The piano's note arrangement works well for piano music, but its uneven pitch intervals and rear-positioned black keys make it ill-suited for performing natural pitch bends, slides and other pitch gestures, important elements of expressive performance.
Stringed instruments don't have this problem because the semitones are uniformly spaced.
So LinnStrument's notes are arranged as on any stringed instrument
. Each row is a series of consecutive semitones, so bends and pitch slides are simple and intuitive: play a note, slide left or right to the destination note, then wiggle it for vibrato.
You can tune the rows like a guitar, violin or however you wish. By default they are tuned in musical fourths (five semitones), like a bass guitar with 8 strings. This note arrangement is called the 4ths String Layout
and is fast becoming a new standard for expressive musical control, used in Ableton Push, Roli's LightPad Block, a variety of iPad apps and now over 4600 LinnStruments sold
To make it easy to find the right notes, the scale notes are lit, with all the C note pads lit in a different color and having a Braille-size bump for tactile feedback. Alternatively, you can light any scale and in any of 10 colors.
The Fourths String Layout has other advantages over the piano keyboard:
1) It's isomorphic, meaning that the same chord or scale fingering works in all musical keys.
2) There are multiple instances of each pitch, permitting solo and accompaniment play in the same pitch range, and a variety of fingerings for each chord or scale.
3) 5 octaves (on the large model) fit in a playing surface that's only 18.7 inches (475 mm) wide.
Or if you're a piano keyboard player, do what many LinnStrument players do: place LinnStrument behind your keyboard for expressive solo performance with your right hand. More: About piano vs. string note layout