Sharing norns PSETs as a way to share music 📐

People are sharing Teletype code. People are sharing ORCΛ programs. Netlabels such at Thinner (RIP) and Autoplate (RIP) distributed Reaktor and Traktor project files in addition to the MP3 files. There’s of course MIDI files (mobile ringtones anyone?). In the 1990s we were sharing music as tracker .MOD files.

On norns the PSET files are sets of parameters which can be saved and loaded for each script in the PARAMETERS → PSET menu. Technically speaking norns PSETs are basically sets of key-value pairs stored in text files in subdirectories dust/data per script. Text files are easy to manipulate either manually or computationally, and the set of key-value pairs is a straightforward data structure. Less generally, the norns LUA API provides the ParamSet class. Sonically speaking norns PSETs are the specifics of an instrument and specify it’s tonal character. Philosophically speaking norns PSETs are artefacts and representations produced in the intimate interaction of the agential subjecthood of a norns user and the removed presence of the script designer and creator.

Have you ever shared norns PSET files? Would you? Would you not? Would you be interested in other people’s PSETs, would you listen to them? Or are you already?

Example PSET file

As an example, here is a random PSET file for wrms from my norns

"rev_eng_input": -9.0
"rev_cut_input": -9.0
"rev_monitor_input": -inf
"rev_tape_input": -inf
"rev_return_level": -9.6432746655329e-16
"rev_pre_delay": 60.0
"rev_lf_fc": 200.0
"rev_low_time": 6.0
"rev_mid_time": 6.0
"rev_hf_damping": 6000.0
"comp_mix": 0
"comp_ratio": 4.0
"comp_threshold": -18.0
"comp_attack": 5.0
"comp_release": 50.0
"comp_pre_gain": 0.0
"comp_post_gain": 9.0
"cut_input_adc": 0
"cut_input_eng": 0
"cut_input_tape": 0
"in L > wrm 1  L": 1
"in L > wrm 1  R": 0
"in R > wrm 1  R": 1
"in R > wrm 1  L": 0
"wrm 1 pan": 0.0
"in L > wrm 2  L": 1
"in L > wrm 2  R": 0
"in R > wrm 2  R": 1
"in R > wrm 2  L": 0
"wrm 2 pan": 0.0
"wrm 1 load": -
"wrm 2 load": -
"vol 1": 0.54
"vol 2": 0.49
"old 1": 0.74
"old 2": 0.77
"bnd 1": 1.0
"wgl both": 0.18
"s 1": 0.07
"l 1": 1.0
"> 1": 0.91
"< 2": 0.22
"stereo 1": 2
"normal both": 1

This is about challenging and troubling (in the constructive, academic sense) practices of sharing music as waveform recordings. One could argue that waveforms are dead music, killed music. I think the idea of sharing norns PSETs might fit well with the llllllllines folks.

As accessible text files the PSETs provide an affordance for intervening in norns, and what it might mean for distributing sound.


I don’t own a norns, but this reminded me a great deal of the practice of sharing VGM files, which are quite a bit smaller than a PCM capture of the audio produced by VGMs, but are also more unassuming and able to be played back by emulation or even on the original hardware after conversion to or inclusion within a ROM (in either case, usually through VGM players).

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I think this is an interesting and inspirational subject. Snippets of text which Norns scripts are made of feel like they are both musical compositions and musical instruments. I like that many scripts are designed so that users have to learn very complicated gestures to operate them. I’m not sure about sharing PSETs, I keep messing them up and try not to think about them. Somehow this question also made me thing about artists raiders and the material relations to sound they suggest.

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Interesting idea indeed!

More prosaically I’d find it useful to browse an archive of reverb & compression PSETs :slight_smile: