Linn S. Was Here (LinnStrument Jam)

This video, by Geert Bevin, captures an instrumental performance on the LinnStrument

The LinnStrument is a new electronic instrument in development. It was created by musician and instrument designer Roger Linn, and can sense pressure polyphonically, allowing for performance techniques that are not possible with traditional piano-style keyboard controllers.

Bevin explores several different performance techniques in his performance of Linn S Was Here. Bevin is using Omnisphere as a sound-source, with a tweaked version of the Classic Nylon Strings patch.

19 thoughts on “Linn S. Was Here (LinnStrument Jam)

    1. Alas, where do you find a classical guitar that’s also a MIDI controller that can sense pressure polyphonically.

      1. Yes, perhaps this particular performance would’ve been better on guitar, but this is so much more. Nothing will be a better guitar than a guitar…but this shows you that this is quite an expressive instrument, and this is just a small demonstration of its possibilities.

  1. Oh my. This is a must have! It brings great sense of organic performance to electronic music. I wonder if it’s gonna include built-in sound source, or is it just midi controller? Or hybrid of the two a’la Eigenharp?

  2. Very nice performance, Geert, as usual. It also bothered me a little and I finally figured out why. I started on the piano and the standard keyboard is my touchstone. It took quite a while to become a passable keyboard player and then a passable synthesist. The Linnstrument is a peak achievement, but its also going to take time to master. No one seems to have managed this flexible behavior with a standard keyboard. Every attempt has been a rather noble failure. Part of it is the great expense of splicing those capabilities in a tough enough hardware form and selling enough of them to balance the books.

    The other aspect is closer to home, which is simply “How long would it take for me to get half as good on the Linnstrument as I am with my current synths?” If I could get that killer bending capability on my keys, I’d love it, but we’re still in the gulf between craptastic cheapo builds and sweet boutique items like this. There’s too little in the middle, so most of the standouts still wind up as sidemen more than central solo instruments. I’m not hostile towards the alternate realm; I use an XKey controller for its poly aftertouch and its a bit like playing a box of Chiclets gum, but it easily passes the acid test. You can make a few compromises for the gains and I’m okay with it up to a point. I simply get the feeling that I’d be diluting what I can already do. Its not as if I wouldn’t like to try one of these out, either. I’m not much concerned about the build because its Roger’s work, but I’d like to know more about how to configure it so I can give it a more honest cost/benefit analysis.

    1. I’ve been watching the dev of this keenly, I do think it may put 3D controllers on the map – or maybe a mass produced variate by one of the usual suspects. You need to understand that this is a instrument. But the hardest part of learning a new instrument is recalling the layout with ease and automatically finding the right note. And with any LED feedfack device you can layout any fingering you like or limit is to a set mode – so you know where the notes are, as you have customized it to the layout you feel most at ease with – the rest is building up memory muscle with practice – which is no harder than getting use to mini keys. I good way to try out the ease of using such new layouts is using the launchpad95 hack. The current sound I am working on was recorded, mixed and mastered live with a laptop and launchpad95 hacked pad. I have learn and found so much from the crossover and experimentation.

      1. Kuwa, thanks for this statement : “I do think it may put 3D controllers on the map”

        This is exactly what I feel, the LinnStrument is good enough for 95% of the musicians, the Eigenharp still is more sensitivity and precise, but also more expensive and requiring a lot more time investment to learn how to play it (partly due to its sensitivity). The LinnStrument really hits that sweet spot for me where I think most musicians will be able to afford it and play it, possibly opening up 3D expression to the masses.

    2. These are very thoughtful remarks and definitely valid concerns. All I can tell you is that I’ve really only played the LinnStrument for a few hours and spent most of my time on the software development. The first time I sat down with it with musical playing exclusively in mind, resulted in this video. I’m personally extremely surprised at how well my current skills transition over to the LinnStrument. That being said, I come from 25 years of guitar playing and 4 years of Eigenharp playing, I stopped playing keyboards a long time ago, so my muscle memory is quite a bit different I guess.

      In general though, and this is something I learned with guitar open-tunings, I find that changing your frame of reference to step away from your established playing patterns, opens up a whole new world of creativity and emotion. Finger dexterity has allowed me to quite quickly adopt other instruments also as the most difficult training part is done. So yes, you will have to spend time to learn the LinnStrument, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how accessible it is.

      In terms of configurability, you’re able to tune the sensitivity of all the expression, you’re able to select any lights and colors at the scale positions you want, you’re able to change the layout by specifying the interval in which the rows overlap (with a special guitar option that’s not isomorphic) and we might introduce the option to define your own scales so that only the notes of the scales can be played, … there’s quite a bit more. Please check out the manual on the product site.

      Finally, the software is planned to be released as open-source and internally it’s running on the Arduino platform, which is very well known. I’d expect alternative firmwares and new features to pop up within weeks of release. Roger and I will obviously also continue to evolve the firmware over the years, possibly folding back the nicest open-source contributions back into the official firmware.

    3. They key to the failures is that everyone rushes to either play a guitar sound on their keyboard, or to play a keyboard sound on their guitar. But these new controllers really demand that we play a new thing that lies somewhere in between. Pick a really nice expressive synth sound, then lay back… stop trying to fingerpick, stop trying to play fancy key runs. Just. Lay. Back. Move one note at a time and let it tell you what sounds good. Add a pedal tone, and move it as little as possible while letting the first one drift around as it sees fit.

      it’s a new thing, and that takes new feeling.

  3. @Fungo, I guess transitioning will take time, its a new instrument and has to be approached as such.
    for a quicker transition the Roli Seaboard is another option (albeit more expensive)
    choices are now starting to build up nicely (Eigenharp, Continuum, Soundplane, Seaboard.. and Linnstrument) to match different musician needs, as they all have pro/cons.

  4. Be great if they teamed up with Dave Smith and build a wee parra-phonic in this, nothing heavy duty just a DS version of a werkstatt, with a reverb – just be nice a play it out on its own, with a little verb and delay – even room for such an add-on later would be nice.

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