Playing a sample with groove~

The groove~ object plays sound from a buffer~, using two important pieces of information: a rate provided as a MSP signal and a starting point provided as a float or int message. For normal playback, the rate should be a signal with a constant value of 1. (The sig~ object is a good way to get a constant signal value.) A rate of 2 will play at double speed, a rate of 0.5 will play at half speed, and so on. Negative rate values will play backward.

Repeatedly reading a function with phasor~

The real value of phasor~ is that it provides a very accurate way to read through (or mathematically calculate) some nonlinear shape to use as a control signal (or even as an audio signal). Among other things, it might be used to create a "window" shape that can serve as an amplitude envelope for a sound. This patch demonstrates five different ways to create window or waveform shapes with phasor~. We'll discuss them (in good Max fashion) from right to left.

DJ-like sample scrubbing

Although playback is normally achieved by progressing linearly through a stored sound, other ways of traversing the sound can give interesting results. Moving quickly back and forth in the sound is analogous to the type of "scrubbing" achieved by rocking the reels of a tape recorder back and forth by hand, or by "scratching" an LP back and forth by hand. In this example, we use a cycle~ object to simulate this sort of scrubbing.

Playing a sample from RAM

You can use the play~ object to play the contents of a buffer~, simply by sending it a start message. By default it starts from the beginning of the buffer~. You can specify a different starting time, in milliseconds, as an argument to the start message, or you can specify both a starting time and a stopping time (in ms) as two arguments to the start message. In the patch, you can see two examples of the use of ‘starttime’ and ‘stoptime’ arguments.

Simple wavetable synthesis

One of the earliest methods of digital sound synthesis was a digital version of the electronic oscillator, which was the most common sound generator in analog synthesizers. The method used was simply to read repeatedly, at the established sample rate, through a stored array of samples that represent one cycle of the desired sound wave. By changing the step size with which one increments through the stored wavetable, one can alter the number of cycles one completes per second, which will determine the perceived fundamental frequency of the resulting tone.

Getting a sound sample from RAM

The buffer~ object holds audio data in RAM as an array of 32-bit floating point numbers (floats). The fact that the sound is loaded into RAM, rather than read continuously off the hard drive as the sfplay~ object does, means that it can be accessed quickly and in various ways, for diverse audio effects (including normal playback).

Windowing an audio signal

In signal processing, a "window" is a function (shape) that is nonzero for some period of time, and zero before and after that period. When multiplied by another signal, it produces an output of 0 except during the nonzero portion of the window, when it exposes the other signal. The simplest example is a rectangular window, which is 0, then briefly is 1, then reverts to 0. The windowed signal will be audible only when it is being multiplied by 1––i.e., during the time when the rectangular windowing occurs.

Line segment control functions

The line~ object is intended for use as a control signal for audio. You don't listen to line~ directly, but it's very effective as a controller/modifier/modulator of other signals. A pair of numbers (i.e. a two-item space-separated list of numbers) tells line~ a destination value and a time (in milliseconds) to get to that value.