Instrument designer Roger Linn (LinnDrum, the MPC) shared this video, which captures him exploring 3-dimensional synth control, using his LinnStrument and the Madrona Labs Aalto software synth.
Linn’s demo makes use of the nascent Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE) specification, which is designed to standardize the way electronic instruments and software synths handle an expanded range of musical gestures. The LinnStrument gained support for MPE in May and it was added to Aalto last week.
In the video, the key thing to note is how the LinnStrument is mapped to control a variety of synthesis functions in Aalto:
- Pressure (z-axis) is controlling harmonics;
- Left-right motion (x-axis) is controlling pitch; and
- Top-to-bottom motion (y-axis) is controlling comb filtering.
As Linn demonstrates, MPE gives musicians continuous control over each note, in 3 dimensions – so individual parts can slide at different times and at different rates, vibrato is controlled per voice, and modulation can be applied to each note differently.