That didn’t take long – there’s already a how-to video for using an iPad as a multi-touch controller for Ableton Live. Great work, Atlanta music tech wizards! You can thank Note: See notes for why they’re using this combination of software. Code is online in GitHub. Updated: the video has been refreshed (clips needed re-arranging), and we’ve got more details and some good discussion happening in comments.

Wrote this in haste and didn’t get to really point out why it’s cool:

  • OSC provides control of clips – a feature the open source project used here will continue to develop.
  • For everything else, you also get MIDI support, translated in this case by Osculator for Mac but possible with other Mac/Windows tools and soon also the Live API.
  • More will come in the future – the project is open on GitHub so anyone can contribute, and more sophisticated integration is planned. That means a nice rival (or companion, if you’re really lucky) to JazzMutant’s just-released Mu. The competition could spur lots more to come in Live performance.

TouchOSCiPad info is at
Code on GitHub:

Of course, I have to make a few observations, just to observe that there are a number of different directions all this technology can go – not necessarily that one alternative is superior to the others, so much as we have lots of choices ahead.

1. This would be a lot easier if Ableton had native OSC support. Via Zeroconf and built-in support for OSC, this actually could be made as easy as turning on the iPad (or another device) and having instant control of Ableton.

2. Alternatively, who says you wouldn’t just run Live on the tablet instead of carrying two devices?Details are murky, but with gadgets like the HP Slate coming later this year, there’s nothing saying you won’t soon be running both control and Live (or another performance tool) directly on your tablet-style device – no separate controller needed. And with actual USB support, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be routing audio through a lousy, underpowered headphone jack, either. The downside – and it’s a big one – I’m not yet convinced any of these devices this year will come close to the quality and responsiveness of the iPad touch input. Then again, maybe you’ll be willing to sacrifice some of that in order to run Ableton (albeit a CPU-optimized set); time will tell.

3. And it’s not just Live you may use live. For anyone who’s been waiting for Live to have some competition for your onstage time, check out videos like the one after the break. I’m still concerned by the reliance on the iPad’s headphone jack, though, which could mean, again, some of these alternative tablets become interesting over the course of 2010.

So, anyone complaining about this being “all iPad news,” it’s not – it’s about more than the iPad. What’s evolving now can lead to a variety of options. If there’s an angle you want (controlling traditional apps with multitouch, using new apps on a tablet, remaking traditional apps on more powerful tablets), it’s happening.

And keep in mind, there’s really no reason the iPad will be the only platform in this game – Linux-, Windows-, and more mature Android-powered tablets are all in on the act, too, each with their own strengths and weaknesses for developers and users.

For a glimpse of some of the new ideas people are exploring with touch-controlled music interfaces, check out this video of the promising-looking chipPad for iPad, from Earsmack. It’s a fascinating variation on the grid concept – really, not quite the monome’s MLR, but something else.

chipPad for iPad from earsmack on Vimeo.