The setup and the execution of the electroacoustic part of this work requires a Computer Music Designer (Max expert).

Performance date: May 9, 2019 - First performance

Documentation date: March 18, 2020

Version state


Validation date: May 2, 2020

Executions dates of this version

  • May 9, 2019,

Version documentalist

  • blevy (

Version realisation

  • Benjamin Lévy (Computer Music Designer)
  • Sylvain Cadars (Sound engineer)
  • Damien Ripoll (Assistant)

Version length

30 mn

No other version available

Detailed staff

  • bass flute, bass clarinet, electronic/MIDI keyboard/synthesizer, percussionist, electric guitar, viola, cello
(Detailed staff comes from Brahms, send mail to for correction.)

Electronic equipment list

Computer Music Equipment

  • 2 MacBook Pro - Apple Laptops (Apple)
  • 1 footswitch control - MIDI Controllers (MIDI Solution)
  • 2 MIDI Keyboard - MIDI Keyboard
  • 1 Footswitch / Sustain Pedal - Footswitch / Sustain Pedal
  • 1 Volume Pedal - Volume Pedal
  • 1 MIDI booster - Booster

Audio Equipment

  • 1 MKE 2-2R Blue Dot - Lavalier Microphones (Sennheiser)
  • 1 MKE 2-2R Red Dot - Lavalier Microphones (Sennheiser)
  • 1 MC1 - Contact Microphones (FWF)
  • 1 MV1 - Contact Microphones (FWF)
  • 6 DI-box - DI box

Musical Instruments

  • 3 Little Big Muff Pi - Distortion Pedal (Electro Harmonix)
  • 3 Black Secret - Distortion Pedal (Mooer)
  • 3 Whammy 5 - harmonizer pedal (Digitech)
  • 3 Crybaby CB-535Q - Whawha pedal (Dunlop)
  • 2 Sentry - Noise Gate pedal (T.C. electronic)
  • 6 Pro RMP - Re-amping pedal (Radial Engineering)
  • 2 EV 5 - Expression pedal (Roland)
  • 2 OWL - Programmable pedal (Rebel Technology)


  • May 9, 2019, Luxembourg, Philharmonie


  • BabelScores


  • Benjamin Lévy

Work length

  • 30 mn
Download all files
File Author(s) Comment
Download [807.2 KB] Technical rider Detailed Tech Rider S.Cadars, B.Lévy, A.Edler-Copes
Download [548.3 MB] Performance patch Patch & Sounds A.Edler-Copes, B.Lévy
Download [95.1 KB] Patch OWL Patches & Code B.Lévy, A.Edler-Copes
Download [6.5 MB] Score Full Score A.Edler-Copes


Audio Setup

Pedals & Amp setup

4 groups of instruments have a effect pedals and guitar (Fender) amplifiers:

  • Viola and Cello have a common set of pedals, spread across both musicians and output in a guitar amplifier placed behind them.

  • Flute and Clarinet have also a common set of pedals, spread across both musicians and output in a guitar amplifier placed behind them.

  • Guitar has its own dedicated and custom pedalboard output in the amplifier in front of him and keyboards.

  • Cajon/percussions has a Whammy pedal only and is output in a dedicated monitor behind the player.

Audio setup

The audio routing and connexions are quite complicated in this piece as all the instruments have pickups going through the main mixer, then sent back to effect-pedals controlled by the musicians. Then the output of every pedal board is sent up to the mixer and back to the amplifiers on the stage. This means that a lot of DI-boxes and ReAmp-box are used to adapt levels and impedances to this circuit. The whole setup is best described by the diagram below:

Electronics & Loudspeaker setup

On the contrary, the electronic part setup is rather simple, the Max patch is sent to 4 channels, each of them being directly routed to 4 main speakers place behind the music ensemble to form an arch in the background as show in the diagram below.

Stage Placing

Performance Patch

Software installation

The electronic part is solely composed of the Max patch and Sounds banks downloadable below. No specific external is necessary. The patch runs in Max 8 and no specific instruction is needed concerning vector/buffer sizes. A good habit is to run it with “Overdrive” option ON (but that’s not mandatory).

Patch presentation

The main patch of the piece is captured below.

Main Patch

The electronics has 3 main engines:

  • a triple file player used to play whole files triggered by the events and sometimes transpose and scratch by the keyboard player

  • a trigger sampler controlled and played note by note with one of the keyboards. This sampler assigns different files for different keys of the keyboard (starting from MIDI note 36). This sampler does not transpose files depending on the key pressed but depending on the expression pedal connected to the keyboard.

  • a pitch sampler controlled and played note by note with the second keyboard. This sampler divides the keyboard in 2 sections (lower/upper half) and assignes one file to each section depending on the cue (event). For each section of the keyboard, the same file is played for every key pressed and transposed according to the MIDI pitch of the key.

Midi setup

There are several MIDI inputs and outputs in this piece. We used a sole iConnect interface to gather all of them and interface them with Max/MSP. The configuration of those is done in the right column of the main patch captured above.


  • A sustain/footswitch pedal connected to one of the keyboards and received as MIDI controller 64 is used to trigger the next event of the piece. You can turn it off or change the “polarity” of the pedal with the small menu on the line labeled PEDAL. The small bang next to it is only used for visualization of the incoming pedal hits.

  • The large MIDI keyboard on stage is routed to the pitch sampler.

  • The small MIDI keyboard on stage is routed to the trigger sampler. Those two keyboards can be played on the same MIDI input/connection if they are assigned to two different channels.

  • An expression pedal connected to one of the keyboards and received as MIDI controller 11 is used to transpose either the trigger sampler or the file players depending on the cues.

  • The modulation ring (pitchmod) of one of the keyboards is received as MIDI controller 1 directly in the players patch (object ctlin 1)

  • Finally, you can chose a MIDI controller as a nanoKontrol2 or a BCF2000 connected to the computer and acting as MIDI MIXER. Below is a picture of the nanoKontrol routing used for this performance of the piece.



The Max patch of this piece is used to send control signals to the 4 Whammy pedals on stage, changing their mode depending on the cues (event) of the piece. These info are sent as MIDI Progam Change messages dispatched to each of the Whammies depending on the MIDI channel (1to4). In the menu at the bottom of the right column of the patch, you need to chose the correct MIDI device connected to your computer and going on stage to be split and connected to the 4 pedals.

Manual controls

Init / Stop / Reset / Panic

The bangs on the top of the patch are used to initialize, stop the playing of files, reset the state of the patch (in particular when rehearsing) and stop everything in case of emergency

key shortcuts

  • esc key is mapped to reset the patch (same à reset button).

  • left and right arrows are mapped to go forward or backward for the next event.

  • if the KEY checkbox is ticked next the NEXT EVENT label in the main patch, then you can use the spacebar to effectively trigger the next event.


There are not actions needed after loading the patch to start playing the piece. The init button is loadbanged automatically and turns also the DSP of Max ON. However, be sure that your MIDI inputs and outputs are correct!

OWL Pedal

This piece uses a programmable OWL pedal from the firm Rebel Technologies. We designed for this piece a specific digital distorsion effect based on sampling rate reduction and sample depth reduction (bit crushing). The design of those engines have be made in Max/MSP with the use of gen~ object which allows to compile and embed the resulting effect into the OWL pedal.

gen~ patches

In the archive named OWL Patches & Code above, you will find all the element to examine, modify and compile (if needed) the digital distorsion (named digisto). These are Max and gen~ patches as well as the corresponding exported C++ code and a sysex export of the effect as we used it.

Note: the OWL parameters are to be used in gen~ with parameter names: A, B, C, D, Exp, and Push.

sysex file

You can upload the syx file (MIDI sysex export) directly to the OWL without needing to recompile anything. For that operation, you need download and use the application OwlControl found on this website:

Load the syx file with the Tools/Load file from patch menu of the application. Choose either to run or to store the patch in one of the 4 custom slot of the pedal. Then upload to the pedal with the Save to OWL button of the interface. You should be able to test the digital distorsion directly on the pedal, without connecting it to a computer.

Knobs & buttons

  • As any guitar pedal, the main metal switch is use to engage or bypass the effect.

  • The top left knob is a Drive control. It thus controls the intensity of the effect from no effect at all to full distorsion.

  • Second to left knob is a Mix control balancing from left to right between the decimation (sample rate reduction) and the bit crusher (sample depth reduction) effect. In the middle, both effects are active and mixed together.

  • The third knob is a Tone control which changes the center frequency of bandpass filter integrated at the end of the effect chain.

  • The most right knob is a level control which allows you to set the output volume of the pedal

Toolchain & Compilation

If you wish to compile yourself the Max/gen~ patch to modify it and upload it to the OWL pedal, you will need to gather those 3 tools:

  • the OWL program containing the whole architecure of folders and scripts aso. to compile for the pedal

  • gcc arm compiler (to make patch binary) to be placed in the Tools folder of the OwlProgram [1]

  • FirmwareSender (to make sysex and run) to be placed in the Tools folder of the OwlProgram as well [2]

Building a Max gen~ patch, upload and run on the OWL pedal

To build and compile a Max/gen~ you need to export the code from the patch with the exportcode message. This creates a .cpp and a .h files as well as a gen_dsp folder in a code folder alongside your patch.

Then, you shoud be able to compile and run a patch called digisto with those steps:

  • copy digisto.cpp, digisto.h and gen_dsp folder into PatchSource of the OwlProgram

  • in the terminal cd to your toolchain/OwlProgram directory

  • then execute make GEN=digisto run to compile and upload patch to attached OWL

Sysex export of a Max gen~ patch

Requires the .cpp and .h files of a gen~ patch generated by Max.

Then to compile and create a sysex file of a gen~ patch called digisto:

  • copy digisto.cpp, digisto.h and gen_dsp folder into PatchSource

  • in the terminal cd to your toolchain/OwlProgram directory

  • then execute make GEN=digisto sysex to compile and package binary as sysex




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This documentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Program note

Dans Mental Radio Machine, Aurélio Edler-Copes thématise les paradoxes de la révolution numérique. Il entame une réflexion sur l’utilisation croissante de systèmes technologiques dans notre société ainsi que sur le rapport entre l’homme et la machine. Son univers se situe au point de bascule entre l’émerveillement envers les nouvelles technologies et l’effroi face à leurs dérives.

L’effectif réunit des instruments acoustiques (flûte basse, clarinette basse, alto, violoncelle et percussion), une guitare électrique et des samplers. Tous les instruments sont connectés à des amplificateurs à lampe et traités avec des pédales d’effet analogiques ainsi qu’avec une nouvelle génération de pédales open source. Ces dernières permettent de concevoir et d’intégrer des patches Max dans la chaîne de pédales des musiciens sur scène, sans passer par l’ordinateur. Une vraie fusion entre l’analogique et le numérique ! Par ailleurs, un multi-échantillonneur, conçu spécifiquement pour la pièce, permet de déclencher et de manipuler en temps réel une voix de synthèse lo-fi. Cette voix, spatialisée en quatre canaux sur scène, est en constant dialogue avec l’ensemble, créant ainsi une étrange symbiose entre voix synthétique et geste instrumental. Un corps sonore hybride, vocal et instrumental, analogique et numérique, électroacoustique et synthétique.

À la source de cette œuvre électrique se trouvent le flux textuel des derniers romans de Thomas Bernhard — leurs discours incessants, frénétiques et répétitifs, tel une voix off dans la tête du lecteur — ainsi que des symboles de la culture pop des années 1980 (ordinateurs personnels, jeux vidéo, robots, vocodeurs, radiocassettes) et certaines des technologies actuelles (reconnaissance facial, vidéo surveillance, intelligence artificielle).

Aurelio Edler-Copes, note de programme du concert du 10 septembre 2020 au T2G - Théâtre de Gennevilliers.

Version documentation creation date: March 18, 2020, 5:27 p.m., update date: May 6, 2021, 3:09 p.m.