RedMoon creates music using maxWerk
an application for Macintosh by Amanda Pehlke
...shared below with electronic music makers
It's a loop-based MIDI composition tool built in the MAX programming language. It can give endless musical suggestions, but it also encourages entirely original ideas.
There are many stages of dealing with electronic music production. Two of the critical elements that often become quite distracting to each other are the art of composition, or creating note patterns for your sounds, and the art of creating sounds for the notes. You can spend hours on notes, days on sounds, and weeks getting them to work together well.
maxWerk offers "GS" and "Studio" MIDI modes. In Studio mode, parts may be assigned to any available OMS Studio Setup device. The alternative GS mode is specifically designed to function within the sonic environment of a single tone module from the global-standard Roland Sound Canvas series. The inclusion of GS mode was a conscious design decision from day one, because maxWerk's primary goal is to focus on the development of notes and rhythms, and to encourage the user to put off until a later time the sound-design and production enhancements of a full studio equipment arsenal that may ultimately showcase the composition. To facilitate collaborative ventures, a single stored Werk file allows the user to include a set of information for both modes.
GS mode allows the user to dwell on the construction of music and still enjoy the full use of a limited environment with regard to patch selection, sound editing, continuous control, and effects settings. It offers a reasonable sonic sketchpad with a degree of restraint that many electronic musicians admit is imperative when faced with the potentially distracting palette of their synth setups. Studio mode has been included to accommodate users who either do not have a GS-series sound module or who simply prefer to address a selection of OMS devices. All Werk data may be recorded as a midifile, which can become raw material for further production. At RedMoon, individual maxWerk-composed MIDI tracks often evolve in new and changing directions once they are redirected to the sound generators available. But since they are developed first in the maxWerk environment, the role of each is defined in an established frame of reference that serves the vital purpose of keeping the composer's goals in sight.
How does it Werk?
Here is a summary, and if it grabs your interest, maxWerk is available for download at the bottom of the page.
Click this image for detailed version
maxWerk was designed so that you can experiment as you compose, making changes to various ways of structuring your music without disturbing or changing aspects that you already like. You can produce widely divergent flavors of music in maxWerk without formal training, instrument "chops," or knowledge of music notation.
maxWerk can incorporate your recorded MIDI input to its looping tracks with generated ideas and on-screen edits. As each maxWerk loop plays, you can create and change any of the following components:
- A note pattern: one to four bars long, with a selectable number of steps per bar
- A corresponding velocity pattern, randomized in groups
- A pattern of octave shifts per step
- A pattern of wrap steps (octave cutoff points) per step
- A harmony pattern (several types are available)
- A mode of note duration (various types), including a random treatment of durations
- A loop timing offset relative to global bar lines
- Up to three parallel note lines. You can offset the above elements independently in each one, and you can reassign each to be played by any other Basic Track instrument.
- A pattern of play direction
- Patterns of intelligent scalic portamento and/or pitch filtering
- Two control patterns and pitch bend. Control destinations are freely selectable, and pattern choices include generated or hand-drawn sweeps, which can retrigger with new notes. Patterns may be step-sync'ed, and patterns can dynamically creep or randomize.
- A pattern of progressively mutating the core note-pattern and reverting to the original, with adjustable parameters
Eleven completely independent Basic Loops incorporate the features listed above. Besides these, there are two dedicated Drum Loop tracks with a pattern generator, and three more special-purpose tracks, for a total of sixteen. Specialized tracks include the Melody engine, the Noodle track, and Improv, maxWerk's eager volunteer. A bonus Idea track merges with any other of your choice.
You can create and store the following kinds of data, which can change with each bar:
- Patterns of chord (triadic) transposition change
- Patterns of transposition of an independent fourth chord note
- Patterns of transposition of a pedal point
- Patterns of scale change underlying the chord notes
- Patterns of key change underlying scales and chords
- Mid-bar changes to any of the data above, placed at any beat of each bar
- Global key offsets underlying all other transpositions
- Patterns of track muting
- Tempo changes
- Linear or parabolic assignable controller fades for each track
Finally, you can arrange up to eight definable Subsequences (multi-track sections) into one or more full "Werk" arrangements. You can save and copy individual loops, move them around, or import them from a completed and saved Werk or a single-loop file. You can also import nearly all types of information from another saved Werk.
While you are working on progression or song ideas, you can disable Transposer information and use a controller keyboard, your computer's keyboard, or a hardware fader box to "play" maxWerk modally while you add your own part over the accompanying tracks. Comprehensive shortcuts let you play and Werk effectively using only the computer's QWERTY keys.
You can use external hardware or software as a MIDI clock source or destination. Your finished Werk plays in a locked-tempo mode that records its output as a standard midifile for export to a full-featured sequencer. Support for an optional Peavey PC-1600 or PC-1600x MIDI controller unit is included.
adapted by permission of Steve Mugglin
System Requirements for maxWerk
- A Power Macintosh G3 or better with Operating System 8.5 through 9.2, running OMS. See your OMS manual for instructions about how to install this MIDI management system and how to create a studio setup document.
- 40,000K of free RAM
- A MIDI interface
- While a MIDI sound module compatible with the Roland GS standard is highly recommended, you may address multiple polyphonic and multi-timbral synthesizers. Bear in mind that maxWerk allows up to sixteen polyphonic parts, and you are likely to think of uses for all of them!
This fully functional version of maxWerk is freeware, and comments and feedback are appreciated.
Download the program
Read the latest version news here
Download the complete program package, including the .PDF Users' Guide:
Download the Users' Guide by itself:
Download the OMS 2.3.8 installer (840k):
Would you like to Werk with RedMoon?
If you are a knowlegeable electronic music-maker in the Pacific Northwest, and if you are inspired by the idea of working creatively with another person, you may wish to consider a RedMoon collaboration. For more information please e-mail us