Sunday, August 29, 2010

Max for Live, Launchpad, and sequencing

For my birthday this year I bought myself a copy of Max 4 Live. Even though I already had Reaktor it seemed pretty clear to me that, because I use Ableton Live a lot, M4L would prove to be a superior MIDI handling environment. And I really like the look of the devices that came with M4L (at the time I was mostly interested in Buffer Shuffler but it turns out that the Loop Shifter is considerably more interesting, a real gem in fact).

The last month or so I've really started hacking into M4L. It started with my wanting to do some track routing in Live to make it easy to address multiple Kontakt instruments from a single keyboard. That lead to my first M4L device MIDI KeySwitch.

Recently I was very interested in Audio Damage's Axon plugin. For $59 it seems pretty good value except that I wasn't really interested in the built-in synth and I'm trying not to buy any more plugins for a while. It seemed an ideal opportunity to improve my Max chops, so I thought I'd have a crack at reproducing Axon's neuron sequencer as a M4L device.

Neurotik was duly born and in fact worked pretty well. Here's an early prototype playing a hybrid guitar/piano patch from Omnisphere:

In fact I think this is so promising that I heartily recommend that you buy Axon and have a play with it. Audio Damage have a no-fuss refund policy in the, I think, unlikely event that you don't find Axon pretty inspiring to play with.

Neurotik interface

Neurotik doesn't have Axon's lovely interface or the Audio Damage attention to detail. What it does have is an extra neuron and a more flexible (and possibly less well thought out) design. The extra neuron is because...

Recently I bought myself a Novation Launchpad. I'd been hankering for one as a way of making it easier to launch clips in Live but, at £149, it never justified it's cost. However, when I saw the Novation StepSeq device and realised how the Launchpad could be used to interact with M4L devices I was sold.

As soon as I started thinking about the button matrix on the Launchpad and the connection matrix in Neurotik I realised I had to be able to configure the device from the Launchpad. Then I started thinking about adjusting thresholds in terms of adjusting levels. It just seemed like such a great fit.

This weekend I've taken the first steps towards integrating Launchpad control into Neurotik. So far I have the Launchpad button matrix controlling the connection between the 8 neurons along with the ability to switch the device between 3 sub-modes: connections, thresholds, monitoring.

Probably not a lot of this makes sense unless you (a) know a little about Axon, (b) a little about M4L, and (c) have some passing idea what a Launchpad it. The gist is that I am about 25% of the way towards having my software sequencer entirely controlled by my Launchpad & not needing to touch the computer or look at the screen at all.

That turns a rather geeky sequencer with a dodgy interface that you can tinker with using the mouse into something more akin to a fully-playable instrument with feedback right on the Launchpad.

I'm finding the combination of Max for Live & the Launchpad really rather powerful and exciting.

29/08/2010 23:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink