Why use Max For Live?

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Max For Live Masterclass -

Com­puter Mu­sic: So, Phe­lan, how can build­ing our own de­vices in Max For Live ac­tu­ally help us make bet­ter mu­sic? Phe­lan: “You want to be able to make your mu­sic stand out from the crowd. It’s a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket nowa­days; there’s a lot of noise out there. In the les­sons I’ve taught in uni, it’s like, ‘Don’t use pre­sets’. Or maybe, ‘Use a pre­set but tweak it’, or, ‘Have enough knowl­edge to be able to fit it into your own sound land­scape’. The aim is to open up the synth – Mas­sive, Wavetable or what­ever – and make sounds from scratch. A lit­tle bit of the­ory can re­ally empower some­one to cre­ate stuff them­selves, as op­posed to us­ing a sound they might have got off a web­site or some­thing. And Max goes one level be­yond that, as you build the de­vice it­self. There’s an­other level of tax­on­omy you can jump into. If you learn the process, you can build the most in­sane in­stru­ment or ef­fect, that’s not in any­one else’s tool­kit.

“A lit­tle bit of the­ory can make you dan­ger­ous. If you know a lit­tle bit more mu­sic the­ory, you’ll be able to ex­press your­self mu­si­cally more, won’t you? Lots of peo­ple don’t study mu­sic the­ory so much, and maybe their mu­sic could be en­hanced by know­ing about modes and har­monic pro­gres­sions. The same thing ap­plies to tech­nol­ogy: if you know more about how synths work, you can make a crazy idea that you’ve got in your head us­ing Max.

“There’s a fine line be­tween tech­ni­cal­ity and mu­si­cal know-how, and I think the best mu­sic nowa­days is sort of a mix of those two things. Sci­en­tist ob­vi­ously comes from an en­gi­neer­ing back­ground and is maybe not such a muso, but he’s us­ing his dub pro­duc­tion tech­niques to make some­thing that’s dif­fer­ent and new. Maybe some­one like Fly­ing Lo­tus might ma­nip­u­late sam­ples in a dif­fer­ent way, but us­ing a bit more mu­si­cal the­ory to com­pose an ar­range­ment. To make any de­cent mu­si­cal state­ment, you need that mar­riage be­tween mu­sic the­ory and tech­nol­ogy.”

: When you say Max For Live helps peo­ple take their mu­sic fur­ther, what ex­am­ples have you seen? PK: “Ra­dio­head are a great ex­am­ple. Jonny Greenwood’s been a mas­sive Max fiend for years – since KidA. I taught Ed O’Brien, the gui­tar player, and Phil Sel­way, the drum­mer, how to use Live. I helped them to in­stall a home stu­dio so they could bring their mu­si­cal ideas to the band. This was the time of Hail­totheThief. Ra­dio­head had gone for the gui­tar thing, and then KidA turned them onto synths; but I think at that time Thom and Jonny were tak­ing a lead in terms of the out­put of the band, and Phil and Ed wanted to get a bit more in­volved in con­tribut­ing mu­si­cal ideas, and com­ing from a drum­ming and a gui­tar back­ground, they wanted to brush up on mu­sic tech a lit­tle bit.

“So they saw me for two months, and the idea was to look at how tech­nol­ogy could ex­tend their in­stru­ments, ex­tend their cre­ativ­ity. Jonny’s done a lot of stuff with Max, a lot of ran­domi­sa­tion and prob­a­bil­ity stuff, crazy lit­tle drum ma­chines… And if you lis­ten to some of the Thom Yorke solo stuff, it’s heav­ily syn­thetic: vo­cals across synths, mod­u­lars and com­puter-gen­er­ated stuff.”

: A com­ing to­gether of rock mu­sic and elec­tron­ica… PK: “The in­ter­est­ing thing for me nowa­days is that it’s not about ana­logue or dig­i­tal; it’s not about a mod­u­lar or a piece of soft­ware – it’s a hy­brid. We talk about hy­brid work­flow – you’re in the box but out of the box. You might have a nice bus com­pres­sor, and you do all your work in the box and run it through the bus com­pres­sor. Or you might have one ex­ter­nal synth that you track into Able­ton Live or what­ever. It’s that mixed method­ol­ogy stuff that’s most ex­cit­ing.”

: And can that mixed method­ol­ogy be ap­plied to in­te­grat­ing Max For Live into the cre­ative stu­dio work­flow, as op­posed to ap­proach­ing it with a par­tic­u­lar goal? PK: “Ab­so­lutely. I’ve got loads of synths and drum ma­chines in my stu­dio, but some­times I go in there and don’t make mu­sic – I just make sounds. I might spend four hours mak­ing bass patches and sav­ing them, then come back to it an­other week and write loads of mu­sic with them. I guess it’s sim­i­lar with Max: you could go into the stu­dio and just make loads of weird Max ob­jects, just for the pure fun of do­ing sound de­sign with data.”

“Build the most in­sane in­stru­ment that’s not in any­one else’s tool­kit”

Phe­lan Kane at Able­ton’s kit­ted-out stu­dio in Lon­don

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.