“Max/MSP” is a computer app that implements an on-screen visual programming environment in which you can “wire” together components that make and process sound or logic. You could think of it as programming, but it’s unlike the old procedural programming you probably just thought of. It’s object-oriented, but more than that it includes many components that are paced by a clock. And the “programming” is carried out visually by creating and moving objects on the screen and patching (you might say “wiring”) them together. You might have a metronome beating four times a second, for example, and it could trigger sounds or actions that it’s wired to.
I just completed a one-semester course in Max/MSP and our final project challenged us to build a Max/MSP program (called a patcher) that implements an interesting musical performance.
The “music” in the performance is composed from a set of audio recordings — you might even call them samples — and because any kind of audio sample could be dropped in, there are billions of ways this music might be made and might sound. Because it can all be controlled from the stage in real time, we could also put together a performance using not only the Max/MSP components but live performers.
Video clips for you to play: