Noise – Room 161

**Note that when I share a weblink to a Max/MSP Tutorial below, you will want to find the corresponding tutorial through Documentation >> Tutorials on your computer. The weblink will not link to the demo files that you can use in your own project. The files found under Documentation >> Tutorials will link to the demo files.**

Helpful Max/MSP Links:
Keyboard shortcuts are the fastest way to work in Max. Get in the habit of using these:
This object database may be useful down the road–consider bookmarking it for future use:
The Max object thesaurus is most useful when you have some audio background and are trying to find out the Max object name for something. For instance, if you want to make a sine wave, the max thesaurus will tell you that in max/msp you would need to use the cycle~ object:


For your lab, you will be blending your ‘noise’ topic with our Halloween theme: your task is to create a live, interactive noise installation using The Ring as your inspiration. You will set up a laptop in a darkened room, and in some way invite your classmates to interact with the laptop, one at a time. (You could tell them to type a particular phrase, or click on a button…you could have the laptop start off playing some noises, or begin silently. Consider the context that you set up for the interaction as carefully as you consider the content of the noises you use.) As you classmates interact with the laptop, they will hear mostly different types of noises, but also brief fragments of spoken text, interleaved and distorted.

Watch the trailer for The Ring: Consider the relationship between signal and noise in the trailer and how it tries to create tension/anxiety in the viewer. The synopsis of the story is here: Use the storyline as your inspiration. However, it is a bit dark, and takes itself very seriously. So, if you prefer, consider tweaking some of the details to lighten it up a bit.

To get started, you will need:
1. A laptop with a power cord.
2. Max/MSP. With Max/MSP you can store a series of recordings and have them triggered by specific keyboard keys. You can also use the mouse location to manipulate sounds. I have provided you an initial patch with some basic interaction already set up, as well as additional instructions to help you get started. You will want to build on this initial patch for your lab. You may download the patch HERE. The tutorials that I hacked together to make these demos are HERE. Not all links are relevant for your group.
3. Discarded noises harvested from various recordings, as well as your own field recordings of various noises.
4. Some ideas about how to process these sounds to provide some variety. In the demo I’ve provided you with some initial, very basic ways in which you can process sounds (speed or rate, amplitude, choice of sound file). If you have time, I recommend exploring tutorials in the documentation and on youtube by Dude837 for some additional ideas. HERE ARE A FEW to get you started.
5. A plan for how you will link these items together (the sounds and the keystrokes). Will specific keys trigger specific sounds?
6. Ideas for the presentation: how will the room be set up? How will you encourage interaction? Will you give some sort of prompt?

During the first half of the lab, consider dividing up some of the above tasks amongst yourselves, and check-in periodically with updates. Begin making and manipulating sound as soon as possible. During the second half of the lab, work together to piece together the different elements you have each created, test them out in action, and refine them.

As you begin to work on your lab, a few notes:

First, if you haven’t figured this out yet: expect things to go wrong. From the very beginning, always have a plan B in mind. What will you do if you can’t get some piece of technology to work? How can you mock-up a similar experience? Tech will always fail at one point or another. Having a back-up plan will give you some peace of mind. Note that one of the main selling points of Max/MSP is its capabilities for live, interactive installations. That said, as humans, you are all capable of live-interaction, too. If Max fails, can you use a person to trigger events instead of the computer?

Second, of all the programs we have looked at, Max/MSP will probably seem the most intimidating, initially. It is also the most powerful program we will look at, and it provides you the most flexibility. It is not something you can learn in a single lab, and I don’t expect that you are going to do a lot of coding tonight. Instead, think about this as an exercise in hacking. Rely heavily on the example patch I provided, and the built-in tutorials (when you first open Max, click on ‘Documentation,’ and then go to the ‘tutorials’ tab on the right to find example patches). Find a way to reclaim the tutorials/help files for your own purposes. If you are stuck, step away from the computer and think through what it is you want to happen as a simple list of instructions (like a recipe), some pseudo code, or a flow chart. Know that if you are having difficulties and getting stuck, you are doing something right. It should be hard.

Group Report Questions are here:


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