Dorico's slur playback behavior makes NotePerformer sad

In my current project, I’m experimenting with NotePerformer and the dynamics and humanization settings. A sticking point is the way slurs are viewed in Dorico, and the effect that has on string parts (with bowings). Dorico shortens the final note of a slurred passage, which doesn’t perfectly track with the way string players actually phrase things (e.g. sometimes an accompaniment will be bowed in a regular pattern, but the overall style is legato throughout). The issue compounds with NotePerformer, because the gap causes the next note to have a great agogic accent. There’s probably music where this default would fit perfectly and sound great, but this isn’t one of them.

Is there a way to adjust the automatic shortening of notes at the end of slurs? I’m realizing now I can manually alter it in the piano roll, but that would be a lot of tedious work. Some kind of global adjustment is what I’m looking for. I’ve played with all kinds of settings in the note lengths in playback options, especially the accent downbeat option, which would seem to apply. At 0.0, the accent is reduced but still very noticeable. I’ve definitely narrowed it down to this slur shortening business.

Attached is a dorico file and pdf in a single .zip, and an mp3 of vln I. The “agogic accent” I’m talking about begins in measure 4.

My playback options for the attached mp3 are:

Length - default notes 90, tenuto 95, legato 105, humanize start position of notes 10,
Dynamics - beat stress on downbeat 0, beat stress other beats 0, humanize written dynamic 10.

NB: For Prokofiev lovers, please excuse the added tempo and articulations in the score. Just experimenting with playback :slight_smile:.
Prokofiev 5 dorico and (788 KB)
CUT DOWN Prokofiev 5 - III - III Violin (1.57 MB)

You won’t be able to meaningfully improve this at the moment, I suspect. NotePerformer cannot tell what playback options you have chosen in Dorico, so it has to assume that they are at their default values, which is why Wallander recommend that you do not change the playback options in Dorico if you want NotePerformer to perform optimally. You would need to increase the default unslurred note duration, which is something that we would like to do and indeed we plan to make it possible for individual expression maps to define their ideal value for this, but for the time being you may well find that if you increase the default unslurred note duration, you’ll get some other undesirable effects when using NotePerformer.

Thanks for posting that passage from Prokoviev 5 - what a beautiful piece! If you’re interested in another piece with similar playback issues, here is the first movement of Shostakovich 10. I’ve said it before, but Dorico is the first software where I find myself inputting pieces just for fun. (1.96 MB)

Thank you Daniel. It would be terrific to be able to control the “final slurred note length” in the future, since its effect will change with different sample libraries. And I was aware of NotePerformer’s suggestion to leave those options set to default. Won’t stop me from trying though! :slight_smile: Point is this particular issue remains regardless of those settings, since the auto shortening is uncontrollable at this time. But thank you again for the reply.

Thank you very much Stephen! I can’t wait to dig into the Shostakovich. I totally agree, it’s the most enjoyable software I’ve used thus far. I’ve taken inputting Appalachian Spring and Prokofiev 5 as my crash course to figure out the software. Appalachian Spring was an xml I found on a site that exchanges such things (affiliated with another notation software program). It needed only minor corrections and editing to finish, but the Prokofiev is straight from a physical score. It has really helped to learn all of the shortcuts and tools that make our lives easier (especially paste to staff below and lock duration, which are godsends). Plus, I find inputting an orchestral score helps me to really learn a piece, protecting me from the superficial and cursory score study I sometimes inadvertently do. I’m looking forward to finishing this and many other pieces.

I’ll send the rest of the Prokofiev when I’m finished!

I can see what Robert is getting at here but I’m not sure I find it so objectionable that there is a slight gap between legato phrases as in my own tests using the recommended NP defaults, I don’t in general hear exaggerated accents. By definition, it shouldn’t be totally smooth, otherwise what’s the point in putting in the phrasing, he asks naively as a non string player (my wife does play the violin, though)…? One might even bring in the increasing tendency with conductors to shorten phrases and increase (unfortunately in a frequently exaggerated way), contrasts. But I start to digress here.

On the wider point with NotePerformer, this software excels in crisp, punchy articulated lines and is possibly unrivalled in letting you hear the individual instruments of a piece you have written – indeed it’s the weapon of choice for some of my own symphonies. The clever articulation automation is the key here. It can also do a good job at times with passionate lyricism but I’m less convinced its appropriate for the Shostakovich in particular as the tone quality just isn’t quite there for this sort of brooding music although it helps greatly if you reduce the string vibrato to around 30-40. It’s possible that we’re trying to fit a round peg into a square hole to some extent. Still, the more options the better as we all have our own ideas about what constitutes a musical performance.

PS I do agree with Stephen on the Prokofiev. His serious symphonies should appear more often in concert programming, above all the superb 6th. And don’t get me started on Shostakovich’s friend Weinberg who wrote 26 including the four chamber symphonies. Although still not very well known because of his tendency to shun the limelight, he’s increasingly being talked about as one of the “big three” Soviet symphonists.

You could try using the détaché playing technique, or setting MIDI CC 24 to 31. According to the not so easy to find version history it will “make string players keep the bow in touch with the strings at all times, and make the gap between subsequent notes as short as possible”. I have tried it out with good results, but occasionally a bug which causes certain notes to overlap occurs so it is not perfect, but it might be good enough.

The version history can be found here: