Controlling Music: Look Forward To OSC!

I have been using MIDI for quite some while now to communicate musical instrument based projects to my computer and visa-verse. My first MIDI project died, somehow and I never quite figured out how; however, before my MIDI Ribbon Controller died I was running into some troubles with MIDI. The base trouble stemmed from MIDI’s roots as a 1982 protocol for digital music communications to allow musicians the ability to mix different synths from different vendors, without needing complicated and expensive adapters. By nature MIDI is a slow, backwards compatible standard (which is what it needs to be), with rigid note structures. This means that doing sliding motions without well defined notes is actually quite difficult, because MIDI simply cant send different notes fast enough. Also, delay starts to become noticeably because the baud rate is rather slow.

So what is one to do? MIDI is still the industry standard and that doesn’t stand to change very soon. However, for personal projects there is a new standard which is starting to come into common use. Furthermore, it is faster, and more flexible than MIDI and just as open. This is OSC, Open Sound Control, and its been around for awhile, but it is really picking up speed in the realm of experimental music controllers. For example, Lemur is using it and so do a lot of Monomes. But what about the software, that’s very important too! Well Reaktor is OSC compatible and so are Max/MSP, Ardour, Logic Pro, Overtone (that Clojure based music programming language), Pure, Processing and Traktor. So the software support is there.

There is a need for a move forward for the day to day experimental music control interface hobbyist/experimenter and I plan on diving into OSC and writing more up on it. If you have some tips or tricks feel free to contact me!

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