How to start using MAX/MSP
I’m an absolute newbie when it comes to MAX/MSP – I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. At all.
I was wondering if I could be pointed to some guides or demos aimed at people just starting out.
I saw the interview with AGF, which really inspired me as I had often wondered what process she had used to make such interesting sounds.
As far as I understand it MAX/MSP allows me to create my own audio effects and processors, yes? Now, can I save them as a VST to load in my sequencer (Cubase SX3 /Ableton 5) or does the processing need to be done inside MAX/MSP? Also, what the heck is Pluggo? I have read all the official product statements on the site – but they go a little above my knowledge at the moment (for instance, Pluggo looks to be a collection of VST effects and instruments, but it goes on to say you’ll need MAX/MSP to edit your own. So is Pluggo just a wrapper for MAX/MSP)?
I would absolutely love to get into this, so if you can help me with the basics I would be very grateful! Guides would be especially good!
Hi Antony – Max /MSP lets you program logic and audio, as you say, to
make effects. There is also Jitter, which lets you do video and 3D.
Pluggo lets you make VSTs to load into hosts, so you can do what you
The best way to get started is to download the demo and do the
tutorials. Thats how most of us learned.
v a d e //
On Sep 23, 2006, at 10:24 AM, Antony Bernardo wrote:
> I’m an absolute newbie when it comes to MAX/MSP – I have absolutely
> no idea what I am doing. At all.
> I was wondering if I could be pointed to some guides or demos aimed
> at people just starting out.
> I saw the interview with AGF, which really inspired me as I had
> often wondered what process she had used to make such interesting
> As far as I understand it MAX/MSP allows me to create my own audio
> effects and processors, yes? Now, can I save them as a VST to load
> in my sequencer (Cubase SX3 /Ableton 5) or does the processing need
> to be done inside MAX/MSP? Also, what the heck is Pluggo? I have
> read all the official product statements on the site – but they go
> a little above my knowledge at the moment (for instance, Pluggo
> looks to be a collection of VST effects and instruments, but it
> goes on to say you’ll need MAX/MSP to edit your own. So is Pluggo
> just a wrapper for MAX/MSP)?
> I would absolutely love to get into this, so if you can help me
> with the basics I would be very grateful! Guides would be
> especially good!
Ok I’ll get started on this tutorial tonight. I’m wondering though, were you proficient in any other from of programming before starting MAX/MSP?
Thanks for the reply!
PS, is there somewhere I can hear what people have made int MAX/MSP? I see they have a record lable, but I prefer to hear what an amature can achieve straight from the app.
On 23 Sep 2006, at 15:58, Antony Bernardo wrote:
> I’m wondering though, were you proficient in any other from of
> programming before starting MAX/MSP?
I for one had no previous programming experience, and text based
programming is still something that I’m not particularly interested
in. The great thing about max/msp is you can just try something out
to see if it works or not, and then fiddle around till it does.
Start by working through the tutorials (though maybe you should read
the introductions to both max and msp first). Once you’ve gotten your
head around some of the basic max concepts, you could start going
through the msp tutorials at the same time (I think I got impatient
to dive into audio after about Max tutorial 10). There’s also some
good tutorials on Peter Elsea’s web site – you get a bit more of the
concepts behind max. You can find a link somewhere on the resource
pages at Cycling. If there’s not a link to the tutorials, follow the
Don’t forget that all of the help files (option click (on mac) on an
object in an unlocked max patch to call the help file) can be edited.
Open one up, unlock it, and play around to see how it works and how
you can modify it.
And then think of a fairly simple project you’d like to create and
learn by building it. As you think of things you’d like the patch to
do, use the object reference in the max manuals to discover which
objects will help you do what you want to do. If there’s a bigger
process you can’t figure out how to achieve, people here will help
(be as clear as you can about what you’re trying to achieve – and
always have a go at it yourself first. people are a lot more helpful
if they see that you’ve put some work in.)
and be warned – max programming is addictive!
If you want some serious DSP and Sound Synthesis basics I would like
to suggest a book, from my point of view, very very important:
Elements of Computer Music from Richard Moore. Prentice Hall ed.
You need some Math and C programming backgrounds but it is a great
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While you don’t need programming experience to get started with Max, some functional knowledge of audio processing, synthesis, and DSP is helpful if you want to work in those areas. One standard reference (now a bit old, but still good) is Curtis Roads’ The Computer Music Tutorial. The nice thing is that the MSP tutorial that comes with the software is really one of the most approachable texts that deals with DSP and synthesis basics in a way understandable to folks who aren’t scientists or mathematicians.
Another thing to consider is that you can route audio and MIDI from your DAW right into Max/MSP, and/or the other way around. You don’t have to create a plugin with a GUI to do customized processing with audio from your DAW. Cycling ’74’s Soundflower is an excellent utility for interapplication audio piping.
Once you’ve used Max/MSP for a while, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of things without even launching your DAW.
Like any other complex program, don’t plan to rush through the tutorials, or just to do it once and have it (unless you have an incredible memory). Also realize that the tutorials don’t address every single object directly, and that the help files for each object give you information you may not find in either the tutorials or the object reference. And the example patches are also really helpful, as are other patches you can find from other users. The trick is to find anything you want to do, and try to figure out a way to do it in Max, keeping the tutorials, object references, and help patches handy. Do lots of small, experimental patches to accomplish anything at all. Simple example: last year at my son’s cub scouts, they had the "pinewood derby," which is where the kids make little cars and race them on an inclined track. They were using some kind of simple mechanical device to determine which car crossed first. Afterward, I was thinking about how easy it would be to use some touch or infrared sensors and create a patch in Max to time the runs, rank them, and display the results as they happen.
Good luck. This forum is a good place to learn by lurking!
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