Crow & end-user documentation

i too agree with @eblomquist and @karst. mostly because I’m in much the same boat. As a nonprogrammer I was very intimidated to jump into the monome universe, but was so taken by what I was hearing Norns do that I said “eff it” and jumped in. Which quickly led me to grid, ansible, and arc.

I will say that even not knowing any code, the explanations provided by all the great contributors here are helpful, clear, and totally demystify things for folks like me.

I assume like others in my situation, the difficulty is in actually combing through the forums to find those great nuggets of knowledge buried in the threads, and not knowing what youre looking for/what you are reading when you first start.

However, I realize that due to the active involvement and participation from all the coding type people, the rate of change can be quite fast, making attempts at documenting largely fruitless. The best example was the speed at which the beta kria/ansible was maturing before the current official firmware update. Someone could ave documented all the Kria Glyphs etc, only to see it change a day later.

At this point I’m not sure what my point is, other than to be thankful that good people like the people here exist.


the monome intro videos are almost always highly musical and, in the case of crow/norns, usually made with fairly simple scripts to give an idea of the endless possibilities.

interesting that you mention Emilie, as she has stated somewhere that Teletype is the one module she wished she could’ve made (or something to that effect).

With so many incredible instrument builders out there, it’s great to be able to find ones that really work for you.


For me, this is part of the price of admission that a nonscripter should be cognizant of once jumping into the pool. If i want to enjoy the “fruits of their labor” in terms of scripting work, and creativity, I think it would be unfair of me to expect to get a “polished finished product” (which in this case I’m referring to the software, b/c I doubt anyone can argue with the monome physical products).

The decision as to whether a script is robust enough to “take it on stage” is and can only be made by the musician/user. But this is true even when someone takes a laptop running ableton or other software; that too will never be as “reliable” as an acoustic guitar, flute, xylophone etc.

For me, I get enough creative satisfaction that I’m ok with going along for the ride. The best example of this actually happened to me last week: I’d been planning a set for a show I had this past saturday, and a portion of it relied on using Compass script to capture parts of my live performance. Now, I;ve been having trouble matching signals levels out of my modular and into Norns and getting a consistently balanced result, so I was a bit weary of using it live. @Olivier and @Justmat had been taking about adding the ability to load prerecorded samples into compass, which would have made me feel a bit more safe, but they hadn’t done that by the time I had my show. So, I decided to use Compass live anyway. And it went great. And the next day they updated Compass script :rofl:

The point of my drawn out anecdote is that it illustrates what is unique and wonderful about this place/software/products/people. It’s true, one could look at my situation and say “what a subpar product it doesnt have all the functionality that I want”. My response would be though, that with no other product/community would I ever dream up something like Compass, and having access to it totally opened up new creative paths for me. Also, in what other place could I ask for a certain function in a product, and have a bunch of people work on it and make it come to light within a week…probably not many, at least none that I know of.

I’ll stop taking up space and just repeatedly say thanks to everyone here (if for no other reason than the fact that we’re having a civil conversation about this topic)


Since Crow is meant to be a community endeavor and ecosystem and not just a consumer end product, it’s difficult to balance community involvement and ecosystem growth with predictable stability.

It’s disingenuous to compare an end-product with an ecosystem.

It’s a bit like walking into a pot-luck demanding a restaurant experience.

“I’ve been running restaurants for much of my career and let me tell you. You DO NOT leave food sitting out at room temperature like that”

“You were so concerned with how to prepare the food. Did you even think about presentation? If I were in a restaurant I wouldn’t want to be served this”

“Look at Émilie! Now she knows how to run a restaurant and her food is good too!”

Meanwhile we’re all scratching our heads trying to figure out a way to explain how a pot-luck isn’t a restaurant.


I’m not hearing this conversation as going that far down the tracks… I certainly am not expecting a purely customer satisfaction oriented corporate experience, complete with a Genius Bar…

My point is to express interest in and gratitude for any efforts to make all this excellent stuff a bit more accessible to regular music folks who aren’t highly skilled coder engineering types…

A modest request not to forget us, and to try to adopt a bit of user-friendlification mindset…

It’s not like anyone is deliberately obscuring things, there is massive good will here…

But I know it’s hard to remember what it was like before one knows the things one knows…

As a college teacher and lawyer, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to make complex things more accessible…

Thanks for all the amazing you all do and bring and share!


thinking about the people here, perhaps a venn diagram?

a. musicians
b. programmers
c. music tech enthusiasts

consider the permutations! all are totally cool. (even the music tech lover who isn’t a musician or a programmer… yes, that is a thing).

so with that in mind, there will be people not interested in programming. but also people not interested in stage-readiness. and people not interested in musical notation. and people not interested in collecting. etc etc?

i think this community resides at an incredible intersection of all of these interests. and somehow together we create some really positive energy— and potentially help one another cross into other territories that might seem difficult or confusing.

more later, perhaps.


as others have said - indefinable equipment can be an allure. modular was built on this ideal.

pedagogic presentation is always hard. if a learning curve is ‘cryptic’ or otherwise too steep to climb, basic exploration of any instrument will be very difficult.

to my mind a focus on operational principles always lends clarity to the unknown. with every new thing i ask, ‘what can this do that i have already done? where can this go that i have not already been?’


oh one more bit.

i totally agree, Emilie has made some wonderful modules— more than that: musical ideas. which makes it so exceptional for these to also be open-source and available for learning and modification.

but similar to “hacking” a closed-source thing into doing something else (which is also great), there is a completely different approach and attitude with what we’re trying to do here:

adaptability by design: the core idea is redefinition. the label-less grid, the layout of the norns and crow— these things invite new meaning. and a big part of our goal has been making the skills needed to do this accessible. and also, collaborative.

so, thank you all for being here.

(i’ve reiterated this point over the years— sorry for being redundant)

ps. this reads like the devices are designed for programmers— they’re not. but as someone who is an engineer/musician/whatever like many here, i/we have an attention towards what can enable both creative and technical people.


I’ll speak to the efforts put forth here; teletype has been my first successful foray into programming where most other coding projects in the past eluded me and left me feeling confused from the get go. Let’s bridge some gaps :ocean::musical_keyboard::hammer_and_wrench:


I’m having a bit of a hard time with the brief turn that this thread took. With no intention of being rude, you are opting in as a user. If you do not like it, or are frustrated by it, don’t opt in. There is absolutely no obligation to purchase crow, teletype, norns, etc. I love the sound of the cello. I will not be opting in, however, because I would be tremendously frustrated by my ability to make music with it. No hard feelings though! Plenty of others are using the cello to great effect!


I appreciate this sentiment but I don’t see this as an either/or binary.

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I hope my comments have been constructive.

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I will say that my experience thus far in the Monome universe has been both incredibly frustrating and rewarding. Frustrating in the way that learning a new language is frustrating, because it’s hard and doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a new pedal that I jam into my rig and understand in 10 minutes. I remember launching MLR for the first time and being completely stupefied because I wanted to do the thing that @tehn does in the video but, like, where’s the button that does that? But the fruit of embracing this frustration has been musical growth. Much like a new language, putting in the work of wrapping my brain around norns/grid/lua has opened me up to entirely new avenues of expression, and I can’t say that for any other tool in recent memory. It is becoming an extension of who I want to be as a musician. That is cool.

So, yeah, a lot of this stuff has required digging through the forum and banging my head against the wall and sending people messages. And lots of practice/repetition. It required work, but that is how you stop being a layman. And I do not think that this is an elitist or unrealistic position to take. Some of it’s cryptic and needs to be thought about. Lots of cool stuff is like that. The result for me (so far) has been music that is better than it would have otherwise been.

It’s less to me about “opting in” or “opting out” and more like a lot of other things in life- do whatever you want, but you’ll get more out if you put more in.


I’m sure I’ve mentioned this at least once, but I worked as a non-coding software product manager from 1998 until 2013, so we’re in the same clan.

I see how you could infer this, but that was not my intention. I’m not suggesting that the nice people who make these wonderful products should adopt a strategy to capture and expand the “post-chasm” marketplace, I’m just saying that different segments have different needs when it comes to interacting with technology.

I agree with you that this new offering is “perfectly in line with past products”, and that’s good! What I also sense is that there is a substantial effort on the part of the entire monome team to make their documentation more accessible and organized, which is also good.

What I hoped to communicate was that technical products positioned for use by non-technical people require a different level of hand-holding than the same products positioned to technical people. The best example of this is the reliance on GitHub - non-technical people see that as an impenetrable fog, which is a perspective that causes a bit of cognitive dissonance with technical people, to whom GitHub makes perfect sense.

I’m not trying to set up an “us vs them” strawman by any means. I’m just encouraging the community to understand that it is now made up of individuals with somewhat divergent perspectives when it comes to technology and the desire to do technical things in the pursuit of musical outcomes. These communities can learn a lot from each other, and that’s part of the magic of this community: it is a wonderful example of 1+1 > 2 thinking, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to participate in it.


just popping in to thank folks for their feedback re: the main product page. i went through and cleaned things up yesterday, hopefully this reads a bit better to a wider range of perspectives?

please keep good ideas coming! these docs are always just a starting point for community discussion, which then informs changes, which then inform community discussion, which then etc etc


Little thing about this line:
‘connect crow to your computer through USB and fire up Druid in a browser to live code’

Druid runs on the command line, right? I’m assuming it’s not a web-based editor like Maiden so perhaps it would be best to avoid doubt or confusion and not mention ‘browser’?


woop! good catch, apologies! will update today.

edit: changes pushed, waiting for site to update. also, thank you @ceedotgeedot for additional dm’d suggestions!

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mod note: gah, sorry for the out-of-order mess here with the preceding 3 messages

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I see this from so many various angles… at the end of the day, I can ask someone to explain how to swim, I can read books and study and watch youtube and all that, but at some point I have to get in the water.

I would just like to start in the kiddie pool, maybe with a lifeguard. I don’t need floaties, though. But don’t throw me off the dock and expect me to get it.


Monome does great floaties and kickboards.