Roger Linn Previews New Instrument Concept

LinnStrument is based on a multi-touch, pressure-sensitive, high-resolution USB touch surface      17/05/10
Roger Linn has announced a new research project: LinnStrument -- A New Musical Instrument Concept. Here's what he has to say...
If you've read my (Roger's) New Musical Instruments page, you know that I'm interested in the idea of new musical instruments that overcome the limitations of traditional mechanical instruments. My particular interest is in a new instrument that while capable of entirely new sounds and playing techniques, is also able to reproduce the sounds, virtuosic performance capabilities and subtleties that we've come to know and love from traditional musical instruments, but without all their problems and limitations. I've come up with a prototype of an instrument design that I like. Here's a brief video of what I've got so far: The prototype consists of a multi-touch, pressure-sensitive, high-resolution USB touch surface from a company called TouchCo (details below), plus a Max/MSP patch written by me and my wife Ingrid, and an OSC/TUIO driver written by a friend and fellow music/art/technology enthusiast named Tim Thompson. And here's a rendering I made of what it might look like as a finished product (click it to see a high-resolution picture):

This design uses a fingerboard grid consisting of 6 rows of 24 semitones each, similar to a guitar. It also has two thumb control strips, one on each side of the fingerboard, to be used for sustaining fingered notes after release, strumming, bowing, blowing or restriking, and also has a wind sensor for added expression. (Ignore the 4 long, thin bars on each side; they were to be used as separate palm-actuated sustain bars, but I've decided that the two thumb strips work better for this.) This design is intended to be played from either of two positions:
  • 1) On a table, with both hands playing from one side and using only one thumb control strip for both thumbs. Because note expression is controlled by subtle changes in finger pressure, the table provides the necessary resistance to that pressure.
  • 2) On your chest vertically, with one hand playing from each side of the instrument. In this case, the left thumb control strip is used by the left thumb and the right thumb control strip is used by the right thumb. Because note expression is controlled by subtle changes in finger pressure, your body provides the necessary resistance to that pressure. This position conveniently places the wind sensor close to the mouth.
In an effort to continue my silly tradition of product titles containing my last name, I think I might call this "LinnStrument".
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10 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Marc JX8P    Said...

Seems quite similar to the Eigenharp controllers, although that might not be a bad thing: after all, there are plenty of companies selling slightly different types of keyboard based controllers. I'd be interested to see how it compares in functionality and pricing.

17-May-10 09:03 AM

Prophet 2010    Said...

how about finishing the Linn Drum 2???

17-May-10 11:53 AM

waitingForLinnDumII    Said...

Finish the bloody Linn Drum II! Pretty please, please with bells on ... ah go on ... please ... ?

17-May-10 03:24 PM

Phil    Said...

Is it just me or did Lippold Haken already make this instrument?

17-May-10 08:19 PM

just a synth guy with a dream    Said...

how about making something the average person, old and young could appreciate and afford. Max/MSP, OSC, are great but what about just plain FUN? isnt there a market for that anymore?

17-May-10 09:29 PM

oh no not again!    Said...

Seriously?! Another matrix-programmer??? if the monome, akai mpc/ apc, and tenori on aren't enough?? How about something that works without different third party software programs to run? ever heard of plug and play?

17-May-10 09:41 PM

Marc JX8P    Said...

Having seen the video a little better this does seem to offer a different functionality than the Eigenharp products and if they can get a good price point by finding a cheap multitouch surface, this just may find a hole in the market. I was really impressed with the vibrato and slides. Having said this: you have to wonder how this would be different from an iPad app that would have this functionality.

18-May-10 06:11 AM

JesseJ    Said...

I see that layer of multitouch on top of an iPad. That's the immediate future of things to me...

18-May-10 09:13 AM

JesseJ    Said...

..aaand with "multitouch" I obviously mean polyphonic aftertouch!

18-May-10 09:14 AM

Dolphono    Said...

I would love a Linn pad controller for RMV vst.

18-May-10 08:34 PM

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