Thoughts on the course

Thanks again for signing up for the first four week block of "tidal club" course activities. I'm pretty astonished that there are over 200 registrations! Especially as I haven't promoted it very much, and didn't give a lot of information about the course.. Thanks for your trust!

I'm a little worried that there are some problems with the 'easy installers' at the moment. If you get problems, please speak up early, by posting in the "help" category, and we'll get things sorted out. Be sure to include what operating system you're using, what you've tried and any error messages you're getting.

I should say that "Tidal Club" was originally the name of an in-person meetup here in Sheffield instigated by Lucy Cheesman aka @heavy.lifting. Thanks Lucy for letting me take it online! She's an
experienced Tidal workshop superhero, and especially with so many signups, I hope will be getting involved in running this one too.

I'm still working out what this online Tidal Club is and what happens at the end of the four weeks. At the moment I think it'd be great if Tidal Club could continue as a tidal community whatever happens, and then future course cycles happen within that. Maybe there'll be a break of a week before another four-week block of material. Lets see how things pan out and work this out together!

So the first week starts this Saturday 11th April 2020. As I've said elsewhere, I think we should start by going through how to add sounds to SuperDirt. Then we could jump straight into making music, taking a first good look at Tidal's built-in "mini-notation" for sequencing music.

I've given workshops before (including a weekend summer school in collaboration with Lucy), but never a full, comprehensive course. I think one of the main adjustments for me will be in coming up with activities for you to work through, as you develop your practice longer term. To help with this, hopefully I'll be able to get Lucy and other experienced Tidal performers to give different perspectives on Tidal, and approaches to learning it.

This is intended to be a from-scratch course, but I know some of you already have some experience with Tidal. Just as when using an old can opener, sometimes you have to go round two or three times before you get all the gaps. I'll also be dropping in information about new and under-documented things too, which will hopefully keep everyone interested.

By the way, feel free to ask questions about anything! Especially if your questions seems stupid - there's no such thing. I've learned a lot from teaching Tidal workshops, because those uncertain questions often give important insights in what is missing from Tidal. All questions are good. Don't worry too much about asking questions in the wrong place either - the structure of the forum is still developing, and things can always be moved around.

I've made a category "cycle 0" where all the material for the next four weeks will go:

You might want to click on the 'bell' icon in the top right, to turn notifications on, so that you get emails about new course materials.

Ok that's it for now! Feel free to ask questions below about how the course will run.


By the way I saw on the introductions thread that a few people were giving their pronouns. I’ve now configured the system so it now asks new users for theirs, and others can update theirs via their profile preferences. Just click on someone’s name to get their pronouns.


Hi thank you lots, i just have one question about Tidal, i am wondering if you can do real time speech/vocals synthesis? synthesizing texts?

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Speech-to-text isn’t built in to superdirt yet. It might be quite straightforward to add it, though, for someone who knows supercollider well. Unconventional speech synthesis is something I’d love to explore in the future.


I was wondering if we could create a thread to share small snippets of code we came up with so that we can share and try out how other people interpreted the assignment.


Hi @yaxu,
I did mention a few things in my sign up form, but I've been thinking through it some more and have some ideas (assuming this isn't happening already):

I think it would be good to have a goal for the end of each week to produce something - audio output, or just a unique pattern conforming to some criteria based on the material for the week - just to make sure there's actual participation.

For the final week, a decent scale project (2 min live track audio) might be suitable

It's all too easy to just constantly consume in this world, so I think some enforced creation will be good (esp. for people like me) :slight_smile:


Thanks @anachronite and @cleary,

I did pick up this idea from this on the form, thanks.. I have been thinking about making tasks, threads for sharing and so on. I wanted to make something so that it'd be possible to post a tidal pattern here, and have my server automatically render it as sound. I am super short on sleep at the moment though, so didn't manage to get it working over this weekend.

I think I'll prioritise cranking a few more videos out over the next day or two, and meanwhile will think about an end of week project, suggestions welcome. :slight_smile:

It'd be nice to organise feedback for those who'd appreciate that. One problem is we have 300 people signed up, and if everyone actively contributes a (say) 3 minute piece, that'd already be five hours of material! Of course it'd be an optional territory, and only a portion will opt-in.. and as you say the task could be to make a single pattern, rather than a whole piece. But nonetheless, perhaps we should have something set up where we each feed back on a few pieces? Or perhaps just form smaller break-off study groups for people who'd find that helpful? I know @heavy.lifting has been thinking about how we could introduce an art crit approach to this kind of thing. I'm sure this is well charted territory for MOOCs, but it's all quite new to me..


I’d be interested in this :slight_smile:

Yeah the MOOCs do it, but it's pretty hard work in my experience. The forum interaction experience on edX for example is pretty poor which is something you could definitely leverage better with discourse/achievements I expect.

An opt-in participation thread for each week might be a good start. Something that already sets you aside from the MOOCs is your active participation. If you were to actually highlight two or three contributions that are "interesting" for some reason (unique applications of functions/some particular feature/or just to highlight common mistakes/optimisations) - that way there's obviously two way engagement which is something I think is really high value.

You won't need to listen to everyone's, just grab a random handful and pull some threads on two or three specific bits that stand out to you.

Anyway, not demanding anything here, just making suggestions - once again, I really appreciate the work you're putting in and the consideration of how you're doing it :+1:


Thanks a lot for this, that makes a lot of sense. I haven’t managed to properly participate in the MOOCs I optimistically signed up for in the past, so these insights are great. I’m happy to not be using MOOC software as I’m sure there are a lot of assumptions built into the way they work.

I’m a bit fan of Mark Guzdial’s work on computing education, and he’s been really scathing about MOOCs in the past:

“The main activity of a teacher is to orchestrate learning opportunities, to get students to do and think” - I think this ties in nicely with your ideas/suggestions @cleary and I’ll take that onboard! Perhaps with music though we should be doing, thinking and listening, because I think live coding is about perception as much as it is about action…

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No worries, happy to be of assistance - this is stuff that I think on a lot without a lot of opportunity to execute so I’m glad it’s of use

That was an interesting read - I’ve done a few MOOC courses, completed them all and found them really high value (although as noted, they can be massively improved )

But as my wife has mentioned to me on multiple occasions, I don’t learn like a lot of other people, so according to that post I’m one of the lucky few that the MOOC fits…

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Thanks everyone who made it for the live stream, you can watch on catch up here.

We're quite a bit ahead of the plan already. The mini-notation week was originally going to be a fairly gentle introduction.. I imagined doing one video per week, but we've got most of it covered over three of them already. But please don't worry if you've not got through everything yet. We'll pick up questions on old posts so ask away.

Week two is going to be mainly about effects. SuperDirt has a wide range of fun effects - distortion, reverb and other filters. You can pattern these separately to the sounds they're working on, so there's some mind-bending fun ahead, especially when we start taking a closer look at how different kinds of patterns get combined into one.

Towards the end of the week we'll start looking at a few functions for manipulating the fabric of time, and think about doing some creative tasks.. Onwards!


So I don't know if there's time for this or anything but I think a really neat supplement to Week 1 would be examples of how mininotation maps to the underlying API of pattern building functions. Like {hd*4,sn*3/2} becomes what mess concatenated functions? I'd find this helpful in just connecting the somewhat intuitive sense I have of mininotation with the guts of Tidal & how the Pattern type works.



I would also find that very interesting.

Yes that's a good idea. I'll try to do that this week.


(As part of my spring cleaning I've merged a couple of separate threads into this single one for thoughts about the course.)

Looking ahead to week 4, I think I'll focus on two related things - continuous patterns, and randomness. This will include shaping or automating effects over time with sine, sawtooth etc waves, and different kinds of random functions. We'll also look at some functions for shuffling, and generally think about what randomness is, and what it does and doesn't give us (beware, I have some opinions on this).

After that it'll be the end of the cycle.. I think I'll then take a week off from releasing videos, although the forum will of course stay open and the materials available long term. That'll give me time to work on the reference text and look into coordinating better with @heavy.lifting and other potential contributors to the course.

I'll ask you all to go through the pay-as-you-feel wall to get access to the next batch of videos etc for the next four weeks, but as before will make no judgment about those who can't afford it for reasons of exchange rate or lack of cash! This course is for all.

So after next week and the rest week, we'll likely kick off the next cycle with focus on making melodies, something I've been having a lot of fun with lately.. Then after that a week on interference patterns, another on 'escaping the grid', maybe another on input and output via MIDI and others, at which point we'll be through the Tidal basics and I'll be open to suggestions of what we do next! It might be that eight weeks in total is enough, lets see..


@yaxu I have one other thought for the sharing/challenge component:

Define hashtags we can use to easily find others content on soundcloud/clyp -
I'd do one like #cycle0 as a generic tag to identify course participants, and #challenge1 or otherwise similarly named to suit the activity.
It might be worth trying to get #tidalcycles used commonly too, you could get a handle on how many people out there are creating with it?


@yaxu thanks a lot for organising this, I'm finding it very useful and fun!

After the basics are covered, one topic I'd like to suggest would be looking at how to actually put it all together, approaches for making live sets, songs etc. I know each artist eventually develops her own style and it's all very personal, but I think it'd be interesting hearing some point of view and learning more about the big picture, live performance strategies etc.

For me personally that has always been the big obstacle with tidal (and livecoding in general): I do some tutorials, learn the language, even manage to write down some nice loop but then I find it really hard to go from there to say a 1h set...

I know it all requires practice and is not something that can be explained in one video, but I thought it could be a nice topic to explore and discuss! :slight_smile:


Hi Dan,

Sorry taken a while to respond to this! I hope the performance talkthrough with @hellocatfood helped a bit towards this. Will talk with @heavy.lifting about how to approach this aspect too, we covered preparing for sets etc in the summerschool we ran in Sheffield last year.

I would say though that preparing a 1h solo live coding set is tricky. I like 30 mins as a sweet spot, 40 mins as a comfortable maximum (with preparation, a good night's sleep etc!). I have done 2 hour+ performances, but generally only in collaboration.. We should set up some networked collaboration as part of this course at some point - it's a great way to get inspiration!


Right! Maybe just tagging #tidalclub and #tidalcycles is enough?