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What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:39 am
by seattletruth
Does anybody have a list of M4L projects that would seem really useful to the average Live user?

Right now I can't figure out what is so useful about it... Not trying to troll, i'm just curious.. thx

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:58 am
by Jeshua
IMHO if you're not really interested in Max/MSP in the first place than I wouldn't bother getting it.

I went to Ableton with a few friends of mine a while back and they showed me a nice little that used M4L well with the Novation Launchpad.

I'm trying to remember all the details but there were some small nuances like changing your clip color after it has been played (great for long DJ sets) to more complicated functions that had to do with effect racks (sorry can't remember what all the sound designer showed us), but basically I'd look into Max/MSP first to see if that would be something you'd be interested in, if so, than M4L is a requirement if you like both Ableton and Cycling 74's products.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:20 pm
by oddstep
its good for creating highly individual ways of controlling live - if you've ever thought that midi mapping or instant mapping was a bit limited you'd probably get some use out of max for live. its also good for making weird midi devices. Clever people use it as a tool for making strange samplers... but that's out of my league for now.
Its also a grown up equivalent to technical lego.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:24 pm
by seattletruth
oddstep wrote:its good for creating highly individual ways of controlling live - if you've ever thought that midi mapping or instant mapping was a bit limited you'd probably get some use out of max for live. its also good for making weird midi devices. Clever people use it as a tool for making strange samplers... but that's out of my league for now.
Its also a grown up equivalent to technical lego.
But what can it do that's actually useful for an average user thats not using, for instance, third party hardware?

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:47 pm
by oddstep
If I am an average user, then I find it really useful for making controller set ups that help me play live with fewer constraints imposed on me through the nature of the midi remote scripts or midi mapping. Its like arpeggiators... its possible to retrigger a drum sound by playing a drum pad really quickly, but its way easier to use an arp... plus the rate parameter gives you possibilities that weren't there before. So max for live often seems like nothing more than complicated ways of doing the same old thing. but it quickly adds up. So for example, I've customised a drum rack to that some buttons on my padkontrol control tempo, some allow me to navigate through menus of clips for triggering and some allow me to control instances of loopers on a return channel. You could do some of that through midi mapping and multiple pages on the padkontrol... but in my experience everything then gets exponentially harder to remember once I am in front of an audience + the padkontrol's pads can't then be used so easily on other drum racks.

There's no third party software that can give me the same degree of access to live's api.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:04 am
by Surreal
a better question would be what do you want to do? At the end of the day, Live and M4L are tools.


The best way I can think of to explain it right now is that M4L doesn't even need to be used to make anything new. I didn't like the logic of Live's chord effect, so i made one. I want to make a looper effect that will use clips as the loops, so i am working at that. Some mundane things, some complex things, but all of it based on how i want to work with live.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:16 am
by ShelLuser
In the overall, and just my biased opinion, its useful for several purposes.

The most obvious: getting Live to do things it can't do out of the box. What those things are depends on the user. For example... Last year I (virtually) ran into someone who was wondering if it were possible to define a loop brace by using a foot pedal. So; click once to set the start, click again to set the end. No, that's not possible in pristine Live but M4L (and a little help from a nut like yours truly) made it possible.

Another example (and something I'm still planning to dive into again); someone wondering if you could get Live to start recording whenever sound came into a channel. Once again; it can be done, with M4L.

Its those sometimes little and sometimes extensive things which make Live interesting. A personal example; my APC sits on the left side of the keyboard, my keyboard sits on my right side. No problem to hit record, turn my chair and then start playing (with a 1 bar count in) but cleanly stopping my stuff (sure; I can simply turn my chair again and crop the sample afterwards; but that's not clean). Enter M4L; getting it to stop whatever clip is recording the moment I stamp on my footpedal.

Simple, extensive, that's M4L.

Second is getting stuff out of Live which Live can't do. Take operator; I think its a very cool instrument, it has 4 oscs which you can route in many different ways. Its all about FM synthesis. But what if you'd want phase modulation instead of frequency modulation ? Better yet: apply a formant filter to your entire setup.

Sure; you can scope the Net for vst's but you can also set all of this up using M4L.


So well, there you have it. Just to give a rough basic idea. I tend to consider it a "Live swiss army knife". Its not "all powerful" as much as I'd like to call it as such since it has its limitations here and there, but it will allow you to take Live where it can't go right now.

Hope this also gives you some ideas..

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:12 pm
by seattletruth
Surreal wrote:a better question would be what do you want to do? At the end of the day, Live and M4L are tools.


The best way I can think of to explain it right now is that M4L doesn't even need to be used to make anything new. I didn't like the logic of Live's chord effect, so i made one. I want to make a looper effect that will use clips as the loops, so i am working at that. Some mundane things, some complex things, but all of it based on how i want to work with live.
So if I don't feel limited then I shouldn't waste my money?

Paying $300 to set a loop brace with a foot pedal sounds kind of lame...

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:33 pm
by oddstep
spot on. I was continually poncing about with controller scripts, python hacks and so on... so I knew if I was lucky enough to get some money that wasn't getting blown on food/rent etc I would probably find a way of making my life easier with max. I was right, plus max for live came with loads of patches that did things I ws trying to do -- but way more efficiently... (I'm well into massive midi device chains). that doesn't sound like where you're at.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:27 pm
by neuromodulator
I would say quite simply that "if you can't think of a reason for it, you don't need it" is a pretty good guideline. I'm super into it because it lets me interface with Live precisely how I want to (like having one button press have complex consequences), but if you aren't feeling those needs, don't worry about it.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:14 pm
by andrewbenson
Here's a summary of Max in plain English that might help you to understand what it's about:

Max gives you the parts to create unique sounds, visuals, and engaging interactive media. These parts are called 'objects' - visual boxes that contain tiny programs to do something specific. Each object does something different. Some make noises, some make video effects, others just do simple calculations or make decisions. In Max you add objects to a visual canvas and connect them together with patchcords. You can use as many as you like. By combining objects, you create interactive and unique software without ever writing any code (you can do that too if you really want to).

Max for Live gives you all of these tools inside of a Live device. Make custom Instruments, Midi Effects, and Audio Effects. You can also make things that none of us have thought of yet.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:19 pm
by Surreal
seattletruth wrote: So if I don't feel limited then I shouldn't waste my money?
Correct.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:03 pm
by of norway
Surreal wrote:
seattletruth wrote: So if I don't feel limited then I shouldn't waste my money?
Correct.
I am quite intrigued actually, I am fed up of my routing to channels routing to channels routing to channels, and midimapping one button to everything and back, when there should be easier ways to do things. (Someone said that there was possibly a way to midi delete clips on the fly, which is useful for my livesets and stuff like that) So I am def. looking into it :)

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:12 pm
by oddstep
deleting clips with midi is the el dorado of max for live. i don't think the function exists, long have i searched the interwebs and live object model.

what you're saying about routing and midi mapping really reminds me of why i decided to buy it.

Re: What exactly can M4L do that's so cool?

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:39 pm
by S4racen
Deleting clips is possible, i run a series of actions that allow me to select a clip with the clip launch buttons of the APC40 without triggering it by using a modifier button.... now that the clip is focused and highlighted i can use aka.keyboard to send the delete command as a keystroke to ableton on release of the button...

In fact heres the first half for anyone that's interested.... Free m4l device 4 APC40 select waveforms using the clip launch buttons without launching the clip http://bit.ly/ho7t7C

Cheers
D