To explore the use of Max For Live and Arduino as means of creating a live interactive performance.
My aim with this project is to create my own audio effects of a large variety, for the purpose of both live and interactive performance, and also for linear based music pieces. To create the audio plugins, I will use Max For Live, an Ableton integrated version of Max 7, as it is a visual programming language that is very fluent in experimentation and making a plugin to the exact specifications that you require. With the plugins, for my personal use, I want the finalise products to be able to add subtle effects to the incoming audio, but also be able to create new textures and sounds far removed from the original timbre, which in my case will be a clean electric guitar signal. Once created, I want to place the plugins in the hands of other people, in the context of an improvised live performance. While playing the guitar, I will allow the audience, using MIDI controllers that I have built using an Arduino UNO and basic potentiometer components, take control of the plugins live, allowing them to change and warp the sound of my guitar as I’m playing, creating a whole new level of audience interaction in live performance.
The generalised idea of the live performance of music, to me, has become very stale and uninspired. Although live performances are something I attend regularly and enjoy, I tend to feel like they can be rather one sided, especially in electronic music, and that there is abundant room for audience interaction. Ultimately, I feel that audience interaction with an artist can be and is very important and valuable. It allows someone to interact with an artist on almost the same level, making them feel a part of the performance and allows for an individual to connect with their favourite artist. This idea of audience interaction is something I have wished from other artists in the past, seeing great potential for it in many of their performances and shows. Rather than waiting for someone else to realise this idea, I feel that I have the ability to bring it to reality, and create the building blocks for interactive performance that could possibly allow other artists to do the same.
This type of performance also allows for show individuality, no two performances would sound alike. This is due to both the improvisation in my playing, but also the different interactions between the audience and the MIDI controller. Different individuals will interact with the me and the music in the different ways, some being more subtle and minimalist, and some being more wild and aggressive, with also variations in-between. This element of the performance really excites me, as I value improvisation and individual experience as a key part of live performance. It allows myself, and an audience member to distinguish the performance from any other, holding it’s own memories and feelings.
So as mentioned in my rationale, I’m going to be creating plugins using the Max For Live feature within Ableton Live. Here, I will be implementing various MAXMSP objects to create my own effects such as delay, reverb, chorus, ring modulation, phaser, tremolo and various others. Once I’ve created the plugins, I’m going to be beginning putting an Ableton project together that allows these plugins in a live setting, specifically an interactive live setting. The plugins will be placed into an audio track, that my guitar will be running directly into via an audio interface. Certain parameters with my plugins will be mapped by via MIDI to a controller than I’m going build. This controller will be created using an Arduino and potentiometers, of which these will be connected to the analog ports on the Arduino. I will also build a box or a stand for the potentiometers to be placed and used by the audience, presenting them to the audience, inviting them to take part. Using the Arduino IDE software, I shall upload a piece of code to the Arduino that converts the voltage differences from the potentiometers into MIDI data. The Arduino MIDI controller and the stand of which it is placed will be placed in front of the stage where I shall be playing the guitar, allowing members of the audience to walk up and interact with the controller, changing the sound of my guitar. It is also possible that I shall create a Max For Live device that creates or manipulates video, that reacts to the audio it’s being fed. These will be projected on a blank screen behind me, adding a further stimuli for the audience to be involved and in engaged in as I’m playing and as they are interacting with the performance.
Objective and Aims
To explore Ableton Live, Max For Live and Arduino as a means to create a live, interactive performance, specifically for the electric guitar.
- To explore and experiment with Max For Live as a means to create interesting and timbre changing audio effects.
- To research Ableton Live as a device for live electronic music.
- To investigate Arduino as a tool to create interactive tools for live performance.
- To create an interactive live performance involving Max For Live.
- To examine the interaction audiences have with an artist in a live performance situation.
- Ableton Live 9 Suite with Max For Live
- Macbook or any laptop with the ability to run Ableton Live
- Arduino Uno with cables and breadboard
- Arduino IDE
- Arduino stand
- Fender Telecaster
- Alesis i02 Audio Interface
- Mixing desk
In terms of an audience for my performance, I would like anyone with any interest in live performance to come, watch, listen and interact. However, I feel like this performance will appeal to people who enjoy abstract and experimental music, Ableton and Max For Live users, and also guitar players also.
Although I have no set dedicated times for when I want to complete each stage of this project, I have a solid order I want to complete each stage, although I expect much crossover in the completion order of these stages, as they work against and with each other. First and foremost, I want to complete all the necessary and wanted Max For Live devices. Most of the devices that I set out to make are almost near completion, and now it’s just a case of creating the final devices I have in mind, along with refining the currently created devices to make sure they work exactly how I want them too. The next main stage after this is to build my Arduino MIDI controller, allowing time for material gathering and construction of the controller. This I feel is going to take the longest of all the stages, as there is a lot of physical experimentation to be done, along with the fact there is potential for many errors in construction. Once the controller is built, the next stage is testing and rehearsing the performance. This stage of the project should take the least amount of time, due to the fact I will be testing the devices and the controller as I make them.