Less concepts

less concepts

1d cellular automata sequencer

less concepts is rooted in the idea that complexity is just a shit-ton of simplicity, chained together. at its core, less concepts holds 65,536 possible combinations of notes which can be gated, offset, and manipulated to create minimal sequences for improvisation. small changes to a single parameter can bring sweeping or subtle changes.

seek. think. discover.


norns 2.0
Passersby engine installed (restart/reset after initial installation to activate engine)
grid (128), optional


less concepts for monome norns

quick start (try with internal engine first. it’s Passersby and it sounds incredible):

  • load the script w/ or w/o grid
  • choose a scale with enc 1
  • use encoders 2 + 3 to choose seed: 36 and rule: 30
  • on grid, press random bit 1 and random bit 2 OR use enc 2 + 3 to choose bits (if a bit = 0, no audible note event will occur for that voice)
  • use key 3 to move down the onscreen menu (not necessary for grid interaction, but try it out!)
  • on grid, press random low and random high OR use enc 2 + 3 to choose low and high bounds for note pool
  • use key 3 to move down the onscreen menu (not necessary for grid interaction, but try it out!)
  • on grid, press random oct 1 and random oct 2 OR use enc 2 + 3 to choose octaves for each voice/note stream, -3 to 3
  • hold key 1 until the sequencer starts
  • play around!

the ‘snapshot’ feature is grid-only (for now) and is a way to capture a config you like, up to 8 of 'em. once a snapshot populates, just press it on the grid to jump to it / between 'em. less concepts is at its core a tool for improvisation, so once you have 8 you need to clear them all to get any more. and they don’t persist between loads.

MIDI channels are assignable for voice 1 and voice 2, in the params. you can also transpose + change tempo there to fine tune for different MIDI devices.


v1.0.0 - https://github.com/dndrks/less-concepts-norns/archive/master.zip
or https://github.com/dndrks/less-concepts-norns


that demo video!! beautiful. loving watching this library section develop… such incredible ideas happening around here.


I can’t get the start/stop functionality to work.

maiden returns this errors
metro_stop(): pthread_cancel() failed; error: specified thread does not exist

that error happens a lot and doesn’t mean anything. i should finally track it down though.


I saw that error quite a bit running stress tests, where it seemed to correlate with metros failing to start. Can dig those out, shouldn’t be so hard to get a reproducible sane test case

@rick_monster lets take this to Ye Hubbe


nobody else has reported start/stop not working, so i’d love to dig a bit deeper if you’re still having trouble with the functionality. there are some “as intended” reasons why start/stop might seem like it isn’t working — namely, an unproductive seed / rule combo. can you please try loading seed 36 and rule 30 and report back? :hugs:

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thanks for the help, got it working.

I was stumped up by needing to hold key 2 to select seed and rule, so the error was on my side.

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My (6yr old) boy and I just shared in a 45 min improvisation on Less concepts. Sounded Wonderful, thank you @Dan_Derks


oh, this is very warming to read – thank you so much for sharing this :revolving_hearts:

it means so much to have sideline involvement in such a wonderful moment :slight_smile:


Spent a lot of time this weekend with this amazing patch. Sequenced 2 instances of Ripplemaker (thanks for the second MIDI out channel!) and Aparillo on the iPad. Such an amazing sequencer, thanks @Dan_Derks!


Finally got around to playing with Less concepts (shame on me, I know).

What a delightful and weird little sequencer. This is definitely going to end up on the tape a lot for future manipulation.

The norns and the developers that have flocked to it continue to wow and delight me, I haven’t had this much fun with a new piece of equipment in years.


@yobink + @rbxbx, these are wonderful captures – I’m so glad y’all shared them here, thank you! they both showcase how versatile passersby really is. dang dang dang :relaxed:

@gnome666 put an ephemeral call for clarification out there re: bits and why less concepts will sometimes stall out until a new rule / seed combo is selected, so that got me thinking about how to clarify these things in the interface.

the sequencing core of less concepts cycles through numbers by taking a user-input seed to start, then translating that number into binary and pushing it through the user-chosen CA rule. the rule morphs the binary, which is then fed back in as the new seed. if the rule/seed combo is productive, you’ll hear a looped sequence without any dead spots.

however, if a number goes through the CA rule and results in a 0, the sequence will seemingly stop because that 0 is fed back into the system – this outputs 0, which is fed back, which outputs 0, which is fed back, blah blah blah.

to help make things clearer, I’ve adjusted the interface on less concepts 2.0 (hoping to wrap things up this weekend):


the 1’s and 0’s in the bottom left are the current propagation of the original seed (01001110 = 78). 1’s and 0’s make for excellent gates, so the “bit” function just chooses which position in the binary number should produce sound.

in the new interface, the bar on the top is bit 1, the bar on the bottom is bit 2. this will hopefully make the options (+ process) clearer!

less concepts 2.0 will also feature a dedicated stereo delay/looper alt screen:


~ r e f r a i n is strongly linked to less concepts – it can be reset to a specified position in its 8 second buffer with the “bit” function while panning is determined by the notes played. this makes for a pretty neat polyrhythmic delay effect:

this script was made to address a really specific need for me, so all your feedback and questions really keep me focused on improving its legibility. :revolving_hearts:

hope this helps!


Looking forward to try version 2.0! I’ve been having a lot of fun toying with the current version this morning, I’ve routed it to a midi synth instead of passersby and it makes very interesting sequences.


ooo plz share anything you land on!

the ~ r e f r a i n component is also configured for external audio while less concepts runs, so if you’re sequencing midi the delays will stay rhythmically related :slight_smile:


I shall make a video recording!


Ooooo I can’t wait for More/Less Concepts! Thanks Dan!

Less Concepts meets Orac:


thanks for the thorough reply…I originally deleted my post figuring id give one more go trying to “RTFM” before I asked to be spoon fed :slight_smile:

(as someone relatively new to lllllllines and monome community, it can never be said enough that the people on this forum are amazing)


My homework for the weekend was supposed to include a softcut delay into less concepts, but now I’ll ~ r e f r a i n :slight_smile:



this is inspiring