Inspired by Frippertronics (Playframe App 1).

This free downloadable Max Patch (PFA1) is the first in a series of fun apps designed to embody interesting and novel ways of approaching music making.  Please note, you’ll first need Max/MSP installed on your computer to use this app. For those without Max, you can use their free 30-day trial. Download PFA1 here .

I call these apps ‘playframes’ since, like play itself, their raison d’être is to negate the usual everyday ways of framing music creative practice, temporarily replacing them with activities that possess their own unique logic. In other words, like games, these app(let)s have their own rules and layouts which purposefully limit how you can respond. Last, but not least, they’re (primarily) ends in themselves: a break from the mundane and a bit of fun for fun’s sake. Any cool music you produce with them (and you will!) is a bonus.

About playframes apps

Playframes apps emerged out of my PhD research into the phenomenology of popular-music creative practice (i.e. the structures informing music makers’ experience) and play theory. Since they each focus on a particular aspect of music making, they can be compared to ‘studies’ (études), with the difference being that they’re interactive, allowing a greater degree on creative expression. Although the focus is on having fun, you might find that you occasionally produce something you’d like to hear again or even use in a composition (I call these ‘artefacts of play’). Each app will feature some kind of in-built record function (audio or a sequencer) for just such occasions.

What to expect: You’ll find when you start to explore the app (asking  “What do this thing do?” “How does it work?”) that you’ll probably notice mostly what’s lacking. Once you’re familiar with the set-up, and if you’re prepared to accept it on it’s own terms, you might then ask a very different question: “What can I do with this thing?”  “How can I solve this puzzle?” You step out of your comfort zone, stop worrying about end results (or looking cool in front of your peers) and focus on the activity as an end-in-itself. Now you’re playing.

About ‘Inspired by Frippertronics’

This particular app (PFA1) is inspired by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp’s tape loop process first featured on their album ‘No PussyFooting’ and, later, Eno’s ‘Discreet Music‘ and Fripp’s ‘Let the Power Fall.’ Unlike so many complex Max patches available online, which set out to explore the powerful features Max possesses, Playframe apps use Max as a means to their own end. That is, (a) to provoke the user’s preconceptions about creativity and to stimulate the imagination using creative constraints, and (b) to facilitate aesthetically pleasing results with a minimum of effort.

The presets (red keys) are simply visual mnemonics for pitch. Save those that work well together: the order and rhythm you use to play them will make a big difference. Any parameters can be changed to suit your taste, but I’d encourage you not to add too many additional features for the sake of it. Limiting your choices will produce results you might not have otherwise considered. Enjoy.


This free downloadable max patch is (cc) 2019 Marshall Heiser (Attribution 4.0 International). This license lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon my work, even commercially, as long as you credit me for the original creation. Any derivatives will also allow commercial use. Click here for more licence details.