New Max MSP Book


  • Just my 2cents...
    This book is extremely cool in its effort, but only the first volume comes out this year and only contains these:
    Chapter I - Introduction to Sound Synthesis and Sound Processing
    Chapter II - Additive Synthesis
    Chapter III - Subtractive Synthesis
    Chapter IV - Controls and LFO

    it seems like you could get those basics from the tutorials and also on the c74site: there's a huge set of LFO tutorials by Greg Taylor which adequately incorporates discussions of the new ITM/transport system(doesn't say whether the book covers that, too)...

    in the volumes that come later these other issues will be covered, which aren't covered as well by Max docs:
    Karplus-Strong algorithm, reverb and spatialization, Max for Live, non-linear synthesis (AM, RM, FM, PM, PD and non-linear distortion), formant synthesis, convolution, analysis and resynthesis, micromontage and concatenative sound synthesis, physical modeling, and jitter for audio....

    so i'd wait until they come out with all the volumes, then maybe they'll have a deal for all of 'em at once, might be more worth it then(personally, i might skip the first volume).

  • for me personally, the MAX/MSP tutorials did a great job of teaching me how to wire up max. but they did a piss poor job of teaching me anything of use about DSP for musical applications (or maybe i'm really thick :P )

  • haha, no you are not thick. i had the same problem. wasn't til i read other books like Curtis Roads' 'Computer Music Tutorial' and Charles Dodge's 'Computer Music' that I finally wrapped my head around more than just the tonka-toy basics covered in the max tutorials(i think that's how they wanted it, though, because there's too many disciplines, not just DSP, that could be covered in max/msp/jitter tutorials, but i have a feeling they'll be adding perpetually)...but then, that's what i think that first volume might be like(if anyone glimpses a copy, let me know how it is!).

  • yeah, as crappy and useless as the reaktor documentation is, i found reaktor to be a much better learning tool for dsp than max. unfortunately NI hasn't updated it in forever tho...

  • @salamanderanagram

    His examples use PD, but close enough for jazz... you could always hit up Miller Puckette's online versions of "Theory & technique of Electronic Music" for some DSP tips & tricks

  • yes, Miller's book is a great recommend!
    while we're at it:

  • Woooahh, that's hardcore! That'll spoil my day nicely! ; )

  • yeah the julius smith stuff is *hardcore*
    i was able to make a pretty functional karplus-strong drum/string modeller with one of his online books.

    i'm actually decent at understanding this stuff now, but i haven't done math in almost 10 years and anytime the huge long equations come out, my eyes gloss over!

  • you guys are lightyears away from my knowledge about DSP processing...

    I wish I had enough time to cover it all, but hey, today I got Curtis Roads' 'Computer Music Tutorial', so I'll move on........
    ...and on
    and on...

    btw: how about this book from Roads: Musical Signal Processing ?
    Haven't read that, but I guess its good.

  • well, i'm about the same as everyone else, there's so much to read(and i have to read over JOS repeatedly to understand...)... i haven't read past chapter 8 of miller's book, either, but i did read all of Computer Music Tutorial and glimpsed at someone else's copy of Musical Signal Processing so for what it's worth it looked like a good progression to go from CMT to MSP. MSP is more detailed in going through synthesis algorithms and algorithmic composition tools, not as much about non-synthesis DSP, depends on what you're looking for... i felt like Charles Dodge's "Computer Music" is similar... one thing i love about Charles Dodge is that he explains math well... you get to understand in terms of code and also visually, the knowledge translates well in all environments.

  • So... If I have no MAX/MSP idea, the tutorials should work for me? I know something about modular synthesis, especially linear: subtractive and additive. Other types of synthesis don't know much, like wavetable or FM...

    Long story short, for a noob like me which book worth buying?

  • for absolute beginners, the tutorials included with Max are good(the MSP tutorials cover FM and a bit of wavetable):
    or even these are great, too:

    (yes, the book mentioned in this thread, would also be good, but it might also be extra money you pay to get the same info. you could get for free online... until the more advanced volumes 2 and 3 come out, anyways...)

    once you're done with standard tutorials, the free book mentioned above by Miller Puckette is a good next or after-next step to go through(the pd examples translate well into msp; though the material covered can range from intermediate to advanced).

    views on the best way to learn are always subjective, you'll never know how it would have been to learn a different way once you've already learned something a certain way: i learned max/msp as a beginner at the same time that i was learning SuperCollider and CSound as a beginner(1998; trying to learn all 3 at once did help, but i also just ended up going slower in general... back then, tutorials and help were also less available)... it's hard to say where i learned what... i just eventually felt max/msp was easier for visualizing and realizing concepts all at once, whereas in other environs, i had to visualize on scratch paper first...

  • I know max seems a-bit-easy for those familiarized with modular synthesis, I myself know a little, as a I said before... I've tried pd but it seems sooooo hard, I've also have read like the only learning book there is for that software (cant recall the name right now, but is from a german dude) and couldnt go ahead the second chapter. In other words it seems to be so computer programmer oriented, meaning that it has a steep (really, really steep) learning curve, at least for me.

    Puckette's book also seems so mathematic and algorithmic, this is computer programmer oriented, again!

    I'm going to check out the free tutorials on c74's website, and download a demo or trial version or something to try it. It's kinda cool you can build your own synth, this translates into your OWN SOUND, something nobody could tell what amazing synth he's using for achieving that particular sound.

    But, as a musician and a guy totally afraid of computer language, would you guys think that starting to learn max worth's the time and effort?

  • so, is the roads computer music tutorial still relevant? i noticed it was published in 1996 - how much would you get out of it buying it today?

  • I just picked up the computer music tutorial fairly cheap used on amazon. I agree that it's not the most up-to-date text. However, there are certain fundamentals that don't change, basics of sampling, traditional synthesis methods that are more or less the same as they've always been.
    I'd say if you can pick it up cheap somewhere it's worth having around, it'll probably be a good reference book IMO. It also provides some historical context, which some people might not be interested in, but I tend to enjoy it.

  • @stephen
    I'd say Roads is still pretty up to date(and always will be; he's revered by every modern professional computer musician from Autechre to Stockhausen! hey, if Autechre reads and learns from him, he must be somewhat relevant today!). The advanced chapters on FFT near the end are definitely still relevant and that's a good measure to go by... plus, most of the knowledge which governs these fields was actually discovered/charted/researched in the 1950s, long before the 1996 publishing date.

    It would also be hard for it to go out of date: it's a survey book, it covers the basics of everything(basics don't go out of date, only specifics)... eventually, if you want to specialize in something within that book(i mean in a deeply advanced way where you might want to research and join the lecture circuit for your own variation of the technique), you'll need to find even more advanced reading on it anyways.
    Everyone that writes books these days, will also have probably read Curtis Roads to help them write their book.

    max is a good place to start for beginners(having worked for cycling74, i can tell you, they're the only new (digital)media company i know of, at such a level of implementation, that is trying to help younger and younger children learn their software by focusing on different documentation methods and introducing seminars for little children at their office...)
    not to say you're a child! but if small children(7-10) can do it, so can you. the only thing you should make sure of is how bad you want to create something original. can you find what you need in available premade plugins or software? if so, stick with that, if not, don't worry about the learning curve of max, it is never quite as hard as you think especially if you have friends like you do have here to help you out... my learning curve would have been crazy steep if i didn't glimpse some of tehn's patches back when we were in grad school... but after that, i realized the value in learning from other people's work and i met more and more people and scoped their patches and the learning curve flattened unexpectedly quickly(join Phasor~! Vlad Spears, Jack Perkins, and company are all very resourceful max vets who can show you alot... and in a nice, sociable peer-to-peer way; also ask questions on the c74 forums and right here on the monome forums). It's the whole reason i'm still somewhat a noob: it took me between 1998 to 2004 just to break out of the shyness i had from being in a new environment before i was comfortable enough with speaking to others and learning from them about max... from 2004 - now, it got exponentially easier.

    just my take on it.

  • @ResAlien
    Thanks for your kind words. You'd just gave me the little final push to get into this amazing digital modular world of max! I'm going to do all of the tutorials, read, and hopefully I can make my own synths there, because yes! I want to have a trully disctintive sound. And also, what is more fun than making your own monome apps (I guess) !!!!!!!

    Thanks again dude, and probably I'm going to ask a lot of noob questions in here ;).

  • no worries, (sometimes i think 'noob' is a bit like the term 'nerd', it's hip to be somewhat a nerd these days, not so back when i was a kid... maybe after many years, people meditate a bit more often, 'noob' might become hip:
    "nothing is old to me?! what a great feeling!")
    ask away... i get dev's-block often and go on c74 forums and the like to engage in some other people's patches for awhile, i never think of it as me helping, but rather getting inspiration from an interaction... it's a mutual benefit.

    *ok, i feel preachy, i will retire from my pulpit now*

  • ^ Wise words man!

  • When you are in the corner and have no cash to get out from that, you would need to take the personal loans. Because it would help you definitely. I take short term loan every single year and feel myself OK because of this.

  • Thanks spam fairy!

  • Hi,

    the PDF "demo" of our book "Electronic Music and Sound Design: Theory and Practice with Max/MSP - Vol. I" can be downloaded at

    the book is an overview of the theory and practice of Max/MSP, with a glossary of terms and suggested tests that allow students to evaluate their progress. Comprehensive online support, running parallel to the explanations in the book, includes hundreds of sample patches, analyses, interactive sound-building exercises, and reverse engineering exercises.

    the book will be available on December 1st

    Maurizio Giri

  • @mauriziogiri, many thanks for this!

  • @ Mauriziogiri

    Any chance of a Spanish translation?

  • @Bite

    Here's one in spanish:

  • @jsph

    I've already ordered one ;) But colasanto says the first volume is more about max and has little about signal processing which will be in volume 2 and i can,t wait ;)

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