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Max/MSP Tasks

The Breakbeat Cutting Task

Task 4 Name: Breakbeat-Cutting in MaxMSP Set: w4i Due: w13i Weighting: assessable (15%) Courses: cmc2a
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Task Summary All CMC2a tasks VLE

This task involves understanding cutting and reforming soundfiles.

A few examples

Find a soundfile that includes at least one four-beat bar...


To cover:

The Task

  • The key to this task is the examination of soundfiles. You need to load a soundfile into a buffer~ object, find out its duration and then play back portions of the soundfile based on length. You may also read the file directly with sfplay~. Above is one version of how you might go about this.

  • You should now be able to use this information to drive an sfplay~, groove~ or index~ object (the latter allows sample by sample editing).

  • NB you are encouraged to adapt your own creative practice in these tasks. If possible use styles and materials with which you are familiar. In this case, the key focus is the manipulation of short, recorded soundfiles.

  • Consider the groove~ object and how it works. You can use the help in Max tthat comes with groove~ or look at the patch provided in RH Examples. Think about how you might create an algorithm that:
    • finds out how long your chosen (rhythmic) sample is
    • chooses a (metrical) division
    • finds out the relevant start and end loop points for an arbitrary slice
    • consider how this might work with the other objects mentioned in this task
    • consider ways of using the technique without the emphasis on beats and rhythms.
    • you can include answers to these questions for extra points in your logbooks.

  • Using one of these objects create a patch that allows control over the cutting of these beats. You may prefer to create a composition which uses this method of control at some points, either live or through recording. At its simplest, contruct a patch which allows the user to choose which beat is played. This could then be looped.

  • You should also try automating the procedure: allow a random or urn object to control which beat is chosen.

  • With groove~ you would need to set the start and end loop points.

  • With sfplay~ you would set cues (see preloading and jumping in the sfplay~ help file).

  • With index~ you can deal with things on a sample by sample basis. Use count~ to loop through specific sectors of the buffer.

  • For extra points you could try more than one of these methods.

  • Think about how you might generate 'fills' and 'rolls' and try to implement them.

  • Make a demo recording of your patch working. Please keep the size down to a minimum (maximum duration approximately 10 seconds). Use adoutput~ for the easiest way of doing this:

    record a demo

  • Additionally or alternatively, mke a screencast of you demonstrating and, if appropriate, performing with your patch. It's easy to do this using Quicktime Player on Mac computers. Choose File/New Screen Recording.

  • Added value
    By completing the details of the task you will achieve at least a pass mark. By imaginatively and creatively considering how you might implement the task originally you can add value to your submission, and this added value may increase your mark significantly. Even when making videos of short demonstration tasks try to consider musical and performance criteria.


  • Compress (zip) your patches, demos, etc. into one file called your_student_number_"breakbeat" (e.g. 0504335_breakbeat.zip), include a readme with your name and student number and, if necessary, how to use or just open the patch.
  • Submit a copy of the files to the i-Centre on 2pm Tuesday December 19th 2017

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The Projects

The projects and tasks are designed to help you through the various courses and materials that you'll have to deal with, and also to provide an active and practical element to what could otherwise become a rather dry and technical exercise. Tasks are small exercises - you may be asked to complete one or two per week. Projects are larger and carry a higher percentage of the mark. We will undertake two, three, four or more projects and tasks. The final project is usually an individual choice project, and will be worth significantly more than the others in terms of percentages in your portfolio. We will usually try to set aside a time to perform the projects in a public setting.