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MaxMSP in Popular Music

October 7, 2008 | 6:45 pm

I read the Wikipedia page where it lists artists who use MSP but I was wondering, are there any recent popular songs which use it?

How much is MaxMSP used in mainstream music?

I recently got into using it and realized the possibilities are pretty much limitless, so there’s got to be songs on the radio that use this.


October 7, 2008 | 7:03 pm

Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood(spelling?) uses Max/MSP. Aphex Twin has also been known to use it. …oh! and …uh… I use it …although, "making" popular music and "being" popular for having made popular music are two different things… *sigh*.

Anyways, Radiohead’s guitarist has used something much like the "Great Stutter Effect" patch found here:

http://www.cycling74.com/story/2008/3/12/142316/512



jg
October 8, 2008 | 12:21 am

Quote: Kid Sampson wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 12:45
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> I read the Wikipedia page where it lists artists who use MSP but I was wondering, are there any recent popular songs which use it?
Max/MSP is of most use to those that want to do something outside the realm of commercial software… ergo no pop musicians… Despite all those who have an odd desire to outdo Ableton et al and write their own samplers, synths, etc., Max/MSP is really about creative musicians who have ideas that are not catered for by the mainstream…


October 8, 2008 | 3:18 am

Hmmm… I see where JohnGodfrey is coming from, but I’d disagree: Max/MSP isn’t ABOUT anything except what anyone wants it to be about(that’s the beauty of it). If that be pop-music, so be it. So far, many academics(not all) have attempted to make it about something first, but that something is likely to change since people who can afford to bring it home with them will be growing in number as the years go by and as technology becomes more and more affordable for and accessible to everyone. Kind of like republicans tend to be of a certain older age while democrats tend to be younger, hehehe(just stirring the fire, sorry, i’m only kidding about the comparison…). But anyways, if by pop-music, you’re referring to someone like Britney Spears, then, "no, absolutely not and never". But if you’re referring to Aphex Twin and Radiohead, then i’d say, "yes, definitely".


October 8, 2008 | 4:02 am

I did mean in the sense of the Justin Timberlakes of the world. I’m learning how to use it in an upper level music course in college and sadly it is a bit too expensive for me to purchase on my own and play with. I play in a band so I thought it’d be cool to figure out something to do with a patch and use it in a song, so I’ve got to work extra hard before the semester ends and my time with it is up.


October 8, 2008 | 4:50 pm

David schrieb:
> I recently got into using it and realized the possibilities are
> pretty much limitless, so there’s got to be songs on the radio that
> use this.

You might think so, but for songs on the radio, the first requirement is
simplicity, it has to be done fast (and die fast). Though I bet there
are songs out, I bet also that the majority is more effective with
boring tools for boring music… ;-)
This wasn’t the case long ago, even radio compatible music could be
interesting and good music, but I believe if the Bohemian Rhapsody would
come out today, the radios just wouldn’t play it – too little space for
ads… ;-)
If you look at the real medium of today (podcasts and alike), you’ll
find a lot music done with Max, though only a few would mention it,
which is good, as the music counts, not how it was made…

David schrieb:
> I did mean in the sense of the Justin Timberlakes of the world. I’m
> learning how to use it in an upper level music course in college and
> sadly it is a bit too expensive for me to purchase on my own and play
> with.

You know that you get it for half the price as a student, and compared
to a physical instrument like a good guitar, its not that much if you
really want to get into it…
And there is the open source alternative called Pd, though its is much
less advanced especially with UI objects, you can use it in the same way
as Max and create wonderful music. All you learn with Max will be
valuable as well…

> I play in a band so I thought it’d be cool to figure out
> something to do with a patch and use it in a song, so I’ve got to
> work extra hard before the semester ends and my time with it is up.

Definitely it will push you all, go for it, it shouldn’t be hard to beat
Justin Timberlake musically…

Stefan


Stefan Tiedje————x——-
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October 8, 2008 | 5:17 pm

Quote: Stefan Tiedje wrote on Wed, 08 October 2008 10:50
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> Definitely it will push you all, go for it, it shouldn’t be hard to beat
> Justin Timberlake musically…

> Stefan Tiedje————x——-
> –_____———–|————–
> –(_|_ —-|—–|—–()——-
> — _|_)—-|—–()————–
> ———-()——–www.ccmix.com
>
>
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Ya, y’know, on second thought, it’s going to get easier and easier and more and more widely used. Why not be the first Justin Timberlake out-doer with Max in his hands(well, i guess that’s not really much of a feat). You should go for it. The "Great Stutter Effect" patch I posted above is extremely easy to use. Basically just plug and play, don’t even need to learn any of it(but I’m pretty sure once you plug your guitar in and notice how it follows the loudness of your playing to pick a new sample-length, you’re going to want to learn more). And ya, if you’re worried about pricing, try PD or SuperCollider(because eventually when you have money to spend, you might just want to take what you learn in those environments and bring it to the awesome power of Max5 to create standalone patches you can hand out to your bandmates). Anyways, best of luck!


October 8, 2008 | 6:09 pm

You might consider taking a listen to Menomena’s
work. While their last disc "Friend and Foe" is
a bit easier to find since it’s on Barzun [sp.?],
I’m quite partial "I am the Fun Blame Monster" on
Digital Guerrero.

Kneejerk prejudices aside for the moment, at least
some of the places in popular music where Max lives
are less apparent, since they take the form of
"small" solutions – the rapid prototyping of
something, plug-ins constructed on the fly, and the
lot.

Similarly, any number of artists would, I think,
be justifiably offended at the suggestion that
their work reduces to their tools in some way. I
think that Sean Booth and Rob Young could make
interesting music with the change they’ve got in
their pocket and whatever is currently in the
middle drawer in their kitchens/Jamie Lidell
could rock the house with a megaphone and a pair
of old Revoxes/Safety Scissors would still be
diverting without Max/MSP. I have every confidence
that there are any number of pop musicians out
there who could do interesting things with Max,
and I suspect that there are many of them who do.

But perhaps it’s more instructive to ask yourself
what it is you might gain from such knowledge.
Is the usefulness of a tool reside in any way in
a list of those who wield it? Do you choose your
tools by determining what your friends or those
you respect are using? Do you not trust yourself
or those things you can currently imagine?

As my French friends say, "Courage!" While this
is an interesting line of question, I think that
you’ll do better learning the tool instead of the
list of those who use it [and ditto with what
they do]. What will make you a better artist is
you, not them (or knowledge about them).

And it’s easier to cure yourself of this than it
may be to abandon silly prejudices involving
assigning value based on genre. :-)


October 8, 2008 | 9:16 pm

Having just spent the weekend hanging out at AES, I can tell you that you might be surprised at how many people are using Max in situations that have nothing to do with experimental electronic music. Many Max users tend to think of Max as their digital chewing gum and duct-tape, that allows them to quickly patch together interesting signal processing modules and rapidly prototype idiosyncratic solutions to very normal problems.
One of the engineers I spoke to from Dolby Labs said he uses Max to create his listening tests. Some folks at EA Games have developed several pipeline tools in Max to make their sound design tasks easier to manage. So, for all we know, Justin Timberlake’s recordings might already feature some Max, but nobody would ever know just from listening. If you factor in Pluggo, it becomes even more likely.
If you are looking for ideas about how Max might be used in your context, I recommend looking around the web articles (don’t miss Darwin Grosse’s series on guitar processing!), watching the C74 Perspectives videos, and checking out the user pages. There should be enough there to at least get you thinking about which direction you might go.

Andrew B.


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