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dot Melody – New app from the makers of Chordion

Olympia Noise Co., the developers responsible for the great app Chordion, have recently released their latest creation called dot Melody.

dot Melody is (currently) an iPhone app, with a very reasonable purchase price. Let me get this out of the way, it is well worth it. The app consists of three instruments - "lead", "bass", and "drums". Each of these have multiple sound options (12 lead, 9 bass, and 5 drum sounds), which gives you plenty of range. In addition to the preset sounds, there is an IAP option to purchase Virtual MIDI out, so you can choose to use the sounds from your other iOS synths as well. You can also combine the internal sounds with other synths (say, use Sunrizer for your lead, Thor for your bass, and dot Melody for your drums). As you can see, endless possibilities.

But OK, how does it work? The main interface that you will do your song construction on is essentially a grid, where you will place dots (notes) to build your pattern. The pitch of the notes are based on the horizontal axis, and length of the notes on the vertical axis. The pitch was immediately intuitive, but admittedly the note length took a few attempts to figure out exactly what was going on. Once you've wrapped your head around it though, it is a great way to compose a tune.

dot-Melody

On the left side, you have your play/stop button, along with a record button. Below that, there are three chords (initially) to drive the notes being played. You can change the chords in the Settings, as well as add more chords. You can switch the chords being played on the fly, so you can create some song patterns live.

On the right side you will find the Settings option (more on that in a bit), along with the instrument selection icon, and the "patterns" icon. The instruments icon allows you to switch between the three instruments while adding notes to the grid. The patterns icon will provide a visual representation of the length of notes.

The funny thing about all of this? In the time that it took you to read my description of the layout of the main screen, you likely would have intuitively figured out how to use it on your own. That is one of the strong points of this app.

While the main interface is where you will spend most of your time, you would be missing out if you did not dig deeper into the Settings. From here, you can choose among many tempos (Want a song in 9/8? Sure you do! You got it!). You also can choose standard chords from here, or create your own easily. The mixer can be found here, which will simply control the volume of each instrument.

In the Settings menu is where you can also select the different Instrument sounds for each instrument. While these sounds to tend towards the electronic/synth realm, they all sound great. There is even a simple mod wheel to further tweak the preset sound. There is a nice bit of control over the delay per instrument in here. A universal reverb option can also be controlled.

The Pattern option allows you to tweak the pattern that you have created, or to generate a random option per instrument. If you've created a pattern in the main grid, you can reverse the pattern, or shuffle the order in which the notes are played (trust me, it makes sense the moment you play with it). I'll admit, I'm a sucker for any kind of "random" option in my iOS apps, so I very much appreciate the addition of this option.

Of course, dot Melody is Audiobus-compatible. For the example below, I created a quick song in dot Melody in just under 10 minutes after opening the app for the first time. I played the internal sounds only in this song (no MIDI) for a bit, and then I added some shimmer effects from another great new app, Crystalline.

I have chatted with Ben Kamen from Olympia Noise Co., and he says that they are working on making dot Melody a universal app. Using the iPhone version on my iPad Air, it looked great, and performed perfectly. If you are hesitant to buy dot Melody just because it is iPhone only at this moment, put those thoughts aside.

If you're familiar with Chordion, you know what to expect from dot Melody. Simple interface, user-friendly MIDI implementation, and an incredibly fun experience. This app makes song creation easy. If I was going to sit down and try to compose a song that I already had in my head in dot Melody, honestly I might have some trouble doing so. But, much like one of my other favorite apps Gestrument, I think that the beauty and power of dot Melody is that you can create songs that maybe you wouldn't have thought of previously. The interface allows you to break free of your "normal" way of composing, and by dropping dots here and there, you will find yourself creating some really fun tunes.

dot Melody (AppStore Link) dot Melody
Developer: Olympia Noise Co.
Rated: 4+4.5
Price: $6.99 Download

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