Forget fancy effects or sophisticated plug-ins – day-in, day-out, it’s those simple MIDI modules you wind up using again and again and again and again. It’s like having a bucket of paperclips on your desk. It doesn’t have to be exciting. It’s the simple stuff that gets used.

So, one of my favorite demos from the jam-packed sessions at MIDI Hack Day in Stockholm in May was unquestionably Midular. The idea was simple: make some basic modules that do stuff to notes and control events, then combine them in useful ways. It deserved an ovation.

And now, you can get those same modules for Max for Live, for free. They’re open source, properly under a GPL license (meaning, if you want to port them to Pure Data, you can, for instance). And they’re good enough that you’ll wonder with at least a couple of them why Ableton didn’t include these as defaults effects.

The starting lineup:

  • LiveQuantizer. Well, duh. And as the creator notes, this means you can do to notes what Live does to clips.
  • Repeater. Repeat incoming notes.
  • Buffer. A round-robin note storage-and-playback sequencer – cool. And that naturally leads to –
  • Rotator. 8-note rotating buffer plus an 8-step sequencer, based on the Roland System 100m modular sequencer. This is a no-brainer to add to that Roland SYSTEM-1 I’m dragging into the studio tonight, in fact, both in SYSTEM-1 and SH-101 modes – I’ll report back.
  • SuperPitcher Works the way you wish Pitch did in Ableton – but then also adds a step-based modulator, for other effects.

Yeah, so put them together, and then, you know, stuff.

Yeah, so put them together, and then, you know, stuff.

It’d be great to see this collection grow over time, particularly with additions from others in the Max for Live community. You can start on that right away by forking it on GitHub – or just download and get to playing.

So, yes, fairly simple. It’s combining these (and, no doubt, communing them with other tools and toys from the Max for Live community) that gets more interesting. Some video examples:

A simple demonstration showing how some of the Midular MIDI effect modules can be used together, focusing on the 8 note step sequencer called Rotator. I’ve tried keeping the sounds and sequences as simple as possible so that it’s easy to get a feeling for what’s going on.

A simple demonstration of how some of the Midular MIDI effect modules can be used to generate various arpeggiated sequences from a single sustained note. The sound is purposefully kept as basic as possible so that it’s easier to hear what’s going on.

News item:
Introducing Midular, a set of MIDI effects built in Max for Live

The project is the work of Knut Andreas Ruud. Brilliant stuff, Knut!

https://github.com/carrierdown/m4l-midular (look for the “download ZIP” link in the right-hand column if you haven’t used GitHub before!)

  • Brent Williams

    It is indeed the simple tools that do the most work! It is good to see such great work put into a non-commercial enterprise that benefits all electronic musicians.

  • Chris

    Thankyou Knut! Brilliant stuff, so useful.

  • Gadget

    More gadgets for Gadget!!!

  • Guillaume Lectez

    Does this support Live8 and M4L 5? Please say yes!!!!!

    • http://upland.no Knut Andreas Ruud

      I can’t say for sure since I haven’t tried, but the modules were made in the latest version of Live and M4L so it most probably won’t.

  • Vitor Jesus

    Peter, I kindly ask you to stop writing about these M4L goodies. It’s getting harder to resist
    upgrading my Live standard.

  • James

    Could someone explain the Buffer to me without using the word “Buffer” or the sentence “It takes unique incoming midi notes and buffers them.”? When does it spit the notes back out? Why does it fill up lots of the buffer sometimes and other times not so much? (There’s only 12 pitches right?) Is it omitting the playback of the notes it buffers and letting repeated notes through? Is it cycling or sequencing through the notes that it buffered in order to play them back in the same sequence after a chosen set of criteria or a selected periodicity?

    • James

      Looked for a spot to comment of the github: might be nice to have the steps on the rotator to be deselectable. That way if the last note that you fed it was not to your liking you could essentially undo it. I guess you could undo it too, duh. But maybe deselecting could mean you could resupply it with notes out of sequence, without having to reset the pattern…

    • http://upland.no Knut Andreas Ruud

      Feel free to ask me questions by posting an issue on github, here: https://github.com/carrierdown/m4l-midular/issues

      Regarding the Buffer module, doing the following experiment should demonstrate how it works in practice: Add the module to a midi track with no other midi processing devices, then play a note – let’s say C4. The note you played will sound. It will also be stored for later retrieval (didn’t use the word buffer there ;)) Now play another, for instance D4. The C4 will sound again. The reason for this is that the notes you input are cycled, and the incoming note (if it has not already been input to the device) will be stored after this takes place. Thus the next time you play a note (either C4 or D4), the D4 will play. Continuing to play C4 or D4 will result in these two notes alternating, no matter if you only play C4 or D4. However, if you play a new note, such as E4, C3, D5, then this note will be added to the sequence, and the note corresponding to the current playback position [within the buffer] will be played. Thus Buffer both stores and plays back notes at the same time. Note that the module considers C3 as different from C4, and so on, so there is a total of 127 possible pitches (as per the midi spec) that could be stored in this module. Buffer and Rotator are both devices that are perhaps most useful when thought of as ways to add a little bit of unpredictability, without the use of random algorithms. If you want very specific control of your sequence then you are probably better off using a more traditional step sequencer device. Hope this helps!

    • James

      Sure does, and I’ll make up for my lack of manners to say thank you!

  • http://www.3rev.net William Herrera

    I didn’t get Suite 9 but I may have to shell out for Max 4 Live. Lots of goodies there.