Using Linnstrument as a Grid?

Has anyone around here tried getting grid apps to run nicely using a Linnstrument?

Obviously it’d be a great paring down of the Linnstruments capabilities in terms of expression, but the thought of using mlr or block party on 8x16 of the Linnstrument, and using the rest of its grid for various controls seems intriguing to me.

Especially when thinking about how something like mlr or block party could be modified to handle the variable pressure and interpolated position changes (adding features that appear in the Samplr iOS app, for instance)…

Anyone else given this sort of thing any thought?

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Pretty sure it would require custom firmware. My understanding is that the stock firmware doesn’t allow for decoupled interaction (lights independent from button presses).

ah, that’s a pretty clutch distinction. I’d guess that it also doesn’t do anything like varibright, though it might be work-around-able with the multiple colors?

That’s correct, r, g, or b, full on or full off, in the stock firmware.

But hey, it’s arduino code. Could probably come up with varibright behavior with some PWM?

Thing is, if I had a linnstrument I would be too busy playing it to get around to hacking it’s firmware. And I’m not likely to afford a spare in the near future.

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:smile: of course

depending on the circuitry, i don’t expect that PWMing that many LEDs will work well (if the older grids are any indication, the flickering will make it unusable)

But yeah, getting this all to happen looks like a substantial undertaking in terms of firmware engineering, and in terms of figuring out how to best interface it with the computer… An expensive endeavor on all accounts

Linnstrument has a user firmware mode made for just this kind of purpose:

You can’t control the brightness of LEDs, but they can be set to one of 7 colors via CC messages. See bottom of here:


Oh wow, I hadn’t seen these files.

This does make it look like it’d be possible to write a midi-to-OSC shim to use it with grid apps…

If anybody ever got around to all this, it would add another order of magnitude to my desire to own a Linnstrument.

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I’m currently contemplating getting a Linnstrument and having a “monome more” in it would definitely push me over the edge.
Is anybody aware of new developments towards this since the thread was started a year ago?
Appreciate any pointers.

I think there is space for something like a Monome Grid but with more expressive interactivity/playability. Something that allows for open, decoupled, software-configureable sequencing and control but also has the feel of a “real” musical instrument. Maybe we can start with adding OSC support to the Linnstrument. At least that way one would have greater resolution than with MIDI and you can configure its mappings in Max for example.

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I wonder if we could lure Geert over here?

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I’m not thrilled with user mode for my goals (too many compromises re: sliding between keys), but it’s good for this. If someone made a container app, the full sized model could represent a 64 and a 128, or three separate 64’s, with one column left over for page switching between those.

That said, it’s always more interesting to rebuild apps, optimized for the target platform, than to emulate a grid somewhere else.

Worth mentioning, it’s one of the best controllers I’ve found in terms of pressure sensitivity without having to press very hard.

(I don’t know if the files are still floating around anywhere, but I helped someone add pressure sensitivity to an Ableton Push port of polygome a while back. Very simple hack – your current pressure reading influences the velocity of generated notes. It added a lot. Great fun to play with.)

I think an extra wide version of Press Cafe (three octaves in scale mode, two octaves chromatic), with velocity based on individual key pressure, would be a fantastic use for the Linnstrument…


(Someone posted a custom firmware in the early days before user mode, whose only difference was that it output a pair of CCs to identify grid coordinates for the keys you press. That’s basically all that was missing to make it seamlessly blend between a grid controller and an extremely playable instrument, with no compromise between the two. Roger and Geert didn’t want it to veer from expected MIDI standards, though, and suggestions like “what if you just disabled that feature by default” didn’t sway them. They made user mode instead, which I kinda hate. Haven’t used mine nearly as much since.)

well… thanks for the new quest.

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Hello. So I’ve got Linnstrument 128, which I love to death. Which is a grid of 128 touch pads with leds underneath.
I’m thinking - is there a way to adapt monome grid sequencers to it, where would I even start with that?

There’s an old (2018 old!) discussion sort-of along those lines here: Using Linnstrument as a Grid?

The conclusion at the time seems to have been that the Linnstrument’s User Mode might be worth exploring, but in general terms (if I read it right) the pads aren’t decoupled from their LEDs like a monome grid which presents its own set of challenges.

That said, what an interesting opportunity… I’ve looked at the Linnstruments for years but can’t quite justify it.

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Yeah, I guess that’s just too much work. Linnstrument’s own sequencer is kinda fun, too, but I feel that those 128 pads could be used better than 8 step sequencer with multiply pages.

there are several possible options:

use the User Mode

you could modify existing apps to send/receive MIDI to process presses and update LEDs (the pads aren’t coupled with LEDs as far as i remember). i’ve tried that, and in my experiments updating the whole grid was slow, so you have to optimize rendering (most monome grid apps will render the whole grid on timer), but even then you might still run into performance issues when too many LEDs need to be updated. here is an example of using this option (done using enigma, a device @okyeron and i are prototyping, in this example it just updates LEDs on linnstrument, presses not processed).

mod the linnstrument firmware to support monome osc protocol

this might be a more usable approach. the benefit would be that in theory you could use it with any existing monome app / hardware without modifying it and it would just work. 2 things to consider: you only get 12 colours on linnstrument (not sure if there is a way to mod this) so you’d need to think of a way to translate 16 levels to 12 colours (a lot of apps don’t use all 16 anyway). and: you don’t take advantage of pressure etc. so it’s just a big colourful grid.

port apps to the linnstrument firmware

i think this is really the way to go. it means you don’t need any other hardware - the apps are running on linnstrument itself. and you could modify them to take advantage of the extra expressiveness. this does mean more work but it’s definitely a feasible option. i tried it by modding the user mode to run my own app, a version of conway’s game of life, and it was pretty straight forward to add. a couple of examples of it in action: 1 2. i should add a disclaimer that there are warnings about possibly bricking your linnstrument, so if you decide to try my version make sure you know what you’re doing!!


Thank you so much! Unfortunately I’m not a programmer, so porting the apps is way out of my league. Pretty cool examples, tho)

Yeah I think this would be amazing if possible