First Sounds

This is the first chapter of the Strudel Workshop, nice to have you on board!

Code Fields

The workshop is full of interactive code fields. Let’s learn how to use those. Here is one:

  1. ⬆️ click into the text field above ⬆️
  2. press ctrl+enter to play
  3. change casio to metal
  4. press ctrl+enter to update
  5. press ctrl+. to stop

Congratulations, you are now live coding!


We have just played a sound with sound like this:


casio is one of many standard sounds.

Try out a few other sounds:

insect wind jazz metal east crow casio space numbers

You might hear a little pause while the sound is loading

Change Sample Number with :

One Sound can contain multiple samples (audio files).

You can select the sample by appending : followed by a number to the name:


Try different sound / sample number combinations.

Not adding a number is like doing :0

Now you know how to use different sounds. For now we’ll stick to this little selection of sounds, but we’ll find out how to load your own sounds later.

Drum Sounds

By default, Strudel comes with a wide selection of drum sounds:

sound("bd hh sd oh")

These letter combinations stand for different parts of a drum set:

original image by Pbroks13

  • bd = bass drum
  • sd = snare drum
  • rim = rimshot
  • hh = hihat
  • oh = open hihat
  • lt = low tom
  • mt = middle tom
  • ht = high tom
  • rd = ride cymbal
  • rd = crash cymbal

Try out different drum sounds!

To change the sound character of our drums, we can use bank to change the drum machine:

sound("bd hh sd oh").bank("RolandTR909")

In this example RolandTR909 is the name of the drum machine that we’re using. It is a famous drum machine for house and techno beats.

Try changing RolandTR909 to one of

  • AkaiLinn
  • RhythmAce
  • RolandTR808
  • RolandTR707
  • ViscoSpaceDrum

There are a lot more, but let’s keep it simple for now

🦥 Pro-Tip: Mark a name via double click. Then just copy and paste!


In the last example, we already saw that you can play multiple sounds in a sequence by separating them with a space:

sound("bd hh sd hh")

Notice how the currently playing sound is highlighted in the code and also visualized below.

Try adding more sounds to the sequence!

The longer the sequence, the faster it runs

sound("bd bd hh bd rim bd hh bd")

The content of a sequence will be squished into what’s called a cycle. A cycle is 2s long by default.

One per cycle with < .. >

Here is the same sequence, but this time sourrounded with < .. > (angle brackets):

sound("<bd bd hh bd rim bd hh bd>")

This will play only one sound per cycle. With these brackets, the tempo doesn’t change when we add or remove elements!

Because this is now very slow, we can speed it up again like this:

sound("<bd bd hh bd rim bd hh bd>*8")

Here, the *8 means we make the whole thing 8 times faster.

Wait a minute, isn’t this the same as without < ... >*8? Why do we need it then?

That’s true, the special thing about this notation is that the tempo won’t change when you add or remove elements, try it!

Try also changing the number at the end to change the tempo!

changing the tempo with cpm

sound("<bd hh rim hh>*8").cpm(90/4)

cpm = cycles per minute

By default, the tempo is 30 cycles per minute = 120/4 = 1 cycle every 2 seconds

In western music terms, you could say the above are 8ths notes at 90bpm in 4/4 time. But don’t worry if you don’t know these terms, as they are not required to make music with Strudel.

Add a rests in a sequence with ’-’ or ’~’

sound("bd hh - rim - bd hh rim")

Sub-Sequences with [brackets]

sound("bd [hh hh] sd [hh bd] bd - [hh sd] cp")

Try adding more sounds inside a bracket!

Similar to the whole sequence, the content of a sub-sequence will be squished to its own length.

Multiplication: Speed things up

sound("bd hh*2 rim hh*3 bd [- hh*2] rim hh*2")

Multiplication: Speed up subsequences

sound("bd [hh rim]*2 bd [hh rim]*1.5")

Multiplication: Speeeeeeeeed things up

sound("bd hh*32 rim hh*16")

Pitch = really fast rhythm

Sub-Sub-Sequences with [[brackets]]

sound("bd [[rim rim] hh] bd cp")

You can go as deep as you want!

Play sequences in parallel with comma

sound("hh hh hh, bd casio")

You can use as many commas as you want:

sound("hh hh hh, bd bd, - casio")

Commas can also be used inside sub-sequences:

sound("hh hh hh, bd [bd,casio]")

Notice how the 2 above are the same?

It is quite common that there are many ways to express the same idea.

Multiple Lines with backticks

sound(`bd*2, - cp, 
- - - oh, hh*4,
[- casio]*2`)

selecting sample numbers separately

Instead of using ”:”, we can also use the n function to select sample numbers:

n("0 1 [4 2] 3*2").sound("jazz")

This is shorter and more readable than:

sound("jazz:0 jazz:1 [jazz:4 jazz:2] jazz:3*2")


Now we’ve learned the basics of the so called Mini-Notation, the rhythm language of Tidal. This is what we’ve leared so far:

sound("bd bd sd hh")
Sample Number:x
sound("hh:0 hh:1 hh:2 hh:3")
Rests- or ~
sound("metal - jazz jazz:1")
sound("bd wind [metal jazz] hh")
sound("bd [metal [jazz [sd cp]]]")
Speed up*
sound("bd sd*2 cp*3")
sound("bd*2, hh*2 [hh oh]")

The Mini-Notation is usually used inside some function. These are the functions we’ve seen so far:

soundplays the sound of the given name
sound("bd sd [- bd] sd")
bankselects the sound bank
sound("bd sd [- bd] sd").bank("RolandTR909")
cpmsets the tempo in cycles per minute
sound("bd sd [- bd] sd").cpm(45)
nselect sample number
n("0 1 4 2 0 6 3 2").sound("jazz")


Basic rock beat

sound("[bd sd]*2, hh*8").bank("RolandTR505")

Classic house

sound("bd*4, [- cp]*2, [- hh]*4").bank("RolandTR909")

Notice that the two patterns are extremely similar. Certain drum patterns are reused across genres.

We Will Rock you

sound("bd*2 cp").bank("RolandTR707").cpm(81/2)

Yellow Magic Orchestra - Firecracker

sound("bd sd, - - - hh - hh - -, - perc - perc:1*2")

Imitation of a 16 step sequencer

[-  -  oh - ] [-  -  -  - ] [-  -  -  - ] [-  -  -  - ],
[hh hh -  - ] [hh -  hh - ] [hh -  hh - ] [hh -  hh - ],
[-  -  -  - ] [cp -  -  - ] [-  -  -  - ] [cp -  -  - ],
[bd -  -  - ] [-  -  -  bd] [-  -  bd - ] [-  -  -  bd]

Another one

[-  -  -  - ] [-  -  -  - ] [-  -  -  - ] [-  -  oh:1 - ],
[hh hh hh hh] [hh hh hh hh] [hh hh hh hh] [hh hh -  - ],
[-  -  -  - ] [cp -  -  - ] [-  -  -  - ] [~  cp -  - ],
[bd bd -  - ] [-  -  bd - ] [bd bd - bd ] [-  -  -  - ]

Not your average drums

insect [crow metal] - -, 
- space:4 - space:1,
- wind`)

Now that we know the basics of how to make beats, let’s look at how we can play notes