The [something] of Teletype

The Teletype language should be easy to hold in your head.

Meaning - it should flow pretty easily and feel less like programming and more like patching. Oh.

The Teletype language should feel like patching. Which it does, which I love. Which also supports the length of lines and lines per script limitations. note: …feel like patching with text? I appreciate the Teletype because it bucks the trend of skeuomorphism.

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Maybe just The Teletype language is designed for expression and creativity. A colleague uses Eurorack exclusively for video work and is interested in TT.


hah, I love that. I wonder what everyone else will think, and whether it should.

(As for your ‘what does feel like patching mean’ - well; it’s composable in a computing sense, I guess - you can come at things many ways, and in many orders; it supports creation through discovery and play as well as it supports planned invention; it works best when many things connect rather than one monolithic script doing everything; etc?)


Yeah, I think you’re 100% accurate here. Feels playful is a term I hear used in the education space. That’s valuable to me. I prefer playful to serious in my music tooling, but like most things YMMV (your mileage may vary).

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Firstly thank you for starting this thread. I was a bit sceptical at first, but it’s fascinating.

I worry that if we start trying to remove music from our descriptions we risk ending up with overly generic statements that basically say nothing.

I ended up playing a fill in the blank game with myself.

The _______ language is designed for expression and creativity.

The _______ language is designed for musical expression and creativity.

For the first I’d pick Lisp, and actually for the second I’d pick Lisp too.

What statement has “Teletype” as the answer to fill in the blank. I say this as someone who has spent a considerable amount of time working on the language and code, it is not a good programming language. And yet, if you gave me an identical module, but with Python, or Lisp, or Haskell as the programming language none of them would work as well.

Why? What are we doing in this domain that makes it work so well? Why is the sum greater than it’s parts?

Immediacy is one thing that springs to mind.

Temporalness is another. Time is at the heart of the Teletype, even more so than music. Internal time via the metro script and delays, external time via triggers. The new features that we are discussing like EVERY and the timeline are rooted in time. Likewise patterns (and turtle) are often used in the context of time. @glia talks about events earlier in the thread.


The Teletype language is designed for temporal expression and creativity.

I posed the question earlier in this post, “why is the sum greater than it’s parts?”, but it’s worth asking what are the parts?

If we only had the grammatical rules of the language, just the OPs and MODs, it wouldn’t feel like a Teletype anymore, would it? Just a feature limited variation on Forth.

I might feel okay about the patterns going away (others might get their pitchforks out). I could even say goodbye to the metro script.

But the triggered scripts…? That’s where I’d have to draw the line. And if they need to be triggered, does that mean the “Teletype language” can’t exist in a vacuum, does it need the ‘external’ to exist?


I think that music needs to be a part of any central statement of purpose for TT. Can and will be people use it for other things? Probably. But the design intent is about music.

It also feels like it needs context… it doesn’t generically express musical ideas or creative expression. It does so in the world of CV driven modular synthesis.

So including something about music and something about CV or modular seems to make sense, and will help steer this away from generic statements about creativity.

We’re trying to express the designed intent of the language, not all the possible uses of it, so being specific and exclusionary is ok IMO.


I had an enthusiastic conversation about this yesterday. Is it really about music? The core TT language has two explicit musical commands, N and M, although the only reason M is in this context is it’s short for metronome. BPM is new. Most of core TT focuses on CV and triggers. That’s not the case for additional namespaces - TI is the most obvious example.

I’m actually a-ok with making musical creativity a first class element, but I think you can make a pretty strong argument that the real basis of TT is CV, regardless of what the V is C’ing.

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I’m really happy your friend is finding TT useful for visuals (seriously, that’s way cool), but I’m in agreement with @sam and @emenel that most of us are here for the music, and that being explicit about this can be a focusing function. If I don’t know what my V is C’ing, how do I make focused/constrained decisions about how that C’ing should be done?


Fair enough. My only real goal was to get other people to use the phrase, “what my V is C’ing.”


That is a noble goal, and I’m glad it worked out for you.


interesting discussion. still feels like we haven’t really captured what’s so special about it, like @sam said, perhaps because there are so many ways to use it. a couple of things that i always thought were pretty unique about teletype:

  • the teletype language allows for a more direct translation of intent to a patch

  • the teletype language can do a lot with very little, and a small change in a script can lead to a big change in a patch

what i mean by this is that teletype is the only module i can think of where you directly translate what’s in your head into a working patch. it’s super easy to think “when this trigger is received i want to output a random voltage on CV 1 and i want to step through a pattern of notes on CV 2, and then shortly after fire a trigger output” and then write just that. without teletype you’d need to think which modules you need and how to patch them. teletype makes this incredibly easy.

which also means it’s very easy to start with something and experiment with variations. even changing one variable can significantly affect a scene and such experimentation can often lead to unexpected and musical results.

as a side note, feels like we are mixing 2 things here, the syntax and the purpose of the language itself, although they are somewhat related. for the syntax i would add something like this:

  • the teletype language is consistent, logical and concise

i think it’s important that whatever new ops we introduce we do so in a systematic manner.


I really love this summary. I’ve found that my least successful TT sessions will start from a well-intentioned but very eager place – I want to make stuff happen immediately and I say “oh what next what next?!” and eventually it’s all spaghetti (both code and wires).

The discipline of TT that I’ve found most fun/worthwhile is when I consider each line as an event, which will chain together with other events to make a thing that is alive. when you code in TT, you’re purposefully changing or evolving or interrupting the current state of air and electricity. it benefits from care and cohesion. all exploration becomes driven. decisions : holistic.

Jumpy Edges is a really beautiful example of simple events that chain together to make something that feels like more than just air and electricity.