MIDI/Live 8/Max MSP controlled lighting Matrices for Live Music Performances

Hello there Arduino community. This is actually my first post and first ventures into electronics and programming, so apologies if this request for help sounds a little pathetic...

I am a Music Tech student about to enter my final year and for my final year project I want to build and perform with a couple of 16 x 8 led matrices, programmed and controlled via Live 8 and Max MSP. This is because I want to bring a more visual element to my electronic performances. I'll point out here and now I am a complete novice to programming (bar a few of the Arduino IDE tutorials) and electronics. But happily learning as I go along.

SO FAR I have already got an Arduino Uno and have successfully complied some basic commands to control leds via MIDI, Max and Live etc. However I'm at the stage where I'm trying to control and program a Rainbowduino for demo purposes and I've become stuck. I have followed all instructions in uploading firmware to the Rainbowduino but I don't understand how to control it.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE (at the moment), is a way of controlling all the RGB, and intensity of each led right within Max MSP. i.e. making the Rainbowduino a dumb slave to the serial information being spewed out of Max. I've had a look at the information for Rainbowduino firmware v3 and I'm bamboozled and for love nor money can I get neophobs firmware to respond to any Processing info.

Basically some pointer to relevant threads/sites/people and suggestions would be gratefully received. Plus I'm happy to divulge any extra detail if need.

Looking forward to your responses.