MPE: MIDI Polyphonic Expression

Yeah, i’m waiting on mine as well, kinda concerned with the lack of any updates the last month.

I’m using the Linnstrument 128 if anyone needs a tester :smile:


Love to hear a :face_with_monocle:

Thanks for getting everything together in one spot!

I hope now that @jofemodo has a roli block we can delve into this deeper.

Also I am working on a custom layout for roli block lightpad that allows for editing settings with midi or on the device itself, like i did with the Freeboard “firmware” a while ago.

I still have to put the overlay (I’m too lazy) but if you (or anyone around here) got a seaboard block I am willing to use that as an excuse and finally polish that Readme and code. It is useable tho, as it is.


I have one Roli Lumi right now, and two more on the way for a total of 72 keys. Won’t really get to see the full abilities of the keyboard though until late January when Roli push the next firmware that adds 4D. So right now I’m only able to get the benefits of polyphonic aftertouch, which to be honest is brilliant.

As far as connecting the one I do have to the Zynthian, I’ve really only used it with Linux Sampler so far as that’s my main onboard synth when it comes to the Zynthian’s I have. Connectivity is simply plug and play. The Zynthian sees it as a midi controller without any fuss.



I’m also very interested on MPE layers. Especially for Pure Data (a layer like the mod layer, with all channels in/out) and Surge.

To be more precise, I’m working on a digital orchestra project. We planned to setup all the things this month. For this purpose, we have some MPE interfaces, like seaboard, linnstrument, soundplane, continuumini, etc.

But I’m also creating kind of « fake MPE interfaces » by aggregating several monophonic interfaces (like Aerophones) with iConnectivity midi interfaces. In this setup, all the instruments (around 25) are in the midi network and goes to 10 headless raspberries (so, one raspi for 1 to 4 instruments, each one a specific midi channel, excepting real MPE interfaces).

And there’s also a conductor that is going to control all the raspi with program changes, specific and global panic, off, etc. (probably via an ipad and mobmuplat). So the wonderful work that you did with Zynthian (we already own a Zynthian V2 kit) seems perfect for that.

For all this, we are going to use Pure Data to precisely filter, scale and map the data (mostly thanks to the pure mapping library which is really powerful).

So, the possibility to have multi midi channels in/out in Pure Data (and Surge) should be really great for us :wink: And of course I’m on for testing if it’s necessary ^^

@Pastitas I’m interested on your custom layout for lightpad as we have four of them (especially for automatically changing settings by MIDI via presets embedded in Pure Data). I also had to test the freeboard blocks firmware in this sens.

Lots of work in perspective for this new year :slight_smile:

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I have a Linnstrument 128, a ContinuuMini, a Roli Seaboard Block and a Sensel Morph. I confess to being a bit MPE-obsessed. :slight_smile:

They indeed are the most expressive electronic instruments I ever laid my hands on, easily rivaling acoustic instruments.

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Another very cool MPE controller you might want to check out (and it’s locally built !)

and the new cheaper version

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Roger Linn has zynthian on a list of MPE capable synths, however I find no hits in “MPE” search of wiki. This is of special interest to me, I have a v4.6 kit and two weeks ago my 2019 Osmose order arrived. I won’t waste my feeble words, here is the best explanation of why MPE is an equal or greater keyboard innovation than the forte-action introduction circa 1700:

In short, the wiggle is the least of it. The primary vertical keyboard axis behaves like a dial, not a switch, velocity sensitive and very high resolution in both directions. No other classical keyboard comes close to the control you have over voices alone and polyphonically. Play a STAB chorale, you feel the choir breathing. I did not anticipate this, and it’s not possible to grasp without some time on such a keyboard. Bach was unimpressed with the forte at first. Osmose is only the first MPE “keyboard” there will be many more. “New” instruments, like the Roli, Linnstrument, Continuum, tend to niche, for better or worse.

The Aeolus configured for MPE would be wonderful. Obviously it is not historically consistent, but I very much doubt any 18th century organist would reject the new expression for that reason, given the opportunity. Innovation was constant in Organ development, with wide variety in all periods, as was tradition. I revere both.

Osmose comes with a fantastic physical modeling synth, but it’s not fast to learn. Could anyone bring me up to speed on MPE in Zynthian as of spring 2023?

Thanks so much :slight_smile:


Ok, two things.

  1. Roger Linn is aware of Zynthian, WAT?

  2. Zynthian is a loose federation of synth plugins. Only a small set of them support MPE, I’m aware of two, Surge and ZynAddSubFx. Although MPE could be added to other plugins like Aeolus you’d need to go and petition the upstream developer.


The Linnstrument is open source and I believe Arduino based, in case you want to see how some MPE stuff works-[is generated].

Here is the link to GitHub page:


@ Baggypanys and Tunagenes Thank You!
The flavor of Surge in Zynthian does MPE? And ZynAddSubFx? I’m trying to think how to configure X, Y and Z…
Maybe I need to use another rig to make presets then bring them in…what linux flavors should I consider these days, and could anyone tell me the versions of Surge and ZynAddSub… I should load for compatablity with latest Zynthian (I have 4.6 kit) Thanks so much.

I have old laptops lying around I could re-deploy…

Linn is a big fan of Surge XT right now:

This is the [MPE full specification](

I get an error message in ‘xml’ format when I click on that link:
Request has expired

I think I can get the MPE spec directly, just wanted to let you-others know.

Hi Uhoh,

Nice to read, every now and then, a contribution to the Zynthian forum from the specific angle of classical music, which I also hold as one of my main fields of interest.

Indeed, I too am considering the idea of getting an Osmose keyboard one day, for its apparent capability to highlight the linear individuality of each musical line, especially in contrapuntal constructs like vocal polyphony and instrumental concertatos.

Until now, the prevailing focus of MPE technology seems to have been a kind of music-making essentially diverging from the twelve-tone inherent substructure of Western repertoire, be it a sort of Indian Raga on a Linnstrument or an ambient improvisation on a Roli Seaboard. Such potential avoidance of the tonal/modal framework can be a good or a bad premise, depending on one’s aesthetic standpoint and objectives.

The Osmose, while apparently advertised for the same kind of musical forays as its Roli and Linn siblings, seems actually more suitable for revisiting classical and modern music in an innovative electronic vein, either in performance or compositional contexts.

6 mounth of use :slight_smile:


Thank You :slight_smile: We have much new scholarship, and a full blown revival of historic improvisation techniques, “partimento”, and Bach’s closely related pedagogy, where the “roman numerals” we use on lead sheets are useless, counter-productive in fact. We know also “well-tempered” is not “equal tempered”: a compromise well known but rejected at the time as dull. You can’t hear Bach in equal temperament, but it’s nice anyway. The pure thirds, strained 5ths and “breakup” in distant keys playing 1/4 comma meantone present a vivacious harmonic environment which is learned and appreciated with exposure. Iron-frame pianos are very hard to tune this way. Increasingly the incredible harpsichord performances on YT present as much of this as speaker technology can manage. To get past that bottleneck, I have a “Pryamide” coming from France:

But I’m also looking for a real harpsichord, which is very tricky as bad copies abound. Osmose takes the “keyboard” layout and general characteristics, and adds “actions” more useful for a synthesizer, which has been held back by “forte-think”. The result, I hope, is a more flexible way of making sound, which can play a part in traditional revivals, and also push into novel soundscape. Schoenberg? Well, turn on the radio. No sign of him. LOL, or Stockhausen. That obsolete tonal harmony? Everywhere. The out of sync evolving riffs live on in Eurorack…but they sound best to the invested; increasingly quantized to…harmonies. I have sequencers…but the time to get them working to interesting effect…not yet.

@Wapata…entertaining, but misleading video…the wiggle is the least of the Osmose. The new “pressure” control is the real news, which is not clear until you touch it. Andrew, Shoebridge and others don’t get the impact of MPE pressure across. The PolyAT is also more useful and impressive than the wiggle, which is currently hard-wired to poly pitch-bend…on slippery keys. Loopop explains this the best. Once the wiggle can be directed to other parameters, it will be more useful. EG: wiggle to LFO to pitchbend would be way more useable in play, since the lateral action is progressive and polyphonic. Then you don’t muddle things trying to wiggle a single finger, but just push it sideways.
The original bebung:

I’d love one of those…has to sound fantastic in person. This was considered the most expressive keyboard of all.


congrats ! This looks so nice :heart_eyes: :star_struck:

and some talent too !

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Some Yamaha combo organs also had wiggleable keys, the YC20 among them. (Vibrato iirc)

Ableton Push 3 looks pretty sexy!