Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

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Roger_Linn
KVRian
1029 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Post Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:17 am

deastman wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:50 pm
I’m definitely going to have to pick up the Audio Modeling instruments, which were all really impressive and a joy to play. I just have to decide which to get first- the strings collection or woodwinds collection!
The ones I use most are the Viola, Cello, and Soprano and Alto saxes. They're all excellent so I'd say it's a question of which instruments you like more.
deastman wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:50 pm
Have you found any Kontakt libraries which work particularly well?
I don't use Kontakt much and don't know it well. The Kontakt-based Sample Modeling horns have good expression but otherwise I couldn't figure out how to control realistic loudness or timbre control of standard sample libraries, so Kontakt seems better suited to MIDI keyboard control. Others who are more familiar with it will probably have more helpful comments.

Karbon L. Forms
KVRian
1029 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Inverness, Scotland

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:13 am

Absolutely fascinating stuff guys! Roger, if I had $1500, it would be yours. Sadly, that'll be no time soon.

This whole expression/MPE thing has re-ignited my musical side (which has helped my health). I'm originally a guitarist who got bored and now prefers synths... But I HATE the piano layout and the restrictions mentioned (on/off etc). The whole black/white key thing enrages me. (A lot of tradition/theory annoys me, a 'Major Third' is '4' to me.)

But having said that, I got a wee Roli Seaboard Block, which is ace, but yeah, olde worlde key layout. I partly got it just for the synths + discounts, as I have gotten spectacular mileage out of my custom Android touch-screen MPE App, which, in certain modes, is laid out like the LinnStrument. I obviously don't get true velocity, but that is handled in other ways along with pressure (It's by me, for me, so I can put dynamic modifier buttons etc (e.g switch Y axis to Pressure), where they suit me.). But the slides! Oh man, super wild fast 48st bends and full multi-touch, dragging chords about and bringing notes together like a unison bend on guitar!

Which brings me to my question... I can wild bend on my app for maybe a minute before my finger catches fire. How rough is the LinnStrument and how painful/flammable are fast crazy bends? Like up and down an octave at 4Hz or so?
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"Hell is other People" J.P.Sartre
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ilmai
KVRist
300 posts since 25 Aug, 2016 from Helsinki, Finland

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:36 pm

Got a chance to demo the LinnStrument today - thanks a lot Roger Linn for making it happen! - and I'm convinced now that I need one. Most notable observations based on an hour or two of getting to know the controller:
  1. It's about a quarter smaller than I thought based on pictures and video. That was a bit of a strange experience. It's not much larger than my Keystep.
  2. I was a bit afraid it would have a steep learning curve, but after only a few minutes I was tapping into my guitar muscle memory and playing a lot more expressively than I ever could on a piano keyboard.
  3. Chords take some getting used to.
  4. Playing slides in tune (even with hold quantize enabled) will take some practice.
  5. The biggest negative I had was how much configuration is needed (both on the controller and software/synth side) since it's not a traditional keyboard, which is the default for everything. Thankfully configuring was easy in Bitwig and u-he synths at least, and I didn't need to use a software editor to change settings on the LinnStrument.
  6. It's a bummer that you need to remember not to slide more than two half-steps with synths that don't have more pitch bend range. Not a fault in LinnStrument of course, but I stumbled on this all the time when playing such a synth.
  7. I'm probably not going to need a piano keyboard anymore when I get one.
Now to calculate when I can afford to buy one :D

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Roger_Linn
KVRian
1029 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:16 pm

Karbon L. Forms wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:13 am
How rough is the LinnStrument and how painful/flammable are fast crazy bends? Like up and down an octave at 4Hz or so?
The touch surface consists of a 1.5mm silicone rubber sheet with the 17mm square note pads raised an additional .5mm for a total of 2mm thickness, which will compress slightly under finger pressure. Between the 17mm square note pads is a 2mm-wide, .5mm-deep trough, just deep enough to feel where the notes are but easy to glide over during pitch slides. The silicone material is coated with a non-stick coating so fingers slide across with very little friction.

So playing LinnStrument takes little effort and is neither painful nor flammable. :)

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Roger_Linn
KVRian
1029 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:25 pm

ilmai wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:36 pm
The biggest negative I had was how much configuration is needed (both on the controller and software/synth side) since it's not a traditional keyboard, which is the default for everything. Thankfully configuring was easy in Bitwig and u-he synths at least, and I didn't need to use a software editor to change settings on the LinnStrument.
Yes, it's true that the preset sounds in most synths are optimized for MIDI keyboards and therefore need to be edited to take advantage of LinnStrument's pressure and X-axis. Or if you use an MPE synth like Equator or Cypher2, the only setup required to put LinnStrument into MPE mode, then select preset MPE sounds in those synths.
ilmai wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:36 pm
It's a bummer that you need to remember not to slide more than two half-steps with synths that don't have more pitch bend range. Not a fault in LinnStrument of course, but I stumbled on this all the time when playing such a synth.
That's only a limitation of your synth's preset, and LinnStrument's Bend Range is set to 2 semitones by default only so that it will immediately work with all keyboard-focused synth presets. However, all you need to do is to change the Bend Range in both your synth and LinnStrument to a higher number like 12 or 24 semitones, which isn't so difficult.

ilmai
KVRist
300 posts since 25 Aug, 2016 from Helsinki, Finland

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:36 pm

Roger_Linn wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:25 pm
That's only a limitation of your synth's preset, and LinnStrument's Bend Range is set to 2 semitones by default only so that it will immediately work with all keyboard-focused synth presets. However, all you need to do is to change the Bend Range in both your synth and LinnStrument to a higher number like 12 or 24 semitones, which isn't so difficult.
Yeah that was actually my bad, I thought my Analog Four only supported a PB range of +/- 2 semitones but the setting was just a bit hidden. So looks like I don't have any synths with a limited PB range after all.

Armagibbon
KVRian
695 posts since 20 Apr, 2017

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:57 pm

Got mine in today... damn beautiful thing feels real good 2... hard af to get the hang of but Im all keys here. Gonna check back in a couple days maybe when Im a lil less bad ahahaha... prolly gonna dye the wood cherry imo...
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Roger_Linn
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1029 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Tue Oct 30, 2018 3:24 pm

Armagibbon wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:57 pm
prolly gonna dye the wood cherry imo...
Thanks for buying a LinnStrument, Armagibbon. Someday if I ever have the time I'd like to offer the sides in alternate woods or stains than the standard cherry wood with polyurethane finish. If you do stain the wood, please post a photo on the forum for others to see. And in case you want to undo the staining, you can buy a replacement set of wood sides for $69 including postage to anywhere:
http://www.rogerlinndesignstore.com/LS- ... ides-l.htm

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Anderton
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30 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:46 am

It just occurred to me that we've talked a lot about playing notes, but it’s worth noting that this is an electronic controller, so there’s no need to limit it just to playing notes. There’s an arpeggiator where you can influence the arpeggiator expressively, which (in conjunction with swing) makes for a more organic and playable experience. There’s also a step sequencer that’s unlike anything you’ve ever played, because you can make each step expressive—as just one example, imagine step sequencing where you can alter the velocity and pitch bend on each step.

There’s also an ergonomic nod to those of you who dedicate a keyboard’s top or bottom octave to MIDI control. The lowest row of pads can be assigned to multiple functions—for example a modulation-like ribbon controller, sustain pedal, and more.

One really wild feature that pushes the MPE envelope is being able to split the pads into groups. This not only allows playing two different sounds—which admittedly is not that novel a concept—but you can finger notes on one split, then “strum” them on the other split. A split can also provide a “control surface” for real-time parameter control of sounds being made on the other split.

Fun stuff...the deeper I dig, the more I find.
The first 3 books in "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" series are available from Hal Leonard and http://www.reverb.com. Listen to my music on http://www.YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit http://www.craiganderton.com. Thanks!

deastman
KVRAF
6784 posts since 7 Aug, 2003 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:11 pm

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been practicing quite a bit with my LinnStrument, and making considerable progress. I’m quite comfortable with melodic lines now, and have been focusing a lot on learning chordal patterns. I’m getting pretty tired of playing in C Major, but I want those patterns to be well ingrained before branching out to other scales while maintaining the same lighting layout.

Some chords are definitely awkward to play with one hand, especially 7ths. They’re much easier with two hands in a sort of parallel diagonal arrangement. I can pretty much forget about playing two handed chords with eight notes in them, which is easy on a piano keyboard. That’s fine- every instrument has its limitations. I just need to mentally map the boundaries of what is possible and what is practical.

My latest practice has been to explore expressive gestures as an aspect of my musical vocabulary, to understand which gestures make sense to me in the context of different musical phrases. I suppose this is well-trodden territory for players of stringed instruments, but as primarily a pianist, they are less common. I’m talking about gestures such as sliding up to rest on a note, quick bends up and back down, sliding up a major third, when and how to use vibrato, and so on. I’m finding that I have much better control over these sorts of gestures on LinnStrument than I ever did in many years of semi-competent guitar playing.

I’ve mostly been playing Bitwig’s native Polysynth, doing my own expression mapping and figuring out what and how much to add timbral expression. Craig’s comments about the built-in arpeggiator and sequencer got me thinking though... I wonder what sorts of interesting modulations could be set up with the Bitwig equivalents? Mapping z-pressure to arpeggiator speed and y-timbral to octave range, for example. I’m going to have to experiment with some of those possibilities next!
Incomplete list of my gear: 110V AC to 12V DC 1.5A power supply (+ tip)

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Anderton
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30 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:36 am

deastman wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:11 pm
Some chords are definitely awkward to play with one hand, especially 7ths. They’re much easier with two hands in a sort of parallel diagonal arrangement. I can pretty much forget about playing two handed chords with eight notes in them, which is easy on a piano keyboard. That’s fine- every instrument has its limitations. I just need to mentally map the boundaries of what is possible and what is practical.
I was initially more interested in the LinnStrument for playing solos than chords. I can play keyboard, I can play rhythm guitar, so I'm good for chords. But playing synth solos on keyboard always felt limiting.

It took me awhile to get used to using both hands, rather than using my right hand to play notes and my left hand to work the mod wheel and pitch bend. For example with the LinnStrument, to slide up to a note I didn’t have to move the pitch wheel back, hit a note, and then rotate the pitch wheel forward; I can just hit a pad a couple semitones below the target note, and slide to the right along the row of pads (assuming, of course, that I’d set the synth's pitch bend range to +/- an octave).

Roger Linn has often said that he feels electronic instruments have more or less eliminated the concept of the instrumental solo in electronically-generated tracks. While you can debate that, there really hasn’t all been much progress since Jan Hammer got guitar envy with his Minimoog. When synths have been used for solos, they tend to be more along the lines of single-note instruments like sax, because for any kind of expressiveness, you needed to dedicate a hand to the wheels or levers, while the other hand played the notes. To me, one of the biggest advantages of the LinnStrument over conventional keyboards is that you can now use both hands to play and add expressiveness to solo lines, because you don't need to anchor your left hand to the wheels/levers.
The first 3 books in "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" series are available from Hal Leonard and http://www.reverb.com. Listen to my music on http://www.YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit http://www.craiganderton.com. Thanks!

tapper mike
KVRAF
4800 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:58 pm

I enjoy working out two hand chord arrangements on the linnstrument.

That being said... If you shift your sensibilities and your wrist approach more chords become apparent.

Jeff Moen has a great comping style watch how he'll shift the wrist ever so slightly so that the fingers are either behind (left of) or ahead (right of) the thumb.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaDHegfGpsw

I know that it can be a challenge working out left hand technique at first as your fingers kind of move in the opposite direction from what they would on the guitar. But that is only as temporary as you are willing to commit yourself to playing things through.

As for me the thing that got me into playing "grid" style music was... Johnny Smith (the guitarist) I could never do those long stretches he pulls off on the guitar in "standard" playing style. First ztars and now the linnstrument help me to achieve that type of chord melody harmonization. To me it doesn't matter which hand handles a particular note so long as it's realized.

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Anderton
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30 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:39 pm

I think one of the things going through anyone's mind who's reading this is whether it's worth learning a new instrument since this isn't a toy, or a “let’s push the buttons and make sounds!” kind of controller. It’s a real instrument, with real capabilities. As such, it’s quite easy to find your way around initially and the barrier to entry is low (e.g., you don’t have to build up callouses like a guitar). And the $999 price is certainly reasonable, given the LinnStrument’s custom and precise nature. However, like any instrument, becoming a true virtuoso takes effort.

If you play virtual instruments, then those efforts will be rewarded if the synths themselves are up to the task. For example, some synths that respond to “polyphonic aftertouch” do indeed respond to it, but convert it into something more like channel aftertouch. Very few instruments have release velocity, which the LinnStrument can generate predictably. That said, even today’s “standard” instruments can benefit from the five modes of expression, although you may need to dig into how to assign parameters to controllers.

After playing with the LinnStrument for an extended period, I’m definitely getting better at it. Because I can play guitar and keyboards, those still get the “first call” for a lot of music. However, for solo synth work, the LinnStrument is hands-down better than conventional keyboards. Sure, I can “overdub” expressiveness with those keyboards, but is that really expressiveness compared to real-time playing that reacts to the music? And even if it is—which I doubt—with the LinnStrument, that expressiveness is spontaneous. I suspect that as useful as the LinnStrument is in the studio, its main adoption will be for live performance, and then filter into the studio as people do recordings of their performances.
The first 3 books in "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" series are available from Hal Leonard and http://www.reverb.com. Listen to my music on http://www.YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit http://www.craiganderton.com. Thanks!

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