Basic midi synth playback

Can I play back using my computer’s basic midi synth capabilities, rather than virtual instruments?

I’m a bit short of disk space on my laptop and don’t need anything more than simple sounds for auditioning purposes. I don’t want to dedicate the 8GB+ to libraries of sounds I don’t need.

(Apologies if another variant of this post appears – I thought I’d posted one earlier but it seems to have disappeared into the ether.)

In short, no. It’s virtual instruments only at the moment.

Bugger. OK. Is there any intention to add this capability in the near future, or should I go back to the installer?

For the time being, if you want any playback at all, you really need the included HALion Sonic SE 2 and its sounds.

I read that 1.1 allows playback through midi out. Does this mean I can also use my computer’s midi synth after all? Thanks!

Yes and no. You can route MIDI to an external device (including things like the GS Wavetable) but currently there is no ability to send program changes, aside from if they are set in an the expression map.

Yes you can. It’s wasn’t quite obvious (at least to me!) how to do it, but …

  • Go to Play mode
  • In the right hand panel, open the MIDI Instruments tab. But that won’t show anything yet…
  • Click the “+” button at the bottom of the tab to add a MIDI instrument. See screen shot
  • Then open the tab on the right and select the instrument you want from the menu.

Dorico midi.png

Thanks! I can do this, but it doesn’t produce any audio. In fact, it seems to produce a bug: having set a MIDI instrument of Built-In Output, if I then try to input a new note in Write mode, the note gets duplicated five or six more times and then Dorico hangs.

I admit that I am all at sea with Dorico’s playback functionality. When it comes to MIDI, I never really learned anything except the absolute basics, which was all I needed to use Sibelius: I simply set it to play back through my Mac’s internal speakers, ignored all virtual instruments, and it worked like a charm. I can’t seem to make Dorico do the same, though I’m sure it’s possible – it all looks very sophisticated.

Can any kind soul offer me some step-by-step instructions to producing general MIDI playback on my Mac through internal speakers? Many, many thanks in advance!

I don’t believe it is in general possible to produce General MIDI playback from Dorico at the moment. Even if you were to use something like Plogue’s Sforzando VST-compatible sound font player and a GM-compatible soundfont, it still wouldn’t be “set and forget” because Dorico doesn’t know anything about General MIDI mappings, and hence it won’t be able to choose the appropriate patch for each instrument in your score. This is something that we will work on in the future (the same basic mechanism is needed to allow things like Wallander’s NotePerformer to work in Dorico), but it’s not possible right now.

In the meantime, the problem you’ve got with exta notes being created is due to a MIDI feedback loop. Dorico is listening to ‘Built-in Output’ as a MIDI input device. If you really want to use this as an output device, you’ll need to disable it as an input device, which you can do following the procedure described here.

Hi Dorico team, any update on this? I’m also eager to take advantage of the simplicity of General MIDI — especially by uninstalling all VSTs, thereby cutting Dorico’s load time.

In Play mode, I can select “Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth” as a playback option instead of any VST instrument, but I never hear any sound. I’m using Dorico v. 1.1, on Windows 10, 64-bit.


It works fine for me with external midi rack gear and keyboards. Just add midi keyboard choose your external synth. Dorico is sweet! see’s all my MOTU midi setup. 4 Midi timepieces on Mac with 32 individual external synths available. It even shows my usb to midi boxes. Thank you Steinberg for writing that MOTU midi interface. So awesome! I got my own remote band! Yamaha Motif playing grand piano. E-Mu EIV Ultras playing orchestral sounds, Kurzweil playing synths and basses, Korg Kronos playing pads and acoustic stuff. cool! Add some midi editing to Dorico… it will be the filmscoring dream come true.

The Realms of Gold, you’ll need to expand the track header on the left-hand side in Play mode and specify the device and channel manually for each instrument in your project.

Hi Daniel, looks like it was a problem with Windows 10. For future readers, Windows 10’s built-in MIDI system has a history of malfunction when sound output devices are set to “Exclusive” mode. Fix this by going into the Control Panel, selecting Sound, choosing the Playback tab, clicking Properties for each output device, choosing the Advanced tab, and de-selecting “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device.”

Daniel, now I have a new question. I can’t seem to select a GM patch (or any program number) for a General MIDI instrument. In Play mode, I see a drop-down for setting the device’s channel, which works fine. The pencil icon for editing the GM instrument under “MIDI Instruments” (in the right pane) doesn’t do anything (oddly, neither does the trash-can icon), and I can’t find other options anywhere.

By the way, you probably don’t remember, but you and I had a marvelous correspondence about a fringe music notation issue I had about six years ago, and you were an immense help to me. I’ve followed “Making Notes” since its creation, have enjoyed reading every post in full, and am purchasing copies of Dorico for my new institution this year!

To set a program number, you’ll need to use a slightly round-about method of defining an expression map that sends a specific program change for the ‘Natural’ playing technique, and then assign that in the dialog that appears when you click the little cog button next to the name of the MIDI device, for each channel you’re using. It’s a bit of a pain, but it should work.

I’m delighted to hear you’ll be using Dorico at your new institution!

Hi Daniel, thanks for your help so far. I defined an expression map without any trouble, but can’t seem to apply it — when I click the cog next to the MIDI instrument, all I see is a channel option, as illustrated in the attached screenshot. (Note the two MIDI instruments in the list, in the right half of the screenshot; I can’t delete either of them.)
Dorico MIDI options.png
I’ve also attached a second screenshot to illustrate a recommendation: field labels in the program-change dialog. You can see where I’ve typed the program number 57, but it was only by screwing around with entries like 129 that I figured out the program change was supposed to go in the first field. I have no idea what the second field, in white (currently highlighted), is used for. Labels across the top would be great at some point.
Expression map program change.png

If you change ‘Number of MIDI channels’ to 16 and click ‘Set’ you should then find that the drop-downs that allow you to set the expression map for each channel shows up.

If you want a small, lightweight, “General-Midi-compatible” set of samples, you could try the old Roland Sound Canvas repackaged as a VST instrument -

The original Windows MIDI sounds were based on those samples licensed by Microsoft from Roland - going back at least as far as Windows 98!

The VST version comes with more editing options than the original Virtual Sound Canvas synth, but of course you can just ignore those and use the default sounds if you want.

You will probably still need to make (or find) General Midi compatible expression maps for Dorico, but you should get the right instruments etc loaded automatically.

Hello - is there another update on this, this time for Mac?

In v3.5 I can’t see General Midi as a selectable VST. I also can’t make the above suggestions work (for Mac).

It would be great to use GM for when we want smaller file sizes and don’t need wannabe hollywood sounds :wink:

oh wait don’t worry found this thread

and it’s not possible