SONAR X1 is the choice for many artists who create music for their own audiences, but it’s also the D.A.W. of choice for many professionals who use it in other capacities. As the Artist Relations Manager for Cakewalk I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to really connect with great artists on many different levels. One of the common-thread traits I hear over and over about SONAR X1 with these artists is the fact that SONAR X1 becomes more of a musical partner than a standard D.A.W.
What they mean by this, and I agree whole heartedly, is that between the customization, ease of surgical sound-shaping tools such as the ProChannel, fluid workflow features such as Drag and Drop, all combined with the best sounding sound engine, and SONAR X1 becomes more of a working and writing partner than anything else.
One artist who is living proof of the SONAR X1 magic is composer/producer Doyle Donehoo of Relic Entertainment who is a pioneer of creating music for games. “Pioneer” is a word that can sometimes have the meaning of “old school” attached to it, but that’s not the case when it’s in the same sentence as Doyle Donehoo. On the contrary, Doyle is one of the most futuristic and technologically inclined composers out there in the gaming space. In fact, rumor has it that he can write his name in a piano roll view through osmosis – ok, maybe that is stretching it, but what is true is that this guy has some serious credits to his name and some amazing music created with SONAR X1.
Doyle Donehoo has many credits writing music for games, but his wheelhouse has been the Warhammer 40k Dawn of War II series. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is a real-time strategy/tactical role-playing video game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ for the Microsoft Windows platform based on the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe. It is the sequel to the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War video game series and Doyle has created the music for these games all in SONAR.
Most recently, Doyle has created music for the forthcoming World of Battleships game all in SONAR X1. World of Battleships is a free-to-play naval action MMO that plunges players into the era of the XX century devastating sea wars. Players dive into the massive naval battles and tame the overwhelming power of multiton titans to conquer the high seas. The game provides numerous strategic opportunities for success in combat. Sudden strikes from cover, cunning flanking attacks or open head-to-head encounters—every player will have dozens of tactics to choose from.
Check out Doyle’s composition here to hear the pristine sound engine of SONAR X1:
CW AR: What are a few of the specific components to X1 that have raised your game (no pun intended) from the older versions of SONAR?
Doyle D: The continued evolution through the years of the Piano Roll View has been a major convenience for me, and I have really been happy with the Folders feature since it was introduced, which helps me organize my large set of instruments. The fact that SONAR can function, and function well under the massive loads I subject it to says a lot about the robustness of SONAR x1. Lately I have been having a lot of fun with the new Expanded features. Also, the improvements of the interface make an already easy to understand layout even more intuitive. I look at other sequencers at trade shows, and I am shocked at what they don’t have and what they don’t do. SONAR x1 just has loads of features.
CW AR: What does a typical SONAR project look like when you are writing for games? i.e. How many tracks? Virtual Instruments? Etc…
Doyle D: My template has over 500 tracks, most of them MIDI tracks, which tells you just how many instruments I have available to me at all times. Most of those instruments are hosted external to SONAR from MIDI slave computers. That allows me to use my basic template and add any per-project special instruments within SONAR itself as I need them. Essentially, my standard instrument template is for all projects. The only thing that changes is what instruments I host within SONAR per project, and whether or not I am also hosting a video for when I am writing to picture.
CW AR: Briefly, how is scoring for video games different than film and Television? Can you give a quick summary of the process?
Doyle D: The basic difference for scoring for games and everything else is that with games, you are often writing for an interactive score and using any number of techniques to achieve that, depending on the project and what the game company is technically capable of. Film and TV is a static environment where you know where everything is because the video is pretty much completed. In games, you are writing for a variety of moods the game can interactively choose from depending on what the game-player or the game environment does. It is not unusual for a composer from the film and TV world to feel totally lost when immersed in a game project: suddenly they have a lot to learn. Believe me, writing to picture is far easier than writing for a game that needs an interactive score.