We get the “where do I go to learn this stuff” question a lot in the inbox. With Max for Live coming later this year, bringing the powers of Max to Ableton Live, I imagine the hunger for knowledge on that tool will be all the greater. (At the same time, I think the growing popularity of DIY tools means that it won’t make alternative tools like SuperCollider, Pd, Csound and the like less popular — I think we’ll see a growing trend toward all of these tools, provided we can show folks how to use them and get better at them ourselves!)

I know one route that has been successful for many people is the coursework at Harvestworks, the storied research and study center in New York. I can heartily endorse this one and say that, while I know and am friends with all the faculty, I have absolutely no investment in this. Dafna Naphtali, Hans Tammen, and Zach Seldess will all be teaching week-long intensives at Harvestworks in Manhattan. They’re not cheap – $1275 for the whole week – but I know some people have even flown to New York from other parts of the world to study up.

And what does all this mean? Well, it means you can turn Street Fighter, the game, into an improvisational ballet as instructor Zachary Seldess has done (above). Among other things, of course.

If it’s all out of your budget, don’t worry; we’ll have some other learning resources for you soon. But for those of you who can take the plunge, here are some details:

(apologies for copy-and-paste, which I always smugly say I don’t do, but I’m in a rush)



Dafna Naphtali / Zachary Seldess / Hans Tammen
Mondays through Fridays 10am to 6pm
Section A: March 23 through 27
Section B: August 31 through September 4

Cost: $1275 (incl. Harvestworks Membership)

Location: Harvestworks (http://www.harvestworks.org)
596 Broadway #602
New York City, NY 10012 (at Houston St)
Subway: F/V Broadway/Lafayette, 6 Bleecker, W/R Prince

From its central SoHo location in New York City, Harvestworks brings together innovative practitioners from all branches of the digital arts, and provides a vital context and catalyst for creativity in the field. For the last thirty years we have offered artists on-site recording studios, programming services, workshops, classes and one-on-one tutorials in emerging technologies supporting the pioneers of computer music with equipment and instruction. As a tool for artists, Max has been a central part of the Harvestworks program for almost 20 years. We offer regularly scheduled year-round classes and workshops on a wide variety of topics relating to Max/MSP and Jitter; as well as our Certificate Program, a flexible course of one-on-one instruction.

Now, Harvestworks is offering a full-week, 40hr crash course in the basics of Max/MSP and Jitter, run by veteran Max programmer Dafna Naphtali, Harvestworks engineer and teacher Zachary Seldess, and Harvestworks’ Deputy Director Hans Tammen. The course is designed for beginners who want to get a head start with this software package. The course may be especially appealing to artists living outside of New York City who don’t have the opportunity to learn Max in their own hometown and who would enjoy a week in New York City.

The cost of the course is $1200, plus $75 for the annual Harvestworks membership that is required to take the course. The courses are Mondays through Fridays 10am to 6pm. Working in our computer lab after 6pm can also be arranged. Lecture demonstrations will alternate with practice time, and some of our Max-savvy interns can be available to assist during practice time. Workstations with Max/MSP/Jitter will be available, but it is also recommended that you bring your own laptop. The course will provide lots of practice and sample patches. Students enrolled in Max/MSP/Jitter related classes at Harvestworks are eligible for Cycling 74’s educational discount when purchasing the software. The course is limited to 10 students.

We will not provide meals or snacks for the course, but can point to lots of cheap dining places in the neighborhood. We also cannot provide accommodations, but can help with posting requests or bringing you in contact with other artists who might be able to help.

To sign up for the course, or if you have further questions, please call Hans Tammen at 212-431-1130 ext 13, or go to our webstore at
In his interview on Cycling74’s website, Hans Tammen gives a few insights into Max teaching at Harvestworks: http://www.cycling74.com/story/2008/9/15/113650/347


Day 1 – The Basics: Objects vs. messages vs. comments; ordering of operations; math in Max; scaling and mapping ranges of numbers; playing sound files.
Day 2 – Basics of modular programming; live audio input; recording sound files; simple data storage.
Day 3 – Controlled chaos; useful GUI objects; more data storage; basics of synthesis.
Day 4: Interfacing with the outside world. Overview of MIDI, the HI object (game controllers), Wii controller, the Harvestworks Sensor Station, using a Wacom tablet. Wireless Miditron. Data storage.
Day 5: Introduction to Jitter: Jitter matrix; basic matrix processing; playing and basic manipulation of QuickTime movies; basics of Open GL.


DAFNA NAPHTALI has been a Max teacher and programmer at Harvestworks since 1995. She earned a degree in Music Technology at NYU. She was Chief Engineer of the NYU Music Technology Studios until 1998, and has taught Max there as an adjunct instructor since 1996. Naphtali is also an academic advisor for both undergraduate and graduate students in NYU’s Music Technology program. She was a programmer for two years for many artists and her own projects at multi-channel sound gallery Engine 27. As a composer, writing custom Max/MSP programs since 1992 has enabled her to perform and compose using her laptop-based noise/audio processing “instrument” to alter the sound of her singing, vocalisms, personalized recordings as well as the sound of any musician playing with her. She has received commissions and awards from New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer, Experimental TV Center, American Composers Forum, Brecht Forum, and has held residencies at STEIM (Holland), Music OMI and iEAR at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute. http://www.dafna.info

ZACHARY SELDESS currently works at Harvestworks as a resident Programmer/Teacher, and at Brooklyn College CUNY as adjunct faculty. He also works at The CUNY Graduate Center’s New media Lab creating interactive virtual sound environments in 3D Game Space using the Torque Game Engine and Max/MSP. He is currently pursuing a PhD in composition at The Graduate Center CUNY where his primary teachers are Amnon Wolman and Morton Subotnick. Previously he worked as a performer, composer, private teacher and adjunct professor at Wilbur Wright College and Harold Washington College in Chicago. As a composer, Zachary has collaborated with artists in many mediums including theater, dance, film, and poetry. He spends much of his time these days creating interactive media artwork, particularly within the Max/MSP/Jitter programming environment. Programming projects include work with Jane Rigler on Manhattan New Music Project’s “Music Cre8tor”, a sensor/software music-creating interface for developmentally challenged children.

HANS TAMMEN is currently Deputy Director at Harvestworks, and is responsible for the oversight of all projects related to Max/MSP/Jitter and Physical Computing, as well as managing the education program and the studios. In this position he encounters the projects of approx. 250 clients, students and Artist In Residence per year. After an initial degree in Adult Education in 1988 he taught as an adjunct at Kassel University, and as part of his works as a union technology consultant from 1992 to 2000 he held about 120 one to five-day seminars using modern seminar techniques like metaplan, role-plays, and others. As a composer/guitarist he is best known for his “Endangered Guitar” works, interfacing his guitar with Max/MSP. Signal To Noise called his works “…a killer tour de force of post-everything guitar damage”, All Music Guide recommended him: “…clearly one of the best experimental guitarists to come forward during the 1990s.” http://www.tammen.org.