Everywhere I go, people bug me about when they’ll see better support for OpenSoundControl (OSC) in applications. Why use fancy-schmancy OSC when MIDI does the job? Well, OSC supports higher resolutions of data when needed, maps variables elegantly (when you’re controlling something like visuals and descriptions like musical pitch or filter cutoff make no sense), and plays nice over networks and with multiple computers. In other words, go ahead and use MIDI when it does the job — but we need something else when it doesn’t.
Here’s one way to get OSC from your favorite app: hack it in. Spotted today as Gav tells Create Digital Motion about gluing together Isadora and Ableton Live, the OSCGlue plug-in is a simple VST insert that listens to MIDI and sends OSC.
And, yes, this is another free Windows VST that doesn’t work on Mac. But before you get too excited, more disclaimers from the creators:
OSCGlue is a simple 24hours hack and may contain bugs. It seems to work under Ableton Live and VVVV. The Plugin will work only under Windows. Receiving messages under other platforms should be possible. Please report your findings.
It’s also written in Delphi with a Windows-only wrapper, so don’t bother asking about a port. (Mac users, for the record, have the wonderful OSCulator for which there’s no good Windows equivalent — it maps input controls to OSC.)
Still, it’s well worth checking out, and I’m definitely going to be giving it a try:
OSCGlue 1.0alpha at the vvvv wiki [let’s just hope that’s "alpha" for "awesome!"]
The reason the plug-in comes from the vvvv folks is important: this could be ideal for routing sonic stuff in Live to vvvv for visuals. And I think interfacing software to software in this way could become OSC’s killer app. What we really need is not a "24hours hack" but better support in the host programs — and Ableton Live has to be right at the top of the list. On the Native Instruments side, it’d be great to see Reaktor support input, especially given that that could mean doing bizarre things with granular instruments using high-resolution controller data. When someone hooks up their brain to a granular soundmaker and invents a new kind of music using only their mind, it’ll be worth it — really. Yes, Reaktor supports OSC now, but the implementation is wacky and undocumented. It’s amazing as many people use is as do, given that NI doesn’t really even tell anyone about it.
But for some reason, instead of telling NI and Ableton and whatnot that they need better OSC support, you keep telling me. So don’t tell me. Write your friendly software vendor.
Expect a more organized letter-writing campaign soon — and I think there’s also an opportunity to work with developers to make implementation work better. It has the word "open" in it for a reason.