Two months ago, Mira was born. Of course, that doesn't mean that development has stopped–far from it. Since the moment it came into the world, Mira has continued growing steadily. At this point you might well be wondering just how little Mira is coming along. Well, according to babycenter.com, at two months of development "your baby will begin to move beyond his early preferences for bright or two-toned objects toward more detailed and complicated designs, colors, and shapes. Show your baby — and let him touch — a wider variety of objects." How's that for good news? Even better, it turns out that occasional vomiting is quite common for babies at two months old. So if Mira has been throwing up on you, that's apparently nothing to worry about.
As for me, as a developer and new dad I'm feeling somewhat sentimental. So last week I decided to go back and take a look through the old family photo album that is the Internet. Much to my surprise, instead of cats playing the piano and women falling out of grape barrels, I actually found a slew of quite impressive videos. Turns out people have been using Mira to make some rather interesting content.
HeRunsHundreds = MIRA test drive
First, a little amuse-bouche. MrNedRush aka HeRunsHundreds offers a 4x4 drum pad built into a Max for Live device. He's added some higher-level controls for subdividing into 1, 2, 4 or 1/2 bars (making maximally interesting patterns with minimal effort), as well as a timer bar above the buttons. He's also added an orphaned dial off to the right, apparently connected to absolutely nothing, as a silent ode to French minimalism.
scratching in maxmsp and mira (featuring laser sounds)
Now MrNedRush gets serious. Forget all that warmup and drum pad nonsense–it's time for some real music. It's time, in other words, for laser sounds. There's an awful lot of expressivity to be had here, for nothing more than a button and a slider. If there were some kind of award for most sound with the fewest objects, this man would be the clear winner. There is, of course, no such award.
HeRunsHundreds = The Knobulator in Mira
Don't try to understand this interface. There are two giant knobs, that much is clear, but beyond that I'm at a loss. From what I can gather based on the accompanying text, the knob on the right is more of a meta-control than a control proper. Tweaking the rightmost knob rapidly jumps between different ways of shaping an audio effect. As for the knob on the left, the most we can say is that it's labeled knobulator. So it controls knobulation, obviously, whatever the hell that is. In summation, as a logical exercise, this patch is absolutely impossible to understand. As a tactile exploration, however, it's a glitch-groovy road trip and an absolute blast to play.
He Runs Hundreds = skinny hands wrists arms (live jam)
See–this is what I'm talking about. So often the debate around the iPad as an interface devolves into nothing more than touchsceen-bashing bloodsport. "Oh no no no," the hardware elitist say, one hand on an APC 40, the other clutching (with extended pinkie finger) a champagne glass filled with Monster energy drink, "an iPad simply won't do. A man must feel the knobs, he must enjoy the physicality of the slider." And that's fine, I can respect that. But no one ever said the iPad had to replace the hardware. Ebony and ivory, baby, why can't we all work together? The knobs are good at being knobs, the iPad is good at being a display. As this excellent video demonstrates, the two complement and ennoble each other.
Giovanni Di Stefano
Reflections. The performer's hand reflected on the immaculate surface of the iPad. The audio interface reflected on the desk's polished surface. And, if you'll excuse the painfully stretched metaphor, a certain reflection across time as well. SugarSynth powers the audio, which is an updated version of the original MSP Granular Synthesis patch by Nobuyasu Sakonda's. The original patch is, by technological standards, ancient, dating all the way back to the year 2000. Forget the iPad–this predates even the iPod, so to see Mira driving the new and improved patch seems like a fitting way to celebrate the sugarSynth and to tie a neat ribbon around a little chunk of Max history.
MIRAnome64, a virtual monome for MIRA/iPad and Max6
Is anyone really surprised to see Julien Bayle's name here? Outside of actual Cycling '74 employees, the man may be the single most prolific Max contributor of all time. His work includes externals, Max for Live devices, articles, workshops and, just to cement his total dominion, a three-hundred page book. MIRAnome64, a virtual but fully functional Monome64, is his first project using Mira. The video is more of a demo than a performance but he's nice enough to show us a bit of how it works. A very clever trick makes the magic possible: by using a mira.multitouch object in conjunction with an array of toggles, he's able to track touches from toggle to toggle, allowing for sweeping gestures across the whole array. Nice.
Rungler—a chaotic approach to step sequencing
Johan van Kreij
Thirty-seven seconds. Right when the overtones start to kick in, that's when I know that I'm going to spend the remaining six minutes of this video in a state of ear-drugged catatonic ecstasy. The Rungler, as this video is called, is based on something called the Blippoo Box, which you can think of as similar to an analog step sequencer. There is one small difference: a step sequencer is something that you can understand and control, whereas the Blippoo Box is a living animus of fire and whim that inhabits the very bounds of human comprehension. The result, as I'm sure you will appreciate, is complex, chaotic and highly listenable.
MIRA controls x3 Machines (including Windows)
Come on, that's pretty cool. One iPad, three machines?
Max6 and Mira on iPadで演奏
Finally, for little dessert, Yasuhiro Otani demonstrates his own Mira + patch. My Japanese is more than a little rusty, but from the website at eleclab.tumblr.com it looks like this patch was made as part of a workshop called the U::Gen Laboratorium. Said workshop has a mascot (apparently workshops need mascots) and that mascot is a girl holding a knife and fork. This, presumably, makes sense. Again, my Japanese is more than a little rusty. My Max, on the other hand, is quite strong, so instead of trying to figure out why this patch got made I'll focus on how cool it sounds.