The beauty of physical, human motion is that just about anything kinetic, any gesture can work. If you were left only with motion in your toes, you could play a live set. And whereas these gestures were once tied to specific acoustic instrumental effects, in the digital realm, they can be anything.

We’ve seen the rise of the grid controller, popularized by the monome and later seen in mass-market devices like the Launchpad and APC. And while it’s hardly the first “big knob as controller” concept, we’ve seen the encoder celebrated in the monome follow-up arc. So, buttons – check. Encoders – check. How about faders?

Herrmutt Lobby has been building simple Max for Live patches that do more with less. Beat Fader assigns note triggers to control points spread along a fader. This is similar to what the monome community have built with a row of buttons, but instead with continuous input. The fader still works like the buttons – instead of tapping a toggle, you move past a control point, for eight events. As you’ll see in the screen patch, the patch itself doesn’t do much; it’s really up to how you configure your Live set.

In a similarly economical invention, Counter increments a series of notes from a single trigger.

The advantage of Max for Live is that these little creations, long the sort of thing that’d make up a larger patch, now can be dropped as modules into a Live performance set. But you could easily use this idea outside Max for Live, in any tool that processes MIDI events, and with or without Ableton.

As usual, performance virtuosity is what makes the difference. There’s a nice thread on the monome forum about this to read – thanks to them for inspiring this story.
Beatfader [monome community]

Grab the patches for free (if you haven’t already gone and made something similar yourself, though these have nice preset control, etc.):
Beat Fader
counter lobby

Controllers seen above:
Novation Nocturn, street about US$90
Hercules DJ Console, I think the MK2, street around US$250 (but variants available much cheaper)

One video to take us out:

  • BellectroniQ

    Love those vids 🙂

  • pierlu

    once i did a pd patch with similar concept… how to control a performance with one knob only… this idea of scrubbling thru sample point continuosly is way smarter… good advertising for M4L

  • damn that's cool. loving the beat in the first vid.

  • Peter Kirn

    @pierlu: Well, that's it exactly. Anything that processes MIDI would let you do this. Then you decide what to trigger on the other end. So it's great advertising for Max for Live – and that combination *does* work really well – but I'd stress that you could apply this concept anywhere.

  • Johbremat

    *searches fruitlessly for a Vestax Faderboard*

  • I've tried these and I can say you need a lot of practice and building up a very accurate Live set to produce the results in the video. Nevertheless, what's valuable is the idea itself, which can be applied in a million ways to Max patches. The general tendency today: less controllers do more.

  • If you happen to have one of the Novation synths with loopable envelopes and fader controls on those envelopes, you can do some amazing things just by manipulating the attack and decay faders.

  • Tweakingknobs


    i love the idea  of new ways contrlers can control stuff .

    in the end its always a parameter that goes from point a to point b , or endless knobs , just keeps on adding values to a parameter.

    i loved the thing the arc knobs do , i would love to see more stuff in these directions..


  • Tweakingknobs

    this can be done in live without max for live, it asint that complicated.

    at least the way i see it.

    a midi fader in wich  0% triggers the kick 50% hihat and 100% snare.

    now , how… drums racks with macros somehow? Xcliph ? 

  • This looks really cool. However, if I put my skeptic hat on, it seems that the audio and video are off sometimes. Has this been verified as a legitimate video? If so, I'm really blown away at the complexity and creativity that can be achieved with such a simple concept.

  • mat

    amazing output!

  • very cool indeed!

  • does anyone see a similarity in the way a pitch slider on a turntable changes pitches? the Vestax Controller One tried to achieve something like this. also, someone created a midi trigger for a cross fader on a Vestax 06pro a few years back. This however is actually a very useful Max patch because now a controller collecting dust can be used without having to make new hardware. Anything with knobs, sliders, buttons can trigger elements of the patch. Good find Peter.

  • 23fx

    @tweaking knobs
    i think you can build a midi rack where your cross control the chain selector, but there are no real natives solutions for live to generate a note after having detetected CC changed to next step (afaik) one trick would be use use arpegiators chains to constantly generate notes then crossfade between them, to control X mono samplers but the result would be quantisized.

    btw you can drop usine free vst in live and patch this behaviour easily too if ya are on pc, then there are tons of fun ways to reinvent midi controlers uses, but the beat fader is a cool tek im gonna def try.

  • bb

    hmmm.. I've got an old Peavey1600x that has been following me around in a box on a shelf for about 10 years or so. It is built like a tank.


    I will have to hook it up once again and see what I can manage with it. Something custom in Reaktor perhaps?

    Anyone else got one of these units they are experimenting with? Its a very capable device and has some interesting functions that I don't think you will find in current hardware of this type.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Ffanatic: I don't see any particular reason this would be faked, given that there's a series of videos and all the patches have been released! More likely it's just an editing mistake. 😉

  • @bb i've always heard great things about the Peavey 1600. If i had one i'd use it to control ableton live and do live dub performances.

  • @cooptrol There is a M4L patch that is called something like midi quantize. That has helped me a lot when fiddling around with beatfader.

    @Ffanatic The video is legit. The M4L patch does exactly what it says on the tin. The video is just somewhat out of sync with the audio.

    I just wish counter lobby had a bit more instructions. I have both of the patches but I have no idea how to use counter.

    Also, I am using them with a nocturn, but I think I am outgrowing it. I would like to get something like a livid in the future. I think vertical faders would be more playable than a xfader in general.

  • oletorjus

    It's a cool in a way, but that first video.. It looks nothing like it sound. The beats are really cool, but you cant just sit still and move nothing but your fingers a couple of cm when performing something like that. I feel it doesent justify the music in the same way as if it was banged out on some pads or a monome or something. It nice, but.. looks stupid?

  • Vilhelm

    disagree. Think it looks cool as f***

  • that is hot! thats the sickest thing i've seen in a long time!

  • There is no editing in the fader monky video ( only slow motions before and after the song), only the dubstep video was edited cause of the long and messy take, as said in the video details. Midiquantize is used in the dubstep video only.

    You can read the annotations on youtube to understand how it works. In this video, faders have 12 to 16 sounds each, (6 or 16 for incrementing 6 or 16 other sounds when decrementing the value.)

    Using the counter, "save that shit" voices are trigged in 3 parts when you hit few snares without hit a kick in between. We are working on a cleaner version of counterlobby, but the patch is very simple, you can just edit it to see that s only a counter max object with some user interface.

    As easy way to understand the system, the Ableton file from the fader monky will be available soon for download, with everything pre mapped on macros.

  • 786dfsaysfv

    seems like:

    a. they're making the whole thing more difficult than it needs to be (would be much easier to perform that first tune with a keyboard + pad controller).

    b. that is real quick way to wear out your faders!

  • damn, that idea is amazing, as well as those videos. it reminds me of the arp on the electribe, i could play with that thing for hours.

  • Shufflebug

    i like this s..t !!!
    this concept reminds me of the plapla pinky performances:&nbsp ;

  • looks like he needs 2 turntables with the same track for beat looping…just saying…

  • Shufflebug

    no, his left turntable triggers a bass drum sample when moved forward and i think a kind of clap sample when moved backwards. his right tt plays a signal that is additionaly manipulated by the controller of the guy sitting down. its a special behaviour of their max patch interpreting the mspinky signal coming from the timecode vinyls.

  • no offense guys 🙂 but it s easy to understand just listen and watch carefully. We don't modulate beat or melody, we play it.
    in this video there is nothing sequenced… nothing played in a audio or midi clip or anykind of manipulated arpegiator or other realted beatjungling techinque.

    it s not just a kick or a snare, added to a audio stream . its something arround 150 short sounds played real time.

    thats why we zoom only on controller its to make it understandable…. to be sharable as an instrument. thats why we are happy to have this post on CDM 😉


  • yo bruvas

    i made a simple tuto to demonstrate the counter ( only the counter without beatfader)

    To make it easy, the triggers listen to QSDF keys on pc keyboard on the default octave range.

    q – kik :3 kick + cym if you play a tom before
    s – snare : first snare after a kick : snare next snares : claps and congas.
    d – hihats : 2 series of 3 sounds according last drum was a snare or a kick.
    f – tom :8 toms pitch decrement.

  • damn… great tunes and cool faderbeats 🙂

  • Love Love Love this demonstration. 
    now that the max/live promo came and went, what set of freeware tools would I need to make this work? I am afraid I've little imagination as a coder, and welcome any suggestions from those of you who would like try this as well.

    What really makes sense to me is the physics. I could envision using the valve permutations on my trumpet to land all the hits. A trombone player would have a similar freedom using this patching, although it would be more obvious that the notes are not linearly splayed on the slide. Sequences might make for an interesting notation format if you then wrote beats out for a brass player.

  • hello james (braduro?)

    would see what you can do about trombone ect, intresting.
    you could dowload usine free there, make you able to beatfader.
    a fader give you at least 3 vars :
    position, direction, and speed. you could use these 3 vars to get more expression.