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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.

  • jln

    It's been a long time since I've been wanting to do such a plugin in Max/MSP. It seems the time is right, so Mac users will be happy as well.

    Julien.

  • http://www.3amnoise.net/runagate runagate

    As a user of the DAW Usine, which supports OSC and in which I use my VST chains live, I've been pretty excited by this.

    I wish I had more time at the moment to monkey around with it. Anyone planning on making an OSC-outputting wind controller anytime soon?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgrt/sets Chris Graham

    Runagate asked if anyone is developing an OSC-outputting wind controller.

    I am developing the MultiWind, a new wind controller that will soon be in alpha testing. I showed it at the NIME conference last June in New York where it was reported on by CDM here:

    http://createdigitalmusic.com/2007/06/25/innovati

    Here are some more recent images on my Flickr site:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgrt/sets

    It supports OSC both for sending its data, and for a very wide range of configuration options for the hardware. It also sends MIDI.

    It will be usable as a breath controller, a brass-style wind controller, a woodwind-style wind controller, an harmonica style controller, a trombone, and others, as well as a percussion controller, and a gesture sensor through its built in accelerometer.

    - Chris Graham

  • http://www.digitalfunfair.co.uk gavspav

    Hey jln – I did quickly throw something together using a Max Demo /Pluggo which is what I put on the tutorial page.

    But my Max knowledge is next to nothing. It'd be really good if someone put together a decent version of the vst with:

    Configurable Port/IP/Address from the VST interface.

    Adjustable scale

    Variable number of parameters.

    Option to use Midi instead of OSC. (Is it possible to send midi through virtual midi cable from inside a Pluggo VST? Or do you have to route it back through the host?)

    I can send you what I've done but my guess is if you know anything about Max you probably won't need it!

    Gav

  • http://www.multiwind.com Chris Graham

    Runagate asked about an OSC outputting wind controller.

    I am developing one called the MultiWind that will be in alpha testing soon.

    See my website at http://www.multiwind.com for details.

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    Just FYI, I will be committing a patch to Ardour this week that adds full OSC access to every menu item and button. Ardour already supported OSC control of transport, solo, mute and rec-enable functions.

    Within a short time, I think we will OSC control of plugin parameters too.

  • jln

    Hi Gavin,

    I was very tired when I read the articles and missed the fact that your solution was based on a Pluggo. The configuration options as well as adjustable scale should be easy to implement. I can think of other features which could be nice as well.

    Having a variable number of parameters could be a little tricky, though. Patching is easy, but I'd need to give a look at the Pluggo dev guide to make it fit with the plugins presets storage schemes.

    The only "problem" is that I was a bit over enthusiastic as it'll be hard for me to have it done in the next couple of months or so. Once my thesis is over I'll have full time to build this, test and assure it is bug proof.

    Stay tuned.