The brains at Ableton have long had a fascination with tools like Max/MSP; Live architect Robert Henke (aka Monolake) regularly prototypes new software ideas in Max, and long before Live was released, was well known in the Max community as a patcher. One of the things I like best about Max is that it’s a great problem-solver. So it’s little surprise that Ableton is using Max as an aid in generating sounds and patches for the instruments in Live.
For the first time, you can download one of those tools and use it yourself, and you don’t even need a full copy of Max:
If you don’t own a copy of Max/MSP, you can download the Max runtime from Cycling ’74 at the Max/MSP runtime page for Windows, Mac, or Mac Universal. The tool lets you generate complex waveforms using additive synthesis: specify the frequency bands you want, try out the sound, then save as a file you can bring into Simpler and Sampler. It’s a lot of fun, and if you’re allergic to presets and prefer to shape sounds your own way, you’ll definitely want a copy.
If you come up with some interesting presets, let us know. (AMS files seem to require Live 6, so you may have to wait until Live hits public beta; currently some of you may be on beta, but the testing circle is limited.) I’m using Live 6 on a daily basis, so you can expect more tips over the coming weeks.