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grid + norns


All editions of grid are compatible with norns. Playability is dictated by two factors, size and varibright capability.


Most norns apps are built with 128 grids in mind, which means that critical actions may utilize the full 16x8 range of keys.

Since 256 is a 16x16 grid, it will be able to interact with any app built for a 128 grid. However, there will be a lot of unused real-estate.

Since 64 is a 8x8 grid, an app’s critical functions may not be displayed or executable.

Addressing playability due to size is straightforward – since norns apps are coded in Lua, modifications can be made which either expand or constrict the app’s grid interactions.

If you want to adapt a script’s grid size, norns study 4 is a good place to start.


Over the years, the brightness of the grid’s LEDs has also evolved. From 2007 - 2010 they were all mono-bright, which meant that the lights were either on or off. Starting in 2011 four stages of “in between” brightness were possible, which opened up new ways of representing data – eg. a dim light could signal a modifier key whereas a bright light could signal a performative key.

Since 2012, grids have had 16 steps of varibrightness.

Most norns apps are built with 16-step varibright grids in mind. While 4-step and mono-bright grids will still function with these apps, there may be indicators or special functions that require 16 steps of brightness to display.

If you want to adapt a script’s LED brightness, norns study 4 is a good place to start.


After you learn how to import apps into your norns, here are a few starting points for exploring grid + norns.

  • mlr: The original live sample-cutting platform. Load samples or record live audio, then re-pitch + chop + record gestures.
  • loom: Surprisingly controllable generative sequencer. Think flin-meets-snake; notes are played when threads moving across the X and Y axis collide.
  • takt: Elektron-inspired parameter locking step sequencer. Independent lengths / time dividers per track, step retriggers, song sequencing.
  • zellen: A generative sequencer based on Conway’s Game of Life. Uses a standard norns synth engine to make sound on its own, but can also speak MIDI and CV.
  • boingg: Bouncing balls make notes, with probability. Speaks to an internal synth engine, speaks to Just Friends through crow.
  • less concepts: 1-d cellular automata generative playground, with built-in sequence-able varispeed delay (~r e f r a i n).