Composing with audio files within Dorico

I’m starting a chamber music piece that will include playback of about 20-30 audio snippets (short WAV files of oral history recordings, like Reich’s “Different Trains”) as part of the performance. I’m looking at the possibility of composing the piece on Dorico; is there a good way to integrate these WAV files into Dorico, so that I can hear both the WAV files and the instruments together?

The closest I found on the forum was this thread from 2017: I’ll look into using an sfz file with sforzando to trigger the snippets, but just seeing if things have progressed since this thread, since Dorico supports video now?

Thanks for your help!

Is the temporal structure of the audio fixed? If so, you could export the audio as a video file and open it directly in Dorico.

If it isn’t, I would advise you to host the audio files somewhere else — on a sampler or in Max — and pipe a dedicated triggering track’s MIDI output to make them play.

Hello LSalgueiro,

Thanks for the suggestion! There are bunch of files and they are not fixed yet, so I think hosting the audio files somewhere else and triggering them to play from Dorico would be best. I’m a newbie to all this and just wondering what the simplest set up might be? i.e.:

  • If I use Max, then how would I get Dorico to talk to Max to trigger the samples?
  • If I use a sampler, what is the simplest way to do this (e.g. which sampler software and how to get Dorico to talk to it)

First let me ask if you might happen to have some sort of MPC style sampler plugin already.

Sorry, I’m not familiar with “Max”…is that an MPC style plugin?

Examples I can cite are things like Steinberg’s Groove Agent, AKAI’s MPC Essenetials (Often comes free with AKAI MIDI controllers that incorperate pads, like the MPK series), NI’s Battery etc. You might also have luck with one of the free plugins like Nasty Looper that use this instrument design concept. I haven’t spent much time hunting, but there’s bound to be several free or really inexpensive MPC style plugins out there if you’re not looking to lay out cash at the moment.

The nice thing about these sorts of samplers is that they are simple. Drag a sample onto a pad, and it’s ready to trigger via the corresponding MIDI event. Right off the bat, they usually play a clean and unaltered version of the sample…IF you need it, you can go deeper and add filters, dynamic envelopes, effect chains, multiple velocity layers, dynamic velocity curves etc.

Some of these types of plugins also have groove engines and pattern sequencers built in if you want to sync the thing with the host and manage a parallel ‘pattern sequencer’.

Out of the box, you probably won’t need this sequencing aspect though, as you can opt to simply make a stave and trigger the pads as needed. You’ll need to use whole notes tied together to keep the sample playing, as the sounds tend to stop playing when receiving a ‘note off’ event. It’s also typically possible with these sorts of samplers to make pads ‘one-shot’, which would remove the need to tie lots of whole notes together in the score to keep the sample playing.

This sort of plugin is great to have around for a number of reasons. It’s just dead easy to build custom percussion kits on the fly. How often do you need oddball special effects from the percussion section that aren’t in your current sample libraries? If you’re like me…it happens OFTEN. Lion’s roar…break drums…flushing toilets…rattling pie pans, crashing garbage can lids together…whatever sound effect(s) you need…just record it real quick using whatever device/audio app you like, and drag the resulting wav/aif onto an MPC pad…done.

You simply trigger the pads with a standard Dorico Stave, using a suitable Clef for the range of pads you want to trigger (or even a grand staff to cover the whole range). Again, if you’re not using some kind of one-shot mode, a note off event will stop the sound…so use lots of ‘ties’ to ‘hold the pad down’ until it’s done playing.

Next…Do you happen to have a registered version of Bidule? If so, let me know and I’ll go into detail. I personally use this quite often in lieu of an MPC style sampler, as it also allows me to actually sync full length audio tracks with Dorico as well. One can build very powerful and super interesting ‘instrument systems’ with this plugin! It can fudge missing features into any DAW you care to use it with. I’ve worked up my own little bidule group I call Dorico Tracker which lets me easily sync up audio files with Dorico, and even record things being played through the Dorico sound matrix. This is a pretty complex plugin in terms of what all it can do (MIDI and Audio routing, plugin hosting, sampling, sequencing, and more…it’s a realtime swiss army knife kind of plugin), and the learning curve can be pretty steep if you’re not well versed in low-level protocols of things MIDI/Audio. It’s not exactly free or cheap either. If you don’t have this, and it doesn’t seem interesting enough to ‘learn’ read on.

Finally, there are traditional sample players like HALion 6, Kontact, Mach 5, sforzando, etc.

These typically have ARP generators geared for runs and arpeggios instead of a dedicated ‘pattern sequencer’ that is more approriate for making ‘drum patterns/sequences’. Of course you can still make drum patterns with an arp engine…it’s just not as ‘simple’ for this particular job.

Oh, out of the titles I mentioned…sforzando/ARIA does NOT have any sort of built in ARP or Pattern Sequencer engine.

These are also geared to making instruments with a more traditional piano keyboard layout. They tend to have a little different workflow than building sounds for an MPC style sampler. They’ll usually have more advanced options for altering the sound with filters, lfo, etc, and probably even options to mix in various types of true synth routines (wavetable, granular, emulation of analogue circuitry, etc.) Of course you can also build very simple drum kits like with the MPC…but the whole feature-set of such a plugin is usually overkill for the kinds of things you’d want an MPC plugin for. If you need deep instruments with many layers, key-switches, and other truly advanced abilities, then these are the sorts of tools to build an instrument with.

Do you already have one of those plugins?

If not, you might have a look at the free sforzando player, as you can build sounds rather easily for it using a standard text editor. If you happen to own any Garritan libraries that use the ARIA player, these same sfz files will work in that as well. One can find most of the opcodes for building an sfz file here:

Various youtube videos exist demonstrating how to make simple sfz instruments (search for them).

There are also fourms where one can find help and support such as this one:

Hello Brian,

Thanks for the comprehensive reply! Max is a programming language that uses MIDI signals (and can now control audio / video / work with Live). I’ve built a patch in Max that can trigger sound samples from my MIDI keyboard, but since it seems Dorico doesn’t yet support MIDI out, I’m kind of stuck on how to get Dorico to talk to Max… so perhaps one of your suggestions might be even more cost effective in terms of time and price.

Since I don’t have these plugins, and all I really need is for a staff in Dorico to trigger samples (approx. 5" of audio in each WAV file) instead of a synth, I think I’ll look into sforzando and working with sfz.


Are you on a PC or Mac?

You CAN get a MIDI out from Dorcio, if you’re willing to mix the audio separately (outside the realm of Dorico’s Mixer), or use some fudges to pipe a signal back into Dorico through one of his FX slots.

At the bottom right of Dorico’s Play tab there is place to load a MIDI port instead of a plugin.

To get MIDI from Dorico into a another stand-alone instrument running on the same PC…

Use a “Virtual Port”. For PC (if you don’t already have a virtual port driver) you just need to grab and install loopMIDI. This is very safe, stable software. No malicious installer or anything. It’s free.

For Macs, the ability to make MIDI pipes is built in to Core Audio. Here’s an article on setting it up.

At the bottom right of Dorico’s Play tab there is place to load a MIDI port instead of a plugin. Direct that to your loopMIDI virtual port.

Launch Max…and set its input to your loopMIDI port.

Now you’ve got a MIDI connection…

The trick is how to get audio mixed with with whatever Dorico is playing. How easy this is can depend on a number of things…namely your audio device(s). If you’re lucky, you can hear both just fine…you’ll just need tweak the mix between both apps, and you won’t be able to run the Max outputs through a Dorico channel (for fx and such).

If you have a second audio device on the PC you can almost certainly work out something (perhaps with a patch cable, or a stand-alone mixer in the works…more advanced audio interfaces with monitor options can sometimes even serve as a kind of stand-alone mixer that’d bridge the two devices with a simple set of patch cables).

If you ‘render’ form Dorico, your Max stuff won’t be included in the mix. You’d need to make any renderings in real time…with a second recording device, or perhaps with a loop cable on your audio card.

It’s possible to get an audio input back into Dorico, but it’s a bit complicated. I personally would do it here on my Windows PC with ASIO4ALL, Jack2, Bidule (In this case the free trail version would work), and ReaStream.

The process for Windows and Macs will be VERY DIFFERENT…

If you’re interested in trying it with Windows let me know…I’ll drop by with the how-to.

For a Mac…I might could work out some theory, but I’ve no way of trying/testing it.

All said and done though…playing the samples with sforzando would probably be MUCH easier…


Since I have the tools to do it…

If you like, I’ll be happy to work up a patch for you that’d play in HSSE.

I just need a copy of the samples. From the sound of things it wouldn’t take me but a few minutes to drop them in HALion and export something you can use right there in HALion Sonic SE 3.

I could also go ahead and whip up a sample of a working sfz file for ya that’d play in sforzando.

Your age is showing, my friend! And I mean this with no disrespect, of course.

Yes, Dorico supports MIDI out. You need a virtual MIDI bus to send to. However, if you’re using Max, the good news is that Max sets two of them up right out of the box. I believe this is true in Windows as well, though I’m not sure.

I just came across this little gem for HALion Sonic that might be interesting:

This is a library for HALion. It’s free.