Forums > MaxMSP

Realtime Ambient patch

December 16, 2009 | 12:35 am

Hi all,

i’m trying to build a realtime ambient patch which will gather informations from the environment (temperature, light, movements) to modify some of its melodic/timbric/etc parameters.
Right now, I am looking around me to see which system could fit best (dynamic filters, delicate piano sounds…)
From Max’s perspective there are gazillions ways to have soft, relaxing everchanging music, I know… I was just wondering if you have some suggestion, patch to see or to study, ideas on how to structure of it.
I’ve never done some ambient piece, and I’m really missing some fundamentals ^_^
Thanks a lot, any (any) suggestion will be highly appreciated.


December 16, 2009 | 9:14 am

feedback, and lots of it :)

thats one way to start with ambient. the other is obviously tones, sound etc. [cycle~], always a good saviour in the field of ambient music. with control to change the frequency.

there is also reverb as well. there is a really good reverb in the max examples folder. located in the max 5 program file.

other than that, there is a barrage of forums posts [whether they can be reached with this new site is another question].
one really good patch to look at and learn from that i love is ‘seejay james’s’ ‘sine wave explorer’ patch.
this would be a good place to look at.

other than that, a lot of ambient music is built on effects, but also the planning of what you want in the first place.
you could even do the good ol’ [buffer~] [groove~] method and have a [dropfile] and [umenu] so you could load in many files to one folder and switch between them.
the choices are pretty much limitless.
also having some midi control is a good idea, if your controls get more and more

if light movement you are looking for, the jitter forum is a good place to look.

hope this helped…

lewis g. edwards

December 16, 2009 | 11:06 pm

thanks a lot. your first sentence is really illuminating! eheh ^_^
i am working on (a lot of) feedback/reverb since a couple of days, and i can say it looks the right direction. thanks!
As a last thing i’d like to add some delicate midi piano sounds, but i miss a solid music theory (consonance, triads and so on). I think i should look if someone posted something about that. thanks again

December 17, 2009 | 9:00 am

Check out mlooch – still my favourite droner – at . And whilst you’re there, check the rest of Brad’s pages; there’s plenty there to play with!

December 17, 2009 | 3:00 pm

wow, mlooch looks amazing. i listened to the app and it’s incredibly interesting.
i’d like to study the patch, but it is not working! it’s a shame…

December 20, 2009 | 3:28 am

Hey, thanks for the props Lewis! Am pretty happy with the Sine Explorer too. Lots to mess with using those seemingly simple waveforms… and those signals don’t have to be the only thing you’re listening to, they can be modulators of other audio or whatever else, which can be much more interesting… but sometimes it’s nice to hear what they’re doing on their own as well. We like math here, don’t we?

For me, ambience is all about feedback, so tapin~ tapout~… with "just the right settings"… if you can somehow tie in the msec values with something you’re measuring, you can get some great resonances. of course, beware of uber-feedback. I don’t change the msec much, just the feedback level, which seems to work better. It’s crazy what you can get out of a simple system like that.

Out of curiosity, what hardware are you using to measure the environment? phidgets?

December 20, 2009 | 4:49 pm

im getting a load of "gen24: no such object" errors when i try to open the mlooch patch too.

here’s my generative offering: < screenshot

generates nice ambient music without any input needed. theres also an audio mangler that can produce nice results, or nasty :P

December 20, 2009 | 5:50 pm


if it is coming up with that little warning, that will mean you dont have the external in your externals folder for it to pick up the third party external. check on and search for it their.

December 21, 2009 | 6:56 pm

To make searching a little easier, [gen24] is an object from the PeRColate library.

December 21, 2009 | 7:27 pm

Hey gang —

Sorry I’m not more active on the list lately, I’m still struggling with this RSS nonsense, and my browsing of the forum tends to be a little spotty, at best.

Anyhow, thanks for the kind words about mlooch. As noted, if you want to look at the patch you will need some externals (mlooch does indeed need the PeRColate stuff: and many of my others use rtcmix~ ). The standalones should run fine, though, without the added externals.

I’ve got a few other ‘looches’ around: but this time of year my favorites are the ‘ambient holiday apps’: (max/msp) (Dashboard widget)

Another fun max/msp one for the season is mm2(snow):

Probably the largest generative/ambient/integrated max/msp app I’ve done is My Book of Dreams:

all of the music is generative-algorithmic, all in max/msp.

And bunches of other stuff here, if you’re interested:

I tried to put everything I could remember on-line. My memory ain’t what it used to be, though.


December 21, 2009 | 7:59 pm

wow, your book of dreams patch is incredible..!

could you share a few pointers on creating generative music, or maybe a few sources you learnt from? im just starting to get into this and finding it quite fascinating

good stuff!

December 22, 2009 | 1:20 am


The main pointers I can share are to try lots of things, and use your ears. :-) (yeah, I know, not really very helpful!). I do find that selecting an appropriate language really helps… I tend to prefer procedural text-based languages (usually inside my apps lurks an rtcmix~ or a maxlispj or something like that) because I find it much easier to lay out future-scheduled events and conditionals/probabities that way.

You might try taking a look at some of the classes we have offered in the past:

(scroll down to "past courses" — the ones that deal with algorithmic stuff are usually the g6610/g6611 classes)

UC Santa Cruz has been involved in algo-stuff a long time, check out some of Peter Elsea’s or David Cope’s work.


December 22, 2009 | 1:35 am


the courses look very interesting, will have to read up on those. i’d go and do a current one somewhere, but i live in the uk and have just graduated from university, so the prospect of doing another course (even in the US), though very appealing, isnt a possibility :(

anyway, thanks for the help, and sparking my interests with your programs!

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Forums > MaxMSP