Exercise 2: Making Sound with Auzzie

When you make a generative Max patch like we did last time, you can play the sound using the operating system’s built-in synthesizer, though it doesn’t sound great. You can also send the MIDI notes to an external software synthesizer using the virtual MIDI ports Max creates.

Another option is to render the audio within Max, using the native MSP audio objects. We will do that soon, but for this assignment we’ll do something easier: work with an add-on package for Max called Auzzie. This will let us focus on generating sound quickly, add effects, and experiment with audio routing possibilities.

We will rely on the note-generating techniques we explored in the last assignment.


We’re learning how to...

  • route mono and stereo signals, in series and in parallel;
  • use the Auzzie synthesizer and effect modules;
  • feed notes and parameter values to Auzzie modules;
  • control parameters using external MIDI faders; and
  • set up the Max pattr advanced preset system.

What is Auzzie?

Auzzie is an add-on package for Max that makes it easier to generate and process audio than it would be using native Max objects. It contains some polyphonic synthesizers and effects processors that would take a significant amount of work to implement directly in Max. Auzzie is no substitute for patching with native Max objects, but it’s helpful for people who are new to Max. You can control Auzzie modules using Max messages, and you can connect these modules to native Max audio objects for more flexibility. This exercise is designed to get you started making Max audio patches using Auzzie.

To make Auzzie available to your copy of Max, take these steps. It is already installed on the MC304 computer.

  1. Download Auzzie.
  2. Locate the downloaded file, called “auzzie.zip” in your Downloads folder. Your browser may already have unpacked this zip file into an “auzzie” folder. If not, double-click “auzzie.zip” to unpack it.

    On Windows, note that you may have an “auzzie” folder inside of another “auzzie” folder. We want the former (the inside folder), not the latter, when dragging the folder in step 4.

  3. Quit Max if it’s running.
  4. Drag the “auzzie” folder into the appropriate package folder (‘~’ means your home folder):

    ~/Documents/Max 8/Packages/

    ~\Documents\Max 8\Packages\

    NOTE: You will see the Packages folder only if you have already launched Max at least once.

  5. Launch Max. You should see an Auzzie Info item in the Extras menu.

If you are on macOS and receive errors after launching Max (visible in the Windows > Max Console window), you may need instructor assistance with installing Auzzie. This is due to additional security constraints in recent macOS versions.

How to Do This Exercise

Working on the assignment is a three-stage process.

  1. Download Exercise 2 Max Tips. This is a folder of Max patches that will give you an introduction to Auzzie and audio routing concepts. Open them in Max in order (part 1, then part 2, etc.), reading the comments and operating the patches.
  2. Make a patch that contains at least two layers of sound, each using a synthesizer and effects. Drive the synthesizer using a generative note machine like the one you made for Exercise 1. (We refer to this as a “note generator” below — a metro-driven network of objects that generates MIDI note messages.) Control the behavior and volume of layers using external MIDI faders.
  3. Perform a short passage using the faders. You can start your note generator(s) on the computer, and then start using the faders to shape the output. This can be improvisatory, but have a basic idea of what you will do with the faders and how it should sound.

See the Requirements and Suggestions section below for details.

Be sure you understand what each of these Max objects does:

  • pack
  • ezdac~, live.gain~
  • flonum (floating point number box)
  • ctlin
  • pattrstorage, pattr

Also, experiment with (at least) these Auzzie modules:

  • FMODR, NOISR, WAVR, STRUMR (synthesizers)
  • REZFILTR, RINGR, DRIVR (filter and distortion effects)
  • 1DELAYR, SDELAYR, REVERBER8R (effects with echoes/reverb)
You can read more about Auzzie modules.

Requirements and Suggestions

  • Each layer must start with a synthesizer module: WAVR, NOISR, FMODR, or STRUMR. Each of these accepts MIDI notes in the same way (from makenote connected to pack).
  • You could use one note generator to feed both layers, or you could use separate generators, whose metro objects you start from the same toggle.
  • Put a fader at the end (bottom) of each layer (using live.gain~). This lets you control the volume of each layer independently.
  • Create an effects chain for each layer — e.g., connect two or three effects in series between the synthesizer and the layer’s fader.
  • Use at least one effects send, for a delay or reverb. You could have one send effect per layer or one shared by both layers.

    If the latter, be sure to feed the effects send from the outputs of the layer faders. That is, the send should be a post-fader send. Otherwise, you could be hearing the send effect for a layer whose fader is down all the way.

  • Insert a master fader between the layer faders and the ezdac~. Connect the layer fader outlets to the appropriate master fader inlets. You always should have a master fader and meter (which is built into live.gain~).

    You may see evidence of clipping on the meters built into the live.gain~ fader objects. (The top portion of the meter lights up orange or red.) It’s important to know that this affects your final output only when you see it on the master fader, right before the ezdac~.

  • Use the pattr preset system to store initial settings for all the modules. This preset system is confusing, so don’t worry if you don’t understand it now.
  • Control some synth and effect parameters using external MIDI faders and knobs. You can use the Korg nanoKONTROL in the studio for this. It plugs into the computer using USB. Find out what controller number each fader and knob emits, so that you can use the ctlin object correctly. (You can use the MIDItester command in the Extras menu in Max to find out.)

    You will need to scale the range of values coming in from the faders so that they work with Auzzie module parameters.

  • The performance aspect of this exercise is an essential part of the experience! Don’t ignore it!


  • Place in a folder your Max patch and the .json presets file used by the pattrstorage object.
  • Compress the folder, and submit it to Canvas.
  • Be sure to satisfy the criteria listed above.

Grading Criteria

This exercise is graded pass/fail. You must submit the exercise by Thursday midnight to be eligible for a pass.

Your patch must

  • operate correctly and
  • implement the functionality described in item 2 of the “How To Do This Exercise” section above.

Also, you must perform your patch during tutorial. If you can’t get your patch working the way you want before tutorial, you can perform it the following week.