Getting Started with Tone.js - Pt.1

Getting Started with Tone.js


Are you interested in creating music on the web? If so, you need to check out Tone.js! In this blog post, we'll explore what Tone.js is, how to install and import it, and get an overview of its features.

What is Tone.js?

Tone.js is a library built on top of the Web Audio API. The Web Audio API is a powerful browser-based audio processing system that allows for complex audio manipulation, synthesis, and effects.

The library provides a higher-level abstraction, making it easier to create complex musical structures and patterns. This allows programmers to approach coding from a more musical perspective, as Tone.js includes concepts such as note values, a DAW-like transport, a built-in arpeggiator, and more. Basically, it simplifies the process of creating music on the web.

Who created Tone.js?

Tone.js was created by Yotam Mann in 2014. Mann is a music technologist and interactive audio developer who has worked on a variety of projects, including the Google Creative Lab.

He created Tone.js to provide a better way for musicians and artists to work with the Web Audio API.

Since its creation, Tone.js has become one of the more popular libraries for working with the Web Audio API. As of this writing, Tone.js has over 12K GitHub stars and 19,000 weekly downloads on NPM.

What is the Web Audio API?

The Web Audio API is a powerful browser-based audio processing system that allows for complex audio manipulation, synthesis, and effects. It provides a way for developers to work with audio in the browser, creating interactive and dynamic experiences for users.

The API includes a variety of audio processing nodes, such as oscillators, filters, and effects, which can be connected together to create complex audio processing chains.

web audio api node graph

How to install and import Tone.js?

Now, let's talk about how to install Tone.js.

You can grab the link from a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or use a package manager like NPM.

Check out CDNjs to find the script tag for Tone.js:

If you want to install the NPM package, you'll find it here: tonejs on npm

Once you have it installed, you can import it into your project using a script tag or by importing it as a module.

Feature Overview

Tone.js provides a variety of built-in instruments and effects, including oscillators, filters, envelopes, and more. You can also create your own custom instruments and effects by combining these building blocks together.

In addition to its built-in instruments and effects, Tone.js also provides a powerful scheduling system, allowing you to create complex rhythms and melodies, loops, patterns, and arpeggiations.

You can schedule events in the future and create patterns that repeat and evolve over time.

Tone.js also supports MIDI input and output, which allows you to connect external MIDI controllers to your browser and use them to control your music. This is great for live performances or controlling your music with hardware instruments.

Some of the instruments and effects in Tone.js:

some of the instruments and effects in tone.js


In summary, Tone.js is a powerful JavaScript library for creating interactive music in the browser.

It provides a higher-level abstraction for working with the Web Audio API and comes with a variety of built-in instruments, effects, and scheduling tools.

By using Tone.js, developers of all skill levels can quickly and easily create engaging and dynamic audio experiences within their web applications.

With its intuitive API, extensive documentation, and modular design, Tone.js offers a flexible and customizable framework for building a wide range of audio projects, from interactive musical games to web-based music production software.

As such, Tone.js is an essential tool for any developer looking to incorporate music and audio into their web applications. Hopefully, its popularity within the web development community will continue to grow!

If you're more of a visual learner, check out the video version of this article:

Tone.js Getting Started