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?


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.

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!