(Disclaimer: my maxpatches look horrible but they work).
This is fair to middling technical but I've made it as straightforward as I can.
The first image below shows one of four stereo tracks for the 8-channel Particulate Articulator that I've been writing about. The other three tracks are almost duplicates (I left them out for clarity) except that tracks 2 and 4 have a tape delay option (with sliders that I can assign to a small korg controller) cobbled together from patches I found online. I don't use the tape delay much except occasionally for radio works because too much delay is a bit obvious for my tastes. Besides I'm using good quality outboard pedal effects and I have also have Revox that does tape delay properly. The patch looks just about acceptable in the picture but all four tracks together is a bird's nest.
Some of the text in the objects I don't understand. The text is either there as part of Max's functions or I put it there and can't remember why. The stray text is pure indolence on my behalf. Basically I don't want to change anything I don't understand because the patch works and because I know how to change values for the bits I want to tweak. Maybe I should learn how to streamline the patch. Below you'll find the presentation view which is quite tidy. Maybe this is how it goes - messy under the hood and a slick looking superstructure.
I begin by loading in folders of sounds to each of the four tracks. At the moment, for my new label and for live work, I'm working with eight sounds per folder because I think things start to sound tight with a restricted group of sounds (as in my compositions). These folders can be changed on the fly. Various random metronomes decide when the files are selected so nothing changes regularly. The looper module chops up the audio files into different sizes, starting and finishing in different places. Because of the way I've set it up nothing comes out sounding like a looper's been at it. I also have a time-stretcher object (which stretches between two values, randomised, both up and down), though I've begun setting this to operate between values close to 1.0 because I'm happy with the work on the files beforehand and also anything with vocal sounds or certain instruments sounds odd. The timestretcher worked very well in some radio pieces I made in the past. There are other objects that I put in there to try to stop clicks resulting from the constant chopping and changing that goes on. I've forgotten how they work. I think they help a bit but not totally so if anyone knows how to create a tiny fade in/out once the files come out of the looper object I'd be grateful for tips.
I should point out that I have different patches for 1' 2', 3' and 5' files. I also modified patches for combinations, eg I can have a patch with tracks et to: 1', 2', 2' 5'. Why? Because the 1' files are more gestural and more rapidly articulated than the 5' files which tend to be more textural, both in the kinds of sounds I've selected and the way they play longer. Each patch has started to develop a unique 'character' that I'm still learning to work with.
The eight channels (four stereo channels) are fed from computer to an RME Fireface, then to the desk where I mix live and add outboard effects on the two auxiliaries.
Although I took some time to learn Max from scratch and to eventually design and build this digital instrument (I'll come to the 'why' in the third and final blog post), the hard work went in over years, decades even. Everything I've ever learned and understood about sound and music, about composition, has gone into this ostensibly simple task of chopping up recordings into different lengths. Tailoring the sounds that go into the folders, cataloguing, establishing taxonomies, working out what sound goes with what - this has been the hard work. I'd suggest that this instrument replicates my compositional preferences to some degree.
Whatever the snotterati might think of laptop performance this is a versatile, expressive and flexible musical instrument, as much of an instrument as all the zithers and marimbas I've ever made in the past. It can be used as a studio instrument or played live where there's enough to keep me sweating for a full set. Book me and I'll show you. Or visit my tape label when it's up and running.
Finally I'd love to collaborate with other musicians. Either to record individuals and ensembles as they rehearse or experiment or to invite artists to send me their own audio files, tailored to one or other of the different lengths I use in the folders. Look out for news on this.