Approaching: norns

That will be somewhat difficult/not possible if you want to edit files. You can record your sounds to the norns ‘tape’ but norns is not a daw replacement.

Recording to the tape is more than enough! Can I then bring those tape recordings with Norns to mlr? Like, an example of a project would be this:

Use a sequencer for some drums, place that in the tape, or mlr to repeat, move to a synth machine, play with that, put that ina mlr or tape groove, do the same one last time. Three or 4 layers deep on the tape or mlr.

This would be for improvisation, exploration and meditation. Obviously, bringing in extra equipment and a DAW like a recording rack/effects would be necessary to make something more complex and full fledged.

But as an exploration tool, having the ability to generate and play with multiple layers of sound using a Norns would be a dream come true.

1 Like

Yeah, you can do quite a lot and that workflow sounds fun. It would be a great way to get away from staring at a screen.

The problem might be if you need fine precision to line things up or quantize, sequence, etc, along with soundfile cutting/editing that you would do with a DAW.

1 Like

So, something like that is possible with the Norns? I’m only now really beginning to wrap my head around the thing.

He details of quantizing and such are of little consequence for me with a tool like the Norns. Truth is, I enjoy the act of the discover with a machine like this more than having something to show for it afterwards. Like having an endlessly programmable and flexible guitar to noodle for a bit, layer sounds to create something and just walking away once I’m satisfied.

As well, I have a son on the way and have decided these kinds of projects and tools are things I want to begin to become proficient with, so when he is the right age, I can begin to expose him to programming in a way that feels immediately tangible.


Hi all. I’ve been debating recently about trying to get my hands on a norns unit. I’ve found one second-hand and it’s definitely tempting me. However, it’s still just a matter of money. Even if I do decide it’s ok to make a purchase, I probably wouldn’t be able to get a grid for a while, which sucks because it really seems like norns is best when paired with it. A big draw for me is the mlr script, which as I understand it, does not work without the grid. So I’m curious, what can the norns do out of the box? Is it a worthwhile investment to simply buy it on its own?

(For some context, I work with tape loops a lot. I’m interested in something that can be flexible and enhance my workflow, and can also be the brains of a live performance.)

Even as I’m typing this I’m feeling a bit discouraged about it all. Considering the price point and how little I truly understand it I’m probably better off sitting tight for the time being.


Check out otis or cranes for some non-grid tape loop like scripts. Softcut on norns is really excellent. Easily scriptable digital tape.

as for…

for me? yes. For you? idk :sweat_smile:

1 Like

@ecfike Would you like a version of mlr that can work without the grid? I’d be happy to make you a version that works with a normal keyboard in the meantime :slight_smile:


Regardless of whether or not I end up getting a Norns, I think that would be an incredibly handy thing to have!

1 Like

Aand I’m getting it. Going to pick it up this afternoon!


I’d say you won’t regret that. Have fun!

1 Like


I’ve got it out of the box, and I’m visited by a curious guest. I’m almost afraid to touch it. I may not do anything with it this evening, but I fully plan on beginning to learn it tomorrow. Any suggestions on how to begin getting a taste of what this device has to offer?


I’d just start with the awake script. It’s pretty great and does not require grid. I played around with it for a few hours to familiarize myself with the interface, reverb and compression, navigation, etc. and it sounds awesome and is very immediate.

1 Like

@ecfike Have a look a the tutorials if you want to get started with making little norns toys.



I might have overlooked this somehow but, was a grid-less version of mlr for norns released since this discussion?

i think “implement a grid-less one” meant “implement a grid-less async looper,” of which there are now quite a few on norns (and it’s very easy to roll a new one to your taste.)

grid-less mlr doesn’t really make a ton of sense; grid interactions basically define the insturment.

Ahh…thanks for clarifying. I’m still on the sidelines trying to decide how limited I will feel working with norns by itself for live audio capture/manipulation. I presume I am in the minority wishing to work without the addition of a grid or midi controller. Eventually, I will just need to leap off this diving board!

that could be true, but if so it is a sizeable minority in which i include myself most times.


That is encouraging to read. Thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

At this point I pretty much use one Norns solely as a softcut machine :sweat_smile: softcut is soooooooo good. Most of the scripts I use do not need, or even work with a grid.