This paper contends that the development of expressive performance interfaces using multi-touch technology has been hindered by an over-reliance upon GUI paradigms. Despite offering rich and robust data output and multiple ways to interpret it, approaches towards using multi-touch technology in digit al musical inst rument design have been markedly conservative, showing a strong tendency towards modeling existing hardware. This not only negates many of the benefits of multi-touch technology but also creates specific difficulties in the context of live music performance. A case study of two other interface types that have seen considerable musical use –the XY pad and button grid –illustrates the manner in which the implicit characteristics of a device determine the conditions under which it will favorably perform. Accordingly, this paper proposes an alternative approach to multi-touch which emp hasizes the imp licit strengths of the technology and establishes a philosophy of design around them. Finally, we introduce two toolkits currently being used to assess the validity of this approach.