Workshop 12 - Max for Live with James Patrick


Decibel Conference


Lesson Info

Workshop 12 - Max for Live with James Patrick

I'm very proud to introduce our next guest speaker for today. James patrick james is the founder of slam academy, a really great school in minneapolis and he's, also a composer and sound designer, and today, he's going to be talking about working with max for live a really cool, um, a really cool software kind of within a bolton that that allows you to really expand lives, creative possibilities. So, uh, warm welcome for james patrick um, couple of funny things, I want to point out, one is I'm wearing the same hat in that picture that it was a song that I have now, I haven't worn this hat so long, it's, just like one of the chances you guys, but I think I've never take that hat off or ever gotten a haircut, which is almost true. Um, the other thing I'll point out is that neymar's, our host is an amazing guy, this was creative live, and I'd like to thank everyone behind the scenes of the decibel conference for making this all possible, so minus james patrick, I'm unable to certified tra...

iner actually was one of the very first able and certified trainers ever, which was really a cool honor, and it kind of was a shoo in for me after teaching for quite a few years, electronic music up in minneapolis, on dh, then, before that being a d j, for a long time, my background getting into electronic music was just somebody that I just love sound, so I didn't have any formal training are any, like, phd or anything like that before getting into this on dh, not unlike modular synthesis stuff that's been going on around here lately, like yesterday, the richard, divine stuff, etcetera. A lot of the really, really empowering techniques, they're out there, and electronic music creation involved a little bit more of a learning curve up front, but as technology evolves more and more, the entry level user is able to embrace high level functions and high powered tools without necessarily needing tio get any sort of big degree or do anything to, you know, face any two massive of a learning, a too huge of a learning curve. So I think that now it is it's, really empowering time to embrace certain tools, like modular sentences, maybe, like reactor, with the new blocks format that just came out that's really, really awesome, as well as a lot of the different patch mobile modular software plugging tools that are out there, max for live takes the idea of a patch hable interface, and approaches it from a really low level, and so what I'm going to do today is explained to you guys how max for life could be a problem solver for you as artist. This is not a max for live work shop where I'm going to show you howto build devices from the ground up. I'll show you how that works, but I'm mostly focused on how I use macs for live as somebody who likes to, like d, j and party a lot. And so I like to use to make sure that my computer is able to keep up with my ideas and adapt itself to the way that I want to think about music. So that's what max allows the able to live user to do because with max built into able to live now having this programmable pai chewable interface that can grab on to anything inside of live ah, there are no riel limitations anymore, and the idea that you have involving many or audio or sequencing or just about anything involving two or three d visual or audio art can be pulled off one way or the other with a combination of devices, many of which you could just download for free on the internet. So this whole max for live thing is really need it's a language that's been around for a long time, and we tell you guys a teeny bit about it, but mostly just jam on. Uh, hopefully you like what you hear. So here we go. So my slide shows up that's good, eh? So what is max? Max is a twenty year old modular visual programming environment, in other words, an object based environment in which users developed their own custom devices for the use for use in the fields of audio, video and multimedia. In the case of max for live, though, these devices all function within able to live. So max has been around for a really long time, and it's, an object based programming environment for interactive media art applications, which sounds crazy, but before everyone had a laptop, if you had an idea like, maybe you wanted to do an art installation where any time somebody walked through the room lights or sounds would be triggered. Or maybe you have a stream of data from the internet and you're using that data to and then control other parameters that are unrelated, max allows you to essentially patch and connect. Different worlds together and again this has been around for twenty plus years way longer than able to live for instance why did they call it max this is my little history lesson I just love this picture of this guy oh photo a moment this is max matthews. He was really the pioneer and founding father of computer music and he committed his life to finding more physically tactile and engaging way to play and interact with electronic music because especially before computers you had this tape deck and you could record and then you could like grab the tape and then the sounds with your hands but there wasn't a heck of a lot you could do beyond using a razor blade to cut this sounds up max matthews was a real visionary in the sense that he saw the computer as a tool that could empower artists who actually break free and to a higher level of engagement with their audio. He wrote the very first software music application called music in nineteen fifty seven so big ups math matthews he just actually passed away a couple years ago this is a picture of him I think as like a ninety five year old playing one of his homemade electoral magnetic synthesizer batons so he's a genius and has that's why they're named max so how does it work though now we're getting into some more like tactile things? Max allows the user the ability to get under the hood of life so what happened was able to him in cycling seventy four of the company that runs max, they shook hands a couple of years ago and now with max devices we can grab onto ableto lives functionality, and they have essentially shook hands permanently now to where you can build devices inside of live using macs and modify the way able to actually works, which is mind blowing it's really beautifully powerful technique, especially once I get a chance to show you some of these things, so signal flow travels inside of these devices on do you get these objects you can use to interconnect and I'll show you a tiny bit about that, but I'm again going to focus mostly most of my workshop today on top down techniques like you just want some drums and a baseline tried these devices, so again, I'm going to keep moving quickly here, so this isn't turned into anything too academic um, so what I'm gonna do is I'm going to take a quick break here for one second and was slide over to able to able to live pardon me, ana, I want to show you guys something real quick, a really, really super simple max for live device, what I haven't done my session here is I just have a drum machine and a synthesizer and inside of this device really quick I want to show you this particular plug and it just has one simple slider I just made this is a utilitarian like lleyton sea compensation device and if I had the added button inside of a bolton live, max opens up and then I have the ability to hit patching mode where I can see my signal flow and I can of course grabbed this patch cable and now patch it into other objects that could modify the signal in other ways in this case, all I've done is I've taken median and inserted this pipe object and put a slider in there that says slow down that signal so essentially, this is like a little mini noted delay with a big, huge funky slider. So the cool thing about this but I can I can edit and modify these devices while they're running live inside of the live software, and whenever I'm ready, I can hit save close it back up and I'm gonna be back running right and back inside of live. And now I've essentially got access to the spinal cord of live, and I'm able to actually control the program with this object based environment, so I wanted to point that out real quick because I did save on this because that was my lead up to this next slide, but wait we don't need to know all that stuff all the patch cables and mathematics you have to do under the hood to program a device in max you don't need to know any of that stuff so I've done the bins which here I intentionally showed you kind of this a little boring academic stuff because I wanted to give you an idea of how powerful this language khun b when you incorporate twenty plus years of intricate development by users like remember max has been around for over twenty years and all these tools are out there and they're available on the internet in fact that max for live dot com this u r l you see on the bottom of the screen this is just an aggregator of every cool max for lab device ever and they're all free so for instance what can I do with max I could visit max for live and I could max for live dot com and I could look up sequencers drum machines, synthesizers, samplers, ipad devices aiken route control messages to and from different devices and live and essentially side chain anything I can make generative devices or use devices that help me get away from needing to worry about playing piano of sequencing drums I could just hit space bar on bacon start kicking out notes generative devices is a really big popular function of live are up max and this is going to be a kind of a focal point of my presentation in a minute also you can use osc for those of you who are using high resolution control protocols out there which I'm not sure if any of you are but osc is kind of like a mini style control language, but it's extremely high resolution max speaks it natively so now you have access to a higher resolution control language as well as working with a bunch of variables like random izing chance, probability and a bunch of other fund mathematical functions that we can use to create again either generative devices are make tools that kind of can have a life of their own and to top it off in my mind the most exciting thing about what max for live allows max users or live use there's part of me to do is max actually supports other coding language is under the hood so if for instance, if you know anyone who's arduino or python or job programmer there's opportunities for handshakes and collaborations giving outside of deceiving the world of max with maximus peaceful now they're all different types of custom software program ability options you have when you're taking advantage of max for alive and the neat thing is that every single live suite user has max for live built in already, so this is all free for everyone that owns life which is really, really, really exciting so how I use macs and now I'm about to hit play cool. How I use how I use macs for live now is I use it mostly because I like to perform and I like to play music live. I'm less of a like composer kind of like nate mars introduce me and more of just like a deejay performer and likes to just have fun. So with that I'm going to head over the live real quick, I mean, sure, you guys how I use this to have fun, so but one of the things that really I find really restricting as a elektronik musician is notes there just boring to me, sometimes looking at a piano and thinking about which key I'm in puts handcuffs on me in a way I can't create sound that is really flowing and visceral if I'm worried about being in the particular key signature, not so generative devices can be really fun in the name of creating structures that are just organically flowing, getting away from clips, for instance, you'll notice actually I have no clips in the sad I can hit play, and we'll have audio playing out of this thing now what I could quickly do is I could break this down to something simple go to this drum machine. And you can take a look at my first little demo know what we're gonna do now that told me about what max is. I'm gonna actually just spend a little time showing off all my favorite max for live devices. These are all free, so if he was live and have the live sweet, just hang out after this and I'll show you some links. Otherwise visit max for live dot com this first one is called instant house and what it gives me the ability to do is essentially customized my drum beats just by turning knobs that can turn up my kick drum pattern. I can just might kick drum decay. Maybe that pattern is getting a little old. Aiken turned my pattern nominal have a different one. I can do the same with the snow room. Yeah, I had patterns over here, so essentially what I've got is a little pattern generator. This is that generative devices topic that we think it's fun. I threw it into iraq. So then I have the ability to also control the sonic parameters of my drum machine sounds that are layered here in another rack. But so now from one set of mac arose, I could essentially just turn some knobs, and especially if I have a bass player or a keyboard player, which I usually do when I'm playing live now, I can just be like, turn up that first knob and start playing something and then there's less of a need to feel attached to modes and formalities of arrangement and linear handcuffs, which I kind of feel like they act like sometimes when I'm on stage, I don't really want to be locked into a timeline, so this is a really fun technique, so I can go really tied up with this. I can move on to my next device, the next device, so they like to show off in this case is actually called it's a couple of them I have in this chain with mono sequence. Sir, this is another favorite max for a live device, you can download this woman instant house straight from mableton dot com and this is a generative devices well, in the sense that it just kicks out notes and I can't even tell it what key I wanted to be in it or not. Maybe I want to be in a particular motor. Maybe I don't, but I have pitch velocity, occupied duration and a variety of other functions that I can either punch around in in real time with my mouse or better yet, if I have the track arm to record let's, go ahead and do this thing. So now what I can do is if I have this sequence or harm to record. This is one of my favorite things to do with this device is like an armed this. And if I met you through mode is set to program both sorry about the distortion and turn that down a little bit it's set to program both I can even put the push and repeat mode, for instance, and said the resolution of the push to match the resolution of this sequence, sir and malik and I can my I o section I have to choose the right push your apartment now, aiken sequence, I can play my notes in real time from my keyboard or my push right into the sequence for itself, so I just essentially jammed without even thinking about it into my sequence, sir, and enable now, too modified that pattern. So what I actually do is I'll run this this device just like this, and I'll play for an hour or two and never have any clips on this track or my drum machine track. No clips the whole time on any time I get tired of the baseline, I could go over here and I can put the push and did she mine or whatever and maybe play a few notes and I just rearranged the sequence in there and I never even have to look at the thing to top it off. What I even do to go a little further than that is right after the device. They use another max for live device. This one is called expression control. With this device, I have the ability to actually take any of my keyboard messages, which are my gestural for a performance related messages and route them out to any device inside of live or any parameter. This is kind of intense. And when you attach it to the step sequence circus, what I can do is I go velocity. Okay, random. I know I have this nice sequence, and I could even assign all of these two velocity if I wanted. And now I have five different available targets that that velocity value could modulates. So right now the velocity is controlling the frequency of my filter. Cut off for something, maybe a little pouring more predictable for subtracted synthesis. But it sure works for this kind of patch on gonna have all these other lands. If I even wanted to go further, I could grab something like after touch and also have that in real time as it passes through the sequence or from the bush. So an expression control is a really, really powerful device inside alive. I inside the max for live and this is another one that comes right with original builds you don't even need toe download anything other than what's on your packs page at your user account at able to dot coms if you have any questions about how that works I encourage you to please hit me up I'm just gonna pitch that down because I want this to be a baseline so I'm gonna put my self back into repeat mode and just drag us down a couple of octaves wait until I have a distortion algorithm turned on inside of the analog it was just really clipping out kind of hard I could change that if I wanted to but I'm gonna move on I want to keep focusing on the rest of my max for live devices that I want to show up the next ones that I have my little presentation here arm or instrument and sound design based on less control or generation base. So we did a couple of generated devices that create notes we did a couple of control devices which grab onto other parameters and make the move and now we're going to focus a little bit on sound design stuff I teach and I write some design programs for a variety of different college is the best one ever though is the sound design program at slam academy are you r ellis www dot slam academy dot com you want to check that out for sure because all we do is launch it's a shuttle all day long and it's really magical we have online programs and real world classes too so the next device I want to show off is probably the most famous of all max for live instruments and it's called the granulated er the granulated er too technically it was designed by robert hanky was a founding father of the able to software itself and this device essentially granulated sor smears time over audio recordings so it's a synthesizer essentially but instead of oscillators you can put drag and drop audio into it or better yet what I do actually is I go ahead and I put on my one of my return tracks one that's really thick I grabbed this graham you later to input device and any time there's signal passing through that it's just sitting over there I can hit grab on the grand you later and it just grabs whatever was passing through that device on my return track. So this is like my river bird delay track or something that's now inside of my synthesizer so I just hit that button once and I could many map that so that would be a button on my push should be like click nominate delay recording is loaded into my synthesizer and it's not just a synthesizer it's ah granular sense so um granule ation involves smearing tiny snippets of the sound in time and usually repeating them and modulating their size. In this case, I'm going to control their size and file position, location, all with a couple of who will hand the x y locators. This is how I use the grand you later on, especially when I'm trying to show out max for live, because now, instead of needing to worry about linear up and down, I have one grab and it can grab my grain size on my spray or my grain rates and death have a bunch of cool modulation control that I can demonstrate here and let's, go ahead and turn it up and listen, go ahead and reloaded new sound into this by hitting, go ahead and grab again, and I've got some sound in this guy now I can play it, I could play that sound on my keyboard, taking a candidate of tools. This is a way that I can get textures, ana, more cloud based elements and more ethereal kind of moving, drifting pad and texture elements that are gonna help separate my like otherwise, maybe static see quincy acid house thing that anyone could have made and make this feel a lot more like james patrick's custom creation, and I personally feel like I want to have always a good method and put my own sonic thumbprint on something and combining tools like this, I'm getting off the grid and just using your ears could be really, really powerful to see if I can get this to actually sound really lush it takes a little bit of baby in sometimes s so this is my like happy accidents sound design creator and I will throw that grand you later input device on just about anything sometimes I'll put it right on the master track so anything that I was hearing aiken just a recent the size of it destroy and sometimes I'll put it right on the synthesizer on vocal track, whatever, I'm kind of feeling like grabbing and re contextualizing with notes, but again I have one I've used this grand you later system I found that there's really limitation to it and again it brings me back to the limitation of needing to think about notes because as soon as those sounds those textures aaron the grand you later I'm thinking, ok, way into my in the key of g where's my base note um and then I was summoned back to making traditional music and they kind of lose some of my excitement a little bit, so the solution they came up with was robert hanky, the fellow that made the granulated also made a really amazing little audio effect device that he kind of took off the internet. You can dig around and find it. I'll show you where it is. If you're curious that's called the green freeze. This is the essentially the same audio engine is the grand you later, but it's in an audio effect and allows me to essentially snapshot anything that's passing through it and freeze it and smear it in time. What I did was I put it into a parallel audio effect iraq, where I have a dry chain and a wet chain, so now I can essentially mix that in and I can get shift and mangle the greens over the top of the mix, so let's, go ahead and I'm just gonna bring that beat back in turn, my master up I want to do is turn up by wetness we're hearing that the texture is essentially a it shifted the signal that was passing right through the man's I'm using max relied lfo here and actually modulate the grain position watch my turn down the dryness, this's what we're listening to aiken re pitch it, we'll start to sound almost exactly like what we were just hearing, so now what I'm doing is I'm green shifting pitt shipping the greens that I just captured from the master track this's a really profound technique. So this technique allows me to utilize granule ation in real time in real time capturing of signals from one track to the other and even tune it but I'm tuning it with my tears and not with my triad you know again looking for an opportunity to explore the hundreds of notes between every note in the western musical system electronic music encourages you to do that so don't always be in a mode that's the least my opinions and I can bring the rest of mixed back in so watch now if I get rid of that baseline great did shifting controls with this it's like a baseline you could even hear as the high frequency start coming in that's the granular passing over a high hat thing a high hat right now that's being slowly smeared and so this rack is I call the parallel green freeze it's basically at this green freeze device which you may or may not be able to find on the internet have you would go to mono lake dot de there's a link buried in there somewhere that says check out my whole devices here and it goes to his google dr page or something but you could email me jake yet slam academy and I would not only show you where that link is but I'd give you a copy of this racks and could have it in parallel and have some back roads for pitch shifting et cetera so this to me is a really cool device you'll notice that I went ahead and put the new live nine point two two minor right after the crane the later the green shift so now what I can do is I could essentially try and this is very hard I can watch that tuner and I can see if I'm getting close to actual base note that makes musical sense so there are forty cents sharp on a kind of the beauty of granular synthesis though it's going to be exploring tonal zones that are fresh e like this system and I think it works pretty well the next day by someone showed you accept us giving you guys a tour is the convolution river this is another standard max for a live device that everyone can get just by going to their slash packs page unable to dot com this's a really cool river but what I like about it is you can record anything and throw it right in there so what I'll even do is maybe re sample the green freeze sound that we're hearing right now which is what I've done and I'll drop it right into the convolution river so now the tone and tambor we just sculpted with our grand you later is now that essentially the tambor of our reverb so this is really really need how this works let's go ahead and turn this up and see what happens most of the player at like four in the morning so keep that in mind when you listen to his music warehouse kind of sickness feel way look back in this convolution river is essentially I could drag and drop sounds whenever from wherever I want and put him right into the impulse response lot that's going to essentially shape the overall coloration and tambor of the river, so I'm able to now with max for live essentially have many different layers of like cyclical sharing of ideas and sounds whether it's one lfo modulating something on an entirely different track or even an audio signal being dumped from device to device across different channels in real time, these are all kind of cool things that max for life can do that other software's aren't really naturally doing live for people who use live out there. You can pretty much attest to the fact that it's one of the most fun to use software as ever but like any single tool there's going to be limitations you're going to run into max for live allows us to break free from those limitations and employees of the past twenty plus years of creative programming of devices and just drag and drop stuff onto our tracks and if we don't like it we can delete it or even better yet edited and modified and turn it into something else so max for live it's pretty so the device I just went over real quick are the instant house that's the generative drum machine I put it into iraq's why can also have like pitching decay of my drums I also went over the mono sequence sir that's in the next for live essentials packet able to dot com expression control x y control and lfo are also part of the standard packs at ableto dot com on those are controlled devices that allow you to link up and kind of essentially side chain anything modulate anything with anything else and then my sound designed tools for audio recent this's some texture generation where the granulated too the grand you later to input device which captures the signal and then lastly the parallel grave freeze that device is actually called the green freeze and I made a little rack called parallel green freeze you can actually download that at my website james patrick music and that net so um used to be dot com but then I forgot to pay my bill um so if you guys want to learn more about that uh not about me and I paid my bill from our website but more about more about max for life to take a look under the hood of any live device hit that edit button and it'll pop it open and you'll be ableto unlock the structure and you can see how the signal flow enters the device and passes through all these different objects and not unlike modular synthesis every individual object has one little function it does and when it receives a go message or a bang message it knows what it was born to do so you start learning max by learning what all the individual externals are and I think once you know like forty or fifty of them you can start to build stuff so I do want to get into doing that I have over thirty years of max programming experience on my team and slam academy and we are teaching this stuff online all the time it's really, really fun my primary partner did forensics for uh I can't even tell you without maybe having to have you signed something I don't know using macs and audio analysis on hey now is using it to help do sound design for video games and also consult all different types of interactive technology firms with prototyping of their devices and he is my partner in slime academy so I could get you through all of the late night warehouse party moments and he could get you through all of the like phd programming moment so we are a good yin and yang we teach this stuff all the time and if you want to learn more about max for live hit us up or if nothing else visit max for live dot com and start downloading device having fun so with that um let's make a little music for a few minutes yeah this is my favorite part e thanks wait mexico is just a club in town in minneapolis and got a road players got most of thirty seven uh drummer and a bass player and we get really wrong really nasty very fun wait e for you guys is no plan on that but you guys got a chance to see a bunch of cool device is happening and you also got a chance to see kind of how if you want to get away from notes and if you want to get away from sequencing and planning stuff you actually one of my favorite things about max is that it gives me the ability to turn live into kind of ah modular synth of sorts I'm no longer seeing it as a note sequence sir and a recording device I'm seeing it as a on alien that I can kind of train the new things and it becomes kind of more of like an extension of my brain this way and unless just like using a recipe that came out of emanuel to follow to seek to arrange a piece of music and really adapting this whole interface to the way that I want to separate myself from everyone else's music and so it's really creatively lucrative being able to embrace this level of power without necessarily needing to know how to program anything at all so that's that's what my presentation is about, and I hope you guys like it. So j p, eslam academy dot com is the email address on I really again, thank everyone of the vestibule conference, and also almost even more so this week. Creative live for doing such a great job of capturing these conferences and being such great hosts, thanks to all of you.

Class Description

The Decibel Conference is three days of panels, workshops and other events that runs in parallel to the Decibel Festival. Now on its 12th year, Decibel is one of the nation's longest-running and most respected electronic music festivals, and CreativeLive is proud to partner with Decibel to produce the 2015 Conference. For details on the schedule and content, please visit the official Conference page.