Forums > Max For Live

How did you get started?

February 7, 2012 | 1:18 am

I’m ready to dive right into Max4Live. I’ve studied Max briefly some years ago. I have experience in some limited scripting and programming. However I don’t know how to start with Max4Live and one thing I’m finding difficult is that there seems to be MANY objects in Max4Live and I don’t know what they all are yet. I just don’t know where to start. I think I should sit down and just through them all although I find the limited format of the file a little tedious. Any suggestions? How did others start out? Just learn one object at a time?


February 7, 2012 | 2:25 am

I just looked at plenty of tutorials on Youtube and whatnot. I tried to go for the things I was actually interested in and dove right in following the instructions. Playing around with the objects and looking at their help files after following the tuts helped me very much. I would recommend Baz Tutorials and the stuff by Dude837.

Have fun!


February 7, 2012 | 3:48 pm

start by doing all the built-in max tutorials, regardless of how deep you went, years ago. Everything m4l builds on this.

from then on I recommend slowly picking apart the included patches in m4l as well.


February 7, 2012 | 4:26 pm

The included M4L help files in Ableton are actually pretty good. They start slow and show you how to build up from simple beginnings like basic MIDI I/O up to more interesting things like creating MIDI delays.

Is there anything in particular you would like to achieve?


February 7, 2012 | 5:00 pm

Agreed with Wetterberg – do some Max tutorials first, and get your head around Max before you dive into M4L.

But… there’s only so many tutorials I can do before I want to start doing something practical. So I did the first 6 or 7 Max tutorials, then started building my first Max patch (still using Max at this point, hadn’t even opened Live yet).

First I thought of my ultimate goal. Then I thought of a small piece of that goal that I could set myself as a first objective. For example, if your goal is to build a synth, then your first objective might be to get a dial and then display its value to the user. When you achieve that objective, you’ll have a piece of reusable code that you can replicate throughout your larger project.

Don’t feel like you have to learn all of the objects straight away. Not all of them are going to be useful to you at first anyway. Think of the object library like a dictionary – you don’t have to learn all of the words in the dictionary in order to write something useful.

As I started building my first objective, I found myself using the objects I had learnt in those first 7 tutorials. But eventually I found that I needed to do more than what these objects provided, so I went back and did a couple more tutorials, learned a few more objects (increasing my object ‘vocabulary’), then carried on.

Sometimes there was an object that almost did what I wanted to do, but wasn’t quite right. In these cases, I found it really useful to open the help file for the object and then look at the ‘see also’ section – this is a list of objects that perform similar functions.

Another piece of advice I would give is you don’t necessarily have to search for the ‘perfect’ object for every task. Just start by having a go with the objects you already know. For example, you might know that chaining up a [+ 1] and a [/ 2] gives you the output you desire, and that’s fine. Eventually you’ll discover that you can combine these operations into a single object. But the time you spent learning about the [+ 1] and [/ 2] is not wasted, it will probably come in handy again later.

If I got stuck and couldn’t find the object I needed, I tried to put the object’s function into words (like ‘get odd items only from list’) then typed that into Google together with ‘maxmsp’ or ‘max for live’ or ‘m4l’. Usually you’ll find a forum post or blog where someone has found out the answer. If I still couldn’t find it, I posted a new message on this forum.

As you improve, keep going back to those tutorials and do a couple more each time. You’ll have a few ‘ah ha!’ moments when you realise there’s already an object that does exactly what you were looking for.

I say all this coming from a programming background – I’ve been programming for a about 5 years, not long compared to some. I’ve been programming in Max for just 4 weeks and I’m absolutely loving it! I’m sure you will too. Good luck! See you on the boards…


February 7, 2012 | 8:16 pm

I think what I find frustrating is I’d like to study more Max while I’m away (at work) and I wish there was easier documentation for me to carry around and read so that my free time away from the software are used well. I wouldn’t mind an e-book of all these objects.

Regarding everyone’s points, thank you. I will take it easy and run through these tutorials.


February 7, 2012 | 11:46 pm

Do you have an internet connection on your phone/tablet? If so, there is an online version of the documentation (including docs on every object) at http://cycling74.com/products/online-documentation/


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