TouchOSC is an app that allows control of our DAWs from our iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone via MIDI or OSC messages. It comes with preset interfaces for Ableton Live and Logic as well as having the functionality to design your own.
The website’s documentation is fairly comprehensive but is quite long. In addition, for use with Ableton Live, it’s necessary to install Live Control, which has its own documentation – I’ve tried to condense their installation processes into one and simplify them where possible.
Firstly you will need to install Pure Data and, depending on your operating system (Mac OS X 10.4/Tiger or 10.3/Panther) you may be required to install X11 (or you can install XQuartz). Pure Data is an open source programming visual language (!) but it’s useful for us to send and receive messages to TouchOSC.
Next you’ll need to download basic.pd. Upon opening you should see this:
On the left we can see the dumpOSC 8000 box meaning Pure Data will listen to OSC messages on port 8000.
Now we’ll need to create a network on our desktop or laptop. Get your iOS device to join the network and note the IP address listed in network preferences.
Open up TouchOSC on your iOS device, and a connections tab should greet you. If not, click the grey circle on the top right of the screen.
Inside it, match the IP address to that of the network you’ve created and the Port (outgoing) to the dumpOSC number inside basic.pd (in our case, 8000). The Port (incoming) should default to 9000; if it doesn’t, leave it as it is.
Head to your Audio/MIDI Preferences (found in Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities). In the MIDI Preferences page click on Network and click + (plus) to add a new session. Now that’s done, select the iOS device you want to send OSC messages to your laptop/desktop computer from and click the Connect button.
If you’ve followed the above steps correctly, TouchOSC’s Connections panel should now read, ‘CoreMIDI: In(1/1) Out (1/1)’ meaning we’re ready to move on to the next steps. If this isn’t the case, or you can’t connect to the device, ensure you’ve disabled any firewalls or security software that might stop third party devices from connecting to an ad hoc network.
Come out of the Connections page and select a Layout. I’ve gone with LiveControl iPad, as this is designed for Ableton Live. In the Launcher tab we can see what looks like a digital version of Push or LaunchPad which is, in fact, a representation of Live’s Session view. There are also tabs for Mixer, Device, Sequencer, XY Pad, Drums and Keys which we’ll come onto later.
Referring back to Pure Data we should see incoming text when we touch the iPad, corresponding to what we’ve pressed.
If you want to use TouchOSC with Ableton, it’s necessary to download LiveControl’s software. Run the installer and drag the icon into your Applications folder. Open it up and set the MIDI Port and Connection Device to correlate with your session.
Now load up Ableton and hit cmd + , (or click Live > Preferences) to open the Preferences and head to the MIDI Sync tab.
In the Control Surfaces drop-down menu select LiveControl TO and in MIDI Ports check the boxes below to enable LiveControl 1 and 2’s inputs. I’ve loaded a project and, in Session view, TouchOSC now corresponds with my clips. If you’ve followed the steps correctly you’ll also see an orange rectangle around a number of clips in Live.
(click on the image to view a larger version)
TouchOSC is now ready to use with Live!
The Launcher view is fairly self explanatory: the coloured rectangles correspond to clips and the turquoise buttons on the right are the scenes. The Mixer section shouldn’t need much explanation either.
The Device relates to whatever track is selected and, because of its eight-rotary layout, it’s 100% worth using Instrument/Audio Effects/MIDI Racks.
The Sequencer, Drums and Keys tabs will work with a MIDI track as it’s basically a loop-able piano roll (like a blank MIDI clip). The XY Pad takes some configuration but is really powerful once it’s up and running. Similarly to the the Device tab, it’s worth using racks to get the most out of this.
In the Options panel within TouchOSC’s preferences you can enable certain features like your iOS device’s Accelerometer, which is nice.