A lot of musicians like to use analog modular synths for their music but not all of them can afford it. In this article we are going to talk about software called Max, which has an inbuilt modular synth. You can patch and try different kind of combinations just like a real modular synth but on a very low cost.

 

What is Max and how can it be useful ?

 

Firstly, Max is software that connects objects with virtual patch chords to create interactive sounds, graphics and custom effects. It is developed by a San Francisco based company called Cycling ’74. Inside Max there is a synth and sound module called ‘BEAP’. Specifically, It contains a huge library of high quality modules from the modular synth world. In addition, these modules can be patched together in various ways, which opens up a world of possibilities for its users.

Further I am going to recreate a close emulation of the famous bass line sound from Herbie Hancock’s song ‘Chameleon’. The sound will be recreated by patching some of the BEAP modules hence giving a sense of how this thing can be useful.

 

Creating the bass line sound from ‘Chameleon’ using BEAP from MAX

 

Here is how the original sounds like:

 

 

Here is how the Max patch sounds:

 

PS: This is a digital emulation of an analog sound so it sounds much cleaner and hence different.

 

STEPS

 

  1. Firstly, open Max > Click on BEAP (on the left side options)

 

 

  1. Secondly, Search the following and drag out one of each, also change the settings to what is shown in the pictures below:

 

  • KEYBOARD

 

Leave it on the default settings.

 

 

  • OSCILLATOR

 

In addition to the aforementioned, choose saw tooth and set the semitones to -8.30.

 

 

  • LPF (Low Pass Filter)

 

Change:

CV1 – 75.3%

Res – 81.9%

 

 

 

  • VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier)

 

Additionally, leave it on the default settings.

 

 

 

 

  • ADSR 1

Set:

 

Attack – 19.9ms

Decay – 29.9ms

Sustain – 62.5%

Release – 366ms

 

 

 

  • ADSR 2

 

Set:

 

Attack – 50ms

Decay – 50ms

Sustain – 70%

Release – 218ms

 

 

 

 

 

  • STEREO (Output Module)

 

Leave it on the default settings.

 

 

 

 

  1. Patch everything

 

 

 

  • In order to patch first unlock the patcher by clicking on the bottom left lock sign.

It should look something like this, once you have unlocked it.

 

 

 

In particular, you have to patch by following these steps. (from top to bottom)

 

  • Send the 1v/Oct. out of Keyboard to CV in of oscillator.

 

  • Send Gate out of Keyboard to Gate in of ADSR 1 and ADSR 2.

 

  • Send Signal out of oscillator to signal in of LPF.

 

  • Send the signal out of ADSR 1 to CV1 in out LPF.

 

  • Send the Signal out of ADSR 2 to CV in of VCA.

 

  • Send output of LPF to Signal in of VCA.

 

  • Send output of VCA to Left and Right channel of Stereo.

 

 

 

Finally, the patch would look something like this:

  

 

 

After all, just save the patch, which involves two steps:

 

  1. Firstly, save the file by going to the File menu. (This saves the file)
  2. Then, save a snapshot, by clicking on the camera icon on the right and then clicking new snapshot. (This saves the settings of each module)

You can also download the final patch from here.

 

Conclusion

 

Nevertheless, this was just one simple application of Max. For instance, this software can be used in a number of creative ways so don’t hesitate to experiment.