[ot] max today, music tomorrow


    Jul 23 2006 | 2:39 pm
    The topic title explains what I want to say as a whole. I feel lost right now and don't have anyone to rant to. I've been working with max for about 3 years now. In the past year its been almost an all day max fiasco trying to get a real composition environment that embraces quite a lot of different mediums and philosophies together. The problem is, well its still in shambles and that's not because its unsolveable. No, the problem is its just a lot of work, and a lot of redundant grunt programming, and miscalculations here and there, and it goes on forever and ever.
    I guess my question to the list is, how do you stay sane with Max and large projects? I used to play the piano a lot, and combose just what seems like basic stuff in Cubase way back when... Now it seems theres no time, the goal is to finish my Max patch so I can compose in a way that I feel is correct for me, yet, the price or cost of such a goal seems to mount higher and higher as "music" gets further away from me. I love Max to death but its defintely complicated my life and musical outlook to such a degree that I don't feel I can cope with being able to support myself, work on my max stuff [which is really an endless list of things and improvements] and study general musicianship/classical composition all at the same time. I wish there was a solution, but with my main max patch still in pieces and essential parts yet to be built plus hardware yet unbought, I feel a victim of my own title to this topic... Is it always going to be Max today, music tomorrow, which leads to what? I thought Max was meant to liberate me, instead its put me in a world of cables and endless possibilities that seems to just stress me out and make it impossible to do what I set out to do, which is enjoy music.
    Any advice would be appreciated,
    binez0r

    • Jul 23 2006 | 2:50 pm
      Define your problem more narrowly. That is, find a way for Max to help with one small aspect of your piece. Then next time find a way for it to help with another. Over time you may build the uber-compositional system you're dreaming of. But by then, your idea of the ideal system will probably be different than it is now.
      My favorite part of Max, like other programming environments, is it's ability to encapsulate. You begin patching together other people's objects and abstractions--using other people's work and words and ideas. But then as you aggregate them into your own objects and abstractions you find yourself using your own work and words and ideas more regularly. Start small and grow...
    • Jul 23 2006 | 3:15 pm
      I can definitely see a bit of myself in your predicament, binez0r. Like Holland said, I think the problem is that your project started with a very wide and conceptual approach - this is where problems tend to arise, since there is no elegant way of going from concept->patch; every encapsulation you do will be a compromise of the original idea.
      I too build many small problem-solvers, which are already starting to take the shape of a useful performance system. I also have a few standalones compiled along the way, which I can always dig out and use on their own.
      The good thing for me, I guess, is that I don't rely fully on Max for my music (yet), so I can always turn to my other system for when the actual music needs to get done.
    • Jul 23 2006 | 4:57 pm
      On 23 Jul 2006, at 15:39, binez0r wrote:
      >
      > I guess my question to the list is, how do you stay sane with Max
      > and large projects?
      Is the environment you're building modular? Could you then create
      with the elements that you have working? I think there's a tendency
      to want to have a project complete and perfect before you are willing
      to do anything with it. I know of one person on this list who was
      told by her professor to get out and start performing as she was
      putting that off until she had everything just right. She took his
      advice and has done really interesting work.
      I also think that no large patch is ever finished - I spent years
      building something that was a general purpose environment for live
      looping and granulating (and it's been through 3 major, ground-up
      rebuilds), and was using it a month or so after I started, warts n
      all. Of course, you also change in the meantime - I doubt I'll ever
      actually use that behemoth again - I've moved to the idea of simpler,
      specific processes that I can throw together to make a specific
      performance environment.
      What am I trying to say? I guess it's that, if there's any way you
      can use elements of what you already have to do creative work,
      however simple, then go ahead and do it - go ahead and _make_
      yourself do it. It'll remind you of why you're spending so much time
      on the "bigger picture" environment (I don't mean remind you
      intellectually; I mean in the sense of walking outside and seeing the
      sky and remembering that you're simply alive, or something).
      hth somewhat
      David
    • Jul 23 2006 | 7:18 pm
      as they say in Marocco : " un homme presse est un homme deja mort "
      ( a man in a hurry is already a dead man ..." )
      i understand your frustrations , i have them to once in a while .
      but i think we just need to relax , keep on pushing the things you want to achieve , but there is only so much one can do in one day .
      i guess it is probably not a satisfying answer , and i did not come up with a patch for it but that is how i try to live my life now , with all the stuff i want to do ( become a taichi master , a herbalist, an installation artist, a political activist, a journalist, a musician , a wise man , a cat , a shapeshifter ,etc...o and still doing some Max once in a while...)
      bonne journee ;)
    • Jul 24 2006 | 3:21 am
      Your first mistake is assuming any of us are sane.
      But, onward and upward. I think one key is modularity, which has been
      mentioned.
      More importantly, you have to change your design philsophy. Start with
      something small, that plays some music. Then add features on to this
      core. In this way you will always have something that plays, and you
      can enrich it at your leisure.
      The metric for development is that it takes 5 man/years to develop a
      large piece of software. Keep this in mind. Large system development
      is not easy, fast, or cheap.
      b
      binez0r wrote:
      > The topic title explains what I want to say as a whole. I feel lost right now and don't have anyone to rant to. I've been working with max for about 3 years now. In the past year its been almost an all day max fiasco trying to get a real composition environment that embraces quite a lot of different mediums and philosophies together. The problem is, well its still in shambles and that's not because its unsolveable. No, the problem is its just a lot of work, and a lot of redundant grunt programming, and miscalculations here and there, and it goes on forever and ever.
      >
      > I guess my question to the list is, how do you stay sane with Max and large projects? I used to play the piano a lot, and combose just what seems like basic stuff in Cubase way back when... Now it seems theres no time, the goal is to finish my Max patch so I can compose in a way that I feel is correct for me, yet, the price or cost of such a goal seems to mount higher and higher as "music" gets further away from me. I love Max to death but its defintely complicated my life and musical outlook to such a degree that I don't feel I can cope with being able to support myself, work on my max stuff [which is really an endless list of things and improvements] and study general musicianship/classical composition all at the same time. I wish there was a solution, but with my main max patch still in pieces and essential parts yet to be built plus hardware yet unbought, I feel a victim of my own title to this topic... Is it always going to be Max today, music tomorrow, which leads t
      o!
      > what? I thought Max was meant to liberate me, instead its put me in a world of cables and endless possibilities that seems to just stress me out and make it impossible to do what I set out to do, which is enjoy music.
      >
      > Any advice would be appreciated,
      >
      > binez0r
      >
      --
      barry threw :: sound | (if you would see the stars clearly,
      http://www.barrythrew.com | look hard at the surrounding darkness)
      bthrew(at)gmail(dot)com | -Ooka Makoto
      857-544-3967 |
    • Jul 24 2006 | 4:42 am
      Well, certainly in an insane world, only the sane seem insane to an insane person living in a sane world. Max certainly seems sane to me compared to a program like Cubase which seems insane, yet someone whos adament about using Cubase all day long would certainly look at building custom software as being insane with all of Cubase's "features"... and so it loops into itself.
      Plus, I know quite a few artists who would take being called insane as a compliment. I'm personally refering to "monkey mind". I am after mental peace [piece, peach?]... AND max. So my new question is...
      does anyone find mental peace working within Max?
    • Jul 24 2006 | 5:15 am
      > does anyone find mental peace working within Max?
      Yup. For what I have been doing lately, its easier for me (mentally) to
      build stuff from rudiments in Max than to learn to (mis/ab)use a finished
      product made by someone else.
      Trying to compose/produce/perform with other programs just stresses me
      out...
    • Jul 24 2006 | 12:33 pm
      Hi,
      I believe that the issues you are raising, are some of what we aim at
      addressing with the development of Jamoma. Lev Manovich in the book
      "Language of new media" define some fundamental principles of new media:
      - numerical representation
      - modularity
      - automation
      - variability
      - transcoding
      I have found these principles meaningful to consider when thinking about
      how I am working in Max. If I manage to make my patches being modular,
      they are easier to design, easier to test in a limited setting as I go
      along, easier to reuse, etc. Similarly, the more I am able to automate
      modules, the more flexible they become. All parameters of the module
      tend to stay available for longer, giving a richer expressive potential
      for the module, and i can start developing control modules for the
      purpose of modulating parameters of other modules. This can lead to a
      hierarchy of parameter levels, so that fundamental parameters can be
      bundled and operated at higher and more abstract levels.
      One of the most important features of Jamoma in my mind is the framework
      for how to design modules in a stringent way that ensures easy
      communication between them using OpenSoundControl, and with a number of
      common features implemented in the modules by default (e.g. muting,
      bypassing, dry/wet mix, gain control for audio effects patches). I
      hardly ever use any of the provided modules for my own work (except for
      spatialisation modules added lately), but the structure itself I use all
      the time.
      Jamoma is maintained using subversion at sourceforge.net. As we are
      several developers collaborating on Jamoma, this is a big benefit, and
      it also means that we are able to dig up older versions of modules and
      patches if required. If I only had the time to figure out how to set up
      a subversion system for my own patches, I would definitively do the same
      locally for everything I do in Max.
      At the moment we are four developers actively submitting code to the
      project, and I expect this to increase in the coming months. One of the
      benefits of this kind of collaboration is that the design is more
      thoroughly conceived, implementation more efficient, and the solutions
      of more general use than if one person should develop this alone. And of
      course development moves a lot faster. As we all use it for different
      purposes and in different ways, I believe that we manage to avoid
      idiosyncratic solutions, so that the architecture can be of more general
      use.
      You can check out Jamoma here:
      I would recommend trying to download from the repository instead of the
      installer, as quite a bit has happened since the 0.3.1 installer was
      uploaded. If you take a look at the Jamoma blog, you will also find
      links to several similar environments for Max developed elsewhere.
      Best,
      Trond
      binez0r wrote:
      > The topic title explains what I want to say as a whole. I feel lost right now and don't have anyone to rant to. I've been working with max for about 3 years now. In the past year its been almost an all day max fiasco trying to get a real composition environment that embraces quite a lot of different mediums and philosophies together. The problem is, well its still in shambles and that's not because its unsolveable. No, the problem is its just a lot of work, and a lot of redundant grunt programming, and miscalculations here and there, and it goes on forever and ever.
      >
      > I guess my question to the list is, how do you stay sane with Max and large projects? I used to play the piano a lot, and combose just what seems like basic stuff in Cubase way back when... Now it seems theres no time, the goal is to finish my Max patch so I can compose in a way that I feel is correct for me, yet, the price or cost of such a goal seems to mount higher and higher as "music" gets further away from me. I love Max to death but its defintely complicated my life and musical outlook to such a degree that I don't feel I can cope with being able to support myself, work on my max stuff [which is really an endless list of things and improvements] and study general musicianship/classical composition all at the same time. I wish there was a solution, but with my main max patch still in pieces and essential parts yet to be built plus hardware yet unbought, I feel a victim of my own title to this topic... Is it always going to be Max today, music tomorrow, which leads to!
      > what? I thought Max was meant to liberate me, instead its put me in a world of cables and endless possibilities that seems to just stress me out and make it impossible to do what I set out to do, which is enjoy music.
      >
      > Any advice would be appreciated,
      >
      > binez0r
    • Jul 26 2006 | 9:12 am
      Langdon Crawford wrote:
      >
      >>does anyone find mental peace working within Max?
      >
      > Yup. For what I have been doing lately, its easier for me (mentally) to
      > build stuff from rudiments in Max than to learn to (mis/ab)use a finished
      > product made by someone else.
      >
      > Trying to compose/produce/perform with other programs just stresses me
      > out...
      Nothing to add here, though the definition of "mental peace" might be
      not quite clear. I do make "heavy mental music" and somtimes "holy metal
      music" (playing Tibetan bowls through my Max patches). The latter would
      fit better to peace and the former to piece...
      I certainly would find peace if I could patch all day and somebody else
      would take care of all the other needs to survive on planet earth... ;-)
      Stefan
      --
      Stefan Tiedje------------x-------
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