From Arduino To LinnStrument

Developer Geert Bevin is known to many in the electronic music community for his work with new MIDI instruments, like the Eigenlabs Eigenharp and the Roger Linn LinnStrument; his work as a software developer at Moog Music; and for his work on creating the MPE (Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression) specification.

Bevin is also well-known in the world of application development, as an enterprise Java expert, as one of the creators of the Gentoo Linux distribution and as a frequent speaker at app dev conferences.

This video comes from the overlapping ‘sweet spot’ of the Venn diagram of these two worlds. It captures a keynote Bevin gave on June 9th at the GeekOut conference in Estonia, From Arduino To LinnStrument.

In the presentation, Bevin demonstrates the basics of the LinnStrument and then dives deep into the technical details of both the instrument’s hardware and software. 

From Arduino To LinnStrument Summary:

LinnStrument is an expressive electronic musical instrument with five dimensions of touch sensing. It is built with open-source hardware, the Arduino Due and runs open-source firmware. There are hundreds of playing cells and multi-color LEDs, making it ideal to discover embedded Arduino development with concrete musical and visual results.

This session will introduce the Arduino development concepts, tie them back to the actual hardware, provide an overview of the main algorithms in the LinnStrument firmware that are responsible for the musical feel and explain valuable lessons that were learned during the development of the firmware.

10 thoughts on “From Arduino To LinnStrument

    1. Well it’s not about the CPU but more about the buttons, the case, ofc the development and also LED’s are expensive af. Like, I could code a Linnstrument MIDI Simulator for phones but that touchscreen stuff wouldn’t feel as nice as the original might feel. I could also buy buttons and LEDs, and then code a chip that takes care of distributing the signals but that would also look and feel shit.

      However, if they actually run it on Arduino, this, from a economic standpoint, seems very inefficient to me. I can’t think of much reasons other than update capabilities why anyone would drop an arduino in such a piece of hardware. You could get away with a device that costs much less than that.

      Anyway, I am not a fan of Linnstrument, I haven’t seen anyone making actual music with it yet except for some step sequencing demos that could’ve been made on a Launchpad as well but it is an interesting device – don’t understand why it’s so popular tho

      1. As a Linnstrument 128 owner, what makes it popular is that you could play a midi device (like a synth) with the benefits of the expressivity and layout of a violin-like (gamba) instrument. If used as intended, there might be many recordings (think TV and movies) where an MPE instrument was used and is likely no one would ever know!

      2. It’s true that Korg or Roland would have been able to sell this at a cheaper price if they had been the ones to develop it, but it was developed over years by Roger Linn’s very small company, and he’s submitted a patent on it, so we must accept that it costs what it costs. And it’s my understanding that Roger and Geert wanted to make the firmware on a familiar open-source platform so that it could be easily modified and updated by users. It’s rock solid and incredibly responsive.

        As for the idea that linnstrument is lacking musicality, I must say this could not be further from the truth. Do another search for linnstrument videos, and you’ll see the vast majority are extremely musical, and more so than any other midi keyboard/trigger/launcher out there. At first I thought the device was a bit of a gimmick, but the moment I first pressed my fingers down on it and moved them around I was converted, and by that I mean that things like midi keyboards (plastic on-off switches) and aftertouch just feel silly to me now. Even subtractive synthesis as a whole, with its envelopes and LFO modulations, is itself essentially just an antiquated attempt at mimicking the type of organic musical character you will get instantly with a linnstrument, especially when paired with a physical modeling synth like Sculpture. I know I sound crazy, but I’m tellin’ you it’s the future.

  1. For me it seems that some people don’t have an idea about the effort of coding and developing. Developing an app is much less work and risc than developing such an excellent peace of hardware.

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