Idea Generation

    Oct 16 2015 | 4:54 pm
    I have been using MAX for a little over a month now and it's exceeded every expectation I have had of it, I built my self a little sampler/step sequencer/live looper with some effects and it's working fine. Of course there's always room for improvement but I just keep working at it every day to where else I could take it as a standalone instrument. That said, I am now thinking of what my next project should be and I am kind of stuck, so I just want to know what you guys do to come up with ideas, however small or simple, for generating ideas. Any suggestions would be appreciated...
    (if someone is interested I could also send you the code to what I have done already, because I feel that there's definitely a more elegant way of doing things and maybe give me some ideas on what I could/should try to do next)
    Thanks Mo

    • Oct 17 2015 | 3:29 am
      Hey Mohammed, if you hook up with a musician who has no Max skills they could probably keep you busy forever! =:-)
      Like several (or more) on this list I'm a musician first, and I'm only using Max so I can do things that couldn't be done otherwise. (Although Logic Pro's Environment window did give me a taste of MIDI processing.) Because of this my ideas often come from wanting to be able to do something my synths won't normally do.
      e.g. I want the bottom key of the keyboard to be a switch, not a note. And I want it to give me 6 different numbers with 1 or 2 short or slightly longer key presses so I can do 6 different things on the keyboard. Max to the rescue! e.g. I constantly get a bit of aftertouch at the beginning of a note even when I don't want it (because I play kinda heavily cos I'm a pianist.) So, what if I DO want deliberate aftertouch? Answer: a simple little Max patch that ignores short bursts of aftertouch but allows longer (i.e. more deliberate) streams of aftertouch to get through. e.g. I want to be able to hold the bottom key (without a note sounding), play some chords, release the bottom key, and then get the chords I've just played - chosen randomly and transposed to each key's pitch. Can sound pretty wild, even with a boring ol' piano sound, and even a concert pianist couldn't play like that! etc. etc. etc.
      So I usually start with questions like: In what ways would I like Max to enhance my live playing? What "magical" things would I like the keyboard to do that can't normally be done? What ways would I like the keyboard to be "fixed"?
      My musical musings no longer just centre around "normal" things like melodies, harmonies and rhythms. Max allows me to try all sorts of imaginative things. The tricky part is to make them sound musically effective rather than just bizarre.
      So the answer to your question probably depends on YOUR musical goals. I want to do a live performance featuring lots of MIDI processing. What do YOU want to do? Do you want to trigger images on a screen from a MIDI guitar? Add sensors to a room full of sculptures so you can trigger sounds from them? Make the brightness and colours of the stage lights respond to the different drums in your drummer's kit? Play any scale in any key using only white notes on a keyboard?
      I reckon if you had an actual goal you'd automatically get HEAPS of ideas about what to do in Max. :-)
      And yeah - please feel free to post your patch here.
    • Oct 17 2015 | 9:22 pm
      Thank you so much Bill for that very thorough reply. I guess it's all about the mindset you approach Max with, I built this patch mainly for playing live, a way to improvise and experiment while still having the needed amount of control. The problem is I still rely heavily on Ableton and am yet to get to grips with using Max for Live and that as you will see in the patch (attched below) is that it is very audio centric (even though I want to add some sort of generative MIDI phrase sequencer at one point). ANd if you don't mind is it possible that I try to make some variations on the examples you gave above simply as a form of practice? Thanks again and let me know what, in your opinion, can be done to make this patch look like less of a mess :)
      Cheers Mo
    • Oct 17 2015 | 9:24 pm
      For some reason it didn't paste properly, I'll try attaching it
    • Oct 17 2015 | 10:52 pm
      Mo, that patch is HHHHHHHHUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEE by my standards. Well done!
      My use of Max is quite puny in comparison - mostly just MIDI processing, virtually no audio. So I'm not the person to check it out for you.
      Actually, this thread seems to me to be 2-in-1. One about your patch (which I can't help you with - sorry) and the other a general discussion about how to come up with new ideas about what to do in Max (which I'm happy to discuss).
      Re making something with my examples/ideas, go for it! I'd be happy to see your results.
    • Oct 17 2015 | 11:32 pm
      yeah sorry about that, I guess you can see why i need help tidying it up a bit. I'll just create another thread for that.
      as for ideas, for example I am very interested in generative music, my music is mainly soundscapes, drones very ambient kind of stuff and more often than not has been just my guitar, pedals and ableton but I feel that now that I am learning max I could extend on that and delve more into the MIDI side of things. I know a far bit about sound design but I still can't get an instrument or an idea that would create an ever evolving sound environment. I am actually thinking of doing as you said, asking my friends for patches that might solve a problem for them, working on that and then maybe through that gain more fluency in max and coming up with ideas on my own.
      On rereading that I know it makes almost zero sense, but that's why I am stuck I guess haha
    • Oct 18 2015 | 2:12 am
      Don't stress, Mo - your post makes perfect sense. :-)
      I've read your other thread and can see that you're in excellent hands. (Actually, thanks to Benny I might replace a few messages with toggles in my patches.) And have you checked out Rodrigo's Karma looper? There could well be significant overlap with yours.
      I'm ok with midi stuff, and there is some overlap in our interests. I want the performance I'm working on to be 100% live, using things like midi echoes that randomly change channel (sound), pan position, octave, etc. etc. to add richness, i.e. some of the same things that you'll probably want to use. You seem to be VERY capable already with Max, so I don't think you'll have any serious problems. (Unlike me - I've taken *years* to become reasonable at some aspects of Max.)
      You know about creating runtime patches for your friends, don't you?
      And have you had a look at Cycling 74's "M"?