Approaching: norns


this should be easy to do. that is, use only the sclang+scsynth side of norns to act as the SC side of a tidalcycles session, host the haskell side on a laptop. make a norns engine that just starts SuperDirt.

that said - i’ll admit that wasn’t immediately successful using the SuperDirt quark on norns. (it installs ok, but class isn’t recognized - weird.) other quarks i’ve tried are fine. so it will take some hopefully-small amount of fiddling.

not sure i can agree! sorry. in a nutshell i’d argue that affordance-based design is a poor fit for a minimal, hackable interface canvas, and your example of a “broken pattern” is really two equally viable patterns. but maybe on another thread.

this would be good to see. “composition” in that sense is technical and touches both on software design and interface design, but is more about the former - sorry about that.

but it would be interesting for me as a developer to see a collection of proposed specs on how to make best use of a minimal interface. of course idea of norns scripting is to also make the implementation itself maximally accessible, even for functionally dense interface specs.

The UX of grid-based applications

Part of my day job is documentation of UX patterns. I’ve found over the years that it works best to start with observation and documentation of things as they are, and as they are being used, before making proposals about improved patterns. New patterns should have multiple use cases before being introduced.

This attitude of learning from observation and use, and minimally interfering, keeps the standards process from becoming an impediment to design innovation.

An overconstrained and prescriptive design system can be a very brittle one. As soon as a designer feels their needs fall outside the system, the entire system is called into question. Often, documenting a system of design patterns becomes a koan in resilience through flexibility.

So, I’d recommend taking a long hard look at the grid’s greatest hits: earthsea, kria, meadowphysics, mlr, and see what you see in common between them. Start with documenting the patterns you see there, and see where it gets you.

Resist the temptation at first to recommend proposals for improvements, or lateral approaches that introduce entirely novel patterns. Wait until you can clearly articulate the material difference between old and new, with pros and cons and rationale for usage of this for that, and that for this.

And sometimes the answer will be both/and: more patterns than any one app is likely to use, because there is plenty of room for many apps in the world.

The UX of grid-based applications

This ! So much. My vote (desperate request) would be to put these together in a “sum” like environment.


The voice of experience.


I’ll admit that I’m still wrapping my head around the possibilities that norns presents and I don’t pretend to truly understand what designing interface via lua is going to look like, but it sounds like there’s a lot of questions about interface that existing monome apps don’t address at all.

For instances where you have a norns & a grid and you want to sequence external gear, there’s lots of precedent. When you’re using the grid and/or an arc and/or some other controller to control a sound engine in sc as well as compose and arrange, I imagine there’s going to be a lot of things to experiment with in the early days.

Some standards will be set by the base set that norns comes with. One of the videos showed the grid doing sequencing things and the controls on norns itself affecting sound parameters, which seems like a sensible split, but not necessarily a required one. Could the arc play a role there? Could the grid be used for sculpting sound and melody at the same time?

Personally, I’m just starting to consider these questions, but it feels like norns opens up too many possibilities for any kind of design standard to be established right now (if ever), but

seems like it will be true no matter what.

The UX of grid-based applications

@tehn I know this is kinda random, but would you mind sharing the part number for the screen? Its so beautiful!

I’m trying to learn about all this microcontroller stuff and there hasn’t been a screen Ive really been inspired to learn it for.

Excited to get hacking on the norns! (On the second batch I guess I missed the 1st one :frowning: )


do norns have the same dsp as aleph - BF533 - ?

i feel like i’m way behind coming in after the thousandth message, and i’m not even sure that i properly searched the entire thread for the same question…


nope, it’s not a dedicated DSP - pi compute module (cm 3, quad core) running linux.




i read “scripts that talk to dsp engines” and thought there might be another processor on there

aleph has a blackfin that’s capable of running linux, and that’s apart from the avr32, but i know how much more trouble a product is when it has multiple cpus. one embedded cpu is enough of a challenge.


not anymore. blackfin support has been removed from the linux kernel entirely, as of 4.17. the arch hadn’t been maintained in years. aleph’s blackfin doesn’t run linux, though, so that’s not too much of a problem.

norns runs on arm, which is commonplace. linux kernel and software support for arm are excellent. hopefully, future pi compute module upgrades will still be produced in the current form factor.


Right. Yea, cause we’re artists, and a standard that makes things easier to understand for one person could be restrictive for someone else. I can see that. I guess thats the motivation behind modifying an interface. Other peoples interfaces don’t work for me, but that’s a me problem, not a them problem.


Lol, is my name Uli ?

I cannot confirm, nor deny any future plans I may or may not have for any hardware future or past :wink:

Seriously, I will say, unfortunately, Norns is a bit out of my price range esp. as I’ve a few similarly capable bits of hardware - a pity as I’m sure it will have a nice community built around it.
so I wish it/you all well, and hope you all make it sing!


Brace yourselves for @TheTechnobear 's cheap remake of norns, it’s called technorns, only costs 100€, is entirely made of plastic and cardboard, with the help of unpaid ingeneers, and it will bring creative coding to the masses who have been begging for it for so many years ! Available in 2018 or 2022 maybe, we’ll see about that once we’re sure we can scale and have enough pre-orders to get the parts as cheap as possible, but stay tuned on our forum to give us ideas we can exploit for money !


Design guidelines are good things to have, if only to help designers be aware of what rules they are breaking when they seek to solve specific problems. Innovation is a fluid combination of drawing both inside and outside lines, and not drawing at all. I’d follow a thread on that topic. There might already be one too.

Norns is always approaching.

The UX of grid-based applications

NHD-2.7-12864WDW3-M1 it’s freakin expensive

edit: but totally worth it.


Wow, you’re not kidding - ~$40/unit! Hope you got a nice volume deal.

But it sure does look purdy.


Can we got the whole parts list? :smirk:


shows picture.


please explain

:eyes: :brain: :exploding_head:

i thought it was photoshopped at first