Default dynamic level

I hope this isn’t too dumb a question:

While using Dorico’s Halion Sonic Sonic SE3 solo piano sample to sketch a new piece, I didn’t set a specific opening dynamic, but rather went with whatever the sample’s ‘default’ dynamic is.

I ended the piece with a decrescendo to pp, and followed that with a repeat bar (to repeat the entire piece). Naturally, that pp was then applied to that repeat, which I did not intend.

However, when I tried to rectify that by applying a specific dynamic level to the beginning of the piece, I found that none of the listed dynamic markings duplicated the level of that original default.

So, really, three questions:

  • How to determine the default dynamic?

  • How to reproduce that default dynamic?

  • (I should know this!) Is there a musical indicator for “return to previous dynamic” – something similar to tempo primo, but applied to dynamics?

Many thanks!

Typically the default velocity level is 64 (50%) :slight_smile: The bars in the key editor confirms that. Give or take a little bit depending on the Humanize and beat emphasize settings in Dorico.

You can adjust the Velocity values manually in the key editor. If you want normal dynamic markings in your score you can set those to Suppress playback…

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You’re quite right, though I don’t recall anybody ever asking about this before!

Dorico expresses dynamics using values from -6 to +6, with negative numbers corresponding to piano dynamics and positive numbers for forte dynamics. So +1 is f, and -1 is p. A special case exists for mezzoforte and mezzopiano, which are effectively +0.5 and -0.5 respectively. But there is no written dynamic that corresponds to 0, which is what Dorico uses when there are no written dynamics.

mf or mp are therefore the closest dynamics to that default value, but neither of them is exactly the same.

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Thanks, Daniel and fratveno.

So is there a way in which I can have Dorico return to its default dynamic value after that repeat bar?

Not easily, no.

Okay - thanks for the heads-up.

No. But you can solve all your problems by specifying a dynamic at the start of your piece (which you really should do anyway, else your players will not know how loud to play). Dorico will then return to that level for the repeat.

You can change the relative dynamics by adjusting the dynamic curve. And you can set the absolute dynamic using the mixer if you find Dorico’s defaults do not suit.

Thanks, Janus - I was just in the process of doing this :smile:

Related to those negative and positive numbers: my ear confirms this when I have the “dynamic curve” set to “1”, but, for some reason, I hear significant discrepancies in intensity between adjacent values when I set the dynamic curve higher (e.g, to “5”) – for example, then the difference in intensity between mp and mf is much greater than that between mf and f. Am I missing something?

No, this is expected: the dynamic response is intentionally not linear. See e.g. here:

Thanks, Daniel.
With a higher dynamic curve, I do expect greater intensity differences between the less extreme dynamics – eg, greater differences between pp - p - mp - mf - f - ff than between pp - pppp and ff-fff — but shouldn’t the differences between adjacent dynamics – eg, between mp and mf – be equal to, eg, mf - f, even so?

This situation calls for that mm “mezzissimo” marking I have occasionally imagined. :upside_down_face:

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