A Competent PLAY engine/tab?

Currently I’m afraid I don’t think there’s any simple way to get this degree of control for the large orchestral libraries. There are various tricks that some people have discovered, such as re-using random playing techniques (eg pizz on a clarinet) in order to access another sound layer. One of the current limitations is that the list of playing techniques isn’t editable, which makes it hard to extend to cope with the many techniques in the sample libraries. These are all areas that we really want to improve on in a future version.

One question: how would you distinguish between these techniques in the score?
Looking at this list it appears to be that there are really two types of technique in it: ones that would be explicitly marked in the score (eg open, closed, mute) and those where you are making a decision about the preferred sound you wish to hear which may not be evident from the score (roll 1 vs roll 2, beater type, roll variations). The first type map reasonably well onto the Dorico playing technique concept, but I’m wondering whether we need a different mechanism in the future to deal better with those of the second type.

Paul, this hits the nail on the head, especially if the score is to be placed in front of players as well. I’m not sure it makes sense to have something like two different popovers for visible (in the score) or invisible techniques, but allowing descriptive names, mapped to sample library key switches (etc.), with switchable visibility.
I often want invisible things in the score for all kinds of reasons, so it would also be great to be able to preface popover text with something like [h] to hide anything, without going to the properties panel.

Paul, thank you for replying.

Expression maps in Cubase were originally designed to allow the combination of techniques, up to 4 layers. It allowed you to define [Staccato/sustain/legato], then also have a sort of Mute VARIATION on those articulations. The variations are referred to as groups. Cubase supported up to 4 max. So you could have “mute + sul pont + staccato” if you have it sampled. I found 4 groups very limiting, but the way it worked does address the point you brought up. In the score, if you’ve said “mute” or “con sord”… then Dorico should know that from that marking and forward… that instrument should be muted (aka: the way a real player knows this). Staccatos, accents, sustain, legato… everything else should be recognized and played… ACCORDING to that Mute qualifier.

Notion uses flags to do this and allows far more flags than 4 groups in Cubase, in a rather messy way. To set “arco” you have to first say “unset pizz, and this, and every other bloody articulation you have”… NOW you can set the Arco flag. That part is messy. But the mere rule creation is more straightforward and also solves this in a way similar to Cubase, but far more flexible for playback. You can add conditions. If “under slur” and “staccato” then… change duration, send keyswitch, cook my breakfast. It’s very flexible. To Notion’s credit, it’s also a bit more robust than expression maps for altering playback. But it has to be said that giving users conditional statements makes the amount of setup to get notation to be ‘fully functional’ higher. As a user it feels like being handed machine code when I want to compose music.

I can also tell you about the only way I’ve effectively setup all my pipe organ stops in Cubase (not via expression maps cause it won’t work) if you want. But we’ll save that for an extremely rainy day.

Point is… I do think flexibility is called for, but in a way that is first as automatic and easy to use as possible. Daniel made a great point once about how Dorico should be as automatic as possible, but let you make the exception when you want. Well, there’s absolutely nothing automatic about getting a world class sample library (like Spitfire or Orchestral Tools) up and running in Dorico (or any notation program). I’ll gladly share every map I create to help make that easier. I just want to get it right first.

  • Every playing technique I have should be able to be defined in Dorico somehow.
  • The score should read combinations of markings intelligently if we want the final usage to feel natural and be easy to use.
  • There needs to be a way to have multiple percussion one one staff. See this thread: https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=246&t=129827

While this thread is originally about many things I consider necessary for Dorico to be a true film score workstation… those 3 are needed to get playback working as it looks, not to mention CC editing.

I hope I brought relevant and useful insight to this instead of just rambling. It’s not like this is a simple topic. lol



My last post to paul was intended to make Dorico as automatic and intelligent as possible at reading the score and translating it to proper playback output. That’s not to say that simply letting me mark “switch to this articulation now” in an invisible way wouldn’t be ideal for some people. I currently can’t use my fast legato patches cause there’s no fast legato in Dorico. And I’m hardly likely to tell violinists “use your fast legato here”. So I see the value in invisible markers. BUT… having basically done that very thing in Notion right now, I can tell you it’s a bit of a chore to manage. It feels like adding CC does to Sibelius. It’s absolutely NOT intuitive and easy to work in. In the end, the DAW still wins that way and I’m still not working in notation. The only reason I’m sticking with Notion right now is that I at least have half my symbols working and triggering playback (the most common ones). While Dorico should ideally work with the common stuff as well… I just think it’s worth saying that the more automatic the score can read proper articulation markings, the better.

I INITIALLY thought that I’d setup a Notion rule that says “if playback gets faster, use my fast legato patch”. The problem with this is that some phrases I’d never actually do this. That’s fine… but there’s no way to override notion’s automatic rules. With most articulations, like staccato and tenuto and sul tasto, it’s not a problem. But I have found that while I do want automatic for most of it, there are exceptions. So I’m not saying invisible shouldn’t happen. I just don’t want to have to tell Dorico everything to do for every note either. Combining slurs, accents, and staccatos and con sord markings should all do the right thing on their own… without me having to do extra work during the composing process.


That is a fantastic idea Steve - very Dorician! Or Doric?

Hi Sean,
I think Dorico has more chance of getting to where you want than any other notation program. I do see what you’re saying but it’s always the grey boundaries that will need some kind of over-ride. Some kind of mapping grid maybe? I’m still not sure though… there are so many situations in DP or Logic where the perfect thing is to blend part of another libraries patch in etc., not mention things like pulling the reverb down.


The more I read, the more I grew frustrated. The suggestion feels more like a Sibelius days solution. BUT I agree completely about the problem you are highlighting. It reveals a disconnect between notation software and intelligent music reading. I’m not talking super A.I. here. But Dorico should know that a “fast legato” patch will never EVER be something I’ll tell players to do. In Notion this morning, I’ve had to place 50 legato markings and then make them all invisible. I keep finding ones I forgot to hide. It feels just like Sibelius CC markings. I hate it. It’s taking more time to clean things up than to compose. I really hate it. First world problems… but I HATE IT!!! lol

Then the obvious hit me!


I beg you. PLEASE consider this.

Make it possible to have some playing technique markings automatically invisible (greyed out on the screen, but not to be printed) by default. I’ll never want my “fast legato” patch to show up on a score. Ever. EVER. If I never want it, Dorico should know that automatically. I think that solves my biggest complaint with the way it’s done in Sibelius and Notion right now. It’s less clean up work just to get the score to do what it should have been doing from the start… looking and sounding right.

Seriously, I’ll fly to London and beg if I have to! lol



About pulling reverb down, I think that should be done in the PLAY tab personally. The thing about plugin automation is that it’s basically just like Continuous Controller data. In every DAW they are treated the same way for user interaction. So if Dorico ever does this… and they want it to feel familiar to users, that’s probably their safest route. Basically, in line with my auto-invisible-option request… don’t show things in the score that players won’t use… by default anyway.

Please understand that I love the input your adding here. The features are absolutely needed. But HOW they are added is what I’m most concerned with. I worked in Sibelius for years, then moved over to the DAW cause I realized I could work 100x faster. Dorico seems like it’s 50% where it needs to be to get playback control to be seemless enough to escape the DAW (or Notion for me now).


It’s my dream to be able to work only in notation… for a long time, I’ve composed in notation (mostly Finale) then played the lines live into DP or Logic. This at least gives me a pretty good initial balance, articulation and dynamics. I tend to mix in a different articulation, or patch or even sometimes a synth (rather than switch), which could be done with hidden staffs and decent automation and track folders.
I also use hidden text all the time for things like ‘the talent asked for this on 4/9’.
Some way to hide and a default hide/show for custom commands. But are you also thinking that Dorico should understand (or have some way of mapping) things like ‘switch to x if staccato + mp or mf + 1/16th notes quicker than c=180’ ?

Absolutely to both.

Auto-hide: (I’d place these according to what sounded right, but would ALWAYS want them hidden automatically)
Legato (I may mark it for players occasionally, but 99% of the times I use it for the right mock-up sound, it wouldn’t actually be marked for players)
Fast Legato
Legato Reps
I also use a more pronounced legato patch I’ve created myself. It makes for some very convincing string mock-ups.
Timed short (1 sec) … I use the .5 sec for Tenuto… but have no way of using the longer version or no label to give it. It would be hidden when used.
And more…

Intelligently read by Dorico:
If MUTE is on… and I’m using staccato markings… or my hidden legato marking… then trigger the right muted staccato/legato/etc.
If Mute + sul pont is on… and I use staccato, then play my muted sul pont staccato samples.
If Soft Mallets are on… and I’m using rolls via the tremolo symbol, then use the “soft rolls” articulation I have.

Some form of conditional intelligence is needed to make Dorico have automatically correct playback. All this REALLY means is that I’m doing more to setup Dorico to play it right early on… instead of more work later on in the score… in every score I write. The more I have to do to get Dorico to work right… the higher that list gets, the better off I am using paper instead of software. So it’s certainly needed. But I’m not trying to speak to the best solution. I’m just trying to answer you that I think both are needed, albeit interrelated.

This boils down to something Daniel once said about software (it’s becoming a favorite quote)… paraphrased: people want software to be as automatic as possible at doing what they would have done… THEN have the ability to override it where desired. Technique markings should be as intelligent as possible to my sample library in Dorico, with the option for me to override them and control the performance when it gets it wrong or when I simply have to make an exception.

I like “dorician” :wink: