Max/MSP Visual Programming

The IDeATe cluster laptops include the Max visual programming system from Cycling74. Max can be highly useful for music composition, real-time audio synthesis (MSP) and video (Jitter) processing, or constructing ad hoc user interfaces. It runs on Windows or macOS, but can be interfaced to physical hardware over USB using Arduinos or other microcontrollers. For larger microcontrollers such as the Raspberry Pi, it can use UDP networking over wired ethernet or WiFi.

Max is commercial software and is available on the IDeATe cluster MacBook Pros and campus clusters. If you wish to run it on your own machine, Cycling74 offers a 30-day free trial, a good student discount, a subscription option, and occasionally a discounted sale price.

Outside this course, if you are committed to open-source software, many basic Max programs can work almost unchanged on the closely related Pure Data system (Pd). Pd is more portable, e.g. it can also run on Linux and Android. However, Pd is neither used or supported for this course.

Resources for Max

Max 7 documentation online. This is the online version of the tutorials and reference guide available within the program, but lacks the help demonstration patchers. The help patchers within the software are an essential resource because the sample code can be easily and pasted into your own patchers.

Cycling74 also publishes additional online tutorials.

The Cycling74 forums have many answers provided by the community for gaps in the documentation, plus tips, tricks, and common practice. Answers will frequently have compressed code fragments will can be directly pasted into a new patcher using “File/New from Clipboard”.