Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Why The Norns?


So - it's not really modular, it's not an MPC, why get into the norns world? It is a pretty easy choice for me - because of a few things that were done brilliantly in this device:

  • Despite being a Raspberry Pi in sheep's clothing, it doesn't feel like a Pi - or anything else that would be draped in big, primary-color educational world. It feels like an electronic music instrument, and that changes my approach to the thing. It feels right - like everything that comes out of the monome labs.
  • It's got just enough, and not too much. Three encoders, three buttons. A 128x64 screen. Two inputs and two outputs. But four USB jacks means it can be extended to hell-and-back (but doesn't need to be), and the included USB networking nub means that I can attack it from anywhere.
  • It's battery-powered, which is becoming more important to me at each turn. It can be played on the back porch, charged up on the iPod station in the living room, and ready to go when I have to do that darned Wisconsin run.
  • The scripting programming language (Lua) is extended with some smart libraries by the monome crew, and many of the subtle edge cases all seem to be done right. I spent a little time this morning (woke up at 4am, so I had some personal time...) working with MIDI, and it had a minimal library that just worked to plan. I love it when that happens.
  • The backing engine is all Supercollider, which sounds a lot different than any of the instruments I'm currently using. A nice addition to my system.
All these things lead me to a system I not only love, but I look forward to working on. I'm enjoying Lua (in fact, it got me to fire up the jit.gl.lua implementation for some Max experimentation, and to buy a nice little book on Lua. Not everyone is going to look as a scripting language as a anchorpoint for fun, but it is for me.

I'm loving it, and finding myself already making some music with it - one week in. I have yet to dive into MLR very much; I'm hoping to do so this weekend. In any case, there's my view of it; I hope it can help inform you!

[ddg]

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