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Practical Max #1

Stretta samples water bottles, a shoe, and other household items and uses it to trigger musical sounds. Inside the Max patch, he shows us how he uses his Piezo microphone with Tristan Jehan’s analyzer~ object to capture data about incoming sounds.

Useful Links:

Stretta plays household items like musical instruments.

Inside the Piezo Max patch

Practical Max #1

Jul 21, 2011 at 3:58pm

a bit of freshness added to the pallet of live processing. I’m going to dig into this patch. Much thanks for the generosity ‘Stretta’. i’ll share my results

Jul 22, 2011 at 8:27am

great stuff!
sadly no en_analyzer for windows os afaik…

Jul 22, 2011 at 11:32am


The en-analyzer is not required for the Piezo Max patch – it was just an additional “useful link” for further exploration. We’ve removed the link to prevent confusion.

Thanks, and have fun!

Jul 22, 2011 at 12:56pm

this is way too much fun… big it up Stretta!

Jul 22, 2011 at 5:06pm

Very nice and useful -thanks a lot!

Jul 24, 2011 at 8:53am

waw. what a great job! max community is something amazing and endless surprising… have you seen any other place where people keeps working on a useful project for months and then let you have it by free and to modify it totally to transform it in to your own tool?

thanks stteta!

Jul 25, 2011 at 2:45am

To save anyone doing detective work on the clip on piezo that Stretta’s using, it looks to me like Planet Waves Piezo Tuning Clip.

Jul 25, 2011 at 3:17pm

can i use xbee foe wire less for send data ?

Aug 4, 2011 at 6:12am

XBee is a USB thing, not a microphone thing. You have to convert your audio to serial data before you can use the XBee, generally via an audio interface or some sort of DAC.

Great work, Stretta. Very fun and open-ended. Darwin, another promising series of helpful tutorials. Thanks to both of you!

Aug 8, 2011 at 7:54am

if anybody can help. I have a noob emergency.
I am using the exact same planet waves piezo, but I am not getting any signal
I am using it on the built in line input on my black macbook 13″. I open analyzer, _piezo, configure the DSP:
driver: coreaudio built-in output
input device: built-in input
input source: line in
output destination: headphones
then I select audio input 1, toggle the output on Presentation Mode, turn the DSP on, make sure all output levels are turnerd up and turn the FM1 preset on. but I have no signal coming in on either channel 1 or 2.

just yesterday I made it work, but I can’t really remember doing anything different. I’ve tried everything I can think of. I’m sure it’s something simple that my lack of Max experience is making me overlook, but I really can’t figure out what.

Aug 8, 2011 at 11:03am

My first suggestion would be to ask a few more questions (which would probably be better directed to customer support): Do you see any error messages in the Max window? If so, what are they? I’d email, and don’t forget to include the standard stuff about machine/version of Max/ etc. It looks like you’ve got the beginnings of a reproduceable set of steps to produce the problem, although I think there may be a thing or two missing.

Aug 26, 2011 at 6:39am

Hey Guys,
I love this tool, but i have a similar problem as gregory.
I use it on a PC with max runtime, and i get an input signal….but only in the input section, there is no signal in the bottom section…and i can also rout the input signal to my speakers or to the effect section, it works and i can hear the clear input signal, i just cant rout it to trigger the bottom section. if you have any idea how i can get this beautiful piece of software running i´d be very thankful!

Sep 5, 2011 at 12:03pm

Hej guys!
I have the same issue. Signal gets into the patch, but it doesn’t trigger anything.
Any ideas about what I could be doing wrong?

Sep 5, 2011 at 1:04pm

Does the microphone simply render a 1-127 on the midi scale which triggers an instrument?

Sep 13, 2011 at 12:27pm

This project is wild.. Could this be routed into Ableton via Max for Live? Or is it separate and distinct as a Max / MSP creation. If so, can it be re-tooled to work in Max for Live? I’m buying Max for Live.. but it looks like I may be interested in Max MSP as well.

Sep 14, 2011 at 5:27pm

Ok i´ve found the problem and solved it.
you also need to download the analyzer~ object (link is on top of this page).
then you copy it into your project folder.
but it some cases it still might not work. you might be missing the fftw3.dll which you can download for free on ….there´s an older version fftw3.0.1 or something like that, but it will work!
copy it into the max folder, and enjoy the great patch!

Nov 7, 2011 at 1:05pm


Nov 23, 2011 at 5:42pm

That worked for me too! Thanks!!!
BTW, I’m just getting back into MAX after years of being a lame *** is there a source for info on the correct places to store externals, etc? It used to be in the Preferences but I can’t find it and searching the doc’s is not yielding results…
xoxo, AK

Nov 23, 2011 at 5:47pm

Awesome, worked for me too!!

Can anyone suggest the best protocol for storing externals? I’ve been away from MAX for quite a long time…It used to be in the Preferences Menu ..setting up a search path, but is gone in MAX 6 and I can’t find info in the docs…
xoxo, AK

Nov 28, 2011 at 6:36am

@Amy – Usually within the /Max/Cylcing ’74 folder is where I like to put externals. You can add more search paths underOptions>File Preferences.

Max 6 has a new project feature that collects all the required files if you want to move your creation to a new computer or share your work.

Mar 13, 2012 at 4:22am

Excellent! People who are interested in getting into piezo experimentation should definitely check out Nicolas Collins, Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking (New York: Routledge, 2009). Among other things, he teaches you how to build your own contact mikes from piezo elements.

Apr 19, 2012 at 9:18am

I love this thing. Hooking it to a contact mic attached to a little music box. One issue though… I can’t seem to get the VST instruments in the MIDI section to take the generated MIDI notes signal. I have been able to route the MIDI signal out to a standalone version of the same VST instrument, but can’t get it to work with one that I load as a plug-in. Any thoughts?

Apr 20, 2012 at 1:21pm

Superb. i was trying to do something like this 2 months ago….

Sep 29, 2012 at 6:32am

Thanx for the idea!
I’ve patched my own version of it and played with it on Ableton Live.
I call it “Digital Chairs”.. check it out!!

Sep 26, 2013 at 12:01pm

Thanks, it is great!!
Could I change the quality of the sounds to flutes like?

Nov 7, 2013 at 8:23am

@ david fodel… and anyone about the midi instrument not working

I know it’s been a long time since this thread is open, but i just discovered Max/msp, and this patch… Like you, I was unable to make the included instrument work with midi (although able to have midi out to a stand alone plug-in…) so i looked inside the midi generator, and found out it was not totally implemented/optimised for midi plug-ins.

The vst~ object has “note_output” from the arpegiator as pitch in, and “loudness” value (from the analyzer~) as velocity. the problem is that when i print this value, it’s always at 0 (didn’t found out why), so the notes sent to the vst~ are always at velocity 0.
instead, i put the c_loudness value, which is continuous loudness.
Now it works, but, a tap on a piezo will generate a “note” but there won’t be any note-off.
So, what i found out (after hours of search, hey max can be deep when you’re a 2 days beginner) is to insert a “makenote” object, that will generate a note-off message, and voilà!
The makenote, is correctly implemented in the “midi out” part…
here is my midi generator patch :


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