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Monome norns
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Monome norns


knows something.
adores grids.
cuts sound.
shapes, filters, folds.
keeps rhythm, tells time.
summons waves.
tapes digitally.
speaks lua.
controls voltages.
can MIDI.
radios OSC.
tracks, tabulates, calculates.
sings robot melodies.
shows picture.
makes music.
brings light.
loves birds.
waits patiently.

past, present, future.

Hopefully more details to come on the lines thread.
guess i'm not hip enough to understand WTF the thing is actually doing.
for those like me who find the OP to be completely obtuse, here is the video:

some kind of looper? but it also makes bass.
It’s the first day or a couple of days of teaser videos. I would imagine it will all be clear in time.
Jason Brock
buys tripod.
steady camera.
better GIFs.
Reminds me of the Aleph
Man, I like this little raspi box. Hard not to want it since I have a grids and arc4.
JustGlyphs wrote:
Reminds me of the Aleph

i agree with less knob ...confused
Too many knobs and buttons
too many cables
not minimal enough
I'm joking
This is what many monome users wished for - it includes an app called MLR which is a 4 track live looper that you can record into, cut up, play (it records your button presses of audio slices per channel) and remixes on the fly (into another channel if you like) In the demo he's recording into 4 channels - each audio recording gets mapped across the length of the monome (which you can play), hes also adding effects and stretching the recording sample. You could only use MLR before with a monome attached to a laptop and it was kind of buggy and unstable. MLR is one of the original apps that was released when monome started as a company and was written in Max/MSP. MLR without needing a laptop was requested by many users 9 years ago. It looks like it will also play other monome apps too.
IMO its the best sample based improvisation performance tool i've ever used.
And of course mudlogger nails it.
I'm so happy I got a grid again just recently, which I can now interface with norns whenever I have the funds for it.
MLR is pure genius. I've played band gigs with just MLR and a small euro system.
Today's post:

yes, the machine is called norns

norns is _______

the difficulty of the question inspired yesterday’s introductory text. or poem, if you will.

norns is an idea.

a thread i/you/we have been following for a a long time. the grid was/is part of this. the idea is:

part of the language of music is instrument building. electronic music in particular has brought toolmaking and composition and performance all into a blurry/fantastic collision. and making instruments is more within reach than ever. (1)


it’s just computers, right? (2) but what matters is how we interact with these objects. and having control over how these objects work and what they do and do not do. (3)

norns is a platform for sound processing and synthesis. code connects sonic ideas to process ideas to interaction ideas. but that doesn’t sound so new, didn’t we do that already? to catch up:

aleph, sound computer, 2013. designed with ezra buchla. the roots are here. open-source programmable dsp and control with the possibility to be hacked at a very low level. tricky development platform. (4) highly featured and expensive, we made 100 units.

teletype, algorithmic ecosystem, 2015. a module that you type scripts into with a simple syntax to do musical operations. (5) at first it seemed like an absurd proposition but over time more musicians realized how nice it is to make little scores with text like CV 1 RAND 10. the results are immediate, the process is fun.

norns, ______, 2018. it runs scripts that talk to dsp engines. (6) the scripts are easy to understand, the dsp is powerful. code is edited in a web browser. code is shareable. instruments are code.

what am i talking about? (7)

norns use case:

you are in the desert, you see a tortoise, and you want to control the filter cutoff in the feedback loop of your delay line, which currently doesn’t have a knob.

get a computer, open the editor, add a line of code, re-run the script with a single button.
whoa it works. that’s cool. but it would be better if the range was confined to the mids.

add a couple of numbers to the code, re-run. oh no, a typo, but it was displayed and easily fixed.
sometimes i’m plagued by indecision, why not have a key randomize the knob value?

add another line.
i don’t even want to touch it.

add a few lines to set up a new metronome which throws numbers at the filter cutoff.
how about some lag to smooth out the jumps?

add a line to the synth init.
ok i want a granulator instead but i don’t want to write code right now.

browse the community scripts.

that’s the idea. and of course most of the time norns should just be used for making music. it will include instruments both familiar and new.

so what was that video?

it’s an evolution of mlr, a grid-based sample-cutting application from the beginning of monome. (8)

virtual tape loops are mapped to grid rows where playback position is displayed and key presses cut to the location.

playback speed (with reverse) is mapped to the grid in addition to record punch in and overdub.

keypresses can be recorded and played back in patterns to automate gestures.

within the cutting interface smaller sub-loops can be selected and looped.

there’s a lot more. (9)

the metallophone is sampled, cut up, and speed modulated. a pattern is used to automate cutting. the op-1 is a sound source only, the drone chord sampled. later the huge bass note is sampled. norns (mlr) is doing all of the processing, sequencing, sampling. (and yes it’s running on its own power.)

in fewer words: the video showed various instrument ideas i’ve been pursuing for over a decade. and these ideas change. norns isn’t about about one idea.

poets and technical writers and comedians and others, i’d love to hear from you:

norns is _______
until tomorrow.

(1) audio patching/programming software has been around for decades, and the growing popularity of hardware modular synths seem to confirm an interest in imagining/building instruments.
(2) everything is a computer.
(3) my other music computer is also a perpetual surveillance station.
(4) firmware programming without an OS is a specialized skill.
(5) teletype uses code based on ezra’s framework from the aleph.
(6) designed with ezra, mentioning him yet again because he is a true wizard.
(7) too many abstracts, the marketing team is not impressed
(8) back when we used mice and made sick beats
(9) it’s still changing, and changing it is so easy.

I'm definitely intrigued. Afraid it's going to be over my budget, but intrigued.
SPIKE the Percussionist
really neato.

i had an Aleph and it just wasn't for me with regards to programming and stability.

i hope this one is way more user friendly and stable.

there is a very lonely Monome in the studio waiting to be put back into a noiz circuit.
Some more details from the Lines thread:


in order:

super-parameterized polysynth by @zebra
old-akai-style sampler by @jah
simple percussive polysynth by @tehn
classic outerspace noise by james mccartney
multitrack granulator by @artfwo
norns has two sides: control scripts and sound engines.

the script chooses which sound engine to use. and decides what to do with key and knob input and midi notes and grids. and then considers what to draw on the screen or start a sequencer. and tell the sound engine what to do. (1) or how to sound.

the sound engine tells the script what parameters it has and what kind of analysis data it produces.

it’s a bit like a plugin in a DAW. except here the DAW is the language lua, and the plugin is the entire supercollider environment. (2)

both scripts and and sound engines are customizable. engines are reusable across different scripts. everything can get modified at runtime. supercollider has a huge library of generators (all the oscillators, filters, noise, transformers, crispers, sparklers, splappers) with which to assemble stuctures. (3)

and of course both scripts and sound engines live in an already-growing community repository.(4) we’ll talk more about code later.

norns makes ________ sound. what shall we ask?

(1) asks nicely.
(2) there was a hint earlier in this post.
(3) scripts and engines communicate via a defined OSC protocol so it’s perfectly possible to use a different dsp application, though we’re committed to exploring sc further for now.
(4) some of the engines in the video above i hadn’t even seen until this morning!


we create objects. we take object-ness very seriously. objects should invite and attract and live long lives.
we’ve said this before: minimalism is difficult. proportions and functionality and finish and materials are important in equal measure. (1) we believe that when minimalism succeeds it leaves space for your own ideas and enforces less of a singular, specified agenda.

milled aluminum block, hard anodized. (2) custom molded knob and key caps. (3) recessed rubber feet. huge bright monochromatic pixels.

no distractions. no branding. no labels. (4)

future wide open.

(1) thanks to @kelli_cain’s exceptional design sensibility.
(2) 3D architecture by @r__o!
(3) we’re using the same US manufacturers that have helped bring our designs into reality since 2006.
(4) no labels was a difficult decision. with so few controls and jacks you internalize the layout within minutes. and if you prefer, a stripe of masking tape fits perfectly for mixer-style reminders.
A battery driven device that runs supercollider is quite exciting to me, also being able to connect a Grid,Arc or other controllers.

Though I still would have liked for two more encoders to increase the portability. I can see me sitting on a train or in the woods, playing the norns on a Grid and wishing for more encoders to sculpt the sound without needing to connect another device. And I would hesitate to carry Arc around in a bag out of fear to break the encoders.

Also a slightly bigger screen and the possibility to work on a supercollider engine on the device itself without needing a computer would have made me getting one regardless of the price.

But still it looks great as a modular digital instrument platform, highly customizable with external controllers and internal scripting. You could just a use a macbook instead but norns might feel more focused.

I am curious how it evolves.
Leverkusen wrote:
And I would hesitate to carry Arc around in a bag out of fear to break the encoders.

Have you ever taken your Arc apart? It seems like a pretty robust construction to me.
Looks like May 3rd might be the release date.
GoneCaving wrote:
Leverkusen wrote:
And I would hesitate to carry Arc around in a bag out of fear to break the encoders.

Have you ever taken your Arc apart? It seems like a pretty robust construction to me.

Yes, actually I already had to take it apart to fix issues I had with the knob bearings. Basically the knobs are screwed into the bearings and I would be afraid that something gets bent in a bag (not so with the Grid buttons). Also they tend to get loose over time. I would not call the Arc design robust but simple.

Anyway, one might build a nice little case with moulded foam as the ism was to carry ones specific configuration around and it could still be small enough to fit in rucksack besides your every day necessities.
I'm happy with a knitted soft case inside my bag. I think you'd have to be pretty unlucky to bend the axle.
This looks really interesting, as like others above I have a grid that needs more friends to play with. I think one of the main things for me would be that since I don't speak supercollider (or lua, whatever that is), would I even be able to make sense of even those things which others have made or written. I imagine I would, but like tehn says "we'll talk more about code later." In any case all props to those mad geniuses at monome. SlayerBadger! we're not worthy help
GoneCaving wrote:

A fellow caver! I’ve caved with quite a few Irish cavers!
Ha, wonder if we’ve crossed paths then?
GoneCaving wrote:
Ha, wonder if we’ve crossed paths then?

It’s possible ! I live in the uk (should be easy to guess the area :-) from my username!). I’ve caved with a few Burren cavers in India if that narrows it down...
Not caved there or been on those expeditions. We definitely have friends in common though.
GoneCaving wrote:
Not caved there or been on those expeditions. We definitely have friends in common though.

Yes - I believe so :-) Probaby we know a guitar making olive oil presser as well as a night stalker, amongst quite a few others!

Those trips are great fun and very chilled! Not quite the same without JRat though....

Just googled you (real name is on twitter :-) and we havent caved together!
many tomorrows

tomorrow is may 3.

thank you for your patience and participation in this unfolding story. i’m hoping it created a deeper understanding of our motivations along with the capabilities and the future potential of norns.

yes, tomorrow we’ll open a pre-order for the first 100 devices. $800. 1pm EST.

we’ll be able to ship this initial run around may 22— there will be lots of building, testing, and packing until then. once the first 100 of norns are spoken for we will re-open ordering for the second run of 100 devices but these will ship later, likely late june. we’ve spent substantial effort on manufacturability and intend to meet demand over time.

norns software will evolve rapidly in the first months. i’ve only just gotten to enjoy it creatively over the last few weeks— prior to that it’s been engineering fever. i’m very excited to make new things to share in the future, but here are some scripts that will ship with the device:

mlr (with grid support) — looper shown in the first video
some non-grid auto-mlr-ish sample proccesor
various ways to control the polysynth
asynchronous looper(s)
granulator (with grid and not-grid interface)
live step sequencer (including non-grid ER mode)
variations on kria and earthsea
drone machine with a bunch of parameters
yes, most of these are very loosely defined. part of this is because variations are so easy, and variation is good. (1)

what else is new? (2)

may 8 (next tuesday) we’ll be at commend in NYC from 5-8pm. we’ll have several norns for you to play with and there will be some short music performances at 7pm.

more questions?

i’ll do my best to fully address questions posted here— thank you again for your patience.

the other new thing is called crow. it’s a collaboration with mannequins (@galapagoose). it’s 2hp, 2in / 4out (bipolar) with USB device input. it’s chainable (internally) and has i2c. norns (and other computers) will use it to speak CV, but it also speaks lua itself and can take itself on its own adventures. it’ll be ready in a few months.

thank you for all of the “norns is _____” responses. this community is a bright light.

norns is many tomorrows. (3)

(the end and the beginning they are the same.)

(1) some of you likely remember the days with numerous customized variations of mlr.
(2) got a restyling, live tomorrow. thank you joel (@iamkiyn)!
(3) norns is a new thing? tomorrow is a new day? a new day is a new thing? is it?
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