Max

For other uses, see Max (disambiguation). A Max/MSP patch written and used by Autechre

Max is a graphical development environment for music and multimedia developed and maintained by San Francisco-based software company Cycling'74. It has been used for over fifteen years by composers, performers, software designers, researchers and artists interested in creating interactive software.

The Max program itself is highly modular, with most routines existing in the form of shared libraries. An API allows third-party development of new routines (called "external objects"). As a result, Max has a large userbase of programmers not affiliated with Cycling'74 who enhance the software with commercial and non-commercial extensions to the program. Because of its extensible design and graphical interface (which in a novel way represents the program structure and the GUI as presented to the user simultaneously), Max is widely regarded as the lingua franca for developing interactive music performance software.

History

Max was originally written by Miller Puckette at IRCAM in the 1980s to give composers access to an authoring system for interactive computer music. In the early 1990s a commercial version of the program (developed and extended by David Zicarelli) was released by Opcode Systems. The current commercial version of Max has been distributed by Zicarelli's company, Cycling'74, since 1999.

Max has a number of extensions and incarnations; most notably, a set of audio extensions to the software appeared in 1997. Called MSP, this "add-on" package for Max allowed for the manipulation of digital audio signals in real-time, allowing users to create their own synthesizers and effects processors (Max had previously been designed to interface with hardware synthesizers, samplers, etc. as a "control" language using MIDI or some other protocol). A second major package called Jitter was released in 2003, adding real-time video, 3-D, and matrix processing capability to the software.

In addition, a number of sibling and Max-like programs exist. IRCAM developed and maintained a concurrent version of Max for the NeXT (and later SGI and Linux), called Max/FTS (FTS standing for "Faster Than Sound", and being analogous to a forerunner to MSP enhanced by a hardware DSP board on the computer). A later version of the program was developed in Java (jMax) and is open-source. Puckette himself released an entirely re-designed program in the mid-1990s called Pd ("pure data", alternately "public domain"), which has a number of fundamental differences from the IRCAM original. Native Instruments markets a similar software called Reaktor. Reaktor is generally considered easier to use and learn than Max, albeit less powerful.

Apple has a very similar program called Quartz Composer focused on graphical compositions

Max Mathews

Max is named for Max Mathews, and can be considered a descendant of MUSIC, though its graphical nature disguises that fact. Additionally, the real-time image processing capability of Max also makes it the first MUSIC-N program capable of doing other things than music.

A large number of people use Max, even if they aren't aware of it. Max documents (called patchers) can be bundled into standalone applications and distributed free or sold commercially. In addition, Max can be used to author audio plugin software for major audio production systems.

With the increased integration of laptop computers into live music performance (in electronic music and elsewhere), Max/MSP and Max/Jitter have received quite a bit of attention as the development environment of choice for those serious about laptop music / laptop video performance.

Notable artists

  • Autechre
  • Monolake
  • Kit Clayton
  • Leafcutter John
  • Kevin Blechdom
  • Jamie Lidell
  • R. Luke DuBois / The Freight Elevator Quartet
  • Pauline Oliveros
  • Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead

Many other artists use Max/MSP/Jitter, but prefer not to mention it. For more on this subject, see this discussion on the Max/MSP mailing list.


This page about Max includes information from a Wikipedia article.
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For more on this subject, see this discussion on the Max/MSP mailing list. The discs can also be played on many antique music boxes bearing the Polyphony and Regina brand names. Many other artists use Max/MSP/Jitter, but prefer not to mention it. They stand out by their continuing production of discs, with a selection of about a thousand tunes. With the increased integration of laptop computers into live music performance (in electronic music and elsewhere), Max/MSP and Max/Jitter have received quite a bit of attention as the development environment of choice for those serious about laptop music / laptop video performance. They offer clockwork, spring wound models as well as electric ones. In addition, Max can be used to author audio plugin software for major audio production systems. The Porter Music Box company of Vermont produces steel disc music boxes in several formats.

Max documents (called patchers) can be bundled into standalone applications and distributed free or sold commercially. The company is an industrial concern which also makes magnetic and hologram card readers, appliance components, industrial robots and miniature motors of all kinds. A large number of people use Max, even if they aren't aware of it. Recently, it has started selling licences for its music box tunes to cellular phone companies, for use as ring tones. Additionally, the real-time image processing capability of Max also makes it the first MUSIC-N program capable of doing other things than music. Sankyo Seiki bills itelf as the biggest manufacturer of music boxes in the world, and advertises that it controls 50% of the market. Max is named for Max Mathews, and can be considered a descendant of MUSIC, though its graphical nature disguises that fact. It also supplies movements to many other manufacturers, or to clockmakers and clockmaker suppliers which sometimes sell them retail to hobbyists for as low as 3 Euros each.

Apple has a very similar program called Quartz Composer focused on graphical compositions. In Japan Sankyo Seiki still makes a wide variety of music boxes from tiny musical keychains to much larger models. Reaktor is generally considered easier to use and learn than Max, albeit less powerful. They also sell several models of clear acrylic paperweights with a musical box movement inside, for a minimum of about 45 Euros. Native Instruments markets a similar software called Reaktor. The higher range boxes with removable cylinders and small assorted tables made of fine woods can cost up to 34,000 Euros and about an equivalent number of US dollars. Puckette himself released an entirely re-designed program in the mid-1990s called Pd ("pure data", alternately "public domain"), which has a number of fundamental differences from the IRCAM original. They have in a sense branched out widely from their original cylinder offerings since they now also offer traditional looking music boxes with removable metal disks for around a 1,000 Euros, with each disk costing in the neighborhood of 14 Euros.

A later version of the program was developed in Java (jMax) and is open-source. Located near Lake Neuchâtel, Reuge is one of the last of the Swiss survivors making music boxes of all sizes and shapes, with or without automatons in imitation of past models of the previous centries or in a modern style with clear acrylic sides to see the mechanical operation. IRCAM developed and maintained a concurrent version of Max for the NeXT (and later SGI and Linux), called Max/FTS (FTS standing for "Faster Than Sound", and being analogous to a forerunner to MSP enhanced by a hardware DSP board on the computer). Some went back to making watches, others were eventually responsible for the famous Bolex movie cameras and the Hermes typewriters. In addition, a number of sibling and Max-like programs exist. Between the two world wars most of the swiss companies converted to the manufacture of other products requiring precise mechanical parts. A second major package called Jitter was released in 2003, adding real-time video, 3-D, and matrix processing capability to the software. They are eagerly sought by collectors who have the space for their large or very large cabinets.

as a "control" language using MIDI or some other protocol). Because most of the coin-operated music boxes were built for rough treatment (such as typical slapping and kicking by a disgruntled customer) many of these large models have survived into the 21st century, despite their relatively low production quantities. Called MSP, this "add-on" package for Max allowed for the manipulation of digital audio signals in real-time, allowing users to create their own synthesizers and effects processors (Max had previously been designed to interface with hardware synthesizers, samplers, etc. However, since they produced music instead of playing back any sound, including human voices singing, they soon disappeared from their intended venues, displaced by the jukebox. Max has a number of extensions and incarnations; most notably, a set of audio extensions to the software appeared in 1997. These were, in an sense, the precursors to jukeboxes. The current commercial version of Max has been distributed by Zicarelli's company, Cycling'74, since 1999. Some of the models had a mechanism for automatically changing the metal disks.

In the early 1990s a commercial version of the program (developed and extended by David Zicarelli) was released by Opcode Systems. In Switzerland coin-operated music boxes, usually capable of playing several tunes, were installed in places like train stations and amusement parks. Max was originally written by Miller Puckette at IRCAM in the 1980s to give composers access to an authoring system for interactive computer music. Surviving musical boxes from the 19th century and the early 20th century are prized by collectors and there is a more or less constant manufacturing of reproductions. . These movements are also sold in retail outlets or by catalog for hobbyists who wish to make simple musical miniatures. Because of its extensible design and graphical interface (which in a novel way represents the program structure and the GUI as presented to the user simultaneously), Max is widely regarded as the lingua franca for developing interactive music performance software. Cheap windup music box movements (including the cylinder and comb and the spring) continued to be produced in countries like Japan, and later on in other countries with low production costs, to give a bit of music to mass produced jewelry boxes and novelty items.

As a result, Max has a large userbase of programmers not affiliated with Cycling'74 who enhance the software with commercial and non-commercial extensions to the program. A few of the original ones found new markets. An API allows third-party development of new routines (called "external objects"). Series production rapidly disappeared and all the important companies closed their doors. The Max program itself is highly modular, with most routines existing in the form of shared libraries. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th most musical boxes were gradually replaced by Player pianos, which were more versatile and loud, and also melodious, when kept tuned, and by the smaller gramophones which had the advantage of playing back voices. It has been used for over fifteen years by composers, performers, software designers, researchers and artists interested in creating interactive software. Some devices could do both at the same time, and were often combinations of player pianos and musical boxes, such as the Orchestrion.

Max is a graphical development environment for music and multimedia developed and maintained by San Francisco-based software company Cycling'74. Instead, the cylinder (or disk) worked by actuating bellows and levers which fed and opened pneumatic valves which activated a modified wind instrument or plucked the chords on a modified string instrument. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. The term "musical box" is also applied to clockwork devices where a removable metal disk or cylinder was used only in a "programming" function without producing the sounds directly by means of pins and a comb. Pauline Oliveros. The cylinder based machines rapidly became a minority. Luke DuBois / The Freight Elevator Quartet. In the last decades of the 19th century however, mass produced models such as the Polyphon and others all made use of interchangeable metal disks instead of cylinders.

R. The switch over to cylinders seems to have been complete after the Napoleonic wars. Jamie Lidell. The very first boxes at the end of the 18th century made use of metal disks. Kevin Blechdom. In some exceptional models there were four springs, to provide continuous play for up to three hours. Leafcutter John. In some of the costlier models, the cylinders could be removed to change melodies, thanks to an invention by Paillard in 1862, which was perfected by Metert, of Geneva in 1879.

Kit Clayton. The cylinders were normally made of metal and powered by a spring. Monolake. By the end of the 19th century some of the European makers had opened factories in the United States. Autechre. There were also a few manufacturers in Bohemia and Germany. The first musical box factory was opened there in 1815 by Jérémie Recordon and Samuel Junod.

For most of the 19th century the bulk of musical box production was concentrated in Switzerland, building upon a strong watchmaking tradition. They were usually powered by clockwork and originally produced by artisan watchmakers. Most of them were table top specimens though. The musical boxes could have any size from that of a hat box to a large piece of furniture.

The original snuff boxes were tiny containers which could fit into a gentleman's waist coat pocket. . Alec Templeton, an avid collector of music boxes, and a professional concert musician, once noted that the tone of a musical box is unlike that of any musical instrument (although it is best described as somewhere between the timbres of an mbira and a celesta). Some of the more complex boxes also have a tiny drum and small bells, in addition to the metal comb.

They were developed from musical snuff-boxes of the 18th century, and called carillons à musique. A musical box (or music box) is a 19th century automatic musical instrument that produces sounds by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder so as to strike the tuned teeth of a steel comb. This function is played by the cylinder in a cylinder music box. The disc is the programming object, a metallic version of a punched card which, like it has holes to express a program, star wheels which turn with the disc produce music by striking the teeth of the comb at the correct time.

This function is payed by the disc in a disc music box. The cylinder is the programming object, a metallic version of a punched card which, instead of having holes to express a program, is studded with tiny pins at the correct spacing to produce music by striking the teeth of the comb at the correct time. The comb is a flat piece of metal with dozens or even hundreds of tuned teeth of different lengths. The spring motor or motors (2 or more can be used to make playing times longer) give anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more of playing time.

The ratchet lever or the windup key is used to put the spring motor under tension, that is to wind it up. The bedpan is the relatively heavy metal foundation on which all the other pieces are fastened, usually by screws.

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