Step Sequencing with Tidal

bad ideas…

If you are new to Tidal cycles and your background is coming from traditional step sequencers one thing that can help you get up and running quickly is to model your patterns in the same way you would a step sequencer.  You can do this rather easily using the ~ and stack as I’ll show you here.

Earlier today I wanted to lay down a basic drum n bass beat which is something I used to do quite often.  It hasn’t been that long since I used a step sequencer with intent, but it’s been long enough for me to forget the steps making it hard to come up with a mathematical equivalent.

Now because you have read all the other Tidal posts (didn’t you?), then you know I’m using Tidalink and MIDI from SuperDirt to control Ableton.  Take a look at the script below and replace -24 with a Kick, -18 with a Snare/Sidestick and then -14 with a Closed HiHat.  Also note that cps 0.69 is 165.6 BPM in Ableton which is a conservative speed for drum & bass.

cps 0.69
d1 $ stack [
  note "-24 ~ ~ ~ -22 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ -24 ~ -22 ~ ~ ~",
  note "-18*8"
] # midichan 0 # s "midi"
d1 silence

From the above example it’s pretty easy to determine that in this case we are representing a 16 step pattern with the ~ as our blank step.  You could easily represent something like an Octatrack which is 8×16 steps like this:

d1 $ stack [
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~",
  note "~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~"
] # midichan 0 # s "midi"

And this could go on, and on, and on…

You could extend this to 32, 64, 128…but I think you can see how that would start getting a little rough.  I think this is where any complex sequencer shines by using arithmetic operations, I mean in the first example you can see that instead of placing 8 ‘-18’s , I was able to just call out “-18*8”.

I’d love to start seeing how people are expressing drum beats using mathematical operations!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *