Last updated
TidalCycles identity.svg
Tidal Code Screenshot.png
Developer(s) Alex McLean and others
Initial release2009
Stable release
1.7.9 / 23 December 2021;33 days ago (2021-12-23)
Repository https://github.com/tidalcycles/Tidal/
Written in Haskell
Operating system Linux, macOS, Windows
Type Live coding environment, Algorave
License GPLv3
Website tidalcycles.org

TidalCycles (also known as "Tidal") is a live coding environment designed for musical improvisation and composition. In particular, it is a domain-specific language embedded in Haskell, focused on the generation and manipulation of audible or visual patterns. [1] [2] [3] It was originally designed for heavily percussive, polyrhythmic grid-based music, but now uses a flexible, functional reactive representation for patterns, using rational time. [4] Tidal may therefore be applied to a wide range of musical styles, although its cyclic approach to time means that it affords use in repetitive styles such as Algorave. [5]



TidalCycles was created by Alex McLean who also coined the term Algorave. [6]

TidalCycles is a domain-specific language embedded in Haskell, focused on the generation and manipulation of audible or visual patterns. [7] Tidal's representation of rhythm is based on metrical cycles, [8] inspired by Indian classical music, [9] supporting polyrhythmic and polymetric structures using a flexible, functional reactive representation for patterns, and rational time. Tidal does not produce sound itself, but via the SuperCollider sound environment through the SuperDirt framework, or via MIDI or Open Sound Control.

Tidal is also used widely in academic research, including as a representation in music AI, [10] [11] as a language in network music, [12] and in electronic literature. [13]

Tidal is widely used at Algorave algorithmic dance music events, [14] [15] as well as being used on high profile music releases. [16] [17] [18] It has been featured on BBC Radio 3's New Music Show. [19]

Artists using TidalCycles

Related Research Articles

Computer music is the application of computing technology in music composition, to help human composers create new music or to have computers independently create music, such as with algorithmic composition programs. It includes the theory and application of new and existing computer software technologies and basic aspects of music, such as sound synthesis, digital signal processing, sound design, sonic diffusion, acoustics, electrical engineering and psychoacoustics. The field of computer music can trace its roots back to the origins of electronic music, and the first experiments and innovations with electronic instruments at the turn of the 20th century.

Polyrhythm Simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms

Polyrhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more rhythms that are not readily perceived as deriving from one another, or as simple manifestations of the same meter. The rhythmic layers may be the basis of an entire piece of music (cross-rhythm), or a momentary section. Polyrhythms can be distinguished from irrational rhythms, which can occur within the context of a single part; polyrhythms require at least two rhythms to be played concurrently, one of which is typically an irrational rhythm. Concurrently in this context means within the same rhythmic cycle. The underlying pulse, whether explicit or implicit can be considered one of the concurrent rhythms. For example, the son clave is poly-rhythmic because its 3 section suggests a different meter from the pulse of the entire pattern.

SuperCollider is an environment and programming language originally released in 1996 by James McCartney for real-time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition.

Live coding Integration of programming as part of running program

Live coding, sometimes referred to as on-the-fly programming, just in time programming and conversational programming, makes programming an integral part of the running program.

Minimal techno is a subgenre of techno music. It is characterized by a stripped-down aesthetic that exploits the use of repetition and understated development. Minimal techno is thought to have been originally developed in the early 1990s by Detroit-based producers Robert Hood and Daniel Bell. By the early 2000s the term 'minimal' generally described a style of techno that was popularized in Germany by labels such as Kompakt, Perlon, and Richie Hawtin's M-nus, among others.

<i>Fakevox</i> 2000 studio album by Plus-Tech Squeeze Box

FAKEVOX is the debut album by Japanese electronic music band Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, which was released in Japan on September 15, 2000, and in the United Kingdom on January 7, 2002. It was later re-released in Japan on April 15, 2005 with a different bonus track and included a music video.

Scott Wilson is a Canadian composer. He studied music and composition in Canada, the U.S., and Germany, and his teachers include Barry Truax, Wolfgang Rihm, Christos Hatzis, Gary Kulesha, Ron Kuivila, Alvin Lucier, Owen Underhill, Neely Bruce and David Gordon Duke. Since 2004 he has lived in Birmingham, UK, where he is Reader in Electronic Music and Director of Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre and the Electroacoustic Studios at the University of Birmingham.

Live electronic music is a form of music that can include traditional electronic sound-generating devices, modified electric musical instruments, hacked sound generating technologies, and computers. Initially the practice developed in reaction to sound-based composition for fixed media such as musique concrète, electronic music and early computer music. Musical improvisation often plays a large role in the performance of this music. The timbres of various sounds may be transformed extensively using devices such as amplifiers, filters, ring modulators and other forms of circuitry. Real-time generation and manipulation of audio using live coding is now commonplace.

Kuniyuki Takahashi is a Japanese DJ and music producer, sound engineer from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

Nick Collins is a British academic and computer music composer. From 2006–2013 he lived in Brighton, UK, and ran the music informatics degrees at the University of Sussex. In 2013 he became Reader at the University of Durham.

Alex McLean British musician and researcher (born 1975)

Alex McLean is a British musician and researcher. He is notable for his key role in developing live coding as a musical practice, including for creating TidalCycles, a live-coding environment that allows programmer musicians to code simply and quickly, and for coining the term Algorave with Nick Collins.

Slub (band)

Slub is an algorave group formed in 2000 by Adrian Ward and Alex McLean, joined by Dave Griffiths in 2005 and Alexandra Cardenas in 2017. They are known for making their music exclusively from their own generative software, projecting their screens so their audience can see their handmade interfaces. Their music is improvised, and advertised as falling within the ambient gabba genre.

Maya Jane Coles British musician

Maya Jane Coles is a music producer, audio engineer and DJ based in the United Kingdom, born in London of British and Japanese descent. Under her real name, she mostly composes and plays techno music, while her alias Nocturnal Sunshine creates darker, more bass-driven productions with a heavy hip-hop and dub influence. She was previously part of an electronic dub duo called She Is Danger with Lena Cullen.

Benoît and the Mandelbrots computer music brand

Benoît and the Mandelbrots, named after French American mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot, is a Computer Music band formed in 2009 in Karlsruhe, Germany. They are known for their live coded and Algorave performances, the Digital Arts practice of improvising with programming languages that gradually dissolves the distinction between composer and performer.


An algorave is an event where people dance to music generated from algorithms, often using live coding techniques. Alex McLean of Slub and Nick Collins coined the word "algorave" in 2011, and the first event under such a name was organised in London, UK. It has since become a movement, with algoraves taking place around the world.

Alexandra Cardenas is a Colombian composer and improviser now based in Berlin, who has followed a path from Western classical composition to improvisation and live electronics. Her recent work has included live coding performance, including performances at the forefront of the Algorave scene, she also co-organised a live coding community in Mexico City. At the 2014 Kurukshetra Festival Cardenas was a keynote speaker and hosted a music live coding workshop, the first of its kind in India. Cardenas has been invited to talk about and perform live coding at events such as the Berlin based Transmediale festival and the Ableton sponsored Loop symposium, and held residencies including at Tokyo Wonder Site in Japan and Centre for the Arts in Mexico City.

Ixi lang Live coding environment

Ixi lang is a programming language for live coding musical expression. It is taught at diverse levels of musical education and used in Algorave performances. Like many other live coding languages, such TidalCycles, ixi lang is a domain-specific language that embraces simplicity and constraints in design.

Joanne Armitage Musical artist

Joanne Armitage is a composer, improviser and researcher based in Leeds, England, notable for her practice in live coded music, and research into haptics in music performance. She performs internationally using the SuperCollider language, including as half of live coding duo ALGOBABEZ with Shelly Knotts associated with the Algorave movement. Her music is often performed in a club setting, while embracing error and uncertainty. She is also known as advocate for diversity in music and technology, including through invited workshops. Armitage is a lecturer in Digital Media at the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, UK.

OG Parker American record producer from Georgia

Joshua Isaih "OG" Parker, is an American record producer from Atlanta. He is currently signed to Quality Control Music and has been with the label since 2014. OG Parker has produced for artists including Migos, Chris Brown, Tory Lanez, Fetty Wap, K Camp, YFN Lucci and Kollision.


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