I come to realize that each time I start working my way through the MAX tutorials, around lesson 30 or so, I simply lack the mathematical skills to get the picture.
Will I ever be able to get to the MSP tutorials...?
just try to skip a tutorial if you struggle to hard with something, maybe the next tutorial won't seem so hard.
you could also try starting the MSP tutorials, it takes off from ground zero.
A general understanding of equations is a must. But to be a sucessfull maxer you don't need to understand everything in the tutorials, since you can try out stuff as you go along. If you wanna do complex FFT algorithms and such you'll need to hit the mathbooks, if a basic synth/sampler is what you want just max away.... you'll figure it out as you go along, if not, there's always help to be found in this forum ;o)
The tutorials, help files and documentation are a must for anyone who is
serious about this. Skipping is fine as long as you go back and get the
skill the tutorial is trying to impart.
I have been teaching Max since the 1980's and have been frustrated to find
that some students skip ALL of the tutorials. A year or two into their
maxing they try to implement something that was covered (and NOT difficult)
and waste a lot of creative time writing a contorted patch when there is a
This term I tried something different with my max beginners. I made the
tutorials a prerequisite. I asked each student to copy the tutorial folder
into their own space and make modifications in each one with comments that
made it clear to me that they 1) had done the tutorial and 2) understood it.
By mid term these students had achieved a level of skill far beyond what
past students did in an entire semester.
Every month or so I scan the manual looking only at the header line and "see
also" to remind myself what is in max/msp. Every morning I do a random
access in the help folders to focus on 3-4 objects that jump out as
unfamiliar to me. I use the same procedure on the many third party packages
I have collected. AND I read the max list without regard to how many posted
the correspondent has made. I learn something substantial everyday.
Think in a nonlinear fashion. Rather than a straight line from beginning to
end - which almost never works - use a spiral or zigzag that leads you to
cross old paths from different directions. Above all, don't try to learn
everything before you make music. Force yourself to stop frequently and
make music with the tools you have mastered.
Gary Lee Nelson
Seems to me that it depends what you want out of it. I've been using MaxMSP for a year or so, although my mathematical skills are pretty rudimentary and consequently I don't really understand a lot of the (to me) more complex stuff. In spite of that, I've been able to make patches and use them to produce interesting sounds and music, which as far as I'm concerned is the most important thing.
If making music, rather than become a MaxMSP whiz, is what you're ultimately aiming to do, then (for now at least) I'd stop worrying about getting through all the Max tutorials and have a go at some MSP ones. As Brian says above, you can fill in the gaps in your knowledge as you go along.
>If making music, rather than become a MaxMSP whiz, is what you're
>ultimately aiming to do, then (for now at least) I'd stop worrying
>about getting through all the Max tutorials and have a go at some
>MSP ones. As Brian says above, you can fill in the gaps in your
>knowledge as you go along.
I'm a big fan of people getting something working ASAP so that
Max/MSP seems musical to them, but really getting the essentials
down, which is basic Max skills - and the tutorials are quite
essential for that, in combination with those in Robert Rowe and Todd
Winkler's books (both MIT Press), plus the help files and analyzing
bits of code from anywhere and everywhere. Copying elements from
patches by others can be a useful way to experiment, but I've rarely
seen anyone really mastering this without writing their own code from
scratch. Personally, I'm doing more Max at the moment than MSP and
might be surprised at how much depth and musicality one can cultivate
working with MIDI data, especially in conjunction with interesting
and musical controllers, especially those that somehow relate to
familiar things in the real world (tracking physical gestures,
expanding acoustical instrument technique and so on).
Thinking about my students, they seem to get the most out of stuff
that they can integrate into performance, but projects never get as
far as they might without the basic skills, along with some real
musical conception and realization. Simple code along a great idea
and musicality can work just fine.
Robert J. Gluck
Assistant Professor of Music
Director, Electronic Music Studios
Affiliate faculty, Department of Judaic Studies
Affiliate Faculty, College of Computing and Information
"Some I know, the cawing crow and three pulsed dove that sounds a coo
nothing like a baby's. Others I cannot name: trill-like-insect
sibilant-song and a gullet-throbbing call forced out by the staccato
notes that follow. It all comes together like a symphony. the passing
cars, notes with flags. counterpoint to the birds." (Susan
Robertson, 'Morning Prayers')
I don't have the book here at home to give an accurate quote, but I remember a passage from Richard Feynman's book "You're joking, Mr. Feynman!" in which he described his approach to new puzzles, where he would visualize the information he was confronted with as something familiar, such as an orange, and the facets of the puzzle as an ever-growing number of objects stuck into that orange; pins or cloves or whatever. In this way he had something concrete to think about, and could use his personal, invented comparison to fill in the gaps until he had enough information and experience to fully grasp the task at hand.
When I got my first copy of Max/MSP, I had a definite idea of what I wanted to do, and without reading anything I sat down and did it. I have the advantage of having been programming in various languages since I was a boy, but there is one basic precept that I always use: if I want to perform a logical task with some new programming language, I would bet money on it that the language is going to allow me to do so. I just have to be patient enough to find out how.
Sure: read the tutorials. By all means! But I imagine that whenever something seems obstructively complicated, it is because you don't yet have a personal reason to use that function.
My experience was that whenever i worked on the tutorials and its
examples and tests i only learned something for good when i tried to
modificate the patches into directions that appealed to me. You also
learn a new language better when you need to (cause nobody understands
you where you are....). So work on the things you need for what you
want to do, but start with easy tasks. Then when you get stuck, try
finding some help in the tutorials, de reference manuals or the help
Sorry, I know we've had plenty of posts so far. My experience with the tutorials is, well, make a checklist and make certain you do each one at least eventually. There were quite a few MSP tutorials that I just didn't get (including the FM, shamefully enough) for quite some time. I came back every few months and was able to knock a couple more off until I finally had them all done. You'll get them after time, and after using what you've already learned. Apart of being able to understand the parts you are having difficulty with is using what you do know daily in your own patches. Part of Max is constant refinement and understanding. Just keep at it, you'll come along if you approach it methodically. =)