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Dueling Percussion

Dueling Percussion is another Max/MSP Patch that I created for an electroacoustic music course instructed by Arne Eigenfeldt at SFU. (previously)

The idea is simple. Imagine having two snare drummers facing each other. One plays a bar-long rhythm, then the other responds by playing a similar but slightly embellished rhythm. They trade back and forth, continually attempting to outdo the other.

Now imagine that one of the snare drummers is a computer. This MaxMSP patch listens (through a mic) to a rhythm being played, quantizes it, changes it slightly, then plays it back a bar later.

For this to work, though, both the human and the computer have to agree to a tempo, so this patch incorporates a tap-tempo metronome. To start, the human does a count-off by clicking sticks four times. The computer interprets the tempo and starts a metronome.

Dueling Percussion Screenshot



  1. Press reset a few times to make sure everything's in a known state. Max patches can be weird in this regard.
  2. Set BOTH noteout objects to use your midi interface


  1. Set the velocities for the metronome note. There's one for downbeat and one for the others. They're located at the bottom of the metronome.
  2. Set the note numbers for the metronome note and instrument note. I use a click for the metronome and a snare for the instrument.
  3. Set the minvel for bonk low enough to hear your instrument but high enough to not pick up stray noises. (This may not be easy)


  1. Hit reset again, just to be sure
  2. Click (or tap the mic) 4 times to start the metronome
  3. When the "listening" lights are on, play a rhythm
  4. Wait a bar as it plays back a similar rhythm in response
  5. Try enabling "Quantize" "Subdivide" or "Omit"
Luke Cyca .com