A question about Synthesizers

This question is open to anyone, but Daniel if you have information please share…

I have done some work in the past for Marching Bands that now incorporate the use of Synthesizers on the field. Having to write for a synth is difficult, I never know what sounds to chose. From my experience it has been because band directors/etc. say “Use the synth to cover other voices if you want.” The problem is that (from what I can tell) you cannot add a synth stave, then in the playback change the sounds it produces, such as “cello sound”, without jumping through a lot of hoops. It would very cool if you could add a synth stave, then be able to assign which sounds it produces in playback, along with the ability to change that sound through the score. I am seeing some broadway scores that are using a synth to produce multiple sounds, such as a triangle roll.

Will something like this be easy to do in Dorico? Or has something like been easy to do in current scoring software and I just missed something?


This should be a very simple operation in Dorico. This is still work-in-progress, but the steps would be something like this:

  • Create a new Player and choose ‘Synthesizer’
  • Load your preferred VST Instrument in the rack
  • Choose the sound you want
  • Switch to Play Mode and in the routing dropdown for the Instrument, select the VST Instrument you added.
  • …that’s it!

You should also be able to use different sounds, and there are two mechanisms for this. One is to add more Instruments to the Player and then Dorico will use an instrument change to play both sounds (which could even be with different plugins). The other is to use Playing Techniques which will be able to trigger control changes or program changes. For instance a ‘Motor on’ playing technique for Vibraphone can switch to the appropriate patch.

That sounds pretty fantastic!!

Thanks so much Paul!


If you’re using the synth to imitate “real” instruments, what’s the problem? Just write Instrument Changes as required.

Part of it is real instruments, and part of it aren’t. I guess my concern is more about the parts that aren’t real. Also, is there a way to do an instrument change where it still keeps the original 2 staves of the synth, and doesn’t knock it down to one stave if I instrument change to a 'cello? I haven’t messed around with instrument changes enough to know how they affect 2 stave instruments.


Is there / will there be a way to route a SINGLE staff to MORE than one VSTi software instrument without duplicating the staff in question? For example, a piano grand staff to Piano 1 VSTi and the SAME grand staff to Piano 2 VSTi to create a richer piano sound.

Even my current DAW can’t do that, so I must all the time duplicate lots of tracks to get the sounds I want.

Thank you so much. :slight_smile:

Robby: the underlying model is that a Player may hold several instruments (typical cases include Flute and Piccolo, or a range of percussion instruments). Each Instrument has its own stave, but if the two instruments aren’t playing at the same time (eg with flute/picc) then the notation is (optionally) condensed to a single stave as an instrument change. If the instruments are playing at the same time (eg with percussion) then these still have separate staves. So you should retain the option to keep the staves separate or show them as an instrument change.

Jode: it’s not currently possible to route an individual note to multiple devices, though that’s something that we could look into in the future. However what you will be able to do (not in the initial release, but hopefully very shortly after) is route separate voices of an instrument to individual VSTis

@Paul: Is it also possible to combine percussion parts from different players into a set of staves? For example, in West Side Story (Symphonic Dances), four percussionists share a single percussion part. In that, about ten different percussion instruments are distributed into two staves. Single instruments may occur in any of the two, whichever appeared more convenient to the engraver (or in this case, writer; they are handwritten):
West Side Story.png
Here, in the second staff, the parts of three musicians are condensed into one.

The upside of this is that all the percussionists know what is going on in the other voices - the downside is that it’s necessary to figure out beforehand how to distribute the instruments so the players have enough time to switch from one to the other.

We don’t yet have support for percussion, but we are aware of the complexities that arise with multiple players sharing multiple instruments, and also the circumstances where you may also want them notated on the same stave. Daniel may be able to chime in here with more detail, but the general answer is ‘it’s complicated and we’re trying to find the best way to approach it’.

Good answer. :slight_smile:

This is a hard problem to solve, and I’m not sure it’s a scoring program’s job to solve it. I see it as my job as the leader of the percussion section of our orchestra to figure out how to distribute the parts. Not every percussionist can play every instrument, and sometimes a part needs to be divided between two players. The possible combinations are endless…

Indeed, you’ve hit the nail on the head - ultimately whatever choice the application makes, it may not be what the user intended. If the application offers the user the choice…? Well, can you imagine the complexity of a dialog that controls the routing of X different players holding Y different instruments which may alternate N times during the movement…?

I’m also with Jode on the prospect of routing voices to several VSTs. It would be immensely helpful to be able to write musical theatre keyboard parts in Dorico without the need to route out to Mainstage or the like to hear proper playback of “Marcato Stgs+F Horn over Eb4/D4 Harp+Celeste over C3/B2 Trombones”!

I understand that this probably isn’t a highly sought after feature so I will likely have to wait a while - but it’s nice to know we can put the idea out in the open :smiley:

We will certainly take this on board - I can see the value of it as a feature.