Dillon Bastan Songbird, a singing flock of birds becomes an M4L instrument

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Dillon Bastan Songbird is a new M4L device that turns a singing flock of birds into a sophisticated drone/texture instrument for Ableton Live.

M4L is a fascinating platform with tons of exciting synthesizers, drum machines, effects and more. Big highlights are the developments of the developer Dillon Bastan. After his crazy math-powered data.train sampler device, he found inspiration in nature for its new release. Specially with birds.

With Songbird, Dillon Bastan shows a new M4L instrument of a special kind. This emulates a singing swarm of birds hat can be tweaked down to the last detail. Dillon took the idea straight from where it orginated and built around an original instrument made for rich drones, textures, and more. It is made in collaboration with Alina Kano.

Dillon Bastan Songbird

Dillon Bastan Songbird Press Release

Songbird is a MaxForLive audio instrument. It features a simulation of a flock of birds, each bird having its own model of a syrinx (a bird vocal organ) as well as a model of a simple birdbrain that controls the syrinx to create different syllables.

Each bird’s position, speed, angle, etc in the flock can be mapped to various parameters as modulation sources. This device yields anything from textures, drones, rhythms, harsh/haunting/noisy/pretty tones, generative soundscapes, odd melodies, and of course different sounding bird calls!


  • A boids or flocking simulation with up to 32 birds with several parameters:
    • Rate, alignment, grouping, separation, sight radius, and force strength
    • Option to visualize sight radiuses
    • Randomize flock function
    • Save flock state function and a function to revert to saved state on transport start
  • Various parameters that are able to be mapped to several qualities of the flock for modulation:
    • Index spread, X position, Y position, Angle, Speed, Proximity to neighbor, Density of neighbors, Birds in sight, Brain modulations, Random spray
  • Several parameters for the bird brain model which create syllables (envelopes)
  • Several parameters for the syllable qualities
  • Parameters for making phrases or songs from the syllables
  • Wavefold, FM and AM options
  • Simple reverb parameters

First Impression

Dillon Bastan picks up where he left off. Songbird is another great instrument from his pen. It’s just fun to follow him developing new Max 4 Live devices that brings enrich the sound design community.

Dillon Bastan Songbird is available now for $15 and is requires Ableton Live 10/11 Suite or Ableton Live 10/11 plus a license for Max For Live.

More information here: Isotonik Studios

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