Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I needed some help with something, so I thought I'd post (it'll give you a chance to learn how to open max text files).

1. Open a new patcher in Max.

2. Copy the text that I put on the comments page (sorry, couldn't figure out how to make a cut-away in blogger).

3. Paste in the patcher.

4. Resize patcher to fit.

I was playing around with panning formulas, and all I have are these crappy laptop speakers. I'm trying to decide which sounds better. The first is constant-power panning, and the second is linear panning. You can see the difference in the multislider visualization. Any help would be great!


P.S. I got these formulas from this book.

Assignment for 9/5

Do Max tutorials 12 - 18, making sure to try the self-test in Tutorial 18. These tutorials mostly cover midi, so they may not be as useful to you unless you have a midi keyboard with pitch bend wheel, etc. But you can use the kslider object as a convenient substitute for a midi keyboard. (Try hacking Tutorial 12, using kslider, as shown above; you can also use kslider for the self-test in Tutorial 18.)

Don't worry too much about Tutorial 16, it pretty much requires a midi keyboard.

Also, complete the MSP tutorials 7 - 12, covering different kinds of sound synthesis. And as before, keep messing around with the patches in the Examples folder. Have fun!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Your name: Emily Hsu
- Your major: MMus Piano Pedagogy/ Piano Performance
- Instruments played (including voice): mainly piano, 12 years of flute, one year of harp
- Any composing experience? have composed some jazzy / blue /new age sort of piano pieces.
- Any improvising experience? Sure, Jazz improv/ keyboard skill clesses
- Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? Went to few concerts that features computer music with visual animations. My reaction was half "What?" and half "Interesting!".
- What do you hope to gain from this class? I hope that by knowing something about generating music from computer can somehow make my teaching career more creative. More importantly, I am curious how it is like to do music by not sitting in front of piano.


- Your name: moon young ha
- Your major: Music Composition
- Instruments played (including voice): Jazz & korean traditional drums, piano..etc.
- Any composing experience? Yes. but acoustic music.
- Any improvising experience? Yes, jazz bands.
- Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? 2 weeks max/msp course in korea one and half year max/msp for dummies..
- What do you hope to gain from this class? understanding computer music..


Hiya folks, this is my first blog post, so let's hope I got this right...

Packy Lundholm

Major: Music Theory in LAS (Which I have affectionately dubbed "Drinking Beer And Building Guitars" or, more recently, "Not Getting A Job")

Instruments played (including voice): Drums, guitar, bass, other various stringed instruments(hopefully pedal steel soon!), keyboards, about six notes on flute, and I can sing unbelievably well some days and just awful other days

Any composing experience? Been writing rock/pop music for about 5 years, and by golly I don't plan on quittin'

Any improvising experience? Drums in jazz band, other instruments in various improv-based rock bands, and the requisite countless hours of infinite delay pedal freakouts one should come to expect pouring from a 16-year-old Deadhead's bedroom

Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance?
These days I record a ton of music in Cubase, including some MIDI, and took 2 semesters of Wyatt's class with tape, MIDI, basic sound design, and Pro Tools

What do you hope to gain from this class? Like Keith, I'm very excited to play with weird sounds. Very excited. I also look forward to collaborating and expanding my sonic and technological palatte with this program, which seems to have incredible creative potential. More composition experience is always a great thing, too.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Assignment for 8/31

Complete Max tutorials 7 - 11, making sure to do the self-test project in Tutorial 11.

Also, work through MSP tutorials 1 - 6; make sure to do the three exercises in Tutorial 6.

For the tutorials, just reading the pdf file is not good enough: you need to open the tutorial patches and try them out. Don't forget to option-click on things you don't understand!

Finally, start looking at some of the patches in the examples folder. Inside are some fun patches you can mess around with. If you change them, make sure to use Save As... so you don't alter the original file. Try starting with dialer.pat, in the folder MaxMSP 4.6/examples/synths.


Name: Talia Dicker

Major: cello performance

Instruments played (including voice): cello, electric bass, piano, voice

Any composing experience? only for required theory courses

Any improvising experience? jazz improv experience on electric bass, and some with cello

Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? No hands-on experience. Only listening/learning.

What do you hope to gain from this class? I am hoping to gain hands-on experience with computer and electronic music. In general, I would like to see how Max-MSP could be useful to me as a performer. I am also looking forward to the collaborating/performing experience.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

- Your name: Josephine Chang
- Your major: MMus Piano Pedagogy
- Instruments played (including voice): mostly piano, some others
- Any composing experience? theory class, and goofing off
- Any improvising experience? jazz improv class, and goofing off
- Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? I've listened to it.
- What do you hope to gain from this class? I hope to have a good time... and maybe learn something.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Name: Vincent Murphy
Major: Psychology
Instruments played (including voice): mostly electric bass
Any composing experience? for music theory class
Any improvising experience? i was a jazz major for 2 years
Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? Through Parkland, I took a recording class at Pogo
Studios and gained some exposure to computer based processing. Last year
through the U of I, I took ART 391, a sound art class taught by Anthony Ptak
where we used a few different digital editing programs, made field recordings
for editing, and prepared a large sound installation as a final project.
What do you hope to gain from this class? Since
I will no longer be a music major, I need to find ways to keep myself working
musically. I hope this class will help me find new ways to deal with and think
about sound


Name: Ju Ri Seo
Major: Composition
Instruments played (including voice): piano, cello
Any composing experience? A little
Any improvising experience? 1 semester of jazz improvising class, played the piano, I had no idea what was going on in the class.
Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? Scott's class? no performance
What do you hope to gain from this class? wider compositional experience and more interaction with the audience and performers, and fun.
I am not sure if I'm posting it correctly, first time user..

Friday, August 25, 2006


Name: Sam Gingher

Major: Piano Performance (1st semester of Masters)... hoping to minor in composition

Instruments played (including voice): I guess only piano counts, although I've fooled around with voice (backups in local band), guitar (acoustic), drums, accordian, bagpipes, didgery-doo... just about anything I can get my hands on...

Any composing experience? One semester of classical composition, one semester of jazz composition/arranging, two semesters working on an honors thesis project in composition (never quite finished), and outside of school, just writing stuff for fun when time permits.

Any improvising experience? Five semesters of jazz piano lessons + playing in jazz combos at UNC-Chapel Hill (yes, we won the NCAA championship back in '05, and it was beautiful), also played in a few local bands that relied heavily on improv. (one instrumental funk/jazz/rock band, and another newgrass band).

Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? Not really... although in High School, I became quite familiar with Fruity Loops, composed about 100 short pieces... varied styles, some very strange.

What do you hope to gain from this class? I'm really looking forward to learning the basics of Max/MSP... my composition teacher from UNC discussed it briefly and sparked my interest, but we never studied it. I hope to compose and perform in this class... I am excited about the endless possibilities with Max/MSP, and hope to walk away from this class with the ability to make some cool patches that I can use in collaboration with piano and other instruments. Also, I love composition and have never taken a class like this before... so I'm really excited. Also looking forward to learning more about mixing, etc.

Office Hours

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 - 10 am; I'll either be in CAMIL (room 5047) or my office (room 5042). Or, we can make an appointment; you can either email me or call my office (333-3712).


- Name: Shane Wirkes

-Your major: Composition/Theory

- Instruments played (including voice): Voice, Bass Guitar, some electric guitar

- Any composing experience? I am taking my second semester of 406 this semester

- Any improvising experience? Limited to high school jazz band

- Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance?: I took Rick Taube's Common Music Class and have experience with Cakewalk, Finale and a few other sequencing programs.

- What do you hope to gain from this class?: I want to pursue a more installation based work where the listener could be immersed in the sound and possibly have an effect on the way the sounds change while they are experiencing the installation. Live instrumentalists would augment this idea nicely I think.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jimmy Bunch

- Jimmy Bunch

- Violin, Piano, Voice

Experience with comp:
- Composing since 5th grade. Although most of it up untill maybe yesterday sucks.

Experience with Improv:
- Improvisation is part of my composing process. Apart from that, I just do it for fun.
I haven't yet had the opportunities I want to improvise with other people in a dedicated setting.

Experience with e-music:
- I've done some tape-studies/sequencing/concrete stuff, but nothing with live interactive. I'm excited!

Great expectations:
- I want to write some music for my folio - and collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

Musical Interests:
- I am interested primarily in exploring alternative idiomatic approaches to instrumental vocabs.
Basically, exploring extended instrumental techniques as a language, rather than as a litany of "special
effects." At the moment I'm kind of a Sciarrino fanatic, so researching some of his ideas about form will probably influence
what I want to write in this class.
- I am open to doing improv stuff for the final project, but am leaning towards a fully notated score at present.


- Your name: julia
- Your major: dma harp performance
- Instruments played (including voice): harp, some piano, some trombone
- Any composing experience? some
- Any improvising experience? some on each instrument
- Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? ive played a few harp/tape pieces and i played trombone on a piece with tape and dancers ribbiting like frogs and some other instrumentalists wearing green masks. no writing experience.
- What do you hope to gain from this class? making the computer my friend as performer and composer...


Name: Keith Manlove

Major: Comp

Instruments played (including voice): bassoon, piano, percussion, voice, computer.

Any composing experience? Writing for different media since high school

Any improvising experience?/Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance?
Performed improv pieces with Austin NMC, performed with GATES electronic improvisation ensemble, NMC composer improvisation co-op, performed festival of Cage, Brown, Feldman, and Wolff. Performed all of Cage's Songbooks. Several performances of Voice + computer improvisation with Brandon Young. My pieces include improvisation. Several works of mine involve computer processing, computer generated improvisation, and improvisational computer interfaces and sensors.

What do you hope to gain from this class? I hope to get an opportunity to create an improvisational/interactive environment that players/composers can write pieces for or improvise with. Or at least have fun making weird sounds.


Name: Becky O'Donoghue
Major: Theory (yes, I know, I must be a glutton for punishment)
Instruments played (including voice): Mainly voice
Any composing experience? Only because they made me... four semesters of comp classes here
Any improvising experience? A little bit here and there on voice or piano
Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? A bit... I've worked with the Kyma sound design program and also done some low level signal processing stuff
What do you hope to gain from this class? I'm interested in how Max is useful for theorists, and maybe dusting off my old programming skills and putting them to use


Name: Colin Holter
Instruments played (including voice): Voice and guitar/bass (strictly punk-rock context)
Any composing experience? I mean, I guess you could call it composing
Any improvising experience? Two years with the improv-happy UMBC New Music Ensemble
Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? Not really
What do you hope to gain from this class? I want to familiarize myself with MAX/MSP, which seems to be the industry standard, and finish at least one solid piece

Class Introductions!

Steve asked to start a post in which we say a little bit about ourselves, along the lines of the email he sent out a few days ago. So here goes:

- Your name: Jake
- Your major: Composition
- Instruments played (including voice): percussion (mostly drumset), some guit, elec. bass
- Any composing experience? Yes
- Any improvising experience? Yes - I've played quite a bit of jazz and done a lot of free and structured improv too
- Any previous experience with computer music, or electronic performance? Yes - not much performance unless you count CD playback and a little diffusion; experienced with Lisp/Common Music
- What do you hope to gain from this class? I don't know much about Max, so I want to learn that, and work with the maxlisp object a bit

Assignment for 8/29

Please read pp. 3 - 33 of Max46Fundamentals.pdf. If you have your own computer, install Max/MSP 4.6 and consider purchasing the 9-month authorization.

Either on your own computer or in the CAMIL I lab, read and try the Max tutorials 1-6, described in Max46Tutorial.pdf. Make sure to try Tutorial 6, "Test 1 - printing."

Also, please read pp. 1 - 56 of the document MSP46TutorialsAndTopics.pdf. Don't worry if you don't understand stuff starting around p. 36. If you have extra time, try a few of the MSP tutorials.

Finally, start reading the MaxMSP forum to find answers to your questions. You may even see some of your classmates posting!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Class Schedule

Week 1 8/24 Introduction
Week 2 8/29 Taylor, seven microworlds; digital delays

8/31 Taylor, Nebulae - special guest Ann Yeung
Week 3 9/5 How to set up mics; avoiding feedback; working with digital audio interfaces

9/7 More on delays; Musgrave, Narcissus; user interface
Week 4 9/12 Project 1 due: make a digital delay

9/14 Collaboration: start finding colleagues to work with
Week 5 9/19 Sound design and playback: Taylor, Paradises Lost

9/21 Phase vocoders, granular synthesis
Week 6 9/26 Plan details for Beckman performance

9/28 How to do laptop improv
Week 7 10/3 work on Project 2

10/5 continued
Week 8 10/10 Project 2 due - dress rehearsal for Beckman

10/12 Beckman performance, 12:20-12:50 pm
Week 9 10/17

Week 10 10/24

Week 11 10/31

Week 12 11/7 Intro to Jitter


Max/MSP: Computer Music for Performers and Composers
Music 404A, Fall 2006
Instructor: Stephen Taylor
Tuesdays, 10:00 - 11:50 am; Thursdays, 10:00 - 10:50 am
CAMIL I lab (MB 5047)
School of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9am; either room 5042 or 5047.

Course Description:
Composers and performers will collaborate to create interactive works for instruments and singers, using Cycling 74's software Max/MSP.

Course Objectives:
  • Learn the basics of amplification, microphones, mixers, digital audio interfaces, and midi
  • Learn how to make patches in Max/MSP
  • Learn the basics of Jitter, a set of video extensions to Max
  • Collaborate with your colleagues to make new music
  • Perform your completed works in early Spring 2007
  • For performers: learn Max well enough to make adjustments and small patches yourself, and perform without requiring someone to set up equipment for you.
  • For composers: make your patches bulletproof, so performers can use them without having you there to help them.
Required materials:
Max/MSP, available from Cycling74 for Mac and Windows. Max/MSP is a graphical programming environment for music, audio, and new media. It's installed on all the computers in Camil I, but you are welcome to use it on your own computer if you have one. There are student discounts (including a $59 9-month authorization) here. Also, you can download and try it for free for 30 days.

Max has a steep learning curve. Because it is a powerful program that lets you do almost anything you can imagine, it doesn't force you into one way of doing things (for example, pressing "Play" or "Record"). But Max comes with massive documentation, and there are lots of good online tutorials:
  • Cycling74 has some entertaining tutorials by Gregory Taylor; I'd start with this one.
  • Also on Cycling74's website, check out the Max/MSP forum.
  • Peter Elsea at UC Santa Cruz has taught Max for many years, and created a wonderful set of tutorials. I recommend starting with MAXintro.pdf and BasicMSP.pdf. These are a few years old but still very useful.
  • Peter Elsea, What is Max?
  • Peter Elsea, Solving Musical Problems with Max
  •, a directory of thousands of external objects created by Max users around the world.
  • Perhaps the single best tip: to get help on any object box in Max, you can option-click it.
As an alternative to Max/MSP, you can try the open-source Pure Data, developed by Miller Puckette, the original creator of Max.

Although we will supply microphones to use in the CAMIL lab, you need to bring your own headphones to listen to your computer output.

60% projects; 40% assignments. I hope for this course to be an opportunity to explore, meet new musical collaborators, and have fun. But I also want you to work hard! I'll give you verbal feedback on each assignment and project, and after the midterm project I will email you a written evaluation to let you know how you're doing in the class. If you have any questions on your grade or anything else, please ask me anytime.

For advanced theory credit, please see me or email me and we'll work out the necessary arrangements.

Performance opportunities:
Since I want you to have time for a polished performance of your final project, we will have a concert in early spring 2007 (possibly at an off-campus venue like the Canopy Club or the Highdive). At the end of this semester I want to see a substantially complete version of your piece or project; for performers, I expect you to have recorded any necessary samples or other materials for your piece. Then, over the break you can make necessary changes or adjustments.

Also, during the semester there is a series of lunchtime concerts at the Beckman Center on south campus. I would like us to present a plugged-in concert there at some point in the semester, possibly improv; we'll have to bring our own equipment; it also pays up to $75 for each performer. Performance date (tentative): 10/12.