Project 1

Project 1: Data-driven Performance Piece

In the last two exercises we’ve been exploring the control of Max using external hardware. This capability leads to the development and performance of data-driven instruments. This term describes a system composed of three parts: an external hardware device that allows for the encoding of human gesture as data, software that maps these data to musical parameters, and a sound-synthesis engine that renders sound as a direct result of human movement.

In this project you will create your own data-driven instrument, develop a short composition, and perform it. The hardware device can be a some kind of game controller, such as a gamepad, a joystick, a Gametrak, or a Wiimote. Or it can be a grid controller, such as a Launchpad.

Requirements and Suggestions

  • You will perform your piece, which should last 2-3 minutes.
  • Your piece can include improvisatory elements, but you must plan the basic sound ideas and continuity of the piece.
  • You must practice your piece! That includes not just the musical performance, but the entire setup process. This should include a quick test of the equipment prior to performing. No fumbling around trying to get things to work at the last minute!
  • You probably will want your patch to change state at some point. That means changing the mapping of your movements to synthesis and processing parameters, as well as changing the sound world you create. You might change state using the Gametrak’s footswitch or buttons on the Wiimote, for example.

    The easiest way to change sound worlds is to store each of these in pattr presets and switch presets in response to a footswitch or button press.

    At the same time, you may wish to change the routing of data from one parameter to another. Study Part 3 of the Exercise F Max Tips for advice about doing this using the gate object. To store the routing in a pattr preset, use a number box to hold the gate outlet number, and attach the middle outlet of a named pattr object to it. This exposes the gate outlet number to the pattr preset system.


  • Be sure you satisfied the criteria listed above.
  • Submit your Max patch in Canvas.

Grading Criteria

This project receives a letter grade. It is due right before spring break, with performances taking place after break.