Category Archives: Software

Arpex – Expressive Arpeggiator for Live 11

Arpex is an MPE enabled arpeggiator device built in Max for Live for Ableton Live 11. It uses slide and pressure to control octave shifts and note length. Using MPE control data to change how each note is generated by the arpeggiator offers new melodic possibilities.

To celebrate the launch of Ableton Live 11, Arpex is available for free until 23rd March 2021.

Download Arpex from: Isotonik Studios

Download the full user manual: Arpex – User Manual



Live 11 and MPE

Arpex makes use of a new feature in Live 11, MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE). Where regular MIDI limits a single channel of control data for an instrument meaning that pitch bend or pressure effects the entire instrument, MPE allows each note to have its own MIDI channel. This means we can apply pitch bend, slide and pressure on a per-note basis (up to 15 notes).

From a sound design perspective, MPE enabled instruments and controllers present exciting new ways to interact with and modify sound. For example, holding a chord and applying more pressure to a single key might open that specific note’s filter up. Live 11 now comes with some excellent MPE enabled instruments (Wavetable and Sampler) and providing you have an MPE controller (see list at the end of this page) you can dive straight into the exciting world of MPE.

MPE functionality is also extended to Max for Live via a range of special MPE objects meaning we can now create our own MPE enabled devices.


System Requirements

Arpex requires Ableton Live 11 and a version of Max for Live will also be needed either with Ableton Live 11 Suite or Ableton Live 11 Standard with the Max for Live extension. The MPE functionality in Arpex will have no effect if used in any previous versions of Ableton Live.

To take full advantage of Arpex’s design, an MPE controller is needed such has the Sensel Morph or Roli Seaboard.


How does it work?

When using a supported MPE controller, any incoming MPE slide and pressure values generated by each note are used to control either the octave range or duration of an individual note in the arpeggiated pattern. Slide and pressure can be assigned to either octave shift or note duration using the switch.

In it’s default mode:

More pressure applied to a note = longer individual note

Sliding up a note = higher octave shifts for the note

Standard arpeggiated patterns are available via the ‘Style’ menu and the maximum octave range of a pressed note can also be set using the ‘Max Oct’ parameter.

 


Step Sequencers

Arpex also features a step sequencer to control velocity and duration. If the velocity sequencer is active, incoming velocity values will be ignored, and instead generated by the velocity sequencer. This is a great way to maintain some consistency whilst jamming on with the device. Preset shapes are also available for the velocity sequencer to quickly dial in some common velocity patterns. These shapes will be applied only to the number of steps currently set for the sequencer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the duration sequencer is active, any MPE control data currently assigned to duration will be ignored and instead generated by the duration sequencer. Setting a duration sequencer step to maximum will result in an overlapping note (legato).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each step in the sequencer can be turned off or on via the step buttons below the sequencers allowing for rhythmic variations to be applied to the arpeggiated pattern.

Both the velocity and active steps can be randomised momentarily or at the end of each loop of the sequencer.


Rate, Swing, Restart and Thru

The arpeggiated pattern can be restarted so that it plays from the beginning and there are three different modes to control this:

OFF = the pattern is not restarted.

NOTE = the pattern is restarted every time a new note is played.

SEQ = the pattern is restarted every time the sequencer loops over.

The speed the arpeggiator runs at can be either synchronised to Live’s BPM at a user defined rate or set to run freely. Swing can also be applied if ‘Rate’ is set to ‘Sync’ and is either a 1/8, 1/16 or 1/32 note division.

By default, any incoming MPE control data (slide, pressure, pitch bend etc.) is essentially hijacked and used to control the device. It is possible to pass incoming MPE data ‘Thru’ to the output as well as controlling the device, meaning that any MPE routing on an instrument will resume.


How was it built?

Arpex was built in Max for Live and uses the mpeparse object to separate incoming MPE data, the poly~ object is then used to host each channel’s data.

 

This is how the information generated by an MPE controller can be organised, tagged and then reused within the device.

 

 

The main operation behind the device is based on temporarily storing incoming values (pitch, velocity, slide, aftertouch and channel) in the coll object, then outputting them at specific intervals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The notes and velocity are essentially unchanged but the slide and aftertouch values are used to control either the octave transposition or the duration of outputted notes.


MPE Compatible Controllers

Sensel Morph

Roli Seaboard/Blocks

Ableton Push – Although not an MPE control surface, Push does have polyphonic aftertouch which means you can use individual pad pressure to control one of Arpex’s parameters (octave shift/note duration).

To enable polyphonic aftertouch: on Push 1, hold down the ‘User’ button, on Push 2, press ‘Setup’  and change the aftertouch option from ‘Mono‘ to ‘Polyphonic‘.


Links

Arpex – User Manual

MPE Primer for Ableton Live 11

CDM – Ableton Live 11 article

MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) Specification Adopted!

PolyPin

PolyPin_Euclid_Large

The second device in the Arcade Series is PolyPin a Polyrhythmic Performance Sequencer inspired by Pinball. Up to 8 sequencers run in sync  or independently using specially developed sequencer modes:

    • Probability for creating random chance based beats
    • Euclidean for exotic polyrhythmic patterns

Classic for retro 16 step sequencing.The Accelerator function is used to speed up or slow down a sequencer, this is a way of adding live variation to your performances. The Accelerators are activated by your chosen control surface (Push, LaunchPad and shortly LaunchPad PRO) when a sequencer is running and by pressing one of the upper seven pads with rates switchable between Whole Notes, Dotted or Triplets

PolyPin is available from Isotonik Studios

The Accelerator function is used to speed up or slow down a sequencer, this is a way of adding live variation to your performances. The Accelerators are activated by your chosen control surface (Push, LaunchPad and shortly LaunchPad PRO) when a sequencer is running and by pressing one of the upper seven pads with rates switchable between Whole Notes, Dotted or Triplets

Arcade Series Launch

Today Isotonik launched my Arcade Series; a bundle of Max for Live devices aimed at music performance and production, all inspired by retro arcade games.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ARCADE INSTALLATION

The first release is Asteroids, a Generative Arcade Sequencer based on the classic arcade game, asteroids move around an 8×8 grid triggering notes when they collide with each other.

Asteroids_Grab#2

Advanced sequencing modes makes Asteroids a powerful sequencer for both experimental/generative melodic sequences or intricate/polyrhythmic drum patterns.

Asteroids in Standalone Mode (no control surface):

Asteroids with Push:

Asteroids with Launchpad:

Asteroids Launchpad Walkthrough:

Asteroids Full Tutorial:

For more information, head over to Isotonik Studios

Push Pong

First in a series of game inspired sequencers built for Push, grab the first release for FREEPush_Live_Pong#3

Push Pong is a generative sequencer built in Max for Live inspired by Batuhan Bozkurt’s excellent Otomata Generative Musical Sequencer. By pressing pads on Push when Live is running, cells are generated which will create notes whenever they reach the outer grid area on Push (top and bottom rows, left and right columns)­­­.

Push_Pong#1

Specifications:

  • 8×8 generative grid controlled by Push’s pads
  • Global mode for control of rate sync, note velocity and length, chance of cells bouncing
  • Cell mode for individual control per cell
  • Start direction control for new cells
  • MIDI note editor

Check the demo video:

Push Pong has been designed to be used in conjunction with Live’s powerful MIDI effects. Although it is possible to create a scale via the editable note grid, you may wish to use the Scale MIDI Effect for a quick way to access a full collection of scale presets.

Use the Random MIDI Effects before Scale to allow for some variations in Pitch, by placing the effect before Scale, all note variations will still work within the selected scale.

Finally, try the Velocity MIDI Effect, I use the ‘Add some Random’ preset, which works great for creating variations in velocity, or how hard or soft the notes are triggered.

MIDI_Text

Live Pong

Push Pong was designed to be used with Push which has an 8×8 grid, because of the unique way Push Pong sequences notes, a step is missed every time the cell direction changes by hitting the outer grid area, this results in 7 step sequences. As a result of this, Live Pong was created with the extra step.

Live_Pong_Full#1

Specifications:

  • 9×9 generative grid controlled by mouse/trackpad clicks
  • Global mode for control of rate sync, note velocity and length, chance of cells bouncing
  • Cell mode for individual control per cell
  • Start direction control for new cells
  • MIDI note editor

Download:

Download Push Pong

Download Push Pong User Guide

Download Live Pong

Download Live Pong User Guide

More Demo Videos:

Push Pong

Live Pong

 

Harmonic Synthesizer

This is a free simple Harmonic Synthesizer built in Max MSP originally to demonstrate to my level 2 students how additive synthesis works.

A fundamental frequency can be chosen via number box or keyboard, use the red toggle button to link it to the other harmonics.

Draw in the amplitude of each harmonic and see the results, use the two right side dials to calibrate the Oscilloscope. Use the ‘Phase’ button to toggle between 0.0 and 0.25 phase offset.

Download
HSynth