Tidal Cycles is not a big monolithic software. It is better to think about it as an interconnexion between several components:
- A Pattern Library
- (1) Your text editor
- (2) The interpreter (Haskell)
- An audio engine
- (1) SuperDirt for receiving messages and turning them to sound.
- (2) SuperCollider, sending sound out.
There will always be two steps to launch Tidal:
- Start SuperCollider and then SuperDirt inside of it.
- Start Tidal Cycles from your text editor.
This page will explain you how to do so. It will also teach you to automate these tasks so you won't have to repeat the setup part again and again 😄.
The most minimalistic command you could use to start SuperDirt is the following one:
However, this command will start the engine using the SuperCollider default server options. It might not be the best solution. Depending on your needs, you might want to adapt to a specific audio configuration. You might also want to load more (or less) samples and finetune the memory or the latency of the audio server.
For a more fine-tuned startup configuration, take a look at this script (also visible below).
Evaluate the script or the line by selecting the text in the editor and pressing Ctrl/Cmd+Enter. You should see the following line in the logs after a few seconds:
You can now launch Tidal Cycles from your text editor and make music.
Open SuperCollider. Click on
File > Open startup file. Paste the following text-file in the new buffer that just appeared:
Save the file, and voilà! SuperCollider will always boot SuperDirt as soon as the program is launched. As you can see, this script is also showing you how to load custom audio samples, and how to deal with multichannel sound.
You will find an up-to-date version of the script here.
Alternatively, you can start
sclang from the terminal to get an interactive prompt without having to launch the SuperCollider IDE.
We will assume that you are working with the Atom editor for now. For specific instructions concerning the text editor of your choice, take a look at the
Get a Text Editor submenu in the sidebar that will contain more detailled instruction.
- Start Atom
- Create a new file and save it with a filename that ends in
- open the Packages menu and select
TidalCycles -> Boot Tidal Cycles. A small window will open at the bottom of the window containing the
t>prompt (and hopefully no error messages).
Let's try it! Type the following pattern in the text editor and press
Shift+Enter to evaluate it (
Ctrl+Enter will evaluate multiple lines):
If you hear sound, congratulations 👍 ! If you get stuck, you are welcome to ask questions and share problems on the forum, the RocketChat or the Discord group. Something must be misconfigured or missing from your Tidal system!
As is common with free software, you have alternative choices for the different components that make up a Tidal Cycles system. Atom and SuperDirt might be all you ever need, but there are other editors and synths you can use. Take a look at the sidebar to see the alternatives.