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Picture of Intermediate MaxMSP
This Instructable is a continuation of Intro to MaxMSP, a three part workshop I'm teaching at Women's Audio Mission here in San Francisco.  This Instructable build upon the topics discussed in Intro to MaxMSP and introduces some ways to work with audio in Max.  Part 3 of the workshop focuses on how to get Max to talk to hardware.  First off, here are some examples of the types of things you can do with audio in Max:

Fornant synthesis - using filters to recreate human vocal sounds

Audio to MIDI

 

Granular Synthesis- cutting up a sample into tiny grains and pieces the grains together to make new sounds

 
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Step 1: Lists - Pack / Unpack

Picture of Lists - Pack / Unpack
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Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.52.09 AM copy.jpg
In Max, it's often useful to deal with lists.  A list is an ordered series of messages, lists can contain numbers and words.  The "pack" object lets you create lists of all different sizes.  Create a pack object.  By default pack creates lists containing two messages, so it has two inlets.  The leftmost inlet of the pack object is hot and the remaining inlet is cold.  Send a 4 to the hot inlet, since the cold inlet has note yet been set, pack uses its  default value of 0 to complete the list: {4,0}.  Now send a 24 to the cold inlet and send another 4 to the hot inlet, you should see {4, 24}.

You can make longer lists by adding arguments to the pack object.  The number of arguments you add to the pack object will dictate the length of list that pack creates and also sets the default values for each index of the list.  Experiment with creating lists of different sizes and sending messages to the any number of the cold inlets before triggering output.

Unpack is the opposite of pack.  Create an unpack object with three arguments and use it to parse the output from pack.  Swap is another interesting object to use with lists.  Wire up swap between two outlets of an unpack and two inlets of a pack to switch the order of those elements in the list.

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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IHDasg2UV45xmAcU51tvmzfqj2q1OenfNrnxVMmwVJWSUakX6Vvwwt84o3eC
TZqv0C
-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 2: Step Sequencer



Matrixctrl is one of my favorite objects in Max, it's really useful if you ever want to create a grid interface or sequencer.  Matrixctrl objects store an array of states and provide a graphical interface for interaction.  You can send messages (lists of the form x y state) into a matrixctrl through its left inlet and read changes in the matrixctrl out its left outlet.  You can also send messages like "getcolumn 4" into a matrixctrl to read off all the states of column 4 at once, these states will be sent out the right outlet.

Wire up a matrixctrl as shown in the images above.  Send the output from your getcolumn messages into an unpack object.  The outlet of the unpack will output either 1 or 0 depending on the state of the corresponding node of matrixctrl.  Multiply the output from unpack by some number between 1 and 127 (I chose 100) and send this number into the velocity inlet of a makenote object.  Also wire up the output from unpack to a message between 0 and 127 (I chose 60) and connect the output from the message into the pitch inlet of makenote.  Wire up the pitch and velocity outlet of makenote into a noteout.  Now this piece of the patch will send note on messages when it receives a 1 from unpack and noteoff messages when it receives a 0 from unpack.  Do the same thing for all 4 outlets of unpack.

Create a "getcolumn #" messge for every column in your matrixctrl (mine has 8 columns so I made getcolumn 0-7).  This way you can ask matrixctrl to output the state of each of its column in series.  Wire these messages up to a metro, counter, and select to cycle through all the columns at a constant tempo.

Now lock the patch, turn on the metro, and click on the matrixctrl to change the notes in the sequencer.

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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p0RUQ8l8aq.Gs+20HakUpbUYc0I.fQQV.X55v9CG69d5khHRMDkXrZEVa2zw
LAlKl.dmKXxc.SAZNgIi5MLSiHXJbAyrrYDlbKE8AlYQDLYNfIGSdjMavjxg
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evQFeHwEenowEenYwEez02zYjXbZX0iyHwHgUOthDiiCqdbFIVjY+v3QldDw
k8LCGY5IxleQSiL8jEWy2o7HSOga9EUDYquyiq02ICY7hfCqdPCQOgY7BGWo
6jN.5fQQkbzaIWfFrPznavxkZxlHbraoR9tc+P1z1+JMBIYa92paz+j+f4mk
U1eZ1ynjF4OJO77luFmj7lhWJUxB09F69Y8ZJOYotc90x+C.Do7pp
-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 3: Logical Operators: If and Else

Picture of Logical Operators: If and Else
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Logical operators can be a really effective way to route messages through your patch when no other object will accomplish the task easily.  Copy the patch below to try out the if object for yourself.  In this object you use the placeholders "$i1" for inlet 1, "$i2" for inlet 2 and so on, you can create an many inlets as you need.  You can also create a second outlet by using the placeholder "out2".  If you want to compare things from multiple inlets, use "&&" for "and" and "||" for "or" - if something1 and something2 are true or is something1 or something2 is true.  You can also use "==" to test for equality.

Another great logic object is the gate.  It allows you to selective open and close connections between objects.  See the help files for more information.
----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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594Dncl2BVohKfGR2eRQGLoW3KVvD6qNrfWVKX.zvoceFimDSwCwN3IxD7jZ
O94PS+L3Yh0viIzSf0PSfAngZOekQ2s7GY3gLtvS7HidrFbnlflP6wN9lfG6
cU+n3zyfG6cYO1.3XOYYSHmg9nUSNGYqW+FSV1tk.Pzoj8ZgrtYrGzjKZZB4
3fkr23cyO.5ISpS.Soy9pR1jmzlzXra847g6eInTfqH
-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 4: Floats

Picture of Floats
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So far in Max we've only been passing integer messages between objects, but you can use number with decimals (called "floats") too.  To view float in max, create an object called "flonum" (short for float number).  A flonum is like a number object, but it displays floats; if you send a float into a number object, the number object will round off the message to the nearest integer and display an integer.

Try setting up the patches shown above.  Notice how the + and will only output integers unless you tell it that you want them to output floats by setting its optional argument to a float (I used "+ 0.0").  The scale object is useful for converting one range of values into another range.  But again, by default the scale object will round everything to integers unless you tell it not to by setting its optional arguments (notice the difference in behavior between "scale 0 127 0 10" and "scale 0 127 0.0 10.0".

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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DL1MglzaDCKKq18ie9G3QeObV8VQCF8Ez2PddO564AgbA75O2CWw2lWxafzv
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xBn50Y2+YZzP0usVYT7JAboupk7x86q1F2Hz2HT7rRHCx95W2ZF1.VeztPle
tQz0ltAgavKP3LtZMdW241yF4ufrnr.hK5S99tkESDQJwOrywPqZDaAxfax4
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tY4D6F5rzMqlxiJxUBmt2z3a17fP2zWSnSrNQ2Wq28KMXqQR2ofMBVKdPNje
HDgqstSFq0TqtyFY6xDruaedx+2.MU.bq.
-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 5: MaxMSP and Audio

Picture of MaxMSP and Audio
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 12.05.09 AM copy.jpg
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Objects in Max with a "~" at the end of their name are audio objects, instead of working with discrete messages, they do realtime digital signal processing.

Create a sine wave generator object (called cycle~), set the default frequency to 440hz (A3).  Connect the output from cycle to both channels of an ezdac~.  ezdac~ sends a signal from Max to your speakers, you can configure the settings of the dac (digital to analog converter) by going to options>>DSP status in Max.

To turn on the dac, put the patch in lock mode and click on the ezdac~.  You should hear a constant tone like a touch tone phone coming out your speakers - that is a sine wave.  Use a number object connected to the left inlet of the cycle~ to change the pitch.

Try wiring up another cycle~ object of a different frequency to the ezdac~.   You will hear the signals coming out your speakers, but they will be heavily distorted.  In Max, you can only send signals between -1 and 1 to your speakers.  Use a number~ object to view the combined output from the cycles (notice how a ~ is added to the end of the name, this is a number object that can display signals).  By default, cycle~ object put out signals between -1 and 1, so two cycles object will combine to put out a signal between -2 and 2.  You can scale the signal back down into the correct range using a *~ object.  Make a *~ 0.5 to scale the signal down by 1/2.  Wire up both signals into the left inlet of the *~ (this automatically sum them together before sending them into the object) and then send the output to the ezdac~.  The distortion should be gone now.
 

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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oCootccA4hDDME4iO9D8iwQPkYK1ArKY+jEE8XbTDYJXHZ3bDrRtstU1QtA5
MqpPKLq+SWaztN0CX3Shj47AydmLabsnitSxf00RW8MJ8xqrXsqOmhDg+RLw
hKBaK3g0D+J6WC2Q0PY0Tc62KgmiiUtBcn8JTKqZojOl49z5teM1m.PocvLF
TI0KgmiZ.1ZeLnX+CqR1BufbkdD3hfsmhiCKylJ+f+1C1wv4vsTkBeaGiOew
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PqR+2+Og.cv9qoqNyFa8X9GluydA1MXmSokNkQumOhW4yMplFTue+uQ0E9i.
Ux7C11lJZJl.Z7xEl3rBMmFtQLAzTbxPS1YEZlB2jeVwMeVzz+fWtd8cnsaH
jDP7SBu0XCGymQGU59izXLvh2oF8OkrHs9oZN+HsM19INaKyg3PddJ9OHAxa
iC
-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 6: Frequency Modulated Synth

Picture of Frequency Modulated Synth
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At one point I actually built a pretty cool analog synthesizer with some friends, I made this video for my electronics class to show how synth patches are constructed:


 
If you've ever worked with an analog synthesizer, this next project will be very familiar.  We're going to start off with a simple sine wave again.  If we hook up a number object to the left inlet of the cycle~ object, you can change the frequency of the sine wave.  Put the patch in lock mode and drag on the number object up and down and listen to the output, this is called "frequency modulation".

We can make this frequency modulation more automatic by sending a signal into the left inlet of cycle~.  Create another cycle~ object, set this one to a very low frequency like 0.2hz so we can hear it more clearly.  Add 400 to the signal with a +~ object and wire it into cycle.  If you listen very closely you might hear the pitch of the output signal change very slightly, this is because by default the amplitude of the cycle!~ object is 1, so our frequency modulation is only swinging between 399 and 401, which is very small.  Increase the amplitude of the modulation by multiplying the output from the 0.2hz cycle~ by 30 before adding it to 400, now the frequency of the second cycle~ object will swing from 370 to 430hz.

Some things you could try from here:
-use a saw~ object to modulate the frequency instead of cycle~
-change the amplitude and frequency of modulation
-change the center frequency (currently it is 400hz)

Copy the simple modulated oscillator below:

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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-----------end_max5_patcher-----------
In the more complex modulated synth I attached sliders to change the rate and amplitude of modulation.

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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nomD.qxlinTkD.ONR.L8+pDnaUR7G.IvIcJwjqXmxdcPDZHbJ2rZIuRW5TjA
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pnUbDTnGIdrDPzqeADl.AYTZHXDMJBnusyk5qUAQlrJnXjR5DpNDzXofvW+J
HBVkmlwFOKnzmSK36jqYrFRLdxdpHUdLLBDQrfAPDoY4SsRl9bwvmmm0Y8DL
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wW5v
-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 7: MIDI and Audio

Picture of MIDI and Audio
Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 5.18.09 PM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 5.22.49 PM copy.jpg
The midi to frequency object (mtof) is used to convert MIDI pitch values (0-127) into hertz (which is awesome bc the math involved totally sucks), so you can control your Max synth with a keyboard or other MIDI instrument.

Create a notein object and hook up the pitch and velocity outlet to number objects.  Wire the output from pitch into a mtof and see what the conversion is with a flonum (frequency is always going to be a float, MIDI is an integer).  Now wire the output from the mtof to the +~ object to change the center frequency of the synth.  Lock the patch and press the keyboard, you should hear the pitch of your synth change with every keypress.

We can also use the velocity information to create discrete notes with this synth.  To create a ramp to control the amplitude of the synth, use a line object.  By sending messages of the form "value time" to the ramp, we can tell it to ramp from to a certain value over a period of time (in ms).  Once it reaches that value, line will hold until it receives another message.  Our note on message will be something like "0.8 500" and note off is something like "0.0 1000".  Wire up an if statement that bangs out the left outlet if the velocity is > 0, and out the right outlet if it is not.  Then connect the outlets of the if to the appropriate message objects and wire both messages into line.  Use optional arguments to tell line that you want it to output a float (the first argument is it's current level and the second is the increments it will use to ramp).

Now delete the slider we were using to control the amplitude and wire up the output from line to the *~.  Lock the patch and stary pressing keys on your keyboard, you should hear discrete notes played out the synth.

There's a ton of directions you can go from here, check out the right menu to see all the different audio effects you can use in Max  - reverb, filters, etc.  Add some more oscillators to see what that sounds like - phasor~ is a sawtooth wave, there's also tri~ and rect~.  You could scale the velocity values from notein to have a variable effect on the amplitude, filtering, or any number of things in the synth.  That way, hitting the keyboard harder will make the synth sound different.

Also take a look at "ftom~" if you want to change a frequency in hz to a MIDI note.
 

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 8: Beat Slicer

Picture of Beat Slicer
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 1.55.03 AM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 1.56.24 AM copy.jpg
The beat slicer is a favorite of mine, basically it plays back a loopable sample, but allows you to cut it up, skip, mute, and sample different parts to potentially even create an entirely new beat.  Here are some examples:

Generative beat slicer in Pure Data


Otoh: Circular looping interface

Monome: MLR, a grid-based multi-layered looping patch


Audio sample in max are stored in an object called buffer~, and played back using an object called groove~.  The default argument on a buffer~ and groove~ pair is an arbitrary name for your sample, I called mine "mySample".  The sig~ object sends a signal into groove to tell it how to playback the sample.  Sending a 1 message into sig~ plays the sample back at normal speed, 0.5 plays back at half speed, -0.5 plays back in reverse at half speed, and so on.... You can also send a message into groove telling it to skip to a certain part time (in ms) in the sample.  I used a 0 message to play the sample from the beginning.  You can also send loop 0 and loop 1 messages into groove~ to tell it whether or not to loop the sample when it reaches the end.

Use a waveform~ object to give some visual feedback of what your sample looks like and where it is playing.  Wire up a message called "set mySample" (again where the word mySample is whatever arbitrary name you are using to tell buffer~ and grove~ what sample you are talking about) into the waveform to show the sample's shape. 

info~ is an object that gives back metadata about a stored sample.  Use this to find the total length of your sample.  In combination with the right outlet of groove~ you can even draw a playhead on your waveform object.  I won't get into the details of exactly how this works here, you can look at the help files for each of these objects to find more information.

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 9: MaxMSP objects - inlets, outlets, and subpatches

Picture of MaxMSP objects - inlets, outlets, and subpatches
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.02.43 AM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.02.48 AM copy.jpg
We did a lot of setup to get that all working, and now it's nice to hide many of these objects from the main window of the patch.  We can do this using subpatches - a patch within a patch.  Create a subpatch by making a patcher object.  You have to name the patcher something, I named mine "audioStuff".  When you create a patcher, Max will automatically open a new window for you.  Copy the things you want into this subpatch - I threw the buffer and groove and info objects in there.

To connect to these object from the outside, create inlet objects and outlet objects.  Each time you add an inlet to your subpatch, you will see an inlet appear on the top of the patcher object in your main patch, the same thing will happen with outlets.  I connected my playhead drawing parts and my buffer~ object to my waveform~ object through an outlet in the patcher.  I also connected the sig~ and other groove messages to the groove~ through an inlet in the patcher.

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 10: Send/Recieve

Picture of Send/Recieve
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.05.10 AM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.05.50 AM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.07.54 AM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.10.15 AM copy.jpg
We saw earlier how we can send message directly into groove~ to immediately set the position of playback of the sample.  I used a 0 message to set playback to the beginning of the sample, but we can send messages ranging from 0 to the length of the sample to skip to any section we want.  For this patch, it makes sense to skip to one of the beats, so for a 4/4 time signature, we'll chop up the sample into sections of 4, 8, or 16.

the first step in doing this is knowing what the total length of the sample is.  We got that information previously from the info~ object (now located in the subpatch).  If we want to work with this number in the main patch, we can do one of two things (try both!):

-create another outlet in the subpatch and send this number into the main patch through an outlet.
-use send and receive

I'm going to demonstrate send/receive here, but both options are equally valid.  The send and receive objects allow you to wirelessly send message through your patch, even across subpatches.  Wire up a send object to the total lenght output from info~.  Now in the main patch, create a receive object and wire up a number object to it.  Reload the sample and notice how the message gets sent to receive.

I'm splitting up my sample into 8 equal sections, so divide the output from receive to a / 8 object - this will give you the length of each of the 8 equal sections of the sample.  Multiplying this number by integers between 0 and 7 will give you the correct time to jump to in the sample to get to the 0-7th beat.  Wire this up and test it out for yourself.

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 11: Key

Picture of Key
Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 5.25.18 PM copy.jpg
Key controls are a really nice final touch to add to this project.  Create a key object and wire up a number to it.  Now put the patch in lock mode and press different keys on your computer's keyboard to see what the key object outputs.  You'll see that each key has a unique number that identifies it.

Wire up a select to the key object and look for the number 32, which corresponds to the spacebar key.  Wire the output from the select to a toggle and wire that toggle up the sig~.  When the spacebar is pressed, it will turn the toggle on, which sends a 1 message to the sig~ (remember, 1 will cause the sample to play forward at normal speed).  Pressing the spacebar again will turn the toggle off, sending a 0 to the sig~ (this will cause the sample to stop).  So now you're made a simple keyboard control for start/stop. 

Extend this further by connecting keyboard controls to each of the messages that skip to various beats in the sample.  I used select to look for the keys a-k and wired each of these to a different beat in my sample.  You'll find this type of control is a lot more natural than using the mouse.
 

----------begin_max5_patcher----------
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-----------end_max5_patcher-----------

Step 12: Presentation Mode

Picture of Presentation Mode
Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.10.38 PM copy.jpg
Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.13.11 PM.jpg
Presentation Mode is a setting that you can add to your patch to make it into a clean, user friendly UI.  By default, all objects in your patch are not included in Presentation Mode, to change this, right click on any object and click "Add to Presentation".  Then lock the patch and click on the presentation icon at the bottom left corner of the window to put the patch in presentation mode.  You can unlock and rearrange elements in Presentation Mode without changing their position in non-Presentation Mode.  In the example above, I've only included the controls necessary to run my patch in presentation mode, the rest of my objects are invisible.   Also notice how I've pulled in an image as my background, and customized the look of matrixctrl to create a really nice looking interface - all of these options are available in the Inspector.

Find this patch attached below.

Step 13: Assignment

Try to synthesize some of the elements discussed in this Instructable.  Some ideas:

-wire up the step sequencer with 4 copies of the simple audio playback patch shown in step 8 to play a short audio sample (like a drum sample) instead of a midi note each time a node in the sequencer is triggered.  Make sure that each copy of buffer~ and groove~ have their own sample name (ie buffer~ amandasSample1 goes with groove~ amandasSample1, and buffer~ amandasSample2 goes with groove~ amandasSample2)

-use a few copies of the beat slicer to create a multilayered beat slicer.  Wire this up to your keyboard so that keys a-k control one layer, keys q-i control another layer, and so on.  (See the note above about sample names for buffer~ and groove~)

-use an ezadc~ to route an external audio signal into your patch.  Use the modulation techniques discussed in the frequency modulated synth patch to change the way the signal sounds.

-use logical objects (if/gate) and metro to make a patch that composes and plays MIDI pop songs.  Start off with a simple set of base chords and give the patch some rules about how it can generate its own melodies on top.

-or create an audio patch in Max using an object not covered in this Instructable.  Here are some good objects to check out:
ezadc~ like ezdac~, but this allows you to pull a signal into your max patch from an outside source, like you're computer's line input.
alternatives to cycle~: phasor~, tri~, rect~
some kind of filter - I like lores~ for low pass filtering with resonance
spectroscope~ see the frequency spectrum of a signal
dropfile - drag and drop interface for loading files into your patch
tapin~/tapout~ delays
noise~ white noise generator
also try adding external objects into your library, there are tons of people out there making their own custom max objects, you can download them and load them into your copy of Max.  I like one called pitch~ by Tristan Jehan, it allows you to perform a fast Fourier transform on a signal.
sfrecord~  record audio from your max patch directly into a file on your computer.

Continue on to the last part in this workshop series: how to get hardware like the Kinect, Arduino, Novation Launchpad, and many more to talk to Max.