Algorithmic Sound Design with Tidal Cycles

Algorithmic Sound Design with Tidal Cycles

If you've been keeping updated with Puremagnetik packs over the years you know that we oftentimes venture into the geekier frontiers of sound design. One of our favorite methods of sound development is through algorithmic processes. A significant number of Puremagnetik Packs like Grainscapes, Onda and the Comput0 series have all been realized through programs like Kyma and Csound. These types of environments allow us to get beyond the closed limitations of conventional effects and help us develop processes that are simply not possible with higher level algorithms.

This month, we have been exploring the Live Coding scene - in particular a program called Tidal Cycles. Tidal runs off of a synthesizer in the Supercollider environment called SuperDirt. You do not have to get your hands dirty in Supercollider as Tidal's entire front end is as simple as it gets... It's a text editor.

Tidal allows you to create patterns - but it gets much more interesting. Tidal's specialty is in creating polyrhythms. It will automatically time a group of three to cycle within a group of 4, 5, 6 etc... With simple commands you can set up conditionals that shift the pattern, select samples, pitch and time shift, modulate, add effects, granulate (in a way), morph, bend and mutate all of the above. You can do all of this in a few lines of code and once you have the vocabulary, it takes only seconds to make a complex polyrhythm.

Tidal Cycles has a ton of potential and we are only beginning to get into it. So far it looks very promising for some sound design applications so don't be surprised to see something inspired by Tidal emerging from the Puremagnetik catalog soon!

Read more about Tidal Cycles: