There are many benefits to Max for Live; for one, it comes with a number of ready-to-use devices, including the entire Pluggo collection of synths and effects. In addition, the Max for Live community is a rich resource for hundreds of devices. Max for Live is also a powerful tool for making or customizing your own devices, as it puts the limitless possibilities of Max, MSP, and Jitter inside of Live.
Cycling '74, the creators of Max, have uploaded a comprehensive new set of tutorial videos for programming in Max for Live. If you're an absolute beginner, these 18 videos will take you from Max's core concepts to making your own instruments, effects, and devices that interface with Live's API. If you're a seasoned Max programmer, then don't miss these tutorials for inspiring ideas. Here's video #1:
When you're ready, access the full playlist on Cycling '74's YouTube channel. Follow these tutorials to learn how to make your own Bit/Sample Reduction, SVF filter, Dub/Tape Delay, Velocity Sequencer, Wobble Bass, Polysynth, and Step Sequencer devices. What's more, you can use the techniques to get inspired or get going on your own ideas.
Note: Tutorials feature Ableton Live 9 and Max 6 - these same concepts will work using Ableton Live 8 and Max 5 or Max 6.