Bytebeats - A Beginner‘s Guide!

I just released a free PDF guide to coding Bytebeat music. You know, those few lines of code, generating fun chiptune music! This one, for example … go ahead and play with the code! :wink:

You can download the guide here then:

A little bit of background info:
When discovering Bytebeats recently, in anticipation of the AE Modular AlgoDrone module, I loved that I could just randomly change pieces of code and would usually end up with a musical “happy accident”. After a while though, I wanted to know more why things behaved like they did, but I didn’t find much information for absolute beginners without much math knowledge and coding experience. So I did a lot of research and in then end, wrote this guide from the notes I had gathered along the way.

I’d love to get feedback on this, so let me know how the guide worked for you, if you have time :slight_smile:

Happy coding!


This was a really fun way to start the day :slight_smile:



just wanted to additionally link to viznut who did early work on bytebeat (and has some great writing)


Oh, hey, neat! I’ve always wanted to understand bytebeats better. Thank you for this! Looking forward to going through it.

At one point I wrote a VST plugin based on a collection of two-parameter bytebeat algorithms. If I ever get back into actually writing musical code I might port it to something a bit more open rather than using the libraries that I did.

But it kind of took away from the livecoding experience of the thing, just turning it into a glitchy oscillator without much of the self-contained rhythm and melody that is kind of the whole point of bytebeats.

Yeah, viznut’s stuff got me started :slight_smile: I included links to his pages at the back of the guide PDF because I think he quickly gets more “advanced” too.



sounds best at 11kHz, but is pretty dance-y at 22 :slight_smile:

I still like the Equation Composer for this kind of stuff.
Thanks @NightMachines for the doc!

Equation Composer rules. Popping the byte-beat modes through an LPG can produce excellent, fluid percussion.

There is also this art project, “1 bit symphony,” from a few years ago:

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Nice, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading your pdf and understanding bytebeats better.
I was first introduced to bytebeats from the viznutcracker, sweet!-mode on o_C, and been fascinated by it since. Definitely my favourite mode on that module. Played bytebeats at a really high speed into the low pass CV-input of my ms20 via English Tear, and got almost digital sounding tones out that almost 40 year old machine. Incredible.

this is fantastic! I’ve looked at them briefly before, but this is a solid guide and now I can really sink my teeth into the bytebeat world. thanks for your work!

// butte horn
I got ahead of myself
need to read what you wrote up!
thank you so much for this endless entertainment

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this is an awesome guide!!! really well written, thank you a lot. I will share this link around!!

Thank you, everyone! I really have to hunt down an Equation Composer! That module looks cool indeed :slight_smile: Too bad they closed shop …

Ornament and Crime has byte beat mode: Viznutcracker Sweet! It works well and provides as a waveform or as CV. It has about a dozen byte beat expressions built sadly no editor. Though you could probably modify the O_c firmware and install your own.

The Ornament and Crime is great for byte beat. Sadly you don’t have access to the quantizer in the CV mode. I have two O_c sending the output of one running Viznutcracker into the other running Quantermain works pretty well. Especially with delay, of everything sounds better with some delay.


try this one: (t<<3)*[8/9,1,9/8,6/5,4/3,3/2,0][[0xd2d2c8,0xce4088,0xca32c8,0x8e4009][t>>14&3]>>(0x3dbe4688>>((t>>10&15)>9?18:t>>10&15)*3&7)*3&7]


Holy crap! This is next level stuff!


Wow this is all so interesting.

For some reason it never occurred to me that computer music could essentially be reduced to a single parameter being iterated over 8000 times per second. I’m so used to working in big heavy DAWs that it’s great to see it distilled down to something so primitive. I love the fact that you can get something like this working in C without a single dependency

I’m having a much needed mini-vacation from my job at the moment and this was a perfect rabbit hole to start my day with! Really nice guide by the way @NightMachines definitely helped me to actually get a handle on what is going on