Pattern Synthesis

seems you’re right
i guess it was only available for viewing live ;(

I’m sure they’ll have recorded it and it will pop up somewhere :crossed_fingers:

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I think instrument building is much more common now than it was in the 90s, software-based instrument building software like Reaktor and Max/MSP only came about at the very end of the 90s (the MSP bit) and computers only started to get fast enough to achieve much real-time audio in the late 90s. And hardware-based instrument building is much more accessible now with the maker movement, online information sharing and embeddable computing like Arduino and Bela etc.


All good points!

FWIW, software-based instrument building is nearly as old as software. See the Max Matthews GROOVE system from the 70s and Barry Traux’s live granular synthesis in the 80s as a couple examples. Here’s Barry Traux’s riverrun which was performed live with a hardware DSP running a granular synthesis engine of his design:

Edit, here’s Laurie Spiegel describing the GROOVE system: Laurie Spiegel - Quick Description of the GROOVE Hybrid System


I think I see what you mean in that there are a lot more off the shelf options now for software instruments or processing whereas earlier on the only option was make something yourself and that led to a lot of very idiosyncratic pieces of software. I wonder if there is actually a lot more idiosyncratic bits of software now but the ratio between these and off the shelf solutions (or customisable tools) has shifted and therefore prominence or visibility of them has reduced.

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I am drawn to the idea of pattern synthesis. I however don’t know what it is. I shall read Fell’s PhD (thanks for introducing it above), and have listened and immensely enjoyed the fab Composing with Process podcast for MACBA’s RMW by Fell and Gil.

Is “pattern synthesis” the sort of thing SuperCollider Patterns library and Tidal Cycles are about?


Glad you find it of interest. I’m not familiar with SuperCollider but from the links you shared, yes, it’s about generating patterns with algorithms. In the case of Fell, with an emphasis in the note speed, velocity and duration. Here a couple examples:


I think off the shelf tools are extremely idiosyncratic, as they usually cater to assumptions about music that are endemic to the use of “acoustic instruments” (or… You know what I mean, yeah?), rather than exploring electronic composition and performance as its own paradigm.

Ex: linking the envelope trigger/pitch change via a note on message. I understand why that’s the norm, but there’s actually 0 reason to cling to that idiosyncracy of acoustic instruments as a standard for electronic instruments and yet, especially in software environments, it can be pretty hard to get away from, even when workong with supposedly flexible tools.

I’m slowly coming around to the sense that building your own tools (or at least aiding in their design) is as important to overseeing the engineering process of your songs. This could be as simple as having a certain Ableton template you gravitate towards, or as involved as a sweet of custom Max instruments.


Love it! I explored the Fell thesis too during first lockdown, and this makes me want to find back all these patches and keep going :slight_smile: (I really should not though, way too much work right now).

Edit: If you don’t know his work, you might be interested in Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie patches and sounds (instagram/bandcamp). He also made a video conversation with Mark Fell a few months ago :


Hey, thanks a lot for your comment! It’s the biggest compliment that you found inspiration in my work :slight_smile: Yes, actually after a first failed attempt a couple years ago, it was that masterclass with Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie that pushed me to reread his thesis. I didn’t know that he was a sound artist as well, really interesting stuff.


Awesome!!! thanks man for the patches! I’m gonna deep dive into the functionality of them and see if I can parse anything I may want to implement…

The squeeze function seems to be working properly on my end for everything? …including the sample section… Let me know if you ever got it working… (Adjust the notes to C1 and above if you’re using Battery…C-2 doesn’t trigger any sample)…
I chose purposely not to use the playlist~ object like many people on youtube do for their samples as I find it to be a heavy CPU hog… and my old 2012 mac can’t handle it… but that’s what a lot people use and seems to work for them…

There’s many things I want to update and/or change within my patch on future versions:

  1. Eliminate all CPU hogs including the vst~ objects and just use noteout like you have into a DAW, or find clever workarounds (I notice Mark just keep his vsts in a separate tab and activates them with comment boxes somehow? I know they’re sends but have no idea how he’s actually doing that?)

  2. The squeeze parameter is still not fully there yet… As you can see, I use another multislider to enable to squeeze function to happen but I’m having issues using the preset object to save presets on both multisliders simultaneously… I would like to be able to use the squeeze function, save a preset, and then start off where I left off on the saved preset once I start squeezing again… if that make sense? HARD TO EXPLAIN but if anyone has a solution to this let me know! (I don’t want to use two multisliders one page)

  3. I’m probably gonna take your suggestion and add a master clock to everything to keep all the variations from bumping into each other and messing things up

  4. For this patch, I put everything into one tab, but ideally would like multiple tabs with different patchers of different variations of sequencers like Mark displayed in the Algorithmic Workshop
    (I already started working on this but for this post condensed everything into one tab so it wasn’t confusing)

  5. And that’s only the beginning, there’s definitely some things I would like to learn more about, specifically some of Gabor Lazar’s techniques which I have some saved video snippets of some of his patches, that I want to dive in even further with. He’s a madman.

LMK if anybody takes a stab at any of this or does something cool I didn’t consider!


For sure! And I’m glad you watched the doc, I got the idea for the stretching parameter from the Mark Fell scene where he’s showing his old SND patches about 25 min in lol…

I’ll post some old archival vids of Instagram stories I saved of Gabor patches tomorrow, really wanna see if anyone can break down his methods from the little gold nuggets of info he shared…


Here’s a better example vid of my FellVariations patch… I posted a shit video earlier ::

Off to bed, ta ta


omg HOW have I not seen ‘dont blow it in the vector’ so wonderful all around!

As an aside/tangent: infinite gratitude if anyone has a track ID on that ‘set you free’ remix at the end, ha


Here’s the Gabor Lazar instagram snippets I saved showcasing some of his patches…

([Lazar Snippets - Google Drive])

If you can glean some working methods from any of these, you’d be a better Max user then me as they aren’t giving away a lot, but he seems to be automating envelopes with the function object with custom presets he draws in and saves to give his sounds that wobbling and stuttery effect… I notice in one the snippets an sfplay~ at the bottom so I can confirm not everything is soft synth based like people think… Although I heard he’s a fan of Lazerbass in Reaktor for synth sounds…

I have to confess tho I don’t really use Max anymore, as I find the visual part of max with all sorts of graphs and sliders and such eats up my CPU on my dying mac. (I’m buying a new one)… I mostly use a combo of SC, Matlab and Python these days for different things, but in Max I still wanted to tackle some of these Gabor Lazar techniques with enveloping… If anyone makes something cool from watching these snippets, please share!!

EDIT: Also I keep getting flagged on this forum for being a brand new user and posting links, so my previous post might have been deleted so I’m expecting this one might as well. Download while you can lol


wowow - thanks for sharing these! looking forward to taking a watch in full

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woah i’ve never seen function used this way, it looks so cool! it does sound like samples potentially mixed with a soft synth where the function is controlling sample length and also a synth parameter?

now i wanna figure out how to get these cool shapes in function

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No worries! I definitely am open for anyone to try and improve or change anything with the patch and add things and mess around… Most of it wasn’t done recently, I finished most of this over a year ago and added a thing or two here and there, and was well aware of things I didn’t like about it.

Yes! You picked up on something I noticed as well about the sequencer, that it seemed like I had multiple things going on at once… I don’t really like the way I had it, cause I feel like it slips out of control too much and causes beats to be asynchronous… it has a charm to it sometimes, but its not perfect for my control freak mind

With that said, I couldn’t really get your modded squeeze function to work at all… Every time I move the float number even a little to do the squeeze it just freaks out and all the sliders disappear. I opened the patch to see what was going on, but couldn’t figure out upon first glance why it was doing that. I’d probably have to delete all the patch cords you added and see what the culprit really is, but just got back from work and pretty tired tonight, so Ill have a go if I have time tomorrow…

I want to see what you did to fix the sequencer but I can’t tell as none of the parameters seem to be working right with all the new patch cords connected to the preset object… is this patch working for you? For some reason its not cooperating on my end… LMK and thanks for brainstorming this patch with me

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Alex McLean’s PhD thesis is called Artist-Programmers and Programming Languages for the Arts (2011 from Goldsmith). The are loads of later papers about Tidal Cycles and live coding, e.g. Algorithmic Pattern (2020 in Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression) with pretty pictures.

There’s are loads of material online, including interviews and algorave performances etc.

I run Tidal Cycles on norns, it’s loads of fun.


what version of Max are you running? i’m on 8.2 but when i open these patches it says multislider is missing… seems strange as i can create a multislider object as usual

That’s so cool! Is there a library post that I missed, or is this your own bespoke setup?