Approaching: norns



I will acquire one of these doodads.


Definitely a melodrama :slight_smile:


maybe usb into teletype, keyboard:exploding_head: and ANYTHING into norns?!


I’m loving the tape-style glides between speed changes!

also @tehn because i’ve been wondering for a while, where did you get that glockenspiel?


Ooh, now I wonder about two-way communication between TT and Norns. With a keyboard into Norns that gets passed through as appropriate? :thinking:


yes, the machine is called norns

norns is _______

the difficulty of the question inspired yesterday’s introductory text. or poem, if you will.

norns is an idea.

a thread i/you/we have been following for a a long time. the grid was/is part of this. the idea is:

part of the language of music is instrument building. electronic music in particular has brought toolmaking and composition and performance all into a blurry/fantastic collision. and making instruments is more within reach than ever. (1)


it’s just computers, right? (2) but what matters is how we interact with these objects. and having control over how these objects work and what they do and do not do. (3)

norns is a platform for sound processing and synthesis. code connects sonic ideas to process ideas to interaction ideas. but that doesn’t sound so new, didn’t we do that already? to catch up:

aleph, sound computer, 2013. designed with ezra buchla. the roots are here. open-source programmable dsp and control with the possibility to be hacked at a very low level. tricky development platform. (4) highly featured and expensive, we made 100 units.

teletype, algorithmic ecosystem, 2015. a module that you type scripts into with a simple syntax to do musical operations. (5) at first it seemed like an absurd proposition but over time more musicians realized how nice it is to make little scores with text like CV 1 RAND 10. the results are immediate, the process is fun.

norns, ______, 2018. it runs scripts that talk to dsp engines. (6) the scripts are easy to understand, the dsp is powerful. code is edited in a web browser. code is shareable. instruments are code.

what am i talking about? (7)

norns use case:

you are in the desert, you see a tortoise, and you want to control the filter cutoff in the feedback loop of your delay line, which currently doesn’t have a knob.

  • get a computer, open the editor, add a line of code, re-run the script with a single button.

whoa it works. that’s cool. but it would be better if the range was confined to the mids.

  • add a couple of numbers to the code, re-run. oh no, a typo, but it was displayed and easily fixed.

sometimes i’m plagued by indecision, why not have a key randomize the knob value?

  • add another line.

i don’t even want to touch it.

  • add a few lines to set up a new metronome which throws numbers at the filter cutoff.

how about some lag to smooth out the jumps?

  • add a line to the synth init.

ok i want a granulator instead but i don’t want to write code right now.

  • browse the community scripts.

that’s the idea. and of course most of the time norns should just be used for making music. it will include instruments both familiar and new.

so what was that video?

it’s an evolution of mlr, a grid-based sample-cutting application from the beginning of monome. (8)

  • virtual tape loops are mapped to grid rows where playback position is displayed and key presses cut to the location.

  • playback speed (with reverse) is mapped to the grid in addition to record punch in and overdub.

  • keypresses can be recorded and played back in patterns to automate gestures.

  • within the cutting interface smaller sub-loops can be selected and looped.

  • there’s a lot more. (9)

the metallophone is sampled, cut up, and speed modulated. a pattern is used to automate cutting. the op-1 is a sound source only, the drone chord sampled. later the huge bass note is sampled. norns (mlr) is doing all of the processing, sequencing, sampling. (and yes it’s running on its own power.)

in fewer words: the video showed various instrument ideas i’ve been pursuing for over a decade. and these ideas change. norns isn’t about about one idea.

poets and technical writers and comedians and others, i’d love to hear from you:

norns is _______

until tomorrow.

(1) audio patching/programming software has been around for decades, and the growing popularity of hardware modular synths seem to confirm an interest in imagining/building instruments.
(2) everything is a computer.
(3) my other music computer is also a perpetual surveillance station.
(4) firmware programming without an OS is a specialized skill.
(5) teletype uses code based on ezra’s framework from the aleph.
(6) designed with ezra (@zebra), mentioning him yet again because he is a true wizard.
(7) too many abstracts, the marketing team is not impressed
(8) back when we used mice and made sick beats
(9) it’s still changing, and changing it is so easy.

Studio Snacks/Drinks
//// pictures ////

let me tell you about my feedback loop.

jk, all this sounds amazing! fantastic work as always. :slightly_smiling_face:


My primary curiosity remains whether or not Grids is required (at least to a degree) and what other ways you can interface with Norns to maximize its musicality.


grids not required. but there will certainly be many many grid applications made for this.


A paraphrasing/reworking of Christian Bok’s aphorism for Kanye West.:

When anything (1) is everything (2/3), do nothing (7).


Will there be Arc support?


— a shell waiting to tell
the waves of
distant (b)rains .

[but there are seven underscores there, so maybe it’s just a w e s o m e ].


norns is plural

(poetic technical writing does not fit into 20 characters)


the reason why I just sold off my Push controller to make some funds.
also making me really really excited.
also apparently a dream machine!


Amazing! Will we see polygome and/or earthsea on norns right away? If so, will the ouputs be something like 1-1Voct 2-gate 3-CV 0-10v, etc.?


Although this does little to clarify technical/specifics, I think this is really fitting.


exonym + endonym.

a map-maker asking strangers for directions.


norns is boundless

norns is perpetual


norns is (a sonic) infrastructure


excellent stuff…

looks like this new conception of mlr is not dissimilar to what i’ve been experimenting with lately on organelle and grid.