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Stanford University

Max MSP Programming Course: Structuring Interactive Software for Digital Arts

Stanford University via Kadenze


Max is a powerful platform that accommodates and connects a wide variety of tools for sound, graphics, music and interactivity using a flexible patching and programming environment. Max allows most computer users to write a simple, meaningful program within a few minutes, even with limited programming knowledge. But to do something more substantial it's necessary to approach Max as an actual programming language, by taking advantage of its various mechanisms for abstracting program elements into scalable, reusable components that can be combined in increasingly powerful ways.

This class will not cover every single capability of the language, but instead will focus on key concepts and mechanisms that will allow for tremendous new freedom and possibilities in Max. The class will touch upon:

  • sound and movie playback
  • sound synthesis
  • sound and video effects processing
  • algorithmic composition
  • cross-modal mappings (e.g., video affecting audio and vice versa)
  • interactive control (e.g., from QWERTY keyboard, mouse, USB devices, Open Sound Control)

Max programming, like most interesting topics, has deep aspects and shallow aspects. This course will largely focus on the deep aspects: principles, concepts, techniques, and theory. If you understand these underlying aspects, your capacity to create in Max will deepen exponentially.

At the same time, this is not just a theory class. You will also create your own projects using Max. This course will teach the minimum you need to start working on assignments, but mostly I will teach you how to learn or look up the shallow knowledge on your own using Max’s built-in documentation, the Internet, and the Kadenze course forum, as well as how to program your own tests that answer specific questions or reveal potential bugs. Working in this way, you will also develop essential skills and habits that will develop confidence and self-sufficiency, and serve you in the future.

Taught by

Matt Wright


4.8 rating, based on 61 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Max MSP Programming Course: Structuring Interactive Software for Digital Arts

  • Anonymous
    I think this service is great, and I recommend it to others. However, there are a few setbacks. For example, the videos are all for Max 7 and 32-bit. We are at Max 8 and 64-bit. The math that is presented in many of the lectures is dated, and many of the workarounds regarding sequences and synthesis are easier with the MC wrapper.

    When I recommend this to my students, I always come up with disclaimers regarding its outdated material. If a similar format, with updated videos, were available, I'd give this 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Mike O'Connor completed this course, spending 16 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    If you are really serious about learning Max, this is the course for you. You will work hard and will emerge with a very solid grounding in how to use this delightful programming environment. Along the way you will meet a very smart professor who'…
  • Profile image for Hakeem Adam
    Hakeem Adam
    This was my very first introduction to Max MSP and it has been extremely helpful in shaping my current practice as a media artist. Not only was the instructor extremely clear and precise in helping new student in particular, get their heads around max, but a lot of the exerices and lesson are filled with valuable knowledge that can be transferred to other fields of creative digital practice. I can highly recommend this course for anyone interested in developing a toolset in digital sound making, with or without Max.
  • Anonymous
    Matt Wright is an incredible teacher with a depth of knowledge and experience in Max/MSP that puts him in a league of his own above any other source of Max/MSP knowledge I've learned from. The course is very well organized, with the exact level of c…
  • Anonymous
    This online course on Max programming enables students to make a quick progress with a considerable depth from the horse's mouth. Interestingly, a historical review is provided to learn about the origins and progression of Max to date. Both new star…
  • Anonymous
    I'm only on assignment 3 and I feel I've learned enough to give me a working understanding of not only the rudiments of Max, but how to plan a patch that is beyond basic. I've already used what I know to create a useful patch in Max that I would have otherwise purchased from a seasoned programmer. Matt Wright is a fantastic course leader and explains things very clearly. There is plenty of time to work on each assignment, but enough pressure to make sure you submit by the deadline. The forum engagement is also really useful to connect with your peers; I'm glad it's included as part of the overall grade, as students may be reluctant to connect with others and share work otherwise - so it really feels like you're part of a class.
  • Anonymous
    I only about a third of the way through this introduction to MAX/MSP, but I am already very grateful to Stanford and Kadenze for making it available. A few years ago I paid $700 for a two week summer intensive course at major American university with a well-known center for new music and technology and was disappointed by the lack of a structured curriculum and well-defined class goals in that class. The organization, presentation and challenging course work provided by the Kadenze is far superior to my previous MAX/MSP training. This course will actually make me somewhat fluent in MAX.
  • Anonymous
    Incredibly well structured. Very interesting and with practical applications at every step of the course. The professor is absolutely fantastic, his knowledge and communication skills make this course one of the top I have taken about this topic. The support from the community in forums is also very nice. I have seen very interesting projects there and the people who attend the course and participate on the forum is extremely respectful and smart. I enjoyed very much the course and it had a great impact on my skills about this programming platform.
  • Bill
    This is an excellent, in depth course for learning Max/MSP. Dr. Matthew Wright's lecturing style demonstrates both an engaging enthusiasm for Max as well as a depth of knowledge about coding that is easy to understand without dumbing down the subject. Not only did I learn many things about Max that I had missed in my previous studies but I went on to incorporate many of his ideas in my own courses and to recommend it to my students. Definitely recommend this to others, as well as Kadenze's course on Reaktor. Excellent material for all levels.
  • Anonymous
    Only did about half of the course but is probably one of, if not the, best resource for learning Max/MSP out there. I had a good working knowledge of the program before just from fiddling around with it, but this course gave me a solid foundation of it. They don't just teach you how to do some simple tricks, they really provide you with a thorough knowledge of how the programs works and all its possibilities. Highly recommend for both beginners and more advanced users looking to shore up weaknesses in their knowledge.
  • Anonymous
    This was an absolutely excellent course. As a professional sound designer and musician, during the pandemic I wanted to use some extra time to start learning Max. The interactive exercises and assignments were very practical and were an amazing launching point. This felt truly like more than an esteemed university quality course, and for so cheap. I was able to take what I learned from this course and apply it to my daily work almost immediately.
  • Anonymous
    I felt that learning Max would give me a new perspective on production.

    However, learning Max on my own was so difficult that I could only make small patches to add to my DAW.

    This course gave me a basic methodology to be able to create sophisticated patches.

    A simple "t b i" is also a skill learned in this course.

    I recommend this course to anyone looking to add Max to your own future productions.
  • Anonymous
    After I started learning about Max, I researched it on the internet. This is how I discovered the Kadenze platform. I would also like to thank Stanford University for the trust and also thanks for careful presentation of our teacher, Matt Wright. Thanks to you, we both discover our areas of interest and become certified. Thanks again and good work.
  • Anonymous
    I definitely recommend this course to all interested in working with Max. It is not the first course I took on Max, but I can definitely say that this one is probably the most structured one, helping you to understand from the very beginning how to work with this beautiful tool.
    It’s my top 1 recommendation to all who wants to learn it
  • Anonymous
    This course has exceeded my expectations. I am really Happy with what I have learned, and It inspire me to continúe learning about Max Msp, Jitter and all the possibilities.... I strongly recommend this course...i will use this knowledge to perform Colombian Music... So it is an astonishing asset yn my Carrier. Thanks so much Kadenze
  • Daniel Maruniak
    Learning the concepts in this course under the masterful direction of Matt has greatly accelerated my abilities in Max. Sessions are concise and cover deep knowledge on Max and the reasons why things are done a certain way within the programming environment. Thank you Kadenze, Matt, and Stanford University for such a great course.
  • Craig Sylvern
    This was the perfect course for me. I had used Max years ago and needed a refresher for a project I was working on. The pace was just right and the fact that I could rewatch lessons as well as skip parts that I didn't need made the course just what I needed. The downloadable resources were also a huge help.
  • Anonymous
    This course really helped me to groom my self and helped me in guidance throughout this course. This had helped me in shaping my digital arts and crafts better than from start. My advice to everyone who's gonna take this course are " no need to worry this course will make you more productive and more joyful".
  • Stefano Bechini
    It’s a really clear, really well explained course!
    I have a past in learning Max/Msp at conservatory, and with these online classes I have refreshed all my skills and even go beyond, learning lots of new concepts and even techniques!!
    Absolutely recommend to anyone, from really beginners to skilled ones );
  • Anonymous
    This course is excellent for someone who is looking for a deep understanding of how to program their own interactive software using Max, but also provides a helpful introduction to principles of good design and engineering in general. Full of enjoyable anecdotes about the history of Max and computer music.

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