TouchOSC control for the Nord Electro 2
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Many people have written about how awesome the TouchOSC application is for iPhone/iPod Touch, and I also agree. I’ve been having tons of fun with it on my iPod in combination with Max/Msp creating little custom control apps for various projects.
One of the geeky fun things that I did was create MAX patch that allows me to control the Hammond Organ drawbar settings on my Nord Electro 2 via my iPod Touch. Of course, the buttons that control the drawbars work well enough, but I thought it would be nice to be able to see all of the settings for both the upper and lower drawbars at the same time — and be able to manipulate them both simutaneously!
- There are still some issues with this setup, and I’ll explain them in this post, but it works well enough for me to enjoy as is.
- You can download my MAX patch on the Downloads Page. Feel free to use it and/or modify it all you like. I have posted it in .maxpat format and in .mxf format so that wont need to have to buy the full Max/Msp software in order to use it. If you don’t have MAX, and want to use the .mxf file you will have to download the MAX runtime environment which is free to download here.
- Technically, I believe the .mxf file should work on both windows and mac, but I have only tested it on mac.
In order to setup everything properly you will need to have both the MIDI-IN and MIDI-OUT of the NE2 connected to your computer. You will also have to configure the settings for the TouchOSC application to talk to your computer over a network. TouchOSC comes with excellent instructions on how to do this. After that, open up the patch that I made and configure the settings there and you should be up and running.
When you run the patch you will see a screen that looks like this.
- First, look on the Network page of the TouchOSC application and put the number from the Local IP address box into the iPhone ip box on my patch.
- Insert the Port(outgoing) number into the recieving port box in my patch, and the Port(incoming) number into the sending port box.
- Then, double click midiin and select the name of whatever device you are using to connect your NE2 to your computer.
- Do the same with midiout as well, and that should be it.
There is also some basic midi information that is displayed and you can click on the lower and upper drawbar bubbles to see a simple display, however I spent absolutely no time on how this application looks since it mainly functions as the “glue” that holds everything together. The real fun is in using TouchOSC to control your keyboard’s settings.
Using the Mix 16 Layout on the Touch OSC application as a digital conroller for the Nord’s LED drawbars, the first and most obvious problem is that there are 9 drawbars and only 8 faders on the Mix 16 layout. The first 3 pages of the Mix 16 layout look like this
*The fourth page is a bunch of multifaders that I am not using for this patch*
On pages 1 and 2, what I did as a workaround for not having enough faders was to make the three vertical faders on the first page control the (16′) (5 1/3′) and the (8′) upper drawbars. Once you switch over to page 2 you have control of the (5 1/3′) through the (1′) drawbars. For me this created the least amount of awkwardness.
Page 3 controls the lower drawbars. What I did here was different. The faders on Page 3 control the (16′) through the (1 1/3′) drawbars, then if you want to manipulate the (1′) drawbar you press the toggle button underneath the fader controlling the (1 1/3′) drawbar (the fader furthest to the right) and now it controls the (1′).
This setup for the lower drawbars made the most sense for me because I usually like to use the Split feature so that I can have a more “bassy” sounds on the lower end of the keyboard. This isn’t always the case, but again it seemed the most natural way to deal with only having 8 faders.
When you move the faders on your iPhone/iPod touch you will see it reflected on the drawbar LEDs, and also, when you move the LEDs on your Nord you will see it on your iPhone/iPod touch.
To me this would be kind of useless by itself, but what I like to do is have my iPod on Page 3 so I can see the lower drawbar settings while the Nord itself is showing the upper drawbars. That way I see everything and control both at the same time.
Also, I could not figure out how to make the settings on TouchOSC change automatically when I switched from one program setting to the next. For instance, If you switch from program C8 to C7 you need to do a quick MIDI “dump” so that TouchOSC can display your current drawbar settings.
It sounds a little complicated, but it’s pretty easy. Press SHIFT + LEFT OCTAVE SHIFT (DUMP), make sure that the Nord Display says ‘Ct’, and hit the red store button. You will see the TouchOSC application update itself with your drawbar settings. Once you have set the type of MIDI dump that you want to ‘Ct’ it will remain that way when you access the function again. This makes it easy to hit SHIFT-DUMP-STORE really quickly when you want to change programs.
Again, feel free to download and use as you see fit. Please leave comments and/or email me here with any of your suggestions. I created this patch a few months ago for my own use and I’d like to add some more features to it if I can find the time.
As I was writing this, it occurred to me that I might be able to use one of the toggle buttons to send a message to the NE2 to trigger a MIDI dump and update the drawbar settings. Also, if I routed the audio through MAX I could add different effects and maybe use the XY Pad and mutifaders for something too.
Since creating this patch I realized that Nord has come out with an Electro 3, which seems to be a massive improvement, essentially solving many of the problems I have with the Electro 2. The Electro 3 now includes reverb, which I always wanted, and also the ability to edit and upload custom sounds, which I also really wanted. I am now highly jealous of all Electro 3 owners. If you are an Electro 3 owner and want to try out this patch, please let me know if it works. Have fun!
May 18, 2009