Visualizing Tidal Patterns via MIDI

bad ideas…

Anyone that has dipped into any programming language, or any commendable skill knows that practice makes perfect.  I’d wager that most of us that are using Tidal are doing this constantly…I mean even kindohm did a pattern a day for a full year (which I would attribute as directly leveling up his skills).  I’m trying to do something similar but since MIDI is my digs, that is what I’m using.

In this post I’ll be showing you a quick and simple method for visualizing your patterns using Tidal Midi and Ableton (but any DAW that can record MIDI should work).

Tidal patterns can get insane pretty quickly, and well, even just flipping through the manual some of the functions might not make sense immediately.  There are audio clips which give you a great way to audibly hear what is happening but in some cases it helps to have a visual reference.  Last week I was messing with some ‘every n’ nesting and at some point I lost track of what where I was going with it (as I probably have at least 5 times while writing this post).  Eventually I had to break out my notebook and by hand jot down the events so I could make sure I was understanding what was happening.  It ended up looking like this:


yeah that.  This was extremely helpful though, but as you can see there were some error and I had to repeat the pattern idk how many times in order to accurately write down wtf was happening.


Now I understand some of you despise the DAW…you loathe and hate anything more commercial than notepad or nano, and the idea of a DAW could quite possibly be the antichrist to your musical salvation, however I’m OK with being the devil’s advocate.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m into Ableton.  Love, Hate, Like, Break…yo Ableton and I do it, and we’ve been doing IT for YEARS (almost 10), so I’m quite comfortable with it as a workstation.

Anyways, excuses aside, if you crack open a DAW and write your pattern via MIDI you can record the pattern and visualize what it looks like.

Take for example the following Tidal Pattern:

d1 $ every 7 (fast 2) (stack [
  every 3 (fast 2) (every 5 (fast 2) (note "c3*2")),
  every 2 (iter 4) (every 7 (fast 2) (note "~ ~ e3 fs3")),
  every 3 (rev) (note "d3 ds3 as3 b3"),
  _discretise 2 (note ((irand 8)-16)) # legato 2
] # midichan 0 # s "midi")

It’s not the most complex because it was written for this post, but from this small block of code you can imagine how complex things can get.  Below is a quick’ish video of what happens when we record the MIDI pattern and how it allows you to analyze things up close.  There are a few things this can be useful for,

  1. Like I’ve been saying, you can visualize the patterns
  2. You can VISUALIZE the patterns, which can help you troubleshoot the patterns.  For all I know the code block above isn’t really doing what I think it’s doing
  3. You can record MIDI patterns, save, adjust to taste and use them later!

Amazing…right?  If you don’t think so then you should not comment.  I’m pretty excited about what this presents for analysis and documentation purposes.

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