Sequencer Electronics keeps giving us musical, inventive gadgets for Max for Live, from two of our favorite artists, Gooooose and ayrtbh. This one just records knob movements, which in Device form is both more visual and accessible for improvised parameter tweaks than traditional Automation.
Best of all, this is not only a clever tool, but a nice embodiment of how the artist who developed it works.
ayrtbh, aka Changcun Wang, has at least found way to pass time in the tough lockdowns in Shanghai. Apart from cranking out great music, they send along this clever Max for Live construction. (And while it’s totally different in terms of design approach, it also perfectly complements Noah Pred’s creations I wrote about last night.)
So yeah, sure, you could use Automation for this. You could record stuff into Clips. But…
This is just a beautiful design that fits what you really want to do a lot of the time. Like a phrase recorder, you just set a duration of time, tweak the knob (even via mouse that works reasonably well), and then map that newly-created phrase to whatever parameter you want. There’s also a random button, so you can spawn gestures on-the-fly even without touching the mouse or MIDI, and minimum and maximum values.
US$10 buys you the package.
There’s a trick in there, too, which you might not notice if you don’t read the manual. You can set part or all of the loop to play – just hold down opt/cmd/ctrl when dragging on the loop range bar, located just under the bar length display (2 bars, etc.).
It dumps its memory when you close the set, but maybe the way to think about this is more on-the-fly knob improvisation. If you do want to keep something, of course, then record the animated knob. But I like that you just can chain as many of these as you want and start twiddling, then capture something if you like it.
And immediacy – plus that visual feedback (nicely displayed on the knob itself) – is what you get that is often missing from Automation recording. So imagine the usual Automation facility as the way to capture something, and this as a way to add instant animation. The ability to chain these and assign MIDI and map on-the-go and randomize on-the-goy means you can drop these into a set and instantly improvise in the studio or onstage, to keep stuff from getting dull.
It’s well worth checking out the other stuff from sequencer.wtf – especially alongside Manifest Audio’s creations, as they’re somehow opposites that complement each other.
In particular, I love:
Envelope sequencer, which lets you set up nice sequences of… multi-breakpoint envelopes. (There’s modulation sequencer, too, which is more like a step sequencer – though I really prefer the envelopes and haven’t found anything quite like it.)
LSEQ is just a fantastic and really compact gate sequencer. It’s by ayrtbh and it shows – ultra-minimalist.
16NOTES V2 is the masterful sequencer by Gooooose, full of wonderful complexity and a unique approach to variations and step sequencers in which each step can have an independent length. It’s the intervse, then, of what ayrtbh made – like the maximalism to LSEQ’s minimalism.
Random button means … now everything in your Session has a randomize button (with mappable parameters, no less).
WHEREAMI is a free heads-up display that shows where your position is in a bar, so you can spot what you’re doing vis a vis anything quantized to beat positions.
DRUM SAMPLE does something I’m used to ironically in modular environments – dump samples into folders, then dial in samples and set envelopes. It’s kind of a dumbing down of how drum samples work in Live, but that’s great in certain contexts!
Now go grab some music to go with this.