Independent software developer, Hauke Menges, is back with a solid update to his Sundog Song Studio (formerly the Sundog Scale Studio). It’s nice to see his commitment to continually developing this unique composition aid. A few years ago I reviewed the 1.1 Version of his software. Overall, the interface looks similar with some key additions. Past users will still be able to navigate easily and newcomers will find this tool easy to jump in and start using. For a beginning overview to this software, please refer to my past review, as this one will cover the newer features.
General MIDI Synth
First, A General MIDI preview synth is now included in Sundog Song Studio so you can use it as a standalone idea generating tool. This is handy for quick brainstorming without having to launch your DAW.
In the chord section, there is a higher quantization resolution of 16th notes, so you can make more rhythmically complex chord progression changes. More detail in this area is always welcome! There are chord progression optimizations that help with setting up the most ideal voice leading between chords, just like real players do. The UI upgrades in the chord section include a better display of chord inversions and also a ‘show chord tension’ display so users can identify and learn what the chords are doing in terms of tension and release. I’ve always appreciated how the chord grid is organized into columns containing the chord permutations of each harmonized scale tone.
A Sea of Patterns
The biggest upgrade in Sundog Song Studio is in the pattern section. Over 200 patterns ship with the program organized in different categories like Bass, Arp, Melodic, Backbeat, Length and Various. In the instrument menu there are special pattern actions like reverse, volume reset, double length and more, easily accessible in the pattern finder window. In addition, there are more advanced pattern settings. You have the ability to randomize velocity, keep overlapping notes pressed when chords change and work with more than one pattern for an instrument. In the Advanced pattern options window, select the option to work with more than one pattern for an instrument. In the main window, there are 5 different pattern selection options that can be drawn into the pattern trigger window across the top of the sequence.
Sundog Scale Studio makes it fun and easy to generate usable chord progressions and patterns that you can drag and drop straight into your DAW of choice and further edit to your heart’s content. This tool is a great way to spark initial inspiration for your grid based tracks and more. A highly recommended program and update!
Pros: Handy compositional tool for a great price. Great updates.
Cons: Not for composers who stay away from grid based music.