Forums > MaxMSP

live performances and max/msp..how do you?



REC
July 12, 2007 | 2:46 am

i’m curious, i’ve basically wanted to use make to create some live improv style midi sequence machine. I have a couple of ideas but i don’t know how feasable it’ll be in the near future, as it’s taken me quite a while just to figure out how to get midi sequences into the coll~ object..LOL. Anyway, i’m wondering if some of you could describe how you are using max/msp in the live setting in some detail, just to get some food for thought if you will. I know you guys might like to keep your setups secret so people don’t bite your style, i think autechre keep there methods pretty low key for obvious reasons.

But i’m wondering if in the live realm do most of you concentrate on the audio processing (ie mainly msp), or do some of you out there bring , for example, 2 keyboards, couple of samplers, etc. and a laptop with max installed, and go to town with all that equipment in realtime. this seems like it’d be the most genuine live performance. As opposed to a glorified DJ, where you have a stereo aiff of you songs and you set there and change effect paramaters throughout the whole set. Which i guess, in the end, really isn’t that lame.. i mean it’s your music and you getting it out there, alot more than others do. But i really want to play my music live and interact with it. At this point i’d only only be able to Dj a set of my songs, and effect stuff in realtime, i don’t think i have the capabilites yet to manipulte the beats in realtime, other than certain audio plugins that are availble. but i’m wanting to do more, as i’m a drummer.

so again, will some of you describe how you go about things? I’m thinking i might just use Radial for live performaces right now.. just mix down tracks in logic and load them up in radial, at least radial get some interaction going, but again it’s touching the realm of a glorifieg DJ (nothing wrong with that), but maybe some of you have max, controlling Radial in some way.. with lfos of something.. i don’t thats why i asking.

hope to hear from you guys, Matthew

July 12, 2007 | 5:41 am

How to approach the laptop as an instrument is a very interesting question. A great way to start is to consider how you will interface with the software.

Using a MIDI controller such as the fairly cheap Evolution UC-33 allows you to control multiple parameters and imagine your software more like an instrument. Then you can start thinking about what you want to control.

If you want to check out what I have created for live performances go to http://www.kenaxis.com/. It allows for manipulation of prerecorded samples and live input. I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

Stefan

July 12, 2007 | 8:47 am

I don’t do public live performances (at least not yet), but there is a live aspect to the things I am working on. I’m looking to compose music using a combination of preplanned material (sequenced or algorithmically generated), live improvisation, and live processing/remixing. To this end I have been spending most of my effort in Max building a modular sequencing system that can be manipulated on-the-fly to drive midi hardware. I am probably reinventing the wheel many times over here (I have the feeling I really need to try Ableton Live), but maybe the following overview will give you some ideas.

My patches contain any number (within practical limits) of sequencing modules, each of which stores a list of numbers. The numbers can mean anything but commonly represent midi note numbers, rhythm lengths, volumes, durations, and arbitrary midi controller sequences. The modules accept various commands like bang (current value), next, prev, goto n, advance n. Typically a regular pulse generator connects to rhythm modules, which in turn drive the other modules. The rhythm modules are a little different in that the sequenced numbers indicate how many pulses to wait until the next output is sent. So if a pulse is a 16th note, the list 4 2 2 represents quarter eighth eighth.

I like keeping everything decoupled, so for example I can hook up a rhythm module with 3 numbers (like quarter eighth eighth) to a module with 4 midi notes and get a melodic pattern that takes 12 notes to repeat. And there’s interesting possibilities with hooking up one rhythm module to another. It’s pretty easy to make complex patterns with a few simple lists of numbers. You can’t do basic stuff like this in most commercial sequencers AFAIK which is part of the reason I started building my own.

The sequencing modules each have a pattrstorage-based preset system for storing multiple sequences. I’ve experimented with queuing up preset recalls for live performance purposes, and various ways to sync modules, but there are still a lot of kinks to be ironed out in those areas. I’ve wondered if the timeline object can help but I’ve heard about stability problems with that object so I’ve avoided it. I have tried using a Monome 40h for the preset recall queueing and that seems like it will work pretty well but I wish the lights on the monome had different colors so I could display what is currently playing versus what is queued.

I’ve played around with various GUI representations for displaying sequencing modules and manipulating them with the mouse/keyboard. Multisliders and custom GUIs can hide the underlying number list when numbers feel too low-level. What’s really lacking right now is a record feature. I want to click record on a sequencing module and twiddle a knob or play a few notes and have the list of numbers update accordingly with visual feedback. Recording quantized rhythms will be a great feature but that seems quite a bit harder.

My todo list is getting ridiculously long. Other things that I plan on building:

- Recording and manipulating audio loops with MSP along with the sequenced midi.

- Support commands for transposition, inversion, retrograde, apply an expression to all numbers in a sequence.

- A system for sequencing chords instead of just monophonic voices. Arpeggiation features to go along with that.

- Instead of using midi note numbers, map arbitrary number sequences onto different scales. One day I want to try composing with Partch’s 43-tone scale.

This is turning out to be a really complicated project but I’m far enough that I think it’s been worth the work and will serve me well in the long run. I don’t think I’ll be ready to share something for a while longer yet, but eventually I do plan on documenting it and releasing it for free. But first expect a preliminary version that doesn’t include anywhere close to the amount of functionality I have described here.

If other people are working on similar things, I’d love to hear about it.

Adam

July 12, 2007 | 1:04 pm

I’ve done a lot of this since max was introduced and before that with Roger
Dannenburg’s MoxC. Most of my early work was with MIDI and a portable rack
of modular synths and effects. Primarily, I have used the MidiHorn, a wind
instrument I designed with Oberlin music engineer, John Talbert. I have
also used a WX7, Logitech WingMan game controller and Gyration wireless
mouse in performance. My students have used many control devices like
pressure pads, light sensors and the infamous "midi beach ball" that
contained a sensor that sent a message on each bounce as it traveled through
an audience (Joel Hamberger, I think). Commercial midi instruments abound
and don’t forget pitch tracking. For experimental approaches, start with
STEIM in Amsterdam. Current game controllers are also looking interesting
as evidenced by the Wii thread on this list.

So the short message is that a controller of some sort is important not only
as an interface to your computer but as an interface to the audience.
Audiences don’t like to see a geek hidden on stage behind a monitor. Once
you leave the studio and step on stage, you have entered THEATRE! You don’t
have to get a fog machine and strobe lights but visual impact is very
important. Don’t sit on the floor in lotus position with your laptop (most
of the audience can’t see you). Get a stand for your laptop that raises it
for a comfortable standing position. If your interface is the computer
keyboard, turn the computer sideways to the audience so they can see your
face/profile and your hands. If you use another interface, get to center
stage and face the audience. Put on a show. Dress cool. Move gracefully.
EMOTE (even if it is just theatre).

Hide the technology. Make your artistic ideas carry the show. The rest of
us geeks will want to know how you did it but most members of an audience
will probably not care if the music is good. If they start to wonder about
the gear, you’ve lost them as far as the art is concerned. I used to put all
my gear on a table off to the side. I got a skirt for the table to hide the
cables. My ultimate goal is me on a bare stage with a wireless device with
NO gear visible.

Sorry this turned into a blog but performance style is very important else
why would there be music videos?

On 7/11/07 10:46 PM, "Matthew Williams" wrote:

>
> i’m curious, i’ve basically wanted to use make to create some live improv
> style midi sequence machine. I have a couple of ideas but i don’t know how
> feasable it’ll be in the near future, as it’s taken me quite a while just to
> figure out how to get midi sequences into the coll~ object..LOL. Anyway, i’m
> wondering if some of you could describe how you are using max/msp in the live
> setting in some detail, just to get some food for thought if you will. I know
> you guys might like to keep your setups secret so people don’t bite your
> style, i think autechre keep there methods pretty low key for obvious
> reasons.
>
> But i’m wondering if in the live realm do most of you concentrate on the
> audio processing (ie mainly msp), or do some of you out there bring , for
> example, 2 keyboards, couple of samplers, etc. and a laptop with max
> installed, and go to town with all that equipment in realtime. this seems
> like it’d be the most genuine live performance. As opposed to a glorified DJ,
> where you have a stereo aiff of you songs and you set there and change effect
> paramaters throughout the whole set. Which i guess, in the end, really isn’t
> that lame.. i mean it’s your music and you getting it out there, alot more
> than others do. But i really want to play my music live and interact with it.
> At this point i’d only only be able to Dj a set of my songs, and effect stuff
> in realtime, i don’t think i have the capabilites yet to manipulte the beats
> in realtime, other than certain audio plugins that are availble. but i’m
> wanting to do more, as i’m a drummer.
>
> so again, will some of you describe how you go about things? I’m thinking i
> might just use Radial for live performaces right now.. just mix down tracks in
> logic and load them up in radial, at least radial get some interaction going,
> but again it’s touching the realm of a glorifieg DJ (nothing wrong with that),
> but maybe some of you have max, controlling Radial in some way.. with lfos of
> something.. i don’t thats why i asking.
>
> hope to hear from you guys, Matthew

Cheers
Gary Lee Nelson
Oberlin College
http://www.timara.oberlin.edu/GaryLeeNelson

July 12, 2007 | 4:22 pm

ableton and max is a killer combo, cant wait till they collab. I lately have been using max as a generative sequencer, and live as a more ridgid structure element to hold everything together while max goes nuts.

July 12, 2007 | 5:33 pm

At 8:46 PM -0600 7/11/07, Matthew Williams wrote:
>so again, will some of you describe how you go about things?

I’ve been developing a custom program for live improv that I’m calling Gyre. I have a a page on it here: http://www.xfade.com/Gyre I’ve gigged with it a few times, and continue to push it into new directions.

It is designed to use with a modular synth, but there is an (undocumented) simple synthesizer, mixer and effects section which can be used in case I don’t have the modular with me.

-C


Chris Muir | "There are many futures and only one status quo.
cbm@well.com | This is why conservatives mostly agree,
http://www.xfade.com | and radicals always argue." – Brian Eno


REC
July 13, 2007 | 3:26 am

thanks for the responses, and adam, i’m definitely intersted in hearing the kind of rythms you’re getting out of your patches. I’ll definitely purchase a copy of kenaxis stefan. It’s weird how much videos help with the learning curve of a given program. I think i learned more in the 10 mins i spent watching the videos than i would’ve in a month reading the manual and twiddling knobs at random. So anyway, i think i have a pretty good idea of the direction i need to go to give a good live show, now it’s just a matter of getting there.

thanks again, matt

July 13, 2007 | 7:16 pm

Quote: Axiom-Crux wrote on Thu, 12 July 2007 09:22
—————————————————-
> ableton and max is a killer combo, cant wait till they collab. I lately have been using max as a generative sequencer, and live as a more ridgid structure element to hold everything together while max goes nuts.
—————————————————-

Hey Axiom-Crux,
One thing I am looking to do is have a flexible on-the-fly midi & audio loop manager that lets me build up compositions using improvisation. I’m looking for software that lets me record something and loop it, and then without stopping the loop:
* Record many other loops in separately manageable tracks
* Overdub onto a single track or merge tracks
* Send individual loops to an FX unit (Max patches, or VST plugins, or hardware connected via USB/firewire) and record the returning signal into yet another track
* Record midi loops that control the FX units, and tweak the midi manually on the fly as needed
* Cut up tracks and rearrange them on-the-fly (it’s fine if I have to mute a track or take it "offline" to do the editing, as long as the other loops keep going)
* Any loop should be able to have a different length, creating complex phasing patterns. Maybe I didn’t know what I was doing, but I’ve found most sequencing software forces you to set a single loop duration and all tracks are constrained to that. Not having this feature is a deal breaker for me.

Can Live handle all of this? Are there any issues with syncing stuff going on in Max/MSP with the loop recording in Live?

I know I should just try the demo, but (this is a little silly) I am worried I will get hooked on it and I don’t want to dish out another few hundred bucks for audio software right now. Not to mention I don’t want excitement over a new piece of software to derail my current time-consuming Max/MSP projects.

I feel like with enough time and effort this is all doable in Max/MSP, but maybe paying for Live is worth saving that time and effort so I can do more interesting things?

Adam

July 13, 2007 | 8:08 pm

> So the short message is that a controller of some sort is important
> not only
> as an interface to your computer but as an interface to the audience.

To extend on this idea, try mappings for your controllers that go
beyond traditional mappings.
For instance, rather than using an infrared sensor as a glorified
slider, why not look at delta values coming out of it? The roughness
of your motions is a very interesting parameter, and works great from
an audience standpoint. Avoid Mickey Mouse mappings where x always
causes y; instead try things like 80% of the time x causes y, or x only
causes y after being armed by action z, or action z switches the
mappings of x and y, etc. This will make your instrument more
interesting to play and watch. Also, it provides handy creative
trapdoors for you so that you don’t get stuck with the same behaviors
all the time.

Think about what it looks/feels like to play your instrument. While
this is heresy for several people I’ve met in electronic music ("I only
care about what goes into my ears" meets thought-bubble "Great, that
way you won’t see how bored I am with your gear-headed, unmusical
approach to music") the way you interface with an object affects the
sound you get from it. Building an instrument that feels fun to play
is worth much more than the way that playing it looks, but I generally
find that the first leads to the second.

Peter McCulloch

July 13, 2007 | 9:53 pm

> Think about what it looks/feels like to play your instrument. While
> this is heresy for several people I’ve met in electronic music ("I only
> care about what goes into my ears…."

Nothing marginalizes a position with which you disagree
better than implying an oppressive orthodoxy…. :-)

That said, I’d volunteer that designing an interface that is personal, feels enjoyable to work with, and has the potential to grow/change as you do is very good advice, in my own limited experience. As a personal matter, I find the practice of limiting risk in performance by finding 4 parameters that can be tweaked in a way that an audience would be able to "follow" to be every bit as waarying as someone who appears to be reading their email on stage, and there are plenty of examples of both out there. For me personally, the instructive dilemma has been to start with too much under my fingers, reduce it until I felt like the kind of lame pantomime entertainer I tended to dislike, and then head back in the other direction.

I suspect that the oscillations between these two poles over short and long spans of time displays some kind of fractal behavior. I have come to regard working intuitively or quickly or having things under my fingers in such a way that I’m listening and thinking rather than trying to read my interface or worrying about my onstage costume to be preferable. Many artists with far more insight, ability, and talent than I have may disagree, and do so rather strongly.

One interesting view that I encounter has to do with the idea that live performance needs somehow to be more "exciting" than a recording. One approach that isn’t often discussed comes out of the improvisational community – that notion that you’re up on stage making something unique [this possibly is a problem for the "minimization of risk" approach] that won’t ever happen again. For some people, being present in such situations is reward enough.

I might suggest the book "Sync or Swarm" in reference to this kind of thing. Heck, I’d recommend it to you anyway.

As ever, your mileage may vary.

July 13, 2007 | 11:17 pm

I’ve been working on the same performance rig for a couple of years now,
and have come to the conclusion that things tend to work out best for me
when there are only a couple of really well-considered paramater inputs
and a really good brain interpreting them. My original hardware design
featured numerous switches, sensors, and whatnot, most of which just got
in the way or fell apart while I was performing.

My current rig consists of a hacked game controller and two piezo
contact mic inputs. The analog axes of the joystick circuit give me
8-bit values for each axis, and I use the envelope of the piezo inputs
to drive a variety of synthesis parameters. Pretty simple stuff, but
what makes it interesting (if absurd) is the subtle and complex mapping
strategies and focus on good sound design.
Something else to consider is how you want to look when performing,
especially when designing custom hardware. You might want to be cool
and reserved, pressing sliders back and forth while your audience
scratches its chin, or maybe you want to flail around on the floor and
completely spazz out. This is totally a matter of preference. I
personally tend toward the latter.

AB

July 14, 2007 | 7:32 am

Andrew,

how can we listen to your works ?

Many thanks

All the best


Alessandro Fogar

http://www.fogar.it

2007/7/14, andrew benson :
> I’ve been working on the same performance rig for a couple of years now,
> and have come to the conclusion that things tend to work out best for me
> when there are only a couple of really well-considered paramater inputs
> and a really good brain interpreting them. My original hardware design
> featured numerous switches, sensors, and whatnot, most of which just got
> in the way or fell apart while I was performing.
>
> My current rig consists of a hacked game controller and two piezo
> contact mic inputs. The analog axes of the joystick circuit give me
> 8-bit values for each axis, and I use the envelope of the piezo inputs
> to drive a variety of synthesis parameters. Pretty simple stuff, but
> what makes it interesting (if absurd) is the subtle and complex mapping
> strategies and focus on good sound design.
> Something else to consider is how you want to look when performing,
> especially when designing custom hardware. You might want to be cool
> and reserved, pressing sliders back and forth while your audience
> scratches its chin, or maybe you want to flail around on the floor and
> completely spazz out. This is totally a matter of preference. I
> personally tend toward the latter.
>
> AB
>

July 14, 2007 | 6:29 pm

On 13 Jul 2007, at 22:53, Gregory Taylor wrote:

> I might suggest the book "Sync or Swarm" in reference to this kind
> of thing. Heck, I’d recommend it to you anyway.

Ooh .. interesting. That one’s gone STRAIGHT into the Amazon wish-list.

— N.

Nick Rothwell / Cassiel.com Limited
http://www.cassiel.com
http://www.myspace.com/cassieldotcom
http://www.loadbang.net

July 14, 2007 | 8:06 pm

> Nothing marginalizes a position with which you disagree
> better than implying an oppressive orthodoxy….

Not to be deliberately contrarian, but I do think that there is a
tendency in certain corners of electro-acoustic music to treat
interactive pieces as a lesser or even gimmicky discipline in
comparison to tape music. Oppressive, certainly not; obnoxious, yes.
And it’s always nice to see a piece that breaks skepticism of any
genre, be it tape or realtime.

Peter McCulloch

July 15, 2007 | 8:55 pm

August 26, 2007 | 5:54 pm

Hi.

I have one Kroonde For Sale in vienna, have only two months in used, if you have interes, contact to: tomate@visualartproyektil.org

100% good and work fine….

in very nice price

tomate

August 27, 2007 | 12:14 pm

> Can Live handle all of this? Are there any issues with syncing stuff going on in Max/MSP with the loop recording in Live?
>
> I know I should just try the demo, but (this is a little silly) I am worried I will get hooked on it and I don’t want to dish out another few hundred bucks for audio software right now. Not to mention I don’t want excitement over a new piece of software to derail my current time-consuming Max/MSP projects.
>
> I feel like with enough time and effort this is all doable in Max/MSP, but maybe paying for Live is worth saving that time and effort so I can do more interesting things?
>
> Adam
—————————————————-

hello, I work on stage with live, and now I am entering max world. I MUST SAY ableton live is the most great loop machine ever done, and it?s there ready for you to use (yes, you have to pay it?s price) unless you whant to be trying to make something like that for your self (it would take you a hole life) you have to try it.

I tell you that thinking that you are more interested on music than on music engieniering.

There is a vst looper called "augustus loop", if you put it into a live track (or into for live tracks) plus the looping qualities of live you CAN DO WHATEVER you whant, and, after a couple of months of having love wiht the ableton live reference-manual, you will be able to make all your imagination tells you, without having to waste weeks in programing that shit… that is way they have the best people in europe doing that thing for you!!.

Of course, max/MSP is more than that.

August 27, 2007 | 12:43 pm

I’m gone from a 15 year or so history of live performance with Max
(plus hardware synths, and then Max/MSP) to working with Ableton
Live. Live is a beautifully designed and crafted piece of software,
and works well for my purposes (complex timbral/rhythmic interactive
structures using softsynths) but you have to buy into its way of
working: a world locked to beat and tempo. And it’s not open-ended.

I had a pile of Max/MSP machinery doing what I am now doing with Live
– acting as a performance framework. While I’ll still use Max/MSP "au
naturelle" for installation works, I tend to drop into Pluggo to
integrate it into Live.

— N.

Nick Rothwell / Cassiel.com Limited
http://www.cassiel.com
http://www.myspace.com/cassieldotcom
http://www.loadbang.net

August 30, 2007 | 1:04 am

i think you’re going about it backwards. first, you need to figure out the music you want to make, and how you want it to sound, and what parameters you want to be able to adjust during a live performance. THEN, you need to make the max patch, and figure out what other outboard gear you need to make it work.

the laptop is not the art, it is the tool.

btw, here’s my performance patch. it’s a fairly compilicated sound generator (uses no samples). been awhile since i updated the site. have fun:

http://interchanzheblique.snottywong.com/

August 30, 2007 | 7:23 am

gamuso schrieb:
> There is a vst looper called "augustus loop", if you put it into a
> live track (or into for live tracks) plus the looping qualities of
> live you CAN DO WHATEVER you whant

Its probably whatever YOU want… ;-)
Or can you spread the partials of the incoming live sound to a ratio of
2.1 and loop each partial with different loop lengths, while varying
these ratios according to the angle how the musician holds her instrument?

> and, after a couple of months of having love wiht the ableton live
> reference-manual, you will be able to make all your imagination tells
> you, without having to waste weeks in programing that shit…

Analysing the incoming sound, filling a database with sonic events and
phrases, to be able to trigger them with similar sonic events or
keystrokes…

Ok, this won’t be possible with just reading the manual (neither the Max
nor the Live manual… ;-)

I’m just phantasising to give you an imagination where imagination can
go to if you use Max…

Reading this list is dangerous, you might move your imagination to an
area which can’t be covered by any single readymade program…
But you still can drop Max made patches and treatments as pluggos into
Live. In combination this is a hard to beat couple…

> Of course, max/MSP is more than that.

qed…

Stefan


Stefan Tiedje————x——-
–_____———–|————–
–(_|_ —-|—–|—–()——-
— _|_)—-|—–()————–
———-()——–www.ccmix.com

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