Different MIDI in/out devices Norns

Trying to send clock from ableton to norns via midi>usb and then also send midi notes triggers etc out thru one of the other USB outs. In particular with the Awake script. When I select "clock to “external midi” the sequence just stops, and doesn’t seem like I can choose which midi device I’m getting clock from… Am I missing something? blesssssss

ps my very first question on lines after sleuthing for months :slight_smile:


As a potential clock answer, there has been a new update to the global clock structure of norns. Many scripts, including Awake have been updated for this. The benefit of this new global clock is it works with Ableton Link! If you have Ableton, you can sync your norns to your clock with the magic of WiFi.

As for the midi notes, you have a few options;

  1. have a device that would work as a midi passthrough receiving from a host. I haven’t had much luck with these.

  2. search on this forum for a midi host to host system. There was one produced by a user of this forum, but I am unsure if he is still producing them. Another is from a Spanish company and will connect two MIDI his programs. This works well for passing notes! I have had a hit or miss time with the clock (that was before the new global clock system, so this could have been greatly improved:

  3. finally, for notes is as system I have had hit or miss experience with as well, but basically use OSC information, which is generated on the norns. You can translate the OSC to midi on some of your devices. This gets much more complicated and is a script by script thing. Not to mention, host by host thing as well.

So, if you potentially have Ableton (or bitwig or any other Link based program) as the global clock leader, the neweat update of norns as well as the newest update of Awake are you best choices. As for notes; well, you’re in a different can of worms at that point.

What you describe will work…the transport in ableton needs to be in play mode and you have to go in the ableton midi preferences to set the midi device you want to send clock as enabling sync on the out

this sounds like you might be on awake 2.3 / might not have yet updated your norns to 200424? that external: midi phrasing was removed with the new global clock :slight_smile:

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Hey, i’m struggling to find any concise info/ guides on clocking nords via midi. tempo / start / stop, basic midi sync globally. Norns would be slave.
Is it possible?
Best way to feed midi data from a midi cable into norns, ‘do i need a midi to usb’? Can one that works be recommended?
Whats the best way to set it up?
i’ll be using a cirklon sequencer to be specific which acts as my studio midi master due to its insanely good timing, but i imagine would be the same setup for any midi based sequencer

hey hey! this is a great reminder for me to update the PLAY docs. thank you!

(@Alistair, heads up, moved your question to this relevant Questions thread)

it’s definitely possible to clock norns through midi.

if you have 5-pin DIN gear, i suggest this: Norns and Roland UM-One MKII USB MIDI Interface. works a treat for me!

otherwise, there’s a friends of norns thread where you can ask specific x-gear-to-norns questions. here’s a search for the word midi inside of that thread: https://llllllll.co/search?q=midi%20topic%3A17150

generally, the new clock system makes it dead simple to pass clock from an external source to a norns script, provided the script has been updated to use the new clock system (and that your norns has been updated to 200424)


down to CLOCK:

set it to MIDI:

you might need to go to SYSTEM > DEVICES > MIDI to select your MIDI device:

let us know how it goes!


Hey Dan,

Thanks for the info i’ll try it out, yes I saw that clock section but couldn’t find much in the docs, so didn’t want to purchasing things / plugging things in, getting that info in the docs would be really handy,


Ok cool,i think my interface just one i had laying around unused works its one of these…

Another question is it possible to pick globally which midi channel’s the norns responds to? I noticed it didn’t work when i used the thru port on one of my synths although this could be poor midi implementation on the synth itself. Also do you know a good app / script that works, preferably one that makes sound itself?


glad to hear you had something on hand!

midi channel is handled per script – two good places to start with this are Molly the Poly and Passersby from @markeats. they each have entries for MIDI Device (which corresponds to where your device sits in the DEVICES > MIDI list) and MIDI Channel.

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Ahhh great thanks for that… I’m noticing that when I tell the circklon to send clock it breaks/ stops the Norns from receiving notes, is this normal behaviour, not quite sure which device is doing this. Does this mean I may have to send clock on one midi cable and notes down another?

sorry for the delay, just saw this. definitely odd, so could i snag a few repro notes?

  • which script?
  • could you supply a bit more detail about what is happening to norns?
  • any other details (what happens if you stop sending clock? can you send notes without sending clock? etc)

Hey yeah sure… app I was using was molly the polly.
Basically in the cirklon you have to tell the midi port to send clock , once I activate the clock Norns doesn’t reapind to notes sent which is odd as this does work for other devices .
If the clock is off the notes do work.
Also every time I change the clock parameter on the cirklon off/on I have to restart the Norns for the parameter update to take effect,
Hope this makes sense, just a give me a shout if not. So basically if I’m sending clock no notes are recieved but clock seems to work,

anyone have luck getting a korg sq-1 be a MIDI follower to norns via usb? Norns does show the sq-1 as a midi device and will try to follow it when the clock is set to midi, but the sync isn’t good, and I want norns to be the leader anyways. Thanks…

Piggybacking on this question :slight_smile: Has anybody successfully sent MIDI to the SQ-1 from Norns and used it as a MIDI/CV convertor?

I’m able to do this in Ableton if I send MIDI to SQ-1 CTRL instead of SQ-1 MIDI (it shows as two devices for some reason). Norns only shows a single SQ-1 1 device, which might be the issue. I presumably have Less Concepts and Awake sending MIDI to the SQ-1 device configured properly, but nothing appears at CV A out as it usually would from Ableton.


hm… for a long time there was a known issue where we weren’t adding all “subdevices” (or whatever ALSA calls them) when a device exposed multiple USB endpoints.

i thought this was finally fixed here:

but maybe there is some piece of plumbing still missing for exposing multiple endpoints as MIDI sinks as well as sources?

for reports like this, it’s always helpful to get at least a list of the devices as seen by ALSA, by shelling in and typing:

amidi -l

Hmm, so it appears that there are two MIDI subdevices shown when running amidi:

$ amidi -l
Dir Device    Name
IO  hw:1,0,0  SQ-1 MIDI 1
 O  hw:1,0,1  SQ-1 MIDI 2

However, in SYSTEM => DEVICES => MIDI only SQ-1 1 shows up.

(Let me know if there’s a more appropriate place to post debugging things.)

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best to open an issue on github for optimal visibility.

i can do so, but just to confirm: is your norns system up to date?

Gotcha, makes sense. Yes, it’s up to date - however it’s worth noting that I am running on Fates, so unsure if that impacts whether I should open an issue in the Monome repository or elsewhere…

ah. fates might have different issues. i’m frankly confused about where the fork lives, how upstream changes are integrated, and if there are still custom patches applied to the low-level device management routines. (same code affted by PR #886.) @okyeron would be the one to ask whether one should expect fates image to include the upstream fixes from october 2019.

in any case, i’d like to see a repro case on vanilla norns / shield before opening an issue there. from eyeballing the code, it doesn’t seem like there should be issues, but i’m not sure i have an appropriate device to test. SQ-1 is pretty popular - right? - so maybe someone here can give it a quick spin to verify. (meanwhile i’ll dig around for something else that exposes dual MIDI sink endpoints.)

(folllowup 1)

ok, i did remember that i have a Beatstep Pro and dug that out. (acquired for the specific purpose of testing multiple midi ports, pffff.)

for what its worth, both ports show up on vanilla norns (in separate device slots) and i can use device 1 to produce CV output from norns MIDI output. (i don’t actually understand what role device 2 plays whe using the beatstep pro as MIDI sink - maybe it’s for drum gates or something. will see if i can figure it out or maybe someone reading this already knows the answer.)

The Fates fork should integrate all the current code (as of the last update cycle). I pull all the upstream changes and then apply my changes. However it looked like some lua stuff (from late June) was missed in the last update, so I need to do some research/cleanup on the fork this week. That aside, none of the changes from that October MIDI device stuff are touched by my changes.

@cfd90 it might be worth looking at lsusb -v to see how the devices are presenting. Then also if the second device is showing up in ls /dev/snd/

In a pinch we could meet up to debug, compare against shield, etc. :slight_smile: