LinnStrumentalists' Log

This is a thread dedicated for LinnStrumentalists who are interested in measuring their musical progress on the LinnStrument (128) as log entries.

I had to cut my session length in half to 1 hours and 30 minutes due to the hot weather, so I will follow it up with a 3-hour session tomorrow. Here is what I accomplished today:

  • I started using the Peterson StroboPLUS HDC and its matching Body Beat Vibe Clip as a haptic metronome (100 BPM).
  • I improvised with both hands simultaneously using the metronome as a reference, playing freeform as well as over covers.
  • I learned about a trick to slide 2 fingers with the right hand using the tritone column for minor/major sixth intervals.
  • I tried using the row spacers and pan head screws as references to positions on the LinnStrument (with the LEDs off), but it is unreliable because my hands are angled like hooks, therefore physical contact with either is limited. Only the row spacers have further potential for frequent usage.

Next session(s) I will keep the tempo at 100 BPM until my performances are more consistent, then slowly increase sequentially by 10 BPM up until a cap of 160 BPM.

Today was another half-session because I felt some fatigue early on, so I will continue again tomorrow. I have a minimum standard of 9-12 hours per week for the LinnStrument, so I am still on track for my personal quota.

Here is what I accomplished today:

  • I continued to use the haptic metronome at 100 BPM. I also experimented with 90 BPM, but it was not as challenging.
  • I continued to play both hands simultaneously, but learned I suffer from option paralysis when playing chords. This issue does not exist with my right hand, since I have a very clear idea of what pitch to play for the lead at any point in time.
  • I started polyphonically sliding chords more rapidly using various interval alterations. It sounds good, but requires more practice to bring it to a subconscious process, and partly why I experienced more option paralysis than usual today. Still a worthwhile tradeoff for the short-term.

For the next session I will simplify seventh chords played with the left hand to stacked thirds. Once I am fluent with them I will start adding the various chord degree alterations, then modal interchange/substitutions, then slowly increase the tempo as previously mentioned.

My session was two hours today, so tomorrow I will carry over the last hour as an extra session.

Here is what I accomplished today:

  • I changed my split configurations so that it works better for the wider chord shapes and voicings I use frequently.
  • I spent most of my time focusing on challenging myself to remember the nine common seventh chords in my Quick Reference document by transitioning between them all over the diatonic scale with the new split configuration.
    • My right hand also had to relearn the new split boundaries, but it is far more intuitive so there was not much effort involved.
    • I did not use the metronome today because of the effort I spent with the new splits.

Next session will be ironing out the nine common seventh chords, then start adding the uncommon, rare, and exotic seventh chords in sequential order. This will significantly enrich my tonal palette.

I had a session longer than one hour today to fulfill my weekly goal. Here is what I accomplished today:

  • I focused on learning and using the uncommon chords in my Quick Reference document.
    • My familiarity of the common seventh chords is acceptable now for live performance.
  • I put effort timing chords and melodies together with the metronome, but they are not fully synchronized just yet.

My weekly hourly goal is reset tomorrow. I will continue memorizing the uncommon chords in the next session, which could be either on Sunday or Monday.

My session today was 1 hour and 45 minutes, so I will fulfill the remaining session time tomorrow. Here is what I accomplished today:

  • I created a custom scale layout for both splits. Each sequential column is coloured cyan, blue and green, which represents tonic, dominant, and predominant respectively. There is now no longer any colour change for played notes.
    • Each split still retains its own settings, so only the Split button shows any indication of both splits being active, even though visually it does not appear to be so.
  • I remapped some common and uncommon chords to their respective columns to memorize their valid placements.
    • I started modulating keys due to this, so I am making some progress with translating that aspect of my piano/keyboard skills.
  • I practiced playing both hands simultaneously again, and my right hand seems to have memorized interval patterns and scale shapes, so my training has paid off.

Tomorrow I will continue with remapping common and uncommon chords from my Quick Reference document to their respective columns, and continue with the rare and exotic chords thereafter. I will supplement them with eligible scales once I have fully internalized “all” 36.

My session was cut short today, and I will not be able to continue them due to other higher priorities that need my full attention for the immediate future. That being said, here is what I accomplished today:

  • I focused on sliding common, uncommon, and rare polyphonic chords from my Quick Reference document into each other with my left hand.
  • I continued to play with both hands simultaneously, and my synchonization between them is improving rapidly. There is still plenty of potential to automate either/both hands by muscle memory.

I will continue log entries once my higher priorities have been addressed.

Most of my higher priorities have been given the time and attention needed by them, so now I can slowly move back to ramping up logging LinnStrument entries again. I will be reducing the pacing for now to keep it more sustainable with my other concurrent projects.

Here is what I accomplished today:

  • I explored all of the foot pedal settings available on the LinnStrument, but I have yet to decide on a purpose for either the left or right pedals.
    • The valid options are:
      Sustain, Octave Down, Octave Up, Legato, Preset +, Preset -, and Pitch on/off.
      • The Octave Down/Up, Preset +/-, Pitch on/off, and Alt Split have bugs, so I need to report them to Roger.

I cannot seem to use Preset +/- the way I want with Surge XT, because the values are mapped and defined to non-MPE factory patches, so I will have to wait until I acquire the Anyma Omega this December 2023 to properly test it.

I originally used Octave Down for the left pedal, and Octave Up for the right pedal, but I just realized they are not implemented properly with the foot pedals, so I need to report them to Roger. They are toggle when they should be momentary.

I had a more loose, fun, productive, and long session today:

  • I decided on what each foot switch does, and practiced with and without them.
    • The left foot switch is legato.
    • The right foot switch is sustain.
    • The button switches are unassigned.
  • I played with both hands simultaneously and separately.
    • Simultaneous is still difficult, but playing each of them in succession like a call and response is fine.
    • Separate was much better and improved:
      • My left hand is getting more familiar with chord shape options, and can sometimes make intuitive guesses to the next intended chord shape, so I am not as dependent on my tritone resources anymore.
      • My right hand has very good pitch accuracy now against my intended note pitch, so next session I will start regularly using two fingers instead of just one.

I will still continue playing with the LinnStrument for a while longer today to figure out if I truly want a split or not, and make a comment about it next session.

I spent many hours today translating my piano skills to the LinnStrument:

  • I practiced playing a handful of mini licks/patterns with my right hand. There are multiple, but I focused on identifying my “signatures/hallmarks” so that they eventually become second nature over the course of several sessions.
  • I practiced using syncopation between both hands using my piano skills as a reference, although they are far too complex and fast so I need to slowly break them down. This will take some serious effort to truly replicate on the LinnStrument.
  • I did not use the splits, as I learned I hardly use more than four octaves.

I had to break my vow of never playing the piano/keyboard in order to gain the insight necessary to progress with translating my skills. Once I have fully transitioned everything to the LinnStrument, I will renew my vow and commit to the LinnStrument unless another MPE hardware controller challenges it.

As a proficient pianist, perhaps the Osmose could challenge the Linnstrument as an MPE hardware controller for you (with the bonus of a fabulous synth engine built in).

It cannot. I use Linux and have a strict gratis and libre open-source software workflow, so the Osmose is unusable. The only other MPE hardware controller candidate meeting my strict criteria while having active support from the parent company is the Striso, but it is designed and biased for the right hand, whereas I am left-handed, so clearly it is not meant for me.

I have played the piano/keyboard for over 15 years, but I became very frustrated with its design limitations and action, among many surrounding cultural reasons. I wanted a keyless, flat surface for instantaneous feedback, so the options I considered way back then was the Continuum, Soundplane, and LinnStrument. Out of the three, only the LinnStrument has plug-and-play Linux compatibility, and the firmware is technically gratis and libre open-source software.

After some time with the LinnStrument, I made a vow to never play the piano/keyboard again, but it was a short-sighted promise because one of my major musical goals is translating my piano/keyboard skills to the LinnStrument. As mentioned in my latest log entry, I broke my vow in order to truly make headway towards this objective, so will reaffirm my vow later in the future when I have fully completed my transition.

yeah, the keyboard form factor is a double edged sword.
one side many love it, as it allows you to utilise existing skills.
on the other its, not a perfect form factor for expressivity… (no slides, action etc)

it depends where your priorities lie - do you want to learn a new instrument? or just make music?
so theres not one correct answer.

but its great we now have the Osmose as an option, as its excels at what it does.
many avoided expressive controllers as they didn’t want to have to re-learn an instrument.
opening up this area to more, will bring us all benefits of wider adoption.

btw: if you are already proficient with piano, the Osmose is a good second expressive instrument.
this was it attraction to me… I can use it on its own, or use the Eagan Matrix with my other MPE controllers.
(of course, this assumes you like the Eagan Matrix, which is a big assumption … its not for everyone!)

as for open source … not sure (as an open source dev) I buy that one…

its usb class compliant mpe device , so works fine with linux.
sure the editor is written in max, that means its ‘source code’ actually is openly readable - this means the underlying protocol is actually ‘available’ to devs :wink:
but of course, you need to run the (free) max runtime, I guess, you could use Wine if you use linux.

as for firmware ‘open source’
thats easy for the Linnstrument, its a midi controller, basically running a small mcu… so the toolchain is freely available, used by thousands of devs from hobbyist to pro.

the Osmose is much more complex…
the Haken Engine is based on SHARC DSP, this is a much more complex beast, that few would know how to code… or have the toolchain for.
I’ll grant the MCU for keyboard/display could be the open sourced, but frankly, that doesn’t need more functionality… its just an interface to the Haken Engine.
really we should just have the expectation that it works bug free… a black box that works doesnt need tinkering.

I guess, at the end of the day… as a developer, Im pragmatic to open source.
it has its applications, but I don’t believe everything has to be, or even should be open source… its just one model… forcing it on everything would ultimately have some detrimental effects on software/ product development.

also… take a look at GitHub stats on open source projects, particularly… number of abandoned projects, and the number of projects with only one (original) contributor… its no panacea for the ills of software development.


I mainly only use gratis and libre open-source software due to my high-security practices, and have to carefully audit everything I interact with. While using it often leads to a longer product lifetime, this is merely an accidental afterthought of my consequences, and not necessarily a requirement. Increasing my attack surface by using WINE just to run proprietary software such as Max is unacceptable. I also cannot agree to an EULA and/or create unnecessary accounts just to use the software, as that exacerbates my digital identity management even further.

This is the main reason why I am putting so much effort into separating my laptop from the rest of the music setup, as it is easier to manage my public identity when everything is compartmentalized to explicit purposes. Even if I successfully do so, I still need to maintain backwards-compatibility so that later on in the future, I can demonstrate my LinnStrument proficiency to others, particularly Roger, using Jitsi Meet. This means that other accompanying hardware, such as audio interfaces, microphones, cameras, and so on, must also fully abide to my strict requirements too. Due to my need for safety, there is no room for negotiation on this matter.

fair enough… we all have different needs :slight_smile:
if open source / linnstrument suits your needs thats all that matters.

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Over the last few days, I have been trying to figure out how to best approach this piano-to-LinnStrument translation. Here are the ideas I currently have:

  1. Figure out a libre and gratis open-source software workflow that supports the LinnStrument Light Guide. Not much progress made for this after a few hours of researching already.
  2. Record some piano playing to Ardour with Surge XT, then figure out how to send the MIDI data back to the LinnStrument to use as a guide. Most likely to be possible.
  3. Record some piano playing to Ardour with Surge XT, then manually and meticulously remap the MIDI as a “beatmap chart”. Labour-intensive but the most useful out of the three since I can accomodate my finger playing methods, but each hand will need to be memorized separately, then together.

I spent a few hours today putting work into exploring the options mentioned in my prior post. Here is what I accomplished this session:

  • I recorded some MIDI from my piano playing into Ardour using Surge XT, so I have a reference point.
  • After extensive reading in both the Ardour manual and their Discourse forums, I cannot figure out how to send MIDI Note On/Off values to the LinnStrument. There is also very little mention of virtual MIDI loopback devices.

Based on this current situation, I am inclined to follow option 3. That means I will need to manually transnotate my piano performance. My MIDI recording is approximately one minute and thirty seconds, but due to the density I will need to separate it into three sections in order to keep my progress manageable.

Curious, what workflow do you have in mind overall?

I’m also wondering about this. Btw. if you find out how to get MIDI loopback devices working, that would make it much easier. The LinnStrument Light Guide can also forward some MIDI devices.

What I had in mind is to use your regular DAW as note input and send that to the light guide MIDI loopback device. Then the light-guide app will take that as light-guide input and the LinnStrument as note input. It forwards the incoming MIDI to another loopback device, which is then your “instrument input” in your DAW, using your VSTi of choice.

If you cannot find a software solution for MIDI loopback devices, you could consider using hardware MIDI devices and just use a cable as a loop. Also, I’m not sure if you use MIDI in the browser, it will actually block the MIDI device from being used elsewhere. This might depend on your browser and OS.

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Welcome to Poly Expression Simon, it is an honour to have you here from KVR Audio.

Ardour and Surge XT are the two whitelisted music software applications I use, which are both cross-platform while under a gratis and libre open-source license. Any further software must also meet the same criteria and manually audited by me before I can even consider it as an inclusion into my workflow. Note that while the LinnStrument Light Guide’s Github repository does not have a LICENSE file, I can easily read and mirror the code to satisfy my security requirements.

I attempted to research further into this for both external software and internally within Ardour, but came up with nothing that satisfies my criteria. I cannot justify acquiring hardware for this task unless it fully separates my laptop from my music setup, which it clearly does not. For music purposes, I use Firefox ESR and PureOS 10.3, which is a Debian-derivative. I use a live image on a USB drive so that it does not affect the rest of my laptop’s configuration.

At this current point in time, I am more likely to transcribe by ear live then to manually edit MIDI using Ardour, which I already know from previous experience as unintuitive. I have developed many years of ear training experience long before I ever came across the LinnStrument, so if there is ever any struggle, then I can simply read from Ardour’s piano roll as a secondary method.

Thanks for the welcome!

Oh, that’s an oversight. I’ll add a MIT license file to it today.

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