project name: marcovaldo
project url:
author: notester
description: spatial sequencer with cats
discussion url:
tags: sequencer arc grid


a spatial sequencer with cats


Marcovaldo is a sequencer for monome norns. It works best with a varibright monome grid, but it isn’t required for basic use. Grids of any size will do. It’s also built with the monome arc in mind, but this is not a requirement to enjoy the script.

The Arrangement

The collection of four sequences at the heart of Marcovaldo is called its Arrangement. The rings, encoders, keys, and console all serve the Arrangement.

The Console

Marcovaldo’s screen provides both aesthetic and functional value. With an arc and a grid, the console is supplemental and largely unnecessary. As such its DEFAULT mode is animation. There are currently three scenes (mushrooms, wasps, and woodcock) suggested by the text from which the application is adapted. More will come in time.

animation mode in console

If these animations are not your cup of tea (no hard feelings), they can be disabled in Marcovaldo’s global params.

global parameters

This will replace the animations by default with the sequence status view.

default info

You can toggle between animation and sequence status with ENC 1 at any time while in DEFAULT mode (unless animations have been disabled).

There are two edit modes.

sequence mode

SEQUENCE allows for the editing of STEP COUNT (ARC 1 / ENC 2), PULSE COUNT (ARC 2 / ENC 3), OCTAVE RANGE (ARC 3 / K1 + ENC 2), and CLOCK SUBDIVISION (ARC 4 / K1 + ENC 3).

Pulses derived by PULSE COUNT and STEP COUNT are distributed by euclidean distance automatically when these attributes are changed.

From the DEFAULT mode, adjusting an arc or norns encoder will enter its associated sequence. Alternately, from DEFAULT you may enter edit mode on the last edited sequence by pressing K3. K2 will return to the DEFAULT mode.

The selected sequence can be changed using ENC 1.

step mode

STEP allows for the editing of NOTE (ARC 1 / ENC 2), PULSE ACTIVE (ARC 2 / ENC 3), PULSE STRENGTH (ARC 3 / K1 + ENC 2), and PULSE WIDTH (ARC 4 / K1 + ENC 3).

PULSE ACTIVE is an override. Adjustments persist when recalculating euclidean beats. PULSE WIDTH is a multiplier applied to the clock/subdivision calculated duration of the sequence’s pulse. The range is between 50% anf 150% of the original pulse duration.

From the SEQUENCE mode, pressing K3 will take you to STEP mode. Pressing K2 in STEP mode will return you to the parent sequence.

The selected step can be changed with ENC 1.

The Chart

While the Arrangement more or less represents the “sequencer” part of Marcovaldo, it also represents the working order of the world. The Chart, on the other hand, reflects a way of observing and interacting with that world.

It’s the grid. You don’t need it to experience the music, but something is lost without one in your ability to connect to it.

The Chart is divided into four sections. If your grid is a 256, you’ll see all four at once. If not, you’ll move between them with the page gesture.

page gesture

Each of the first three Chart plans (RADIATION, PATH, CATS) contains both FEATURES and PHENOMENA. FEATURES are stable aspects of the environment. PHENOMENA represent the ephemera of their affect on the environment. The fourth plan (RELIEF) is only PHENOMENA.

The key distinction is FEATURES can be created or moved or otherwise interacted with. PHENOMENA occur.

radiation plan

The RADIATION plan (“Moon and GNAC”) contains the emitters (FEATURES) of the four sequences, illustrating the intensity and frequency of its output (PHENOMENA).

radiation plan phenomena

Hold a press on one of the emitters while pressing a new key to change its position. These features cannot be removed, only moved and stopped.

Tap an emitter to enable or disable its associated sequence.

path plan

The PATH plan (“The City All to Himself”) is the core of the “spatial” claim of this software. Placing markers on this plan (FEATURES) allows Marcovaldo (the observer) to move between them (PHENOMENON). Where Marcovaldo is in space in relation to the various emitters alters the intensity with which he hears their emanations.

path plan phenomena

New presses automatically add to the tail of his path, however by holding a press on any marker within his path you can inject a new stop from that selected point. Tapping any marker without holding to inject a new one will remove it from the path.

cats plan

The CATS plan (“The Garden of Stubborn Cats”) introduces minor chaos to the orderly world of the arrangement. Tap anywhere to add or remove cats (FEATURES). Each has a variable amount of laziness that will determine the frequency with which it moves (PHENOMENA).

When they walk off the Chart, they’re gone for good. When they do move, they modify the characteristics of the sound in that instance. On some occasions these changes will stick. Different voices will reflect these changes differently.

relief plan

The final plan is the RELIEF (“Smoke, wind, and Soap Bubbles”). It is a collection of all the Chart phenomena layered atop one another. A visualization of how all the pieces fit together with no interactive characteristics.


SAVING and LOADING from Marcovaldo’s global parameter group will save and load not only the feature placements on the chart but also the current state of all params.

The COSMOLOGICAL CONSTANT is a global operand applied to the calculated durations of pulses. It can dramatically alter the feel of your Arrangement. Smaller number equals longer pulse.

If you do not use a grid, the global and sequence parameters are how you must manage transport.

The ADSR params of each sequence are applied as percentage multipliers to the calculated pulse duration of their respective sequence.


This sequencer gets its voice from mx.synths and would do very little without it.

Grid diagrams care of Tyler Etters’s excellent GridStation