When teaching Max to beginners, I sometimes cast my mind back to how I first got into Max, back in 2010. It seems quite mundane really—I searched for MaxMSP (its proper name back in version 5) on YouTube, and lo and behold, the most viewed video was one of a guitar solo from Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. Me coming straight out of high school I was an enormous fan of Radiohead, and this solo, stuttering and shuddering its way through the jam that ends “Go To Sleep” seemed hugely compelling and innovative. Thus, my first Max patch was born—a recreation of what I called the Greenwood stutter.Download GREENWOOD STUTTER DEVICE as part of Michael Terren’s suite of Max for Live Devices
It was a little frustrating to build (as with any software you use for the first time), but it was so much fun to play with. Guitarists would lose their sh** when they ran their guitar through this stutter patch! It was inspiring to see how a little Max patch could yield results that were creative and fun.
Thankfully, with later iterations of Max, this patch is a little easier to make, with the “stutter~” object (presumably the heads at Cycling ’74 knew how popular stuttering effects were becoming).
The Max for Live device I have here is a bare-bones recreation of the Greenwood stutter. It randomly toggles between the dry (normal) signal and the stuttered signal, with controls for approximately how long it stays on each. You can also control approximately how long each grain—a single stutter—is. You can even choose to play the stutters in reverse or normally.
I encourage you all to modify it and make it more interesting. What can be improved in this device? There are many ways you could make this device more interesting. A Dry/Wet control? Changing the pitch of the stutters? Make the left and right channels completely independent? Only allow the stutters to turn on when you press a button? You decide.
One of the great things about making Max for Live devices is the culture of tinkering, adding and modifying over time, making something sound just a little better with each iteration—there is no such thing as a finished patch, only patches you’re not currently working on. With that in mind, I totally advocate for borrowing ideas from other patches, looking at other peoples’ Max devices and seeing how they do things.
A word of warning though: some Max programmers understandably get upset when you take bits of their patch to use without crediting them in some way. It’s always a good idea to keep a ‘comment’ object (press ‘c’ to create one) that has some names of programmers whom you’ve taken patches from—this kind of acknowledgement goes a long way on the Internet. So, don’t delete the “© Noisemaker 2014” comment in the Max patch! And, of course, share and share alike—if you borrow other peoples’ patches for your own uses, expect to have your patches used by others in the same way.
Have fun, and let us know what you come up with!
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