Differences in dynamics lane CC7 & CC11

Installed Dorico 3.1. Looks good, thank you Steinberg. With the introduction of Dynamics Lane I’m confronted with question of what’s the best method for controlling dynamics. It seem to me that I have three choices, Dynamics Lane, CC7 & CC11. It’s accord to me that maybe I really don’t understand these settings and what they’re suppose to do. Can anyone provide an explanation on how they work? Can they be used together to help get me closure to reality? Is there an article somewhere that address’s this question? Adding them to project isn’t a problem. Using them in a way that makes sense is.

You may note that I’m using the EW libraries.

Thank you

In the Dorico score, you use dynamic marks like f, p, hairpins, etc. to control the dynamics of each instrument. The Expression Maps for a particular sample library tell Dorico how to generate the correct CC or note velocity data for each instrument.

The Dynamics Lane lets you add your own information to what is generated by the dynamic markings in the score, in a sample-library-independent way.

In practice, CC7 is not often used for detailed dynamics, but it is used to set the overall balance between instruments. It is used by the Dorico Mixer, for example. Historically, CC11 was recommended for continuous dynamics like hairpins, but software libraries now use various different controllers. Some use CC11, some CC1, and some other MIDI controllers (for example some Kontakt libraries use CC72, and AFAIK some Vienna libraries use CC2. Don’t ask why!)

If an Expression Map tells Dorico to generate CC11 data (for example) and you then try to add your own data to the CC11 lane, you will get into a fight with Dorico about which data is actually sent, which usually doesn’t end well. So only use the CC lanes for additional control data that is not automatically generated. Some libraries respond to several different CC controllers to change the attack and release of notes, alter the timbre of the sound, specify the number of players in a string orchestra section, etc. Some of those “advanced” features may be difficult to control with Dorico Playing Techniques and Expression Maps so you can “draw them” directly into the CC lanes.

Unless you want to lock yourself into one particular set of sample libraries, use the Dynamics Lane, and let Dorico and the Expression maps translate that information into whatever the sample library uses.

This whole area has been a bit sppoky to me. To my ears, it doesn’t sound like Dorico ever does much with dynamics. I have experimented with the Dynamics Curve in playback options, but I really don’t hear the kind of difference I expected.

I really can’t hear crescendos at all and the difference from pp to ff is much less than I would expect to hear.

I wonder if I have been doing something completely wrong. Most of the time I use the Halion Sonic SE instruments. Dynamics might be a little more evident with NotePerformer, but not nearly as dramatic as I would have expected.

Strange. I usually “turn down” the dynamics range with NotePerformer, because the default is too “in my face”.

Dynamics playback works for all the other VSTs I use, so long as the expression maps are set up correctly of course.

This is what I get with the default settings using NP. The only thing I tweaked was to increase the mezza di voce at the end. Dorico project and .mp3 file attached.

HSSE sounds a scratchy mess compared with NP with no tweaking of the defaults, but the dynamics are playing back.
NP dynamics.zip (947 KB)

Thanks I will have a listen. I confess that dynamics are not normally a major focus for me as I’m not trying to produce a polished rendering. If I need to do that, I’ll do the extra work to ship it over to Cubase (Sure would be nice to have a one-button transfer to Cubase, hint hint. I bet Dorico would drive a bunch of Cubase sales if we had that feature.)

I do have a pretty decent monitor system ( a pair of Yamaha 2-way studio satellites plus a Presonus sub). I should probably listen more carefully with headphones, which I have never done with Dorico.


On edit, My results closely match your MP3 file.

Here are my observations. If I use mm 1-2 as the frame of reference, they indeed sound like an authentic ff when played by NP.

MM 3-4, pp doesn’t sound nearly quiet enough. Sounds more like a mp to me.

mm5-6, I barely hear any crescendo at all. Sounds like mp < mf to me.

m7 sound like it begins mf or f, certainly not p, and I hear nothing from the sfz and fp.

mm 8-10 are brilliant. The cresc and decres on the sustained note sound exactly right to me, and the final note sounds like a good p if not a pp.

I have my dynamics curve set to 1. As I understand it, the dynamic curve doesn’t change the pppp or ffff. It only affects the proportioning for the dynamics in between. I think the problem is that pp is too loud, and I don’t see how I can tweak that.

All of the above observations were using NP. I switched all the instruments over to HSSE+HOS (pro). In that case, the sounds are less realistic, but the dynamics are actually closer to what I would expect. In particular the mm5-6 cresc is clearly evident. I think the pp is still a little too loud.

Returning to mm 5-6 with np:

Clearly there is an attempt to crescendo. And the velocities show a small amount of beat emphasis. But to my ears, especially with NP, this is not nearly as dramatic as I’d expect to hear with a human playing a “p<f” crescendo through a moving line. It sounds to me that the pp is calibrated too high, but I don’t see any way to adjust that.


On further experimentation, by moving the dynamics curve to around 5.5, the example sounded much more like what I expected to hear in isolation. 2 points:

  • That is with NP. It seems to me that NP moderates the dynamics compared to the more mechanical process from most other VSTis including Halion, so I might like a curve at 3.5 - 4.5 better with Halion
  • That sounds right to me in this isolated example when I am focusing on dynamics. IN the context of a large work, that might be too much.

I think where I was going wrong was that I was thinking of the dynamics spectrum ranging from pp to ff. But in Dorico, the dynamics curve runs from pppp to ffff, for good reason. The effect I was hearing was pp and ff being pushed to the middle – in other words p to f being too close to make the kind of audible difference I expected. But pushing the curve up to 3, 4, or 5, you move p to f much farther apart. That makes the differences between pppp-pp and ff-ffff relatively small, just as they are in the real world.

This doesn’t get me any closer to understanding where velocities fit in. When I drew some rather radical velocity changes, they didn’t seem to have any (or much) effect.

Great reply. Gives me a lot to think about.
Thank you very much. And thank you quick responds as well.

I think you answered this with your own experiments, but there is a big difference between 1.0 through the default 2.5 and on to higher values.

If the “best” value (for your ears) is different for NP and Halion, does that really matter? You probably aren’t going to keep swapping from one library to another.

I don’t bother too much about “ultra realistic” playback , but I like to be able to hear pp over a reasonable amount of random background noise, without having to use earphones all the time. So long as it’s obvious when a dynamic mark has gone missing in one part, that’s good enough.

Yes. It is no problem at all now that I understand how to use the dynamic curve effectively. My general pattern is to use Halion as I am developing a composition/arrangement, then switch to NP at the late stages. While NP sounds a lot more realistic, I feel like I can hear my mistakes better in Halion. And I find the slow start/stop times for NP to be a little distracting.

Likewise. NP and the various playback controls that are already in Dorico are really about all I expect of the notation program, other than completing the support for the various ornaments and glisses that are not yet supported. From this point, I’d much rather see the Dorico team put energy toward quick, direct transfer of the music to Cubase as a MIDI-based project. I would think there would be a very attractive business justification for that within Steinberg/Yamaha.