Sunday, August 1, 2010

iPad as Ableton Midi Controller w/ touchOSC & Live Control

Original Link -

I just set up my iPad to be utilized as a Live controller. My expectations have been thoroughly met and I'm actually quite surprised at how usable the software is out there for the iPad/Live link.

I'm using touchOSC and LiveControl to reach the following interface which allows you to control Live in numerous ways:

As you may, or may not notice on this initial screen (which doesn't have Live connected at the moment) you have a very similar interface as to of a APC 40. The initial screen is a clip grid and you can trigger 8 columns of clips by 7 rows. There's also a play all button besides each one; the rest should be obvious. If you quickly take a look around the other tabs at the top you can see that it also offers a lot more functionality than initially shown. Overall, an amazing piece of software integration. Did I mention that you can edit all of this to look, display, and function the way you want? Awesome!

To get started I had to buy touchOSC. You can buy that here. It's a one-time purchase in the App Store and I downloaded it on both my iPad and iPhone. However this article is targeted to the iPhone.

Once I did that, I installed LiveControl (free! yay) which is located over here. LiveControl is the interface you saw above in the screenshot which interacts between the iPad and Ableton Live. "touchOSC" is simply a software platform that allows iOS to pass messages to other programs in a music-orientated language. Check out what OSC (open sound control) is here.

For a tutorial that instructs you on how to setup everything step by step, follow it here:

Now one thing to mention which almost caught me, is that you need to go through extra steps to get midi messages to send to Ableton Live and for you to utilize the drum and keys tab. This is pretty easy now, as LiveControl handles the routing and translation. You used to have to download another program which handled the translation from OSC to MIDI and back, but no longer - Live Control now supports everything. Very awesome! Thank you to their team - you should donate if you can spare a couple dollars.

If you need any help setting up, please let me know and I'll try to give you a hand. I ran into a problem with no matter how many times I tried to follow that tutorial, the keys and drumming never worked. Ableton looked like it received the midi messages but nothing was ever triggered in the drum machine when I hit a pad. My solution? I restarted the computer and it ended up working. Sometimes a reboot will fix everything.

So far I'm still learning how I want to use this in the best way - I've been using it for both producing and testing live performances. I really want to integrate it into a cool way with the Xone:4D. I'll post more on effective ways to utilize the iPad/LiveControl/TouchOSC very soon.

For now, enjoy!

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