Approaching: norns

october storm // ambient norns improvisation

two melodic rhodes improvisations are performed with mlr, accompanied by a stereo field recording of last week’s midnight rainstorm played from the cassette deck. gentle melodies become broken loops: jumbled, sliced, shuffled, re-ordered, re-patterned, then sent through ever-thickening layers of strymon tape delay + reverb pedals. thunder occasionally rumbles through the rainfall as the storm builds and ebbs.


Thanks for those videos! Very inspiring sounds and approaches…

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I made a joystick-controlled deep note script in my first week with the norns! Haven’t put it in dust because I didn’t think it was interesting enough. I had not heard of this deep synth before, maybe I can get some ideas from it on how to make the script more usefully playable.

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that thing were you have made a synth you need to both learn how to programme and play!

Will be “Islands - 4 layers - each with it’s own sound from FM synth (or midi out) - choice of one of three sequencers for each layer” when I’m done.

Still a long way to go - adding sequencers next but I’ve got a few weeks travel free so will get more time (fingers crossed!!!)


I wasn’t too impressed with the Deep Synth demo (great writeup in kbob’s blog, though), but the idea of adapting Earslap’s sc code into something more interactive is definitely appealing.

I’m sort of picturing a grid based chord builder / player, with two modes.

  • Edit:
    Assign chords to each column, probably by selecting them from onscreen menus with norns encoders.
  • Perform:
    Press a grid button. Which column you choose determines the target chord. Which row you choose determines the transition speed.

And then, within that…

  • Rather than spend a lot of time personalizing the columns, it probably makes sense to just reduce the menu to “pick a root note and scale type”, with columns 0-7 representing diatonic chords, and 8-15 representing single notes.
    There are certainly many songs that require more granular control, but this is sufficient often enough to make it the default (with maybe an “advanced mode” for people who want to THX their way through all the Bach chorales).

  • That last note does assume the grid in question has 16 columns. If not, maybe an a/b switch on the norns hardware could serve everyone else.

  • Also, kbob’s idea of mimicking Shepard tones as part of his voice leading implementation is sort of brilliant, and probably worth borrowing.

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first demo of QUENCE: a probabilistic 4-track MIDI sequencer for Norns and Grid written in Lua

inspired by Turing Machine, Fugue Machine and physical (study #4)


Free Software is both free as in freedom and free as in all your free time.

too real.

love the idea (especially the voice leading aspect, which i have been thinking about a lot for something else). thanks for the links


this is an old meme, but:


Evolution is a team sport.

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Awesome! Thanks for the file. $11 at my local library maker space.


Works great as a stand to give it a little better working angle too!


QUENCE looks fantastic! Definitely keen to try this asap. Thanks for putting in the hard work. Can really see this becoming an integral put of my system. Would there be any way to assign say and internal voice to track 1 and assign tracks 2-4 to midi?


Looking for a power bank to use with norns. Any experience/recommendation? Ta

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Thanks! I’ll post the code for the beta in Norns:code review soon. I added some new features last night, such as independent track tempos and sequence lengths.

Yes, it would be very easy for each track to have the option to be a midi or internal synth track (or both). I know loom, for example, can do both.

I think that the challenge to adding more and more features isn’t the code, but the UI. The limited screen space on Norns and resolution of Grid forces you to put a lot of thought into organizing the UI elements, or else to be a minimalist with respect to features.


No sure where you are - I bought this for my iPhone 6 in uk ebay - tried with GRID and works well. Had it on for 2/3 hours over a couple of days and hasn’t dented the small led power bar on the device yet. Two outputs 1A and 2A - I run it on the latter.

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Excellent video - QUENCE looks great! - look forward to trying it when my norns arrives (hopefully soon …). What were your sound sources for the midi channels?

Thanks! For the demo I just used some software instruments in Ableton. Tracks 1&2 use Moog samples in Sampler, track 3 uses a hand-picked lead guitar sample, and track 4 uses a drum rack from Drum Essentials. If they sound halfway decent, it’s probably due to routing them through the Strymon BigSky reverb :sunglasses:

Next video I’ll use some external synths, like the Mother 32 and the Neutron.

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100.000 :open_mouth: UK thanks!

Thank you :grinning::grinning:

Update on Islands

first sequencer added in - same as the earthsea one but all the underlying code infrastructure is there now to add in the next two…