Norns Shield - USB and Midi Connectivity Question [SOLVED]

I am new to the Norns / Monome platforms and just built a rpi3 Norns with the DIY shield.

I am starting to play around with it and I’d like to use a software based midi keyboard with it, but it doesn’t appear that it appears as a midi device when connected with the micro-usb cable to the RPI.

Is there a way for the shield to receive midi notes over the computer usb connection? What would be the best way to accomplish this?


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I believe you’d need something like this!

2host - a DIY USBMIDI host-to-host adapter

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What about if I want to connect it to a common midi bus, is there a solution to midi-in like a regular desktop synth?

My use-case specifically is wanting to hook my Norns shield to a midi-splitter which is fed midi signals by my Arturia beatstep-pro. the BSP provides midi signals on three midi channels for each of my instrument, and I want to use the Norns with the drumroom patch on the drum channel.

It would appear that the norns by default is a midi-host and wants to see a midi-device such as the BSP connected by the USB, but I’m hoping there is a way for it to receive midi signals as a device through a midi connection of some type. Would a usb-midi cable offer this on the Norns platform?


I’ve been using my old Midiman Midisport 2x2 with my Norns Shield, sending and receiving MIDI over one of the Pi USB ports.

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Yep, using a usb midi interface would be fine for MIDI in. (The usb-midi cables with a bulge in them are, basically, 1-in 1-out interfaces in a cable format).

The issue is not about MIDI but about USB: MIDI has no hosts/devices, it’s pretty dumb. But USB very much has a host/client structure, and norns is a MIDI host and that’s that. So you can’t just connect another host - your computer - to it directly. The 2host is a pair of clients that talk to one another, and thus connect 2 hosts.

But you’d equally be fine using a hardware MIDI cable going into a MIDI interface on the norns. So, in your BSP example, the BSP midi goes into the splitter - I presume a hardware THRU-type splitter - and then you take one cable into the IN of a USB midi interface/cable on norns. Then just make sure that the norns patch in question is receiving on the correct midi channel.


Great answer thanks!

Related solution, if not bit convoluted, but I was able to record a midi track to Reaper (on OS X), by using a Korg Monologue in-between the computer and a Norns Shield. So computer ← usb-midi → Korg Monologue <-midi-usb → Norns Shield. As a test, I then ran Awake (manually randomizing sequence as I recorded) to get a midi track into DAW, then applied virtual instruments as needed. (In this case the wonderful Wolno library by Felt Instruments.)

Whatever I did, it was a heck of a lot fun. :slight_smile:

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Hi! Sorry if this is a dumb question, but how do I need to connect Norns (Shield) to control an external synth that has 5pin MIDI inputs (I have the Synthstrom Deluge and Korg Volca)? As far as I understand, since Norns is a “host” and the synths are “devices”, I only need a USB->5pin MIDI cable? Is that correct? Or do I need a MIDI interface for this?

A USB-MIDI cable is a MIDI interface. That will work fine.


Really? In this video loopop seems to be saying that they are not the same thing: USB & MIDI: Everything you need to know to get it right (USB MIDI Host vs Interface explained) - YouTube

But if you’ve been using a USB-MIDI cable and it works then that’s great!

Thanks for your reply!

I have, specifically, this cable working very nicely with my Norns shield.

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Brilliant thanks! I think I’ll just get the same one.

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This is also an option for midi out if you have a device with midi thru like the arturia keystep 37. Or any other midi thru controller

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I am looking to get midi out of my Norns Shield as well. Would this one work ? Thanks.

Yes, it will appear in the midi device list and you can it select on a per script basis.

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Awesome - thanks Syntheist.

Edit: I did buy the midi interface - but it do not appear in the devices list. Any hints ?

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Hey Jonlin, could you tell me how you have gotten the Norns to recognise your Midisport 2x2?
Thanks :wink:

@JoseQuervo Would you mind walking me through the process here? I have a Keystep 37, a Norns Shield and a Mac. What goes into what?

Did you get this one working? Looking for a similar solution now (and don’t want the shipping from Amazon).

Yes i did. But that specific interface has been a bit buggy, and I ended up buying a Roland um-one instead.