Paul (nightplayer) wrote,


Instead of going to another awesome desert party like I should, I holed up in my studio this weekend to learn Max/MSP, which is depressing twice because I only have it for 29 more days, after which it will cost $700 which I quite obviously cannot afford.

The program itself is quite elegant, though, and opens up possibilities way, way way over my head, which is awesome. I'm in a library right now downloading looping patches which may or may not work.

It did have a nice, simplistic explanation of binaural rhythms hidden in the tutorials:
Philosophical tangent: It can be shown mathematically and empirically that when two sinusoidal tones are added, their interference pattern recurs at a rate equal to the difference in their frequencies. This apparently explains why we hear beats; the amplitude demonstrably varies at the difference rate. However, if you listen to this patch through headphones—so that the two tones never have an opportunity to interfere mathematically, electrically, or in the air—you still hear the beats! This phenomenon, known as binaural beats is caused by ‘interference’ occurring in the nervous system. Although such interference is of a very different physical nature than the interference of sound waves in the air, we experience it as similar. An experiment like this demonstrates that our auditory system actively shapes the world we hear.

Plain English: When you put two sine waves together whose frequencies are slightly off, like at 1000 Hz and 1002 Hz, it makes a rhythmic wave pattern because the waves regularly reinforce and diminish each other. We hear this as a steady beat. When you separate those two frequencies and play one in each ear, we still hear the beat through our nervous system even though the waves never had a chance to interact out in the real world.

Neat, huh? It also is very comforting to learn an utterly new way to think about computer music at this stage. This program has been around for years, but it's gotten accessible enough now (price tag notwithstanding) for the likes of I to grok.

I blasted through the Max programming language tutorial yesterday, which took something like 10 hours, and today got up to the MSP basics review, which is about halfway. It's getting into sound building, which I think is beyond my scope right now. So I came to download a looping patch called lloopp and buy some blank DVDs with which to burn Reason, because Max now supports Rewire. Which is also weird and awesome. Next week, I hope to know this software well enough to perform with, because that's when I plan to build my new MIDI controller, after which I'll have about 20 more days to make $700 appear out of my ass. Wee!
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