Why MIDI 'n' knobs and stuff...

From dacc
Sent Thu, Jan 23rd 1997, 03:55

OK...after listening to a day's worth of the usability of knob data via
MIDI, I just got one thing to say...

MAX.

Ahhhh...we never considered _that_ little monkeywrench of a MIDI app, did
we? Yep...while just having the knobs sending data to your sequencer is one
thing, having knobs send data to some wild MAX performance patch opens up a
whole new can-o-worms. Consider what MAX _does_, folks...you're dealing
with a programming environment that is to MIDI what a lashed-together pair
of Moog IIIcs does to analog synthesis.
        Dig this: in MAX, it's easy to whip up something that sends various
controllers' data to several synths, with numerical value limits, inversion
of data, assignable stepped ranging, and a whole host of other scary
things. All off of one knob. Yeah, one. Now take something like a Nord,
which sends data on _all_ knobs, grab a copy of MAX, and go nuts.
Right...you got it. You can turn what looks like some simple data-sending
knob into some complex controller, then pass data from that to just about
anything. Various filter tweaks on a dozen Doepfer MS-404s? You can do
that. Six different portamento rate rescalings? Sure. Why not? Time to go
to a new track? Just change MAX patches.
        So while looking at just sending data to a sequencer is one way of
viewing what the Nord's knobs can do, when you throw things like MAX at the
problem, it gets a lot wilder. Then you really _do_ approach the ability to
do near-limitless levels of complexity in realtime, live. And if you have a
bunch of true analogs lashed up with something like a Nord + a Mac running
MAX (sorry folks, it doesn't do PCs!), you get something like a
'meta-instrument' which has limits set only by what you can wrench out of
it.
        Anyway, I just had to bring that up, since there was all this
tossing about regarding realtime, knobs, and MIDI data...also having done a
bunch of live electronics _and_ having used MAX in its original IRCAM
incarnation on the NeXT.


==========================\ And what is the purpose of writing music? One is,
                          | of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing
DAC Crowell               | with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of
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dacc@soltec.com or        | out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in cre-
dacc@prairienet.org       | ation, but simply a way of waking up to the very
http://hyperreal.com/     | life we're living, which is so excellent once one
music/artists/dac_crowell | gets one's mind and one's desires out of its way
                          | and lets it act of its own accord.
==========================/        -- John Cage: "Experimental Music", 1955