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Meet Max 6.0.7

On September 10th, we released Max 6.0.7 with some exciting, major enhancements to Gen, Vizzie, and Jitter Physics plus general improvements and bug fixes.


  • Connect with Codebar:
    Gen patchers now have a sidebar that shows you the text code generated by the patcher in the GenExpr language. This will give you a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes in Gen. Select objects in the patch to highlight the corresponding code segment, or copy the code from the codebar to use inside of a codebox. It’s a great way to learn about the connection between visual and textual programming in Gen.
  • Organize Subpatchers:
    Now you can use subpatchers and abstractions to make your Gen patches easier to organize visually and create reusable elements, just like you do in traditional Max patches. Use the gen object, with an optional filename to nest a Gen patcher or abstraction.
  • Name Your Send/Receive Objects:
    We’ve added the ability to clean up some patch cord clutter in Gen patches with the introduction of named send/receive objects. They are limited for use within one Gen patcher, but they can make patchers easier to read and maintain when you have many objects and connections between different logical sections of your patch.
  • Save Time with Loops and Branching:
    Now GenExpr supports looping and branching constructs like for, while, and if/then. These make it cleaner to write code which does similar things many times, and can save CPU by only evaluating code under certain conditions.

For more information on Gen, check out our Gen Patch-a-day series.

Take advantage of loops and conditional statements in codebox, while monitoring the generated code with the Codebar.


  • Grow with Abstractions:
    All VIZZIE modules can now be used like any other Max abstraction. (For example, the BRCOSR module’s abstraction is called vz.brcosr.) You can now integrate VIZZIE modules into your regular patching and use them the way you’d use any Jitter object, and you can mix and match VIZZIE bpatcher modules with VIZZIE abstractions when you don’t need a module’s user interface (If you do need to see the UI, just double-click on the abstraction).
  • Hit the “Stomp Box Switch”:
    VIZZIE module displays still function as on/off “Stomp Box Switches”, but you can also use Max toggle objects or 0/1 messages to turn VIZZIE modules/abstractions on and off.
  • Discover Presets:
    You can use Max messages to VIZZIE modules and abstractions to choose presets or interpolate between any two stored presets on the fly.
  • Try the New Modules:
    VIZZIE now includes two new modules and abstractions: Use CROPPR/vz.croppr to sample a portion of your video and move it about, or expand it to full frame size. And the WYPR/vz.wypr will come in handy for those classic screen wipes effects (try ‘em with a little CHROMAKEYR and some vz.rotatr for some serious fun).

Jitter Physics

In Max 6, Jitter Physics is a new system for programming physical simulations in any Max patcher, opening up traditional game engine features and realtime motion graphics techniques. Since it is integrated with Max, you can also use physical systems for more subversive tasks like controlling audio or video in ways that have nothing to do with physics or animation as we know it. Based on user feedback, we’ve added many useful features to Jitter Physics in Max 6.0.7.

  • Manage Physics with Javascript Support:
    Now you can use the Jitter physics objects in Javascript like you can use other Jitter objects. For complex management of many objects, this can be particularly useful. Use Javascript looping features to quickly create Arrays of physics bodies and constraints, and easily reuse your constructions.
  • More Useful Collisions:
    We’ve made major changes to detect and make use of how and when objects collide, including collision force and normal information, and the ability to find collisions from an individual object when it happens rather than in the world’s reporting of all collisions.
  • Come Together with UI handling:
    We’ve improved how objects can be selected and operated on with mouse and other UI events, and how the physics system and the OpenGL system can work together.
  • Physics Multiplied:
    Using jit.phys.multiple you can easily create many instances of the same physics body by passing a Jitter Matrix. In this update, jit.phys.multiple gets a set of really exciting new features like the ability to add constraints (joints, motors, etc.) to these instances for more complex simulations.

For more information on Physics in Max, check out our Spotlight on Physics, including a Physics Patch-a-day series.

This fabric simulation uses jit.phys.multiple with constraints to easily generate an interconnected web.

Live Cubes

Our friends at Percussa have released a new Audio Cube powered Max for Live device called Soundor. Here’s a demo of cubist FM synthesis goodness:

It’s not always easy to describe what Max does or how it works to your relatives, but now I can say “look at the Bay Bridge” thanks to artist Leo Villareal and his crew.

Read more about the project:


So happy to see Alex Harker’s and Pierre Alexadre Tremblay’s amazing work with the convolution reverb (and many other things) packaged up and announced. If you haven’t downloaded and played with it yet, please do so!

Here are some places to find more impulse responses:

And remember that convolution isn’t just for reverbs…

Loud Objects

Loud Objects do live improvisational electronics, soldering complex noise circuits from scratch. The performance is as visual as it is sonic – they do all the soldering on the surface of an overhead projector, and you can see the smoke and spatter as their hands manipulate the silhouettes of microchips and wire. It’s more like jazz than engineering – watching them perform you get the sense that they’re more wrangling chaotic forces than fulfilling a schematic. As a topography of wires and chips emerges, the sound becomes richer, more complex, more convoluted. At one point, they step away from the circuit, which is now generating an evolving pattern. The pattern cycles faster and faster, and at its peak, they cut the power.

A Loud Objects performance is an audio/visual event, a generative system, and a physical instrument all in one. And it is, in fact, quite loud.

See and hear Loud Objects at SFEMF.

Loud Objects // Blip Festival 2007: The Videos from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo.

Pomona College in Southern California has been a Cycling ’74 customer for over a decade. Beyond our appreciation for Pomona’s use of the software in several different departments, we can empathize with the school’s nerdy obsession with a certain number.

You can probably imagine that we too ascribe magical powers to a certain number similar to the one revered at Pomona, a power which often seems even greater when we are confronted with numbers on either side. I’ve pleaded with my friend Andreas Killen to write a sequel to his wonderful book 1973 Nervous Breakdown with a book about, well, you know… (as a programmer I would think of this as an off-by-one error). Whenever I go to a bakery or a meat counter that uses a take-a-number system, I always hope I will be able to tear off the number 74. In fact if the currently available number is, say, somewhere in the high sixties I might just hang out for a little while. The best possible result would be at a place like Gayle’s where they use take-a-numbers that are of the form . I have never been able to walk in and tear off C74 (I’ve gotten as close as C77), but I still dream of the day when it will happen.

Berlin Storefront, JPG Quality 74

Have you been seeing 74 everywhere lately?

Stanford University has begun an important project to preserve the works of the great Max Mathews. Geoffrey C. Willard at Stanford University Libraries posts about it on their Digital Library Blog.

Read the complete post here on which you can hear a sample of Mathews’ work, and find compilations of other early electronic music gurus for sale (album cover art at left).

I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of sensors to pick up on our brain waves and react with a physical outcome. Like in cool old 70s movies where the girl moves the train using Alpha waves or now the new Star Wars based toy that allows kids to move the trainer remote using The Force.

Now thanks to Max and the work of artist Andrey Smirnov and his assistants, we can hear the brain and all its chattering feedback.

Brain Jazz 1 from Andrey Smirnov on Vimeo.

Way to think outside the box!

Since Labor Day is coming, you might have some spare time this weekend and might be wondering what you could do. How about a little Max project?

Here’s one simple but fun idea, based on an optical experiment I found on Brusspup’s Youtube Channel. How about making a patch that would let you do this?

No doubt that you are familiar with Wagon-wheels effect, which is what’s happening in the video above. The interaction between frequency of movement and framerate of the camera gives this cool gravity-defying effect. You might be able to do something low tech for the water fall, but for the Max patch, you should go nerdy!

For instance, instead of using cycle~ to generate a low frequency, why don’t you make your own using a fast algorithm (just like this one) in gen~.

To record the video in Jitter, jit.grab will do the work, but you might also want to record the video using jit.qt.record and upload it to youtube! Don’t forget to share it.

Happy Labor Day!

Recently when I was hearing about a very exciting stage forthcoming stage production (you’ll just have to watch this space!) that uses Max, I was reminded of one the last theater productions I saw that used the software, Schick Machine by the Paul Dresher Ensemble. This amazing piece continues to tour around the world (it was in Hong Kong last month and will be in Illinois early next year).

We did a series of interviews with Paul Dresher and Alex Stahl about the software behind the show when it premiered a few years ago. If you never saw these interviews at the time, they’re a fascinating look at how software development interacts with virtuosity, danger, and the demands of the stage.

The “Water Light Graffiti” is a surface made of thousands of LED illuminated by the contact of water. You can use a paintbrush, a water atomizer, your fingers or anything damp to sketch a brightness message or just to draw. Water Light Graffiti is a wall for ephemeral messages in the urban space without deterioration. A wall to communicate and share magically in the city.

Sometimes mathematics seems opaque and mysterious until someone finds a way to illustrate a concept in a unique way. Often the results are beautiful.

prime periods thumbnail

For each natural number n, we draw a periodic curve starting from the origin, intersecting the x-axis at n and its multiples. The prime numbers are those that have been intersected by only two curves: the prime number itself and one.

Click here for interactive visualization

Sonnymoon For Everyone

“These days you have to know everything: you have to be able to play your instrument, you have to know music theory, and you have to know Max” – Dane Orr, Sonnymoon

The most overused sentence between my friend Jon and I is, “Listen to this band and consider going to their show with me”. I’ll admit, he knows what kind of music flips my pancakes, but when we went to see the band Sonnymoon I had no idea at the end of the night I would be saying,“ This is what I’ve been searching for”. Hive mind at its best.

Named in homage to the Sonny Rollins track “Sonnymoon for Two”, vocalist Anna Wise and producer Dane Orr, are masters of the musical balancing act, an eloquent embodiment of musical talent paired seamlessly with music technology. With the recent addition of Tyler Randall on the sitar (Yes, you read that correctly) and percussionist Joe Welch, the quartet will scorch the apathy right out of your body.

The setup for their live performances is carefully orchestrated, with a plethora of controllers and convoluted cables (Imagine a less precarious version of Indiana Jones landing in a pile of snakes). However, the line is clearly drawn between tools and musical capabilities. They have adopted a policy of placing their laptops out of view, which for me, is part of their magnetism. “Simplicity is key for us, because expression, control, and connecting with an audience is the most important”, Orr has said about their approach.

That paradigm is also transferred in the way Sonnymoon utilizes Max. “At first we used little abstractions that we found interesting, ones we thought might open different sonic doors for us, but it was when we stopped thinking technically and started thinking artistically that we truly became friends with Max…People needn’t be scared of Max or think that you need to dedicate your whole life to computer programming to be able to use it. The same way a guitar player can dedicate some time to learning to use different pedals, people can explore using Max to expand their musical world”.

I’m glad Sonnymoon and Max have become friends. They are so similar. Harmonizing technology with creativity while exposing both fragility and strength are the things they do best.

For many years Robin Fox has been at the frontier of Australia’s leading audio-visual practitioners, innovatively using Max and interactive design systems to engage and challenge audiences across the globe.

As expected, many of his projects involve Max in one form or another from controlling motors that deflect lasers to taking data from wave-rider buoys in the Southern Ocean. He is most notably known for his synesthesia inducing laser based live shows but in recent times has implemented some very interesting works involving live interactivity and tracking.

Commissioned by the City of Melbourne to create a Giant Theremin, Fox set about designing and implementing a live scale version in full polyphonic. Using a camera tracking system to trigger sounds (in place of an electro magnetic field) and the ability to track up to 8 individual people at any one time, day or night.

I find these particular projects interesting as it not only uses Max in an innovative way within the public realm but encourages people and strangers to interact and step outside their comfort zone.

Giant Theremin

Laser Works

Lots of people use Soundflower for producing podcasts and doing various work where audio needs to get from one app to another. One great thing about Soundflower is that it is hackable so that you can customize it to your needs. A clever Soundlower user — who hosts “LuBlog” — contacted us with a great example where a group call can be recorded using Ableton Live with each individual recorded on their own track so the whole thing can be mixed properly in post-production.

Interested in learning more? Follow LuBlog’s detailed instructions.

One of the things that first drew me to Max was its ability to connect such a wide variety of software and hardware in meaningful and flexible ways. Anything from video game controllers to muscle tension or brainwaves becomes fair game as a performance interface.

The Resistor JelTone created by NYC Resistor, a NYC based hackers collective, is one of the most humorous and unexpected interfaces I have seen. Using capacitive resistance fields and americas favorite summer salad ingredient, gelatin, they create novel instruments using Jell-o molds. The Arduino reads in the capacitance data and is passed on to Max/MSP to generate the sound.

Check out this JelTone toy piano:

A video of one being performed live can be seen here.

For more info on the JelTone, including DIY instructions, see this post. Also, check out NYC Resistor; lots of interesting hacks.

Not weird enough for you? What’s the strangest or most novel instrument you have ever seen?

I – and my kids – have been fascinated with 3D films and effects lately. In fact, we have been making silly paper-based anaglyphs with red and blue markers just to see what we could do.

Some time ago, Andrew Benson put up Jitter Recipe #43 that shows how to do anaglyphs in Jitter. The opened the door to Max-based 3D that would go beyond the typical stick-poking-you-in-the-eye graphics.

David Butler, author of the imp.* tools, also did some experiments with anaglyphs created in Max. His Microfiche project is a great example of something generative and eye-bending. So don those red/blue 3D glasses and take this for a whirl!

Microfiche from The Impersonal Stereo on Vimeo.

You can’t schedule musical inspiration. Nothing is more frustrating than having an idea in your head, but not being in a position to record it before it slips away.

Since the iPhone came into my life, I do a lot better job of capturing the ephemeral. At first I just used the built-in “Voice Memos” app to quickly document the moment as best I could, tape recorder style. I have since tried a whole host of audio capture tools, including my latest love, Loopy, a cute little app that lets me quickly layer a bunch of loops.

A screenshot from the Loopy app

The idea of course is that later I’ll take the captured audio and import it onto my computer for further processing with Max, Live, and other tools. But this is invariably where other audio capture apps all fail; they have great interfaces for capturing and basic authoring, but clumsy, inconvenient systems for exporting the audio to the computer.

What mobile audio apps do you use? Are there any that do a great job of integrating with a computer-based workflow?

A fabulous suite of free and artistic audio plugins using Max for Live, designed to challenge the Eurocentric / Western norms prevalent in electronic music software. Definitely worth checking out both from technical and cultural perspectives.

Spin has a nice profile on the project:

SPIN: “DJ /Rupture Hacks Western Musical Institutions”

I’ve long been a fan of the German electronic group Mouse On Mars, but I’ve lost track of them the past few years. I was excited to see they have released a new album entitled Parastrophics earlier this year.

For the live performances to support their new album, they are using Max For Live for synchronization between the three band members, and have enlisted the help of multimedia artist Karl Kliem for tightly synched Jitter visuals.

Karl writes about his involvement in the project here, and Ableton has a feature on the band here.

Parastrophics visuals excerpt:

Mouse On Mars interview:

IANNIX is a graphical free software sequencer, based on the work of Iannis Xenakis, that is programmable with javascript, speaks OSC, and is available for multiple platforms. Max users probably already know it; if not the current software than the original stuff from Xenakis. The new release this month looks pretty spiffy and has been getting some attention in the media art blog-o-sphere. It is versatile, conducive to mixed modality interaction, very discursive (in a good way), and historically very interesting.

Be sure to check out the projects and examples pages.

The following video by (a-z)² describes an interactive installation using IanniX, KorgNano, and MaxMSP.

Those of you who have been following the Madrona Labs Soundplane project will be excited to know that his first batch of the very expressive Soundplane instruments has shipped:

Congratulations Randy – we wish you all the best.

Steven Jouwersma AKA Crofty-Systems created this delightfully over-engineered humane mousetrap using Max.

“I made this mouse trap to catch a mouse in my house. The mouse trap catches the mouse alive, it uses a camera to detect the mouse and triggers a solonoid on the right moment.”

Daito, Motoi, and Friends show you the results of their beautiful and fluid creation, as well as some of the structure behind it. Watch the entire video to fully appreciate it!

At the beginning of the video, I didn’t consider the physical structure on which the lights were moving, nor did I imagine that the lights were contained within balls which were being tracked by Max. Upon learning what was happening behind the scenes, I was even more impressed by the installation and appreciated the creator’s exposure of the details.