Index of norns-related resources

Hi there!

Being a new Norns user, I was kind of frustrated by the difficulty to find a central source of information for it.

There is maiden, there are the docs, there are numerous lines threads, but nothing to really glue all this information together.

So I did what I usually do in these cases and wrote down a bunch of notes into my secondary brain.

I later realized that these information could benefit to others so I converted it to a Github markdown page.

The main highlights are:

  • a table of all input/output options provided by each app
  • a classification of apps by their type with direct access to source code, demos and documentation

It’s still WIP and very much open to suggestions / corrections / contributions.

PS: I’m pretty new. This is my first created topic, so don’t hesitate to roast me for wrong tagging or such.


This is a fantastic resource, thank you so much for sharing. Brings out a lot of the murky details for a Norns-curious person like myself :slight_smile:

:sparkles: welcome + thank you for putting this together! in a weird moment of synchronicity, i was thinking in the shower this morning that it’d be really cool to have a community-driven effort to capture the stuff that new folks are wondering. spooky and fun!

i’ll definitely keep an eye on how this develops – it’s great to have this as a companion to the main docs (which don’t capture this info in such a digestible form), but if anyone has something they’d like to see in the main docs (or just have a question about) you can just drop an email to or submit a change proposal or pull request to

this kind of contributive imagining is exactly the strength of lines + the community around norns. thank you for sharing this!


This looks great! :smiley:

I noticed you have Ack listed as softcut based, but it’s a supercollider engine completely separate from softcut.

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Do any of you know how to add the norns tag to the topic? You can PM me ideally to prevent polluting the thread. Thanks @dan_derks for adding it.

Indeed, the idea was to have a user-friendly companion to the official doc with some stuff explained clearly and with less esoteric vocabulary.

IMHO, the non-standard structure of the official doc also makes its charm and I assume it would be kind of a loss to try to make it state some things more clearly.

Some sections such as the tables could still be ported into the main docs. Having this simple markdown file makes it easy to experiment with how to structure information before requesting a change.

Thanks for spotting, fixed!

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the norns shield info seems like a good addition to the main docs, especially a section that clearly states the hardware differences between the two. i also like the links out to relevant lines threads

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Looking forward to diving into this. New user here and just got my Shield up and running and should have a Grid in the next week. My mind is melting with all the potential in the Norns and Grid, thanks so much for your efforts in putting this together.

Would it be too weird to include some low(er)-level norns experiments?


Not at all!

I just need some additional info to categorize it appropriately.

Just to be sure, this bypasses the whole norns software platform and uses direct GPIO access, right?

So, it’s basically native Raspberry Pi C development without relying on the software part of the norns platform, right?

I see that norns daemon processes get killed and that you’re still connecting to jackd.

You seem to be using a framebuffer lib for the screen, I’m surprised! I expected it to communicate w/ i2c or SPI. Maybe that is the case but one can still have a framebuffer over such an interface?

Admittedly, “Low Level” is a bit of a misnomer, as it gets people thinking maybe a bit too low. “Lower Level” might have been a better description. Or maybe just “C programming on Norns”.

The stuff I’m working on scoops the norns software stack, which sits on top of Linux, and replaces it with new software, which also sits on top of Linux. It’s still very much in the Linux userspace with all the kernel drivers and filehandle abstractions.

I added a section at the end of the page.

Don’t hesitate to tell me if things are not clear enough or if you want something added.

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This is awesome dude! Just what noobs like me need. I’d love a list of the super collider engines please. I’ve had some experience with collider in the 90’s but forgotten it all…


you can execute tab.print(engine.names) in maiden to see a list of the engines installed on your norns
and there’s the lib tag in the project manager that indicate that the project includes an engine.

edit : i had too many tab opened and i missed the context of the op. now looking at the page (really helpfull !) i see there’s already a list of engines.

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worst first topic ever! Do you even forum?!

for real this is a great first post and welcome to lines!

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Thank you very much for this!

I think the required devices will be a nice addition to the table of scripts (require grid, arc and etc)

Thanks for collecting this! Some thoughts on a couple different categories of FAQ:

  1. what / why is norns?
    The resource that I think best contextualized norns for me is the Approaching: norns thread which introduced the project to the community. As of this writing said topic has run to an imposing 2,583 posts (!), but the bottom of the first post in the topic has links to 6 different posts from Brian which looked at different aspects of the design and answer this question quite nicely. I think these form a really nice piece of tech writing, and should perhaps get added to the official docs or otherwise immortalized.
  2. how’s that different from a _____?
    This seems like potentially a good section for a resource like this, but there are so many devices available that it can easily spiral out of control, maybe even if restricted to “sound computers designed around their reprogrammability” or similar. But there are several comparisons that come up a lot, as well as a lot of questions about the comparative strengths of monome’s different programmable devices.
  3. what do I need to get started?
    The Hardware and Development sections cover this. Some tips on development setup seem like a nice addition here. In addition to using the maiden editor I’m aware of Atom and vim approaches as well as this tool that watches for file changes.
  4. what all can it do / what apps exist?
    Wow you’ve collected loads of data here! I wonder if something like the feature matrix could be generated from the JSON catalog used by maiden, maybe using slightly more structure in the tags, like ["audio-in:required", "midi-in:optional"].

Some very good suggestions here.

I propose that in a first time we’ll link to the thread / posts with a tagline such as “want to know more”?

If they are deeply technical, the official doc might be more suited.

Yes indeed, selecting a list of “similar” devices is hard.
Maybe can we flip it differently have a “what can it be?” section.

It would list a wide range of apps Norns already has and from what they compare to, e.g.:

  • analogue additive synth: molly_the_polly, JUNO
  • 4-track tape recorder: reels, OP-1’s
  • multieffect: pedalboard, many existing pedals
  • sample player: timber/keys, 64fingers, MPCs

People don’t really need any development knowledge to use the norns, given the wide array of existing apps. So they don’t really need much to “get started”. Maybe this section should be called what do I need to get started making apps?.

Also, maybe should we move the development sections after the list of apps, which would interest most people?

I will link the alt editors setup. I don’t know how you’re supposed to use the file watcher tool so would need some more background about it.

Having this data in the JSON would be ideal. I also made this list / table as a few apps I like are not on maiden (grd, fretwork) or have alternative names (spacetime).

I feel like for beginner developers maiden covers things pretty well (& undoubtedly exists so beginners don’t have to worry about this). I’m in the early stages of working on a guide for command line development with norns though - it’s a pretty great workflow and there are a lot of things that more code comfortable folks can take advantage of


Added section What / why is norns? and What can it do?.

Overhauled hardware section.

Moved Development sections after list of apps (Apps section).

Added a bunch of missing apps and SuperCollider engines.

Uniformized formatting.


Added a Table of Contents, Contributing section and License.

(+ various fixes and additions)