Custom percussion kit - best practices

I want to create a new custom percussion kit in Dorico 5. I have searched for advice on how to start, but so far, I haven’t figured out the best way to do it.

My instruments are 5 Tibetan singing bowls, which basically has 2 playing techniques: hit (rather lightly with a wooden or felt stick) and singing, which is achieved by swiping lightly around the bowl (the best way of doing this technique is to first hit the bowl lightly, then swipe - but it’s not a requirement to notate this in detail, I just need to mark the swipe as different from a hit.)

I have some decent samples of these instruments and I would like to map these samples to a custom percussion kit in Dorico 5. I’d like to have 5 staves, one for each bowl, and a few means of denoting the playing technique, for example open noteheads with a circle around for the swipe, and X noteheads for the hit. Then some basic dynamics will probably do the rest.

I know it’s a pretty long description, but I was hoping that a Dorico wiz might point me in the right direction here. (I need the solution to “survive” any updates to Dorico, so customizing xml files in the Dorico app package is maybe not advisable?)

Would a tremolo mark make sense for the swipe, rather than a different notehead? This might be more consistent with other instruments.

Note: I use tremolo slashes for drum rolls, but trill marks are more traditional, although they make less sense to me.

I see your point, and I think it’s a good idea :+1: But first, I need to figure out how to assemble the percussion kit and assign the notes in dorico to MIDI notes in the VST.

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Gotcha. I’m fairly new to Dorico and I struggle with percussion kit set up. It’s not Dorico’s fault: it’s a complicated subject.

Yes, you’re right about that. I will continue battling with it and hope that someone maybe can shed som more light.

Check out this post for a description of how to approach this:

You can’t as yet via the new instrument editor create a new percussion kit, but you can get as far as creating the five required single-line percussion instruments and then creating an appropriate percussion map. You can then create a new kit in each project that combines the five new instruments you’ve added.


Wow, that was a thorough and crystal clear explanation, so much appreciated, thanks Daniel!

I have now managed to put together a percussion kit with 5 Tibetan singing bowls. Since there was no such instrument in the list, I used the 5 wood blocks as a starting point and renamed each to “Singing Bowl (low)”, “Singing Bowl (medium low)”, etc.

I then created a percussion map as per your instructions, mapping the MIDI notes to the appropriate instrument and playing technique. Then finally I hooked up my NI Kontakt 7 VST, loaded my samples and routed the track to it and selected my percussion map. Everything set :smiley:

However, the right sounds didn’t play as expected. It turned out I had mapped the wrong MIDI notes (one octave too low) :roll_eyes: Fixing that, everything worked nicely, and I could change playing techniques with Shift+Option+Arrow up/down as you explained, perfect.

The last puzzle was that the 5 pitches were “upside down” in the staff lines - I wanted the highest pitch at the top line. I eventually found out I had to go into the “Grid” tab in the percussion kit editor to get it right, so I was a little confused there.

But now everything works perfectly, and I can continue my work on the piece! (piano, string quartet, 5 Tibetan singing bowls and a large gong…)

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I’ve been working on creating unhitched percussion instrument kits and doing so I’m noticing the following:
I create the individual instruments (e.g.: 8 brake discs, each with two hits)
Then after creating the PM & the playing percussion techs, I add the instruments to a player and then create a kit.

When I open Instruments from the Library menu, and find my instruments, I also find Percussion kits that seem to include these same instruments. I haven’t found anything about this in the manual, yet. I’m curious to know if these percussion kits are in fact the kits I created, even though they don’t seem to have the same name I gave them.

Yes, they’ll be the kits you created. Dorico won’t automatically group created percussion instruments into kits.