control + clock

norns plays well with others – black box drum machines, MIDI keyboards + faderbanks, modular synths, Max/MSP, Ableton Live, etc.

In this section, we’ll cover the basics of nestling norns among your other gear and establishing leader/follower networks for clocking in a variety of contexts.

sections: MIDI connectmanaging MIDI devicesMIDI mappingOSCclocking

MIDI control


When you connect a MIDI device to one of the four USB ports, norns automatically catalogues it under SYSTEM > DEVICES > MIDI:

figure 1: managing MIDI devices through SYSTEM > DEVICES > MIDI

norns can remember up to 16 MIDI previously-connected MIDI devices. The order of devices actually matters – many scripts will have a parameter for device port or similar, where you’ll need to specify which slot holds the device you want to use (control in or out). If you’re ever unsure which is which, just check this page.

norns will remember these devices until they’re manually removed, even if they are no longer connected. If you have more than 16 unique USB-MIDI devices you’d like to use with different norns scripts, you’ll need to manage these ports over time.


If a script doesn’t specify a device in or out port, the script will default to the device at port 1.

Let’s say we’re running a sequencer and we want to send MIDI out a connected USB-MIDI interface. The device list in figure 1 shows a 16n at port 1, but we want this to be the UM-ONE.

To assign devices:

  • select the port you wish to modify
  • press K3 to open a menu of currently connected devices
  • use E2 to select the device you wish to assign to this port
  • press K3 to assign it

To clear ports:

  • select the port you wish to modify
  • press K3 to open a menu of currently connected devices
  • press K3 while none is selected to clear the port’s assignment


As we saw in play, the controls in a script’s PARAMETERS can be fun to modify in realtime. To wrangle a bunch of parameters at once, let’s map some to one of our connected MIDI controllers.

figure 2: mapping MIDI control

To MIDI-learn:

  • hold K1 and press K3 to enable mapping mode
  • use E2 to select the parameter you wish to map and press K3 to open its mapping menu
  • with LEARN selected (default), press K3 and wiggle your MIDI control to map it to the parameter

manual map settings

  • CLEAR: clears the current map

  • cc: controller MIDI cc

  • ch: controller MIDI channel

  • dev: controller MIDI device

    • slots 1-16 enumerated in SYSTEM > DEVICES > MIDI
    • norns supports up to 16 devices
    • devices can be queried in maiden:
    -- > 1    table: 0x448a70
    -- > 5    table: 0x6abbb8
    -- > 3    table: 0x617c30
    -- > dev    userdata: 0x6b70b4a8
    -- > id        5
    -- > name    OP-Z
  • in: range of incoming MIDI values

  • out: the min/max values that in spans

    • eg. though a filter parameter might span 20 Hz to 20000 Hz, you can use out as a way to clamp a MIDI fader to a 800 Hz - 1600 Hz range
    • hold K3 while adjusting to fine-tune with 1/20th quantum
  • accum: enable when using relative midi cc streams (for controllers that send deltas rather than 0-127 absolute streams)


Every time a parameter is mapped, norns will save this configuration as a PMAP file. PMAPs are unique to the currently-loaded script and are stored under data/[scriptname]/[scriptname].pmap. An example entry:

"bd_atk":"{dev=1, ch=1, accum=false, out_lo=0, value=0, in_hi=127, out_hi=1, in_lo=0, cc=100}"

You’ll notice that these entries are identical to the ones located on the mapping screen.


Open Sound Control (OSC) is a network protocol for sending messages supported by numerous sound and media applications.

OSC allows you to control norns over WIFI using applications like Max/MSP, TouchOSC, Clean OSC, OSCulator, or Wekinator. You can create custom control surfaces to extend your gestural interactions with norns – eg. rather than using MIDI faderbank to change reverb damping, you could use a biometric sensor or Wiimote.

All of the audio parameters have OSC names. To see them, navigate to PARAMETERS > MAP:

paramOSC name
monitor modemonitor_mode
rev engine inputrev_eng_input
rev cut inputrev_cut_input
rev monitor inputrev_monitor_input
rev tape inputrev_tape_input
rev return levelrev_monitor_output
rev pre delayrev_pre_delay
rev lf fcrev_lf_fc
rev low timerev_low_time
rev mid timerev_mid_time
rev hf dampingrev_hf_damping
comp mixcomp_mix
comp ratiocomp_ratio
comp thresholdcomp_threshold
comp attackcomp_attack
comp releasecomp_release
comp pre gaincomp_pre_gain
comp post gaincomp_post_gain
input adccut_input_adc
input enginecut_input_eng
input tapecut_input_tape

Format your messages as /param/osc_name value, eg:

/param/comp_ratio 2.3
/param/rev_monitor_output 0
/param/output_level 0.5

Please note that norns receives OSC messages on port 10111.

Want to see norns + OSC in action? Check out @felart’s TouchOSC template for the LEVELS, REVERB, and COMPRESSOR controls.

For more detail on norns + OSC scripting, please see study 5.


norns benefits from a global clock system. This helps makes it straightforward to pass a clock signal from an external source to a norns script, to pass the norns internal clock to a modular synth, or sync norns and Ableton Live over WIFI.

nb. please ensure that your MIDI devices are connected as needed by following the steps in connect

figure 3: global clock settings



The global clock can be driven from four different sources.

  • internal: advances independently
  • midi: an incoming MIDI clock signal will advance
  • link: if Ableton Live and norns are on the same WIFI network, enabling Link in Live will sync norns + Live in mutual following
  • crow: pulses from a modular synth into a USB-connected crow will advance


If clock is set to internal or link, use E3 to adjust tempo (internal minimum: 1 bpm / Link minimum: 20 bpm ; maximum: 300 bpm)

If clock is set to midi or crow, an average tempo will be listed but cannot be changed.


Press K3 to restart the clock if it’s stopped.

link quantum

From Ableton:

“In order to enable the desired bar and loop alignment, an application provides a quantum value to Link that specifies, in beats, the desired unit of phase synchronization. Link guarantees that session participants with the same quantum value will be phase aligned, meaning that if two participants have a 4 beat quantum, beat 3 on one participant’s timeline could correspond to beat 11 on another’s, but not beat 12. It also guarantees the expected relationship between sessions in which one participant has a multiple of another’s quantum. So if one app has an 8-beat loop with a quantum of 8 and another has a 4-beat loop with a quantum of 4, then the beginning of an 8-beat loop will always correspond to the beginning of a 4-beat loop, whereas a 4-beat loop may align with the beginning or the middle of an 8-beat loop.”

midi out

norns can send a MIDI clock signal out to any port, regardless of the current clock source. This means norns can be a Link-to-MIDI-clock or CV-pulse-to-MIDI converter.

crow out

norns can send a clock pulse through a USB-connected crow, to clock a modular system. Using the above settings, this means norns can also convert MIDI or Link clock to CV, as well as act as a clock divider/multiplier.

crow out div

Sets the pulse rate per quarter note, eg. 4 = 4 pulses per quarter note (16ths).

crow in div

Sets the how many incoming pulses equals a quarter note, eg. 4 = 4 pulses per quarter note (16ths).