Category: Uncategorised

Slow Growth of Mastodon

I used to use twitter quite a bit, but now it’s run by a hard-right weirdo who wants to defeat the “woke mind virus” and pays awful people including Andrew Tate large amounts of money to use the platform now known as X, it’s untenable. If you’re part of an organisation that still uses X as a primary mouthpiece, please do something about that – it’s a terrible reflection on you. You’re forcing people to log in to a toxic website just to stay up-to-date with your news or access your customer service. A lot of big and small organisations, including the EU Commmission, the BBC, and of course Then Try This are building a mastodon presence, which is great.

Anyway, I’ve been really enjoying Mastodon/fediverse for a while now and my experience has been really great, and getting better all the time. For sure there are downsides, but the federated (i.e., kind of e-mail-like) model is like a return to the old-style Internet and feels like home. You can find me at:

If you don’t already have a mastodon account, just like with choosing an e-mail host, there are a lot of servers to choose from. The server I’m on is not accepting new users currently, but you can follow me from just about any other server. It’s can be nice to join a smaller, well maintained server with a local community that you can immediately engage with (you can usually see a timeline of posts local to the server separately from the people you’re following). Here’s a few servers which some of the people I follow use:

  • – “for people interested in thinking creatively and critically about technology, in the broadest sense”
  • – “for musicians, sound-artists, producers of any kind of aural noise, songwriters, bedroom producers, sonic manglers and algorave livecoders”
  • – “instance for all the ravers in the universe. Anyone who listens to electronic music (or not) is welcome.”
  • – “open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software”
  • – “for Human-computer Interaction researchers and practitioners”
  • – “a safe space, LGBTQIA+ and BLM, primarily comprised of tech industry professionals world wide”
  • – “all things creative, all on a platform that is community-owned and ad-free. NO AI OR NFTs ALLOWED.”
  • – “an instance for artists, researchers, and activists interested in exploring the intersections of technology, culture, and politics”

You can also join one of the really big instances like

If you join one, but decide to move to another, you can take your followers etc with you, so it’s not a decision for life. Be sure to introduce yourself with a post adding an #introduction tag.

Tidal 2.0 beatMode (TidalCycles vs TidalBeats?)

I’ve been rewriting Tidal again for a while but resisting actually using it, mostly out of a weird sense of delayed gratification.. Ideas expressed as code can get fixed once they become instrumentalised in a end-user interface..

But I’m finally starting to get a feel for Tidal 2.0. It’ll have two sides to it, the existing cycle-oriented pattern transformations, and a new realm of beat-oriented transformations. I wasn’t sure how both could be contained in the same interface, but just by renaming a function from toCycle to beatMode, I can start to get a feel for it. Here’s a tech test (not intended to sound nice!):

In ‘beat mode’, most things will look the same, but act differently. E.g. when you reverse a pattern in beatmode, the whole sequence gets reversed, rather than every cycle reversed independently. Even the mini-notation works, but becomes beat-oriented.

There’s a lot of reworking that’s gone into this. There’s now a Signal type which is like the old Pattern type, as well as a new Sequence type. Both Signals and Sequences are instances of a new Pattern typeclass. The nice thing is that the Signal and Sequences definitions are becoming mostly concerned with how to align and combine things of their type, most of the pattern operations can then be defined in terms of the more abstract Pattern typeclass.

This is only just starting to work, and already it’s fun to play with beatMode with its very strong polymetric affordance. It reminds me of early days of Tidal, when it was only beat-oriented. I love polymeter, and although the mininotation has always made it fairly easy to play with, it feels good to be able to do that outside of the mininotation without having to calculate ratios by hand.

Really though the payoffs for all this work are still to come. Coming up with a nice code interface for doing Carnatic-style addition/subtraction/manipulation of beats fluidly, following Aravind’s work. Also exciting are the possibilities of formalising alignment of sequences before combining them – I’ve been feeling my way around alignment of patterns for a while, including some prototyping in Strudel, and the possibilities feel limitless at the moment..

Of course beat representation is normally the very first thing you would implement in a music tech, using lists/2d arrays etc. It’s fun though to push against the usual grid-based approach, which tends towards score-like representations that are very much geared towards recording/transcribing, and not manipulating or indeed live coding with.. I continue to feel that staff notation, piano roll and all those DAW music interfaces that have flowed from them have really limited music, wherever they dominate. Lets see how it goes.

Live Coding: A User’s Manual

Live Coding: A User’s Manual is the first comprehensive introduction to the practice and a broader cultural commentary on the potential for live coding to open up deeper questions about contemporary cultural production and computational culture. This multiauthored book—by artists and musicians, software designers, and researchers—provides a practice-focused account of the origins, aspirations, and evolution of live coding, including expositions from a wide range of live coding practitioners. In a more conceptual register, the authors consider liveness, temporality, and knowledge in relation to live coding, alongside speculating on the practice’s future forms.”

A book written over a period of many years, together with the lovely Alan Blackwell, Emma Cocker, Geoff Cox and Thor Magnusson, and many more contributors. Read it here!

Interview with Benjamin Tassie

Here’s a nice interview I did with lovely fellow Sheffield-resident Benjamin Tassie, for his Future Classical show on Resonance FM. It was a fun chat and the 64th episode, you should definitely check out all the others – so many good people!

Chat with Kate Sicchio about Algorithms, Patterns, Robots and Errors

Kate Sicchio and I had a nice chat about our interest in patterns as part of this year’s International Conference on Live Interfaces, organised by Adriana Sa. I really enjoyed this format, the informal nature of it somehow got a bit deeper as an interdisciplinary exchange than a usual overloaded powerpoint-style conference talk.