TidalCycles identity.svg
Tidal Code Screenshot.png
Developer(s)Alex McLean and others
Initial release2009
Stable release
1.7.9 / 23 December 2021; 6 months ago (2021-12-23)
Written inHaskell
Operating systemLinux, macOS, Windows
TypeLive coding environment, Algorave

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


  1. ^ McLean, Alex. "Tidal – Pattern Language for Live Coding of Music". Sound and Music Computing. Archived from the original on 2017-10-15. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  2. ^ Bick, Emily (March 2016). "Pattern Recognition". The Wire. No. 385. pp. 16–17.
  3. ^ "TidalCycles, free live coding environment for music, turns 1.0". CDM Create Digital Music. 2018-12-18. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  4. ^ McLean, Alex (2014). Making Programming Languages to Dance to: Live Coding with Tidal. Proceedings of the 2Nd ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Functional Art, Music, Modeling & Design. FARM '14. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 63–70. doi:10.1145/2633638.2633647. ISBN 978-1-4503-3039-8.
  5. ^ Mollan, Cherylann (2019-02-10). "Grooving to Algo'rhythms'". The Asian Age. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  6. ^ "Opposing forces: Rian Treanor explains how he creates intense yet subtle club music". Mixmag. 2019-03-05. Retrieved 2022-01-20.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Bick, Emily (March 2016). "Pattern Recognition". The Wire. No. 385. pp. 16–17.
  8. ^ Sinow, Catherine (2020-09-26). "Deep Algebra for Deep Beats: The Beautiful Sounds of Musical Programming". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  9. ^ "Type and jive". The Week. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  10. ^ Stewart, Jeremy; Lawson, Shawn; Hodnick, Mike; Gold, Ben (2020-02-05). "Cibo v2: Realtime Livecoding A.I. Agent". Limerick, Ireland. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Miranda, Eduardo Reck (2021-07-02). Handbook of Artificial Intelligence for Music: Foundations, Advanced Approaches, and Developments for Creativity. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-030-72116-9.
  12. ^ Ogborn, David; Beverley, Jamie; Navarro del Angel, Luis; Tsabary, Eldad; McLean, Alex (2017). Estuary: Browser-based Collaborative Projectional Live Coding of Musical Patterns (PDF). International Conference on Live Coding. S2CID 195836605. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  13. ^ Rodriguez, Jessica; Franco, Alejandro; MacLean, Alexander; McLean, Alex; Navarro, Luis; Ogborn, David (2020-07-16). "Electronic Literature Live Coding Jam/Workshop". Electronic Literature Organization Conference 2020.
  14. ^ Mollan, Cherylann (2019-02-10). "Grooving to Algo'rhythms'". The Asian Age. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  15. ^ Calore, Michael. "DJs of the Future Don't Spin Records—They Write Code". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  16. ^ a b Crilly, Lyle (2020-11-10). "Richard Devine: A Systic Approach to Acid". Roland Articles. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  17. ^ a b Mullen, Mullen. "Impossible Forms - Beatrice Dilon".((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ a b "PC Music's Lil Data to release anthology of live-coded tracks". Fact Magazine. 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  19. ^ "New Music Show". BBC Media Centre. 2020-02-02. Retrieved 2022-01-21.
  20. ^ Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom (Lil Data TidalCycles live coding edit), retrieved 2022-01-19
  21. ^ "Sonic Futures: How Technology is Guiding Electronic Music". FACT Magazine: Transmissions from the underground. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  22. ^ "Artist DIY: Digital Selves". Fact Magazine. 2020-06-09. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  23. ^ "Meet the female coders pushing electronic music into the future". Mixmag. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  24. ^ "Meet the Artists Using Coding, AI, and Machine Language to Make Music". Bandcamp Daily. 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  25. ^ "Watch the first exclusive live performance of No Man's Sky's soundtrack". PlayStation.Blog. 2017-03-30. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  26. ^ "Deru – Sound and Atmospheres". www.steinberg.net. Retrieved 2022-01-20.