365 Tidal Patterns Finished

It’s done! On December 28th 2013 I set out to create a sound pattern a day with a pattern programming language called Tidal. Here’s the last pattern (which is a “thank you” message with an extended play of a single pattern):

It’s kind of a bittersweet “end”. I associate the 365 Tidal Patterns project with my journey into live-coding. I’ve learned so much and have met so many great people along the way who have helped me. I’m moving on to something new, but I will always think of 365 Tidal Patterns as how my live-coding endeavors began to grow.

Is this really the end?

Probably not! The 365 patterns project has been a great way for me to sketch musical ideas and try out new things. These ideas and learnings are so valuable and I can’t justify walking away from creating them. Stay tuned for pattern number 366!

Reflection

Reflecting back, there was a lot that I learned.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that learning a live-coding language is not the same as practicing improvisation. If you want to get better at improvisation and performance, then you have to practice improvisation and performance. Learning Tidal and learning how to get certain sounds out of it was a different process than becoming a better live coder.

I will admit that I got stuck in a rut a few times. Sometimes I’d write variations on the same Tidal functions for days at a time. By doing something every day, you start to notice these patterns and you make yourself dig deep to find new inspiration. Sometimes the Tidal community would produce an unexpected new feature and inspiration became easy.

I will also admit that I made (and found) new sounds periodically to help spur inspiration (Tidal plays patterns of samples, so having a library of interesting sounds helps a lot). However, I do think that there is some interaction between Tidal and the feelings an musical artist has for their samples. Different sounds evoke emotions and ideas. By trying new sounds, I thought of doing new things in Tidal I hadn’t done before.

If you want to learn something, or get better at it, then I think that doing it out in public every day is a great way to do it. Doing it every day forces you to keep trying to get better and to try new things to keep it fresh. Doing it in public keeps you honest.

My Favorite Patterns and 1-Hour Pattern Mixes

I remember the day I finally felt like I was in control of Tidal. It was Pattern 232:

There are a few patterns that really stick out as my favorites, but that might be my number one.

Here’s a playlist of all of my favorites:

I’ve also created 50-pattern mixes that are approximately 1-hour each:

What's Next?

What does the next year hold in store? I plan on focusing more of my time on performance and producing longer-form releases.

I’ve been doing a live-coded music performance about once a month in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Bedlam Lowertown has been very receptive to these performances, but I would like to find additional outlets. I’d also like to experiment and play with new ideas for live performances, such as incorporating MIDI instruments or other hardware.

Months ago, I never would have considered creating a “song” with Tidal, but the idea kind of grew on me recently. I now have about 7 tracks in progress and I hope to release something soon. I’ve found success with Tidal songs in two ways: 1) by improvising and live-coding the music while recording and 2) by authoring an algorithmic pattern and just letting it play. Both are very challenging.

Stay tuned!

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