Composing Hybrid Dynamics (e.g. cutoff, resonance, etc.)

This community has already helped me learn so much about Dorico - from expression/perc maps to playback templates! I am currently composing ambient music in Dorico using a combination of VSTis and I’d like to use dynamics markings in my score to achieve characteristics unique to synthetic/hybrid instruments - for example use a crescendo marking to playback an opening cutoff on a filter…

While expression maps define key switches for playing techniques and MIDI cc can be trained to remotely turn VSTi knobs, I have not found a way to define a dynamic marking’s role in VSTi playback. Is there some sort of “Dynamics Editor”? Or, does anyone have a suggestion for achieving this kind of “hybrid” dynamic?

Welcome to the forum, @musicprotest. You can specify what MIDI controller is used for dynamics in your expression map, but it will always be a single CC value (typically CC1 or CC11, or some combination of the two, for most libraries). If your expression map defines, say, CC25 as the controller for dynamics, then when you work with the dynamics editor in the Key Editor, it will manipulate CC25.

Thank you, that was just the pointer I needed!


I’m probably gonna suggest the obvious, but I prefer not to tie the midi CC from Dorico directly to the cutoff or whatever. Depends on the synth, but if you tie dynamics/ crescendo to a macro knob or other mod source on the synth first and THEN tie the cut off to that mod source, you are more likely not to have to change the map when you change patches.

You can also create a few new playback techniques with names like “with heavy resonance” or whatever that appear like text in your score and change the relationship between the mod source and some actual parameter by some value. You can turn it on or off in the score that way, couple in with volume changes or not, etc.

Thanks, gdball - I’m glad to have my instruments now responding to dynamics… and using MIDI CC to embellish my playback is helping me finish my productions from top-to-bottom inside of Dorico… Great!

But… your tip about using custom techniques adds another powerful layer that I hadn’t really put together on my own. While I wish that Dorico supported host automation, which I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, I am totally thrilled with the powerful features that Dorico DOES have since I much prefer to compose in notation (just my preference, though :).

Thanks for your tip!

Can you define “host automation” for me. I would think that, when working in Dorico, Dorico is the host, and what one might want is for Dorico to directly control more aspects of supporting programs (i.e. the filter settings in VST’s).

That may be what you mean, but since the term you used was unfamiliar to me, I’d like to learn about something I do not yet know.

I spent some time looking into this kind of thing, similar to what @gdball said I found that it’s better to distinguish between the scored music and the performance. Synths and other music like improv with lots of embellishment blur the line, but even then there’s still a place for the core music (e.g. the fake sheet, classical improv plan or synth progressions) and how it’s performed. Putting it all into Dorico is the opposite of divide and conquer and doesn’t work so well. So for me doing the core music in Dorico and generating midi when is then further worked in a DAW for the performance aspects seems best.

It was a useful exercise, and why I’m a fan of not putting too much DAW functionality into Dorico and making it a kitchen sink. Better to do one job well, and maybe have a few others it does OK as basic support tools (e.g. mixing)

Hi Derrek, to answer your question, “host automation” is one of 2 kinds of automation between host and VST. A host can automate a VST using MIDI - which Dorico seems to support very thoroughly. But, there’s an alternative called “host automation”, where the VST actually “exposes” or “publishes” a set of parameters that the host can automate in the VST. Host automation came to my attention using Maschine and Kontakt as VSTs in Dorico.

Thank you for explaining. I think I understand. Can you go one step further and explain how one takes advantage of these VST parameters if not via MIDI? I expect Dorico intends such VST parameters to be accessed via expression maps by sending custom MIDI messages to the VST.

Hi Derrek, I found a video that shows host automation in use between Kontakt and Cubase 8 (so an old version of Cubase, but still should work the same). It looks to me as though Dorico doesn’t regard this kind of “Host Automation” - where the parameter is published from the instrument (Kontakt in this case) to the Host (Dorico in my case).

You’re right that Dorico enables control using MIDI automation and expression maps, but that is extra setup for me which is why I’d love to see “Host Automation” implemented. But, I also see where other folks are coming from as far as keeping Dorico focused on the score, rather than trying to be a pseudo-DAW.

Anyway, here’s a link to a video (not mine) showing this “host automation” in action:

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