chromedecay studio look: TouchOSC with Ableton Live and BigSeq from chromedecay on Vimeo.

New Year’s Resolution: do cool new stuff. In celebration of the coming of 2009, I’ve got a set of tutorials to post here on createdigitalmusic and createdigitalmotion, so you can get a jump start on the new year by learning some new skills and making new music and visuals. First up: our friend Bill Van Loo has a great video tutorial on working with touch control on an iPod touch or iPhone.

The ingredient list here:

  • TouchOSC, one of a handful of superb new touch controllers on the iTunes app store that supports the flexible, forward-thinking OpenSoundControl protocol. TouchOSC’s edge? Ready-to-use, clever, music-oriented control layouts.
  • Ableton Live, a good choice because of its live-playing emphasis and solid hosting features
  • BigSeq, Audio Damage’s fantastic analog-style sequencer plug-in
  • OSCulator, the glue that holds the rest together by intelligently

In fact, even if you don’t have an Apple mobile gadget, you may find this useful: the OSCulator software on the Mac used for control processing can work with a variety of controllers. If you don’t want to spend $200+ on an iSomething, you can spend a few bucks on a Wii controller and run with that, or grab a SpaceNavigator (also very affordable) or Wacom tablet. (OSCulator is Mac only; PC users may want to check out the likes of GlovePIE.)

chromedecay studio look: TouchOSC with Ableton Live and BigSeq

  • Bill

    Awesome! Thanks.

  • Mr. Tunes

    the video was very well done. but when he opened the midi mapping screen, i realized that he had to do an immense amount of work just to integrate that tiny touch surface into the program.

    surely a mouse would be a lot more efficient. i'm not always such a naysayer of controllers, but this one looked like a ton of work for a little payoff – mainly in regards to the bigseq main page. regardless it was very cool!

  • @Mr. Tunes, well, that'd be a whole lot easier if Ableton supported OSC natively.



  • michel

    "…wanna checkout and ultimately buy bigseq…"

    as audiodamage doesn't do demos, this is not a crack, is it…? 🙂

    nice setup. using the filter sliders on bigseq in this way is so much nicer. too bad about the small knobs on touchOsc.

  • Thanks for posting this, Peter!

    A couple of points:

    1. @Mr. Tunes – it actually wasn't very hard to integrate TouchOSC. I had to map each fader to the fader in BigSeq, and each toggle to the sequencer steps. All told, it took a couple of minutes.

    Having said that, one thing I *really* wish for is the ability to save controller assignments for plugins across multiple Live projects – to use this setup for another track I'd have to go through and re-assign everything again (or open this project as a template or starting point).

    2. @Michel – no, I definitely was not referring to a crack. I'm totally against software piracy. When I said "check out and ultimately buy BigSeq", I meant that I spend a few days investigating different options for how to use that part of the Beatmachine layout, and ultimately decided to buy BigSeq after that research.

    On that note, it may be interesting to note that I considered a bunch of different options before checking out BigSeq, including rolling my own step-sequencer in PureData, Plogue Bidule, or SonicBirth. When I came across BigSeq I realized that it did exactly what I wanted, and was a perfect fit due to its comprehensive MIDI mapping capabilities.

    Finally – props to AudioDamage for having a unique and helpful refund policy. I didn't feel bad at all about spending $40 for the plugin since I knew I could get a refund if it ultimately didn't work out.

  • michel

    i never doubted it was a legal copy, just trying to be a smart ass.

    i love bigseq too. the only problem i have with it, is that you can't draw 'filter curves' with the mouse. setting every slider separately might be more analog, but not as intuitive as drawing it. you solved that problem nicely and unlocked the power hidden in bigseq.

    btw: the nice people at audiodamage told me bigseq2 will feature drawable filter curves.

  • Just for posterity's sake, it's worth mentioning that with BigSeq2, you'll be able to draw filter (or distortion or freq shift or delay send or volume) curves with a single swipe. Also, BigSeq uses our earlier MIDI learn schema. Our newer products have a global and persistent MIDI mapping.

    We're still working on how to deal with the fact that BS2 publishes well over a thousand parameters. The mod sequencers, in particular, use a 2D array to describe their values and obviously this can't be published as a single VST or AU parameter. We haven't yet solved this problem, frankly.

  • Hi there,

    Maybe someone can help me a little.I was wondering if it was possible to use more than only one iPod touch, each one running TouchOSC, at the same time.
    I'm sorry if my question seems stupid or if someone as already answered here and i didn't notice, have a nice day 🙂
    ps: and thanks Peter for the wonderfull work done here 😉

  • Christ almighty … it's a lemur for 1/20th the price!!


  • You don't have to pay $77 a month for the Lemur, though. That's something to consider.

  • Chris, what are you talking about?

    I picked up my iPod touch for $200. Refurbs may be even less. No monthly fee required. (this also blows a massive hole in the idea that you need a cell carrier to subsidize your purchase of the gadget)

    And of course, the other writing on the wall for Lemur is the fact that there are already full-blown multi-touch computers out there for half its price, with a likely deluge of computers and laptops coming very soon. (Windows 7 includes a touch API, which is likely to encourage OEMs.)

    I think it's likely touch features could just be on your laptop without you having to think about it / pay much of a premium, a bit like a trackpad.

  • rob


    It is definitely possible to run multiple instances of TouchOSC on different pods/phones and use them at the same time. That is one of the nice things about the UDP protocol that's being used in TouchOSC and other OSC apps, the receiver doesn't really care who sent the packages.

    Actually I did a little performance a while ago where I was using a pod and a phone at the same to to send accelerometer data with both hands to OSCulator/Live. Fun fun fun.

  • gbsr

    im sorry but.. how is this news, really?

  • klima


    Thanks a lot for the info 🙂 quite a nice property.

  • In the end, is not much different than using a mouse or a normal midi controller.

    Well, yes is a touch screen, that's cool, but the cool thing would be to create new ways of controlling things like

    knobs,faders,xy matrix,or automation clips

    So what i am trying to say is that we should focus more on creating new automation "devices" like knobs,faders,xy matrix etc..

    but from the newschool, is hard to explin what i want to say, but it would be something like

    the conditional statements in programing:

    if : this happends , then do this

    so we can have more control over time on things.

  • @peter: Sorry. I was thinking of the iPhone. Forgot about the Touch, which is ironic considering I bought my wife one for Christmas. She has radio stack envy, though.

    In general, I generally agree with TweakingKnobs though. Our specific product aside, I have a hard time coming up with a scenario where I'd rather use my iPhone to control a VST than the mouse. But this is just a first step. When something like SynthPond 2.5 comes out with OSC, and you can have something actually generating input rather than just translating your gestures to input, things get more interesting.

  • Well, except it does raise the same issue: you could be doing the "automation device" on the client side (computer) rather than the mobile gadget. So it does mean that you need the input device to feel interesting. Maybe that's part of the equation, but there has to be something about the multi-touch input that's helpful.

    It's a whole lot easier to see on the visual side, because the finger gestures, while not terribly musical, *do* feel a whole like drawing. (Isn't that interesting? Knobs + audio = satisfaction. Knobs + visuals = Etch-a-Sketch pain.) And visualists also do like to move around a bit, if for no other reason than it lets you do control and check out your visuals, which sometimes you can only do by moving around a space. (could be useful for sound checks for the same reason)

  • One aspect I appreciate it is that you can walk away from your computer and still control everything through wifi. There is probably a lot of novelty effecting the hype around iPhone based controllers, but I think there are some enticing possibilities as well.

    Such a side note, but there is a free alternative to OSCulator that doesn't seem to get mentioned: PureData. I use an app called Midi Patchbay and PureData to route the OSC signal from my iPhone to Live. PureData will allow you to do anything you want with the OSC signal before sending it out to MIDI, so you can make a simple toggle act as much more. I did a crappy video of my setup on Vimeo:

  • Afro

    Wow! I think the MachineDrum (from Elektron) can do something similar! I'm such a newbie…

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