Multi-Modulator (2019)

Max for Live audio modulation plugin.

Platforms: Max for Live

Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist Emilie Roby got in touch with me near the end of 2019 with a very specific request: she needed a way to modulate her own voice in real-time using an audio sample as the modulating signal. Additionally, she wanted simple but powerful hands-on controls, so she could easily explore the sonic possibilities of the modulating process. And of course, since this was meant to be used in a live performance, everything had to be rock-solid and had to be compatible with Ableton Live, her DAW of choice.

Multi-Modulator‘s user interface. (Photo: Francis Lecavalier, 2020)

This led to the creation of Multi-Modulator, a Max for Live audio device tailored to Emilie’s needs. As requested, its main task is to modulate an audio input with an audio sample. However, the user can choose between three different modulation algorithms to do so: amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM) and ring modulation (RM). Each of them can be altered using one or two macro knobs affecting various parts of the signal path. The sounds produced can range from screeching noise to harmonic, sligthly detuned textures.

Detail of Multi-Modulator‘s Max for Live patch (Photo: Francis Lecavalier, 2020)

This was a short but very rewarding project to work on. It allowed me to dig deeper into Max for Live, which has a few quirks that differentiate it from Max. Additionally, it was a nice communication and analysis challenge: I talked a lot with Emilie in order to really understand her artistic and creative intentions, so that I could develop a tool that would fit the bill.