Q. What is MAT?
A. MAT is an application that works as a simplified GUI for Ableton Live specifically for the use of playing back tracks for an entire show. When a song is selected, only the sections or hotkeys of that particular song are displayed to the user. This way the user can trigger hundreds of hotkeys, scenes or clips without ever having to change midi channel output on the controller or remapping controller octaves.
Q. Why do I need MAT? Can’t I just use Ableton?
A. Yes, you could try navigating an entire show using just Ableton Live but it would be difficult. While Ableton provides tons of detailed information for programming, you would not want to be bombarded with all of that information while calling a show. MAT gives you only the information you need, when you need it. You would also have to change midi channels and octaves to access that many midi channel/note combinations. Then there is the visual feedback aspect of it. Each time a new song is selected the hotkey information displayed is updated. You could try putting multiple labels on each key of your controller stating which part each one triggers depending on channel or octave selected. I believe that would be very painful.
Q. Do I have to purchase MAX/MSP© from Cycling ’74 to use MAT?
A. No, MAT is a stand-alone runtime application that is for the most part, self-contained so you do not need to purchase MAX in order to use MAT. However, there are some runtime dependancy files that need to be installed before you can run MAT. The quickest way to get these files onto your computer is to download MAX/MSP from Cycling ’74and install it. After your 30 day trial period expires you will no longer be able to run MAX/MSP but the runtime files needed to use MAT will still be present. The only danger is that if you do use this 30 day period to try out MAX, you will become addicted as I have and you wil end up purchasing a MAX license.
Q. At KA, why did you decide to switch from using Sinfonia and Gigastudio? Was it not working?
A. The Sinfonia – Gigastudio setup worked fine. However, TASCAM, the company that owned Gigastudio decided to stop selling and supporting it. This left us in an unusual position. We were mostly concerned about the lack of support and the lack of activation servers if we ever had to reinstall the application. Also, the Sinfonia lease cost $1K per month. So, we went looking for an alternative. Now, Ableton Live seemed to be the choice for handling all of the playback, but we did not want our Music Director to lose the familiarity he had with Sinfonia. So I set out on a journey to learn how to program using MAX-MSP by Cycling ’74. I needed to come up with something that looked somewhat like Sinfonia but worked with Ableton Live much in the way that Sinfonia worked with Gigastudio. MAT was the result of that.
Q. How difficult is it to program MAT?
A. Programming MAT is very simple and is done by creating simple text files which are just structured lists. A song list text file is created that lists the names of each song, that songs master tempo and meter. Then each song has a text file that lists that song’s hotkeys and each hotkey’s trigger note.
Q. Do I need to run MAT and Ableton Live on separate computers?
A. No, both MAT and Ableton run on the same computer using a helper application such as ‘MIDI Yoke’ to send MIDI data back and forth between the two programs. MAT itself has a very small footprint and uses very little resources.
Q. What is the capital of Nebraska?
A. Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska.
Q. What are the minimum computer requirements?
A Of course, your system will be limited by your computer’s specifications and since this is a media application, the faster, the better. At KA we are using Rain Element PC’s with 2.4 Ghz Quad-Core processors; 4Mb or RAM. The system drives are SSD and data drives are SATA II. Our Ableton project has 34 Audio tracks, and about 70 Sampler tracks. At 30 songs our project uses about 2.3 Gb of RAM. To run a project this large the 3GB switch is activated in the boot.ini.
Q. What kind of MIDI controller does it work with?
A. The standard version of MAT works with a 49 key or larger controller. There is a 25 key version available. I am currently working on an release which will allow the user to select various controller types.
Q. Is it cross-platform?
A. Yep; PC or MAC
Q. Is it copy protected?
A. Nope; It is being sold on the ‘trust’ model with very liberal licensing. You can purchase either a single user license or a site license. The site license permits copying within the scope of a single production.
Q. What does MAT stand for? Is it a name or acronym?
A. MAT does not stand for anything, really. At cirque, we all go by designators that use our first initial and last name. So, for me, (Mike Atwood) that would be ‘MAtwood’. So many people refer to me as either matwood or just MAT. I’ve said that it stands for the Max-Ableton Translator, which I believe slipped into the current manual, but really, it doesn’t mean anything.