Contemplating creating expression maps for OT's Peteris Vasks Strings library

The contemporary playing techniques and the notation thereof for the new OT library Peteris Vasks Strings is something I’m giving much thought to currently. The basic playing techniques are relatively straight forward to accommodate in Dorico 4 but I’m studying videos that show the notation of Vask’s work in order to understand how to notate the special playing techniques, referred to as gestures in PVS. Both ensemble and first chairs are featured so I imagine other forum members may well be interested and even contribute to my project.

Since I posted this one of the members of VI Control very kindly shared his Cubase expression maps for PVS so I’ve imported them as a starting point into Dorico 4 and am currently making them compatible.

Just watched Chri Siu’s review of PVS on YouTube. Lovely sound, great range of articulations and special ornaments. Lends itself to being used in a wide range of projects so I hope I can do a good job on the Dorico 4 expression maps. Done the easy bit already but now have to play with note lengths etc etc and then master the playing techniques/notation.


My understanding is that the Peteris Vask Strings is based on his composition “Voices” so I assume you’ve seen this score which utilizes both graphic and text descriptions of the gestures.

Are there any other options for selecting gestures in Dorico?

What are the obstacles you are running into in creating expression maps for this library?

What about dynamic differences between articulations? Wouldn’t these need a playback template to fully balance out? Or would volume adjustments need to be addressed at the programming level of the OT patches?

I’m just asking these questions because I don’t know the answers, and also hopefully they might lead to some solutions.

Great to hear from you.

I did see that video yes. It provided me with some ideas for notation but I suspect I will mainly write with PVS using my DAW – in my case Reaper – and use popover instructions to make things fit in Dorico. So accurate playback in Dorico is possible less critical for me but I haven’t given up on the idea. Incidentally, I’ve seen other YouTube videos showing aleatoric notation using boxes. That could also be the way forward.

To begin with I will probably choose just one sustain type and handle the variations thereof with written instructions, rather like that “Voices” video shows. There’s an element of improvisation in the playing of gestures so that should be accommodated in whatever notation we use. Contemporary string music seems to break with convention. Despite my comments I will experiment with the playing techniques to see how accurate I can make the playback of the different sustains. I’m not at the playback template stage yet, but maybe later this week I will have a first attempt.

I think the volume variations can be reduced to some extent by adjusting the dynamic volume range allowed for in SINE for each instrument. Not a perfect answer but it evens out the variations. Clearly matching the dynamic levels where there’s a choice for an instrument is part of the answer. Another is to choose different SINE mic positions and combinations using the merge function in order to reduce volume variations.

Overall I believe we should try to simplify the approach to PVS in Dorico, choose the sustain we will use the most and stick with that, using popovers to address variations in performance. Over time no doubt we will find more sophisticated solutions or Dorico will evolve, both probably. At this stage it’s fun to experiment.

Keep feeding comments here as you find solutions yourself. Let this be a collective experience.

Good to hear from you too Andy. Thank you for your reply and comments. I think it would be very exciting to see this library working within Dorico.

I wish I could offer my help, but since writing the above post, I received notice that my mother is suddenly on an end-of-life path and I need to travel to visit her. We don’t know the time-frame, so I’ll likely not be much help in the period in which would be desirable for everyone else. So while I’m very excited for this, I’ll not be of much help I’m afraid.

I hope you have fun with this as the possibilities are most promising!

Cheers and stay well,


Very sorry to hear that. Hope you get better news about your mother. Take care.


I’ve done a few Ex maps for OT libraries – Miroire, Tableau and the LA Studio Strings.

I’m unlikely to buy any more though. There’s always something unsatisfactory about the way they’ve configured things; and they seem to be trying hard to be unconventional for the sake of it.

Initially, I had a lot of bother getting the Legato patches to work with Dorico, but I finally saw the light. I was also using some of the short articulations for short notes, and there was an imbalance in volume, which I had to manually tweak in the SINE Player.

But happy to give some input, if I can.

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That would be very helpful thank you. I think sample library developers are keen to differentiate themselves by offering a few specials like PVS and the products you mentioned. OT has moved on from the popular Metropolis Ark series and is producing a lot of new tools for composers. Anything you can share on using Legato patches etc. with Dorico would be much appreciated.

UPDATE: I’ve decided to experiment by adding my own custom playback techniques as a way of accommodating all the different articulation types in PVS. It works, but presently this relies on recording a composition and then inserting the playing techniques so it plays back correctly. Whether it will work with direct note input is another matter. We’ll see.

One thing that might be useful is: you can save the SINE Player instrument data as an .otsave file, which is readable in a text editor.

Here’s a snippet:

                        "mainOptions": {
                        "switchValue": "25",
                        "switchIsRange": "false",
                        "purge": "false",
                        "canUseReleases": "true",
                        "releases": "true",
                        "sustainPedalEnabled": "true",
                        "definedReleases": "true",
                        "xfade": "true",
                        "modwheelControl": "true",
                        "definedXFade": "false",
                        "timestretch": "0",
                        "releaseVolume": "0",
                        "definedReleaseVolume": "0",
                        "canUseAutoSustain": "false",
                        "autoSustainEnabled": "false"

I’ve found it easier to set the volume levels for each articulation in these files, rather than use the imprecise slider.

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Thanks for that suggestion @benwiggy . I’m not familiar with using .otsave files but maybe it’s time that I learned! Your observation on the SINE volume settings is one I’ve noticed others have commented on. I suspect OT have got it on their feature request list so maybe it will be addressed in a future update.