Composing in Cubase and exporting to Dorico

Hi folks,
I compose in Cubase and I’m exporting the midi and importing that in to Dorico.

I’m doing a lot of stuff these days with lots of string articulations. I was doing that with key switching and so the key switch notes are importing and then I created an expression map in Dorico and deleted the low notes and wrote in the performance techniques.

Are we there yet with any products (maybe Iconica?) where I can do all the composing and expressions in Cubase and when I import it in to Dorico all those things are just done?

I think you would be better off exporting xml from Cubase rather than MIDI. There is no way Dorico can interpret articulations from a MIDI import.

That worked pretty well. For some reason I couldn’t get the tempo to import from the xml and I have to manually change the instrument names in the score editor in Cubase in order to not just get everything to import as flutes where with midi both those things just work, but it did import the few articulations I had in this one piece. Thanks! i’ll keep experimenting with it.

FWIW if you can change your workflow to compose instead in Dorico first then export to Cubase, you might find it a better approach. Biggest advantage is that Dorico does a lot of the expression management for you, so you can think musically (e.g. I want an emphasized passage) through notation, rather than as more of a sound designer writing for a specific library and played in performance. It’s also more flexible because you can trivially change sample libraries on instruments to dial in the exact sound you want.

Then, when exporting to Cubase you can tweak in the CC’s and such to get the exact sound you want.


I’m not sure what you are referring to about expression management. Dorico is just using expression maps to link articulations and playing techniques with keyswitches and CC, etc, just like you do in Cubase. You can easily change sample libraries in Cubase. Just like Dorico, it’s just a matter of changing which VST your track is pointing to. I find Cubase much faster to compose in for my needs. Using key switching, CC and velocity gets me where I need to get a lot quicker than writing in expressions on a chart (and mapping those expressions to the plugin). I certainly understand there are people out there that write faster in Dorico than in Cubase (especially in the Dorico forum), but I’m not one of them.

If things don’t arrive in Dorico, it means it could not interpret anything sensible in the source file. Tempo marks will need to be explicit in the xml. And if Dorico does not recognise an instrument name, it will default to flute.
If you have the time/energy it’s worth it to get to know the structure of Musicxml files (You’ll want a text editor that has syntax highlight for general xml files - I use ConTEXT, which is free)

That’s fine, not trying to convince you of anything, however notation=>expression => MIDI+CC is not the same as MIDI+expression => MIDI+CC.

But anyhow I’d say we’re not Dorico fans so much as notation fans. Dorico is just our drug of choice.

I’d like to understand better about what exactly you mean. My understanding is that at the end of the day, dorico is mapping any notation expression to an expression map which is mapping to whatever VST you are using. That mapping is no different than what you do in Cubase. The only difference (that I know of) is that if you want to use the built in Halion sounds then those maps are already made. But if you are using any third party sample libraries then you will need to do that mapping in Dorico just like you would in Cubase.

Can you give me a specific example of what you mean, because it seems like we are talking in general terms. Thanks!

Musical notation is an abstraction, and this is why we still listen to 400 year old music, because it was never ‘hard coded’. Even the first performance was an interpretation of the notation. It’s also universal and has been described as the only universal language (probably not true). Best example of this is to listen to Glenn Gould’s late recording “A State of Wonder”. It contains both the original Goldberg recording from when he was 20 or whatever, and a recent interpretation. They don’t even sound like the same person. It’s a wonderful illustration of the principle that louder and faster is not better, and the benefit of artistic maturity.

Anyhow, MIDI and expression maps aren’t the same as this. MIDI obviously was invented as an electronic way to encode musical performance data. Doesn’t even make sense some of the time - take velocity. Invented for keyboard instruments, but as a wind player that means nothing to me. And what does Velocity of 50 mean? It’s patch dependent for one thhing, legato patches ignore it (generally, there’s no rules here) but short patches (usually) pay attention to it. Unless it’s an organ patch I suppose. Or if it’s NotePerformer, which mixes all of the data up into an algorithm which does a good job of sounding like what you want.

And Expressions can be whatever you want too obviously. Name them Alpha, Beta, Gamma etc. and it means whatever you want it to mean and map to whatever you want, but doesn’t help the next person who might look at your map. Now you can use musical terms here, but that’s just a shorthand for the primary source, and it still maps to whatever (you could map a short to a long).

Just some thoughts since you asked. Rounding back to the opening point, write a piece in notation (using whatever you want, photo of chalk on a cave wall, paper/pencil or printed out from Dorico) and stick it in a drawer. Your kids will be able to take that music and play it. But a DAW project, well as you know it’s standard practice to print stems because even next year you likely won’t be able to open up that project, due to changing software, plugins, etc. And of course if you want to recreate it somebody would take those stems and translate them back to notation.

I’m a software engineer by trade so am hyper aware of abstraction levels and languages, the example is the same as in a abstract programming language (e.g. C++) versus an assembly language - the latter being a baked version of the former. Or it’s like in physics translating from a tensor Hilbert space to say polar coordinates. Blah blah blah, I talk too much but you get the idea :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Let me try and be more clear about my question. In your first reply you said “Biggest advantage is that Dorico does a lot of the expression management for you, so you can think musically (e.g. I want an emphasized passage) through notation, rather than as more of a sound designer writing for a specific library and played in performance.”

My question is this-how is Dorico handling this any differently than Cubase does? In my understanding, they are both doing the same thing-linking articulations and techniques through expression maps to the various VSTs. Again-the only difference between the two is the Dorico already has a bunch of Halion expression maps made, so if you want to use Halion (or note performer) then it’s already set up for you, but if you are using a different library then it’s the same amount of work-and the same MIDI - that you are dealing with.

I’m not asking about the long term historic benefits to Notation vs a DAW. I assume it’s obvious that I understand the benefit of written notation (that is what I’m doing in Dorico after all).

I think perhaps you are wanting to engage in a more philosophical discussion about notation and DAWs (which is fun sometimes, for sure). But, for now I’m just trying to figure out the most efficient way to get MIDI from Cubase and into Dorico for the charts that I need to make and see if there is an easy way (yet) for articulations and performance techniques to pass between the programs so I don’t need to spend extra time fiddling in one or the other programs.

I think understanding my use case may be helpful. I am making mockups that must be listened to and sound as good as I can (within the time that I have). I also need to print the notation with the dynamics, etc, that most closely represent what I want it to sound like (which should ideally sound like the audio). I don’t like the Halion sounds, and so I use different libraries. I can get them dialed in pretty quickly in Cubase, but at the end of the day, “dialed in” is all stuff that can be achieved in Dorico as well using the same expression mapping, key switches, etc, etc. If I wrote faster in Dorico, I’d write in Dorico but I write faster in Cubase…well, actually that’s not true because I can get more accurate sounding results with CC than with dynamic markings, so for sound delivery Cubase is the way to go (for me). The difficulty is that then when I import it to Dorico, I’m hoping to pretty quickly at least have it sounding pretty close to what I had in Cubase so that can do the clean up, any other needed notation, and printing there. I don’t need to deliver the audio that I hear from Dorico, but I just need it to track pretty close so that I can do whatever cleanup is needed.

I’ve realized there’s an error in my thinking. I was essentially trying to get Dorico to sound the same as my Cubase project with as little effort as possible. That’s not needed. Creating the expression map in Cubase and then exporting the xml should get me close enough to finish the score in Dorico with Halion giving me a close enough approximation. Thanks for the help everyone!

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That’s a good realisation and a cautionary tale for us all.