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A Vim/NeoVim plugin for TidalCycles, the language for live coding musical patterns written in Haskell.

This plugin by default uses tmux, a known and loved terminal multiplexer, for communicating with between Vim and the Tidal interpreter. It was originally based on vim-slime.

If you are using Vim8 or NeoVim, you can use the native Terminal feature instead of tmux. Read the Configuration section on how to enable it.


Getting Started

  1. Start livecoding with Vim by simply running:

    $ tidalvim

    This creates a tmux session with Vim and Tidal running on different panes.

  2. Write something like this:

    d1 $ sound "bd sn"
  3. While being on that line, press <c-e> (Control + E) to evaluate it.

    You should see Vim flash that line for a second and a chunk of text appear on your Tidal interpreter. If you already have SuperDirt or other synth running, you should hear a kick and a snare :)


Make sure you have TidalCycles installed, with SuperDirt running. See the Tidal wiki for more information.

Install tmux


You can install it from the main repos:

$ sudo apt-get install tmux


$ brew install tmux


There seems to be a Cygwin package for tmux, but at present it is not working with any known terminal emulator for Windows. As such, this plugin has only been tested with the Windows native build of Neovim.

Install plugin

I recommend using a Vim plugin manager like Plug. Check the link for instructions on installing and configuring. If you don't want a plugin manager, you can also download the latest release here and extract the contents on your Vim directory (usually ~/.vim/).

For example, with Plug you need to:

  • Edit your .vimrc file and add these lines:
Plug 'tidalcycles/vim-tidal'
  • Restart Vim and execute :PlugInstall to automatically download and install the plugins.

UNIX-based Systems

If you are on a UNIX-based operating system (Linux distributions, MacOS, etc.), go to the plugin repository and run make install:

(if you are using NeoVim and you won't run tmux then you don't need to run make install to be able to load the plugin inside NeoVim)

$ cd ~/.vim/plugged/vim-tidal
$ sudo make install

This creates symlinks on /usr/local/bin for tidal and tidalvim scripts. You can remove them later if you want with make uninstall.


⚠️ This plugin has only been tested on Windows 10 using Neovim >0.5

If you are on Windows, add the vim-tidal\bin directory to your PATH user environment variable:

1. Click the `Start` button
2. Type "Edit the system environment variables" and hit `enter` or click on the search result
3. Click the button labeled `Environment variables...`
4. In the `User variables for [username]` table, click the entry for the `Path` variable, followed by the `Edit...` button beneath the same table
5. Click the `New` button in the following dialog, enter the *full path* to the `vim-tidal\bin` directory, and click `OK` until all the preceding dialogs are closed.

Note: The full path to the vim-tidal\bin directory, will look something like C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\nvim\plugged\vim-tidal\bin, assuming you are using vim-plug as this document recommends.

Final Installation Note

Make sure to have the filetype plugin on setting on your .vimrc, otherwise plugin won't be loaded when opening a .tidal file.

Older Tidal versions (pre 1.0)

Tidal 1.0 introduces some breaking changes, so if haven't upgraded yet, you can still use this plugin with an older version. Just point your Plug entry to use the tidal-0.9 branch.

First change your Plug line on your .vimrc to:

Plug 'tidalcycles/vim-tidal', {'branch': 'tidal-0.9'}

Then on Vim run :PlugInstall to update your plugin.


This plugin comes bundled with two Bash scripts: tidalvim and tidal.


tidalvim starts a tmux session with the screen horizontally splitted, having Vim on the upper pane and the Tidal interpreter on the lower pane. This is the simplest way to start using Tidal with Vim.

You don't have to use tidalvim necessarily. If you have a more complex setup or just want to use Vim outside of tmux, you can use tidal. See below.


tidal fires up GHCi (the Glasgow Haskell interpreter) and runs a bootstrap file that loads Tidal up. tidalvim uses this script to start the Tidal interpreter on the lower pane. You can even use it standalone (without Vim) by simply running tidal from your shell.

$ tidal
GHCi, version 7.10.3:  :? for help
tidal> d1 $ sound "bd sn"
tidal> :t density 2 $ n "0 1"
density 2 $ n "0 1" :: Pattern ParamMap

So, in case you don't want to use tidalvim, just run the following on another terminal:

tmux new-session -s tidal tidal

What tidal does is actually run ghci with the argument -ghci-script Tidal.ghci. Tidal.ghci is found at the root of the repository, and is responsible for bootstraping Tidal. See Configure section for more on how to customize Tidal bootstraping process. Any extra arguments when running tidal will be delegated to ghci.


These are some of the commands that can be run from Vim command line:

  • :<range>TidalSend: Send a [range] of lines. If no range is provided the current line is sent.

  • :TidalSend1 {text}: Send a single line of text specified on the command line.

  • :TidalConfig: Configure tmux socket name and target pane

  • :TidalSilence [num]: Silence stream number [num] by sending d[num] silence.

  • :TidalPlay [num]: Send first ocurrence of stream number [num] from the current cursor position.

  • :TidalHush: Silences all streams by sending hush.

  • :TidalGenerateCompletions {path}: Generate dictionary for Dirt-Samples completion (path is optional).

Default bindings

Using one of these key bindings you can send lines to Tidal:

  • <c-e> (Control+E), <localleader>ss: Send current inner paragraph.
  • <localleader>s: Send current line or current visually selected block.

<c-e> can be called on either Normal, Visual, Select or Insert mode, so it is probably easier to type than <localleader>ss or <localleader>s.

There are other bindings to control Tidal like:

  • <localleader>s[num]: Call :TidalPlay [num]
  • <localleader>[num]: Call :TidalSilence [num]
  • <localleader>h, <c-h>: Call :TidalHush

About <localleader>

The <leader> key is a special key used to perform commands with a sequence of keys. The <localleader> key behaves as the <leader> key, but is local to a buffer. In particular, the above bindings only work in buffers with the "tidal" file type set, e.g. files whose file type is .tidal

By default, there is no <localleader> set. To define one, e.g. for use with a comma (,), write this on your .vimrc file:

let maplocalleader=","

Reload your configuration (or restart Vim), and after typing ,ss on a few lines of code, you should see those being copied onto the Tidal interpreter on the lower pane.



By default, vim-tidal uses the globally installed GHCI to launch the REPL. If you have installed Tidal through Stack (stack install tidal) or some other means, you can specify another command to use with g:tidal_ghci.

For example, if one installed Tidal with Stack, they would use:

let g:tidal_ghci = "stack exec ghci --"

Tidal Boot File

A "Tidal boot file" is a file that may be used to initialise Tidal within GHCI. A custom boot file can be specified using the g:tidal_boot variable.

In the case that g:tidal_boot is unspecified, vim-tidal will traverse parent directories until one of either BootTidal.hs, Tidal.ghci or boot.tidal are found.

If no tidal boot file can be found by traversing parent directories, tidal will check the g:tidal_boot_fallback variable for a fallback boot file. This variable is useful for specifying a default user-wide tidal boot file on your system, while still allowing each tidal project to optionally use their own dedicated, local tidal boot file. By default, g:tidal_boot_fallback will point to the Tidal.ghci file provided with this plugin.

Default bindings

By default, there are two normal keybindings and one for visual blocks using your <localleader> key. If you don't have one defined, set it on your .vimrc script with let maplocalleader=",", for example.

If you don't like some of the bindings or want to change them, add this line to disable them:

let g:tidal_no_mappings = 1

See section Mappings on ftplugin/tidal.vim and copy the bindings you like to your .vimrc file and modify them.

Vim Terminal

On both Vim (version 8 or above) and NeoVim, the default target in which we boot Tidal with GHCi is the native terminal.

While it is the default, it can also be specified manually with the following:

let g:tidal_target = "terminal"

Open a file with a .tidal suffix, write and send a line of code to tidal, and the tidal terminal will open in a window below your editor.

Use standard vim window navigation controls to focus the terminal (ie <C-w> down/up)

You can learn more about the native Vim terminal here:

tmux (alternative to Vim terminal)

Before Vim had native terminal support, this plugin provided a "tmux" target in order to allow for multiplexing the user's terminal via the 3rd party CLI tool. If you have tmux installed and you wish to use it instead of the native Vim terminal, you can enable this target with the following:

let g:tidal_target = "tmux"

This target will be enabled automatically in the case that the version of Vim in use does not have native terminal support.

You can configure tmux socket name and target pane by typing <localleader>c or :TidalConfig. This will prompt you first for the socket name, then for the target pane.

About the target pane:

  • ":" means current window, current pane (a reasonable default)
  • ":i" means the ith window, current pane
  • ":i.j" means the ith window, jth pane
  • "h:i.j" means the tmux session where h is the session identifier (either session name or number), the ith window and the jth pane

When you exit Vim you will lose that configuration. To make this permanent, set g:tidal_default_config on your .vimrc. For example, suppose you want to run Tidal on a tmux session named omg, and the GHCi interpreter will be running on the window 1 and pane 0. In that case you would need to add this line:

let g:tidal_default_config = {"socket_name": "default", "target_pane": "omg:1.0"}

Optional Supercollider Terminal

Vim-tidal provides an option for automatically running the supercollider command-line tool sclang alongside the Tidal GCHI terminal. By default this terminal is disabled, however it can be enabled with the following:

let g:tidal_sc_enable = 1

This can be useful to avoid the need to manually run sclang in a separate terminal or to open the supercollider IDE.

A custom supercollider boot file can be specified by assigning its path to the g:tidal_sc_boot variable.

In the case that g:tidal_sc_boot is unspecified, vim-tidal will traverse parent directories until one of either or boot.scd are found.

If no supercollider boot file can be found by traversing parent directories, tidal will check the g:tidal_sc_boot_fallback variable for a fallback boot file. This variable is useful for specifying a default user-wide supercollider boot file on your system, while still allowing each tidal project to optionally use their own dedicated, local supercollider boot file.

By default, g:tidal_sc_boot_fallback will point to the file provided with this plugin which simply starts SuperDirt with the default settings.


When sending a paragraph or a single line, vim-tidal will "flash" the selection for some milliseconds. By default duration is set to 150ms, but you can modify it by setting the g:tidal_flash_duration variable.

Write the paste buffer to an external text file:

let g:tidal_paste_file = "/tmp/tidal_paste_file.txt"

For customizing the startup script for defining helper functions, see below.

tidalvim and tidal

tidalvim is just an example script. You can copy and customize it as much as you want. See man tmux if you want to know more about its options.

For example, if you want to split horizontally instead of vertically, change the -v for -h option in the split-window line:

- split-window -v -t $SESSION   \; \
+ split-window -h -t $SESSION   \; \

Both scripts have some options that you can specify as environment variables. For example:

TIDAL_TEMPO_IP= SESSION=whatever tidalvim

This would start Tidal synced to another Tidal on, and it would try to attach or create a tmux sesssion called whatever.

The following is a list of all variables that can be changed:

  • FILE: File name to open with Vim (default: $(date +%F).tidal, e.g. 2017-03-09.tidal). The .tidal extension is important (you can run :setfiletype haskell.tidal in case you won't use a .tidal file here).

  • SESSION: tmux session name (default: tidal)

  • TIDAL_BOOT_PATH: Tidal Bootstrap file, a .ghci file (default: Tidal.ghci)

  • TIDAL_TEMPO_IP: Tells Tidal to sync tempo with another Tidal instance on the specified IP (default:, i.e. use local)

  • VIM: Vim command (default: vim)

  • GHCI: GHCi command (default: ghci)

  • TMUX: tmux command (default: tmux)

Customizing Tidal startup

In case you have defined some helper functions, and/or you want to import other modules into Tidal, you can edit the Tidal.ghci found at the root of the repository.

However doing this could eventually cause conflicts when trying to upgrade vim-tidal, so instead I recommend that you define a different .ghci file that first loads Tidal.ghci and includes all your custom definitions.

Here is an example. Suppose you define a myStuff.ghci file on your home directory like this:

--file: ~/myStuff.ghci

-- Bootstrap Tidal
-- Replace this path if you have vim-tidal installed elsewhere
:script ~/.vim/bundle/vim-tidal/Tidal.ghci

let foo = every 4 $ within (0.75, 1) (density 4)
    bar = n "<0 1 2 4>"

Then, you would run tidal or tidalvim with TIDAL_BOOT_PATH pointing to your new script file:

TIDAL_BOOT_PATH=~/myStuff.ghci tidalvim

Please note that this a .ghci script, not a Haskell module. So multiline definitions need to be wrapped around :{ and :}, as shown in the example above.


Here is a list of common problems.

I press <c-e> but it moves the screen down by one line, and nothing else happens

Usually <c-e> is used to move the screen forward by one line, but vim-tidal remaps this to sending current paragraph. If this is happening you either:

  1. Opened a file without .tidal extension, or changed file type accidentally. Solution: Reopen Vim or set filetype for current buffer with :set ft=tidal.
  2. Have g:tidal_no_mappings setting on your .vimrc. This disables all mappings. Solution: Remove <c-e> binding, or rebind to something else.

It could also be that you do not have filetype plugin on setting in your .vimrc. Make sure you have that setting defined.

I press <c-e> and nothing else happens

This means that vim-tidal is sending text to tmux, but to the wrong session/window/pane. Solution: Check that you have configure the socket name and target pane correctly. See the Configure section above for more information.

If you have any question or something does not work as expected, there are many channels you can go to:


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct.


Refer to the LICENSE file