of art-making and career-building. It also has changed the way I talk – I’m much more aware of my over-use of “um”, “interesting” and “awesome”. Not completely fixed yet, but working on it…”