Algorave culture has been training years for this – it’s an audiovisual form that can make even a screen and streamed sound really come alive. Just watch – and actually, don’t just watch, here’s how to learn, too.

Normally, algorave articles talk breathlessly about code, blah blah, people coding on screen, isn’t that nerdy, look at people with their computers… et cetera.

Forget that. Performances like this one are on fire. yaxu – aka Alex McLean, algorave instigator and creator of the open source Tidal Cycles software – meets hellocatfood, alias of Antonio Roberts. Give them a moment to chat, absorb that glitchy streamcore chroma key effect, and to build up what is at first some simple primitive bleeping music pattern and onscreen 3D geometries.

But stay locked in, because this train gets moving fast – wild rainbows of pulsing colors set to fiercely modulating rhythms. And that’s the point, really – not the interface, but the focus on patterning and cycles. It’s about expressive ideas.

Now this is a stream worth tuning into:

That being said, the text code (TidalCycles, producing the music) and visual patching (Pure Data / GEM, spitting out the visual textures) are certainly going to look like a baffling muddle if you haven’t worked with the tools. Even if you have worked with the tools, it might all go too quickly to follow in the hands of these master artists.

Good news: we aren’t here just to party. School is back in session, too.

Antonio and Alex have done a talkthrough of what’s going on in the performance, exclusively for their online workshop – and CDM. It’s like turning on the directors’ commentary, only useful, instead of a time-waster.

Don’t stop there. Maestro McLean has started an open workshop for anyone wanting to learn live coding. It’s an open admission, open schedule, four week (so far) course in live coding music.

And it covers a lot, including:

  • Sample packs
  • Working with time and pattern
  • Effects
  • Waveforms
  • Functions
  • Slicing, splicing, chopping, shuffling, striating, and a lot more…

Lucy Cheesman aka Heavy Lifting and other friends join in. Alex’s blog post explains how the course works and how to join. There is a progressive pricing system, and even a free option for those of you who can’t afford paid coursework at the moment.

Plus don’t miss this intro to live coding, which covers multiple tools (including the visual powers of  Gibber and Hydra, too):

There’s more video too:


And grab TidalCycles here on any platform (Mac, Windows, Linux):