How to send complex midi messages to loopy using simple midi footswitch - Solved

edited October 2014 in Techniques

Hi All

I'm new to this forum so I thought I'd share what I've been up to with Loopy HD and other iPad apps.

As a guitarist, I've been using an iPad on stage for several years now but solely for displaying chord charts, lyrics and managing setlists, etc. To do this I've been using an excellent ios app called OnSong.

I recently started a project to see if I could replace all of my various guitar and vocal outboard gear with a single iPad. One of the first apps I began to play with in this quest was Loopy HD. After getting excited about Loopy, like a lot of people I then started to search for a coherent way to control the app via my feet whilst playing guitar. The available midi bindings in Loopy are excellent and extensive but what if a) you only have one or two midi footswitches at your disposal and b) you need to do different things with Loopy for different songs.

Enter OnSong and its midi integration feature (add-on).

Essentially, one of the main feature of OnSong is the ability to create/download/keep/organise/edit chord sheets and lyrics on your iPad. In this respect, OnSong has a great editor/word processor to allow you to edit songs and add information, chords, notes, etc. One very cool feature is the ability to define song sections such as Verse, Chorus, Bridge, etc. Even more cool, you can advance through song sections using a simple footswitch. Even way more cool, you can configure and send out multiple midi controller, program change, etc. messages from OnSong as each song section is reached. This means you can automate other apps from OnSong. For example, I use Jamup Pro for guitar processing. I can configure OnSong to automatically select the correct preset in Jamup when a song is loaded and then to change presets on the fly as I progress through the song. All I have to do is hit one footswitch to go to next song section.

This also works with Loopy HD! I can configure my song sections in OnSong to send out multiple midi messages to Loopy HD. This means I can effectively use all of the various midi bindings in Loopy exactly as needed for each song. Because I can send out multiple midi messages you can program OnSong to do pretty complex things in Loopy and obviously these actions can be different for each song and different for each song section.

I'm not affiliated with OnSong in anyway but just love the combination of OnSong and Loopy HD and the potential of using these and other apps to transform the kind of music I might be able to play and control in a live setting using a very simple midi footswitch.

All the best.



  • This sounds like a great combination and could prove very useful to me. I am also quite new to loopy and creating music iOS supported, but I've read that there are some issues when loopy is used as a slave in combination with other apps or devices.
    The way I get what you are describing, seems to use onsong as the clockmaster and loopy (and other apps) would be slaves, right?

    Any insights from fellows who know more than I do? ;)

  • For this method to work, if I'm reading your description correctly, I'm assuming you'd need to prerecord the loops, not record them live/on the fly?

  • In my setup onsong only sends controller messages to Loopy and program change messages to other apps such as jamup XT. OnSong is not sending clock and Loopy is using its own internal clock so there are no synchronisation issues.

    Really the best way to think about it is I send one simple command to OnSong using the footswitch and, in response, OnSong sends out a bunch of commands to control loopy and various apps.

    OnSong is just acting like a super midi footswitch controller really.

    I generally use one or two pre-recorded loops (drums/percussion) and everything else is recorded live. I typically use the Loopy binding to toggle mute track most often. With this binding if you toggle a track on it will play it if the track is already recorded, if the track is not recorded, the toggle mute will set it to record.

    So basically, I program OnSong something like this:

    My first loop (generally pre-recorded drums is unmuted but Loopy session is paused).

    Section = Start: Send loopy command to re-start session. Drum loop starts immediatly.
    Section = Intro 1: toggles record on track 2, I record some guitar. track 2 automatically plays after recording.
    Section = Intro 2: toggles record on track 3, I record more guitar or vocals, etc. track 1 and track 2 still playing, track 3 plays after recorded.

    Section = Verse 1: I may leave all three tracks playing here or program onsong to send a mute to track 2 or track 3, to turn off those loops, etc. Depending on what song needs.

    Basically, I add a section into OnSong whenever a change is needed, either to turn something on or off in Loopy or to change a patch on another app.

    A couple of issues/things to consider.

    1. I always use Count In/Count Out on the loops with count in set to clock length. This means that after you hit the footswitch, OnSong will immediately send toggle mute but recording/playback will not be activated on Loopy until after the count in has expired. I prefer this method of working but it means that you are often hittng the footswitch quite some time in advance of the actual recording/change you need. This, however, is just a matter of practice per song.

    2. Following on from 1. I generally try to keep my loops short maybe 2 or 4 bars. Fortunately, because Loopy support so many tracks, it is often feasible to record multiple short loops and trigger them sequenctially to make a longer section.

    3. I'm currently running this setup across 2 ipads. I have an old IPad 2 that runs OnSong. I then run Loopy and other apps on an iPad Mini with retina display. This gives advantage that I can see both OnSong and Loopy screens at the same time.

    4. I wouldn't claim to have this setup perfected yet. It seems pretty stable but it is still a work in progress.

    Hope this helps.


  • Hey @CallMeNick This is an old old thread, but I hope you're still using and perfecting these methods.

    this sounds like a really great way to leverage just a few pedal presses in to a bunch of music!

    Are you still using this setup? Have you made any significant changes or improvements?

    Any chance I could take a look at one of your onsong files?

    There is one thing I'd like to do and that is have OnSong act as the midi clock, or at least send out a bpm so another app can work as midi clock.
    Have you tried this? Does Loopy play nicely now as slave?

    Also, just curious, what are you using as an audio interface to your iPad?



  • Loopy 3 will have much more improved binding which should allow you to do stuff that you've mentioned without the need to run another app.

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