Tidal workshops

I’ve run many TidalCycles workshops over the years, and am adaptable to different durations (from 2 hours to 2 days) and skill levels (music and/or programming or none) including mixed groups. Below is an example blurb + itinerary for a two day workshop for people new to Tidal, however I can provide a custom itinery to match your schedule. A maximum of around 10 people works well for an in-depth workshop with a single instructor. I ask for a decent day rate, including preparation and travel time, with travel/accommodation costs covered. This is negotiable based on the level of funding available, but I do ask for a reasonable fee to help support ongoing development of Tidal, which is a fully free/open source project. I’m of course very happy to build a performance and/or talk into a visit, and there may be an opportunity to align with other travel to keep costs down. Please get in touch to discuss – I’m on alex@slab.org.


A hands-on workshop, making algorithmic patterns with the free/open source live coding environment TidalCycles (http://tidalcycles.org/), taught by its instigator Alex McLean. Participants will explore ways to create complex patterns from simple parts. The workshop will be accessible to all, no prior experience with code or music necessary. Please try to install tidal in advance. If you have any issues with installation arrive to the workshop an hour early and we’ll get you running.

Day one

  • Background
  • Basics of polyrhythmic sequencing with Tidal
  • Introduction to patterns – repetition, symmetry, interference and glitch
  • Haskell syntax
  • Finish with some network music – jamming together over a network (using extramuros or troop)

Day two

  • More complex patternings
  • Strategies for live coding performance
  • Composing with tidal
  • Superdirt – synths, customisation, multichannel, midi control (external synths)
  • Visualisation


Alex McLean is musician, researcher, software artist, free software developer, and event organiser. He completed his thesis “Artist Programmers and Programming Languages for the Arts” in 2011, in Goldsmiths, University of London, and co-edited the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music with Roger Dean, published in 2018. He is now based in Sheffield UK, while working part-time as post-doctoral researcher as part of the PENELOPE project at Deutsches Museum, Munich, and working on other projects including performing music, organising algomech festival, being board member of access space the rest of his time.

Alex has performed live coded music widely since the year 2000, at major festivals including Sonar, Bangface, STRP, Ars Electronica, Transmediale, Sonic Acts, No Bounds, Deershed, Bluedot, Tate Modern and Arnolfini. He maintains several performance collaborations including as Slub and CCAI, and also performs solo as Yaxu. He releases live coded music on Sheffield’s Computer Club label, including his forthcoming (slightly delayed) album Spicule.

He performs using the TidalCycles live coding environment, which he first created around the year 2009 and which has since become an active free/open source software project. Tidal is a language for describing musical pattern, which has lead into Alex’s current research position, applying live coding techniques to ancient approaches to textile pattern.

Alex has organised/curated well over a hundred electronic art and music events, including the AlgoMech Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement in 2016 and 2017. Alex co-founded Algorave and TOPLAP movements, as well as the international conferences on Live Coding and Live Interfaces.