excellent Use Secondary Dynamic feature -- with small bug it seems

For some reason, I only quite recently noticed the potential of a new Dorico 3.5 Expression Map feature which could be a major time saver in the way I work with dynamics, rather as with the Note Length feature for durations. The Secondary Dynamic controller has now acquired parameters enabling you to calibrate it to a restricted range based on the primary. This “under-trumpeted” feature is potentially useful for any library which allows dual control of dynamics with one generally being tone/expression and the other pure volume. It’s an absolute godsend for the VSL Synchron libraries which do not allow very quiet dynamics in many situations. With the primary using VelXF as recommended, the secondary controller which should be CC11 (the inappropriately named Expression) can be then set to a restricted range which then scales appropriately in relation to the primary and seems to work admirably. Something around 60-70 to 115-120 could be a good starting point for testing to individual taste.

The only little issue I’ve found (well so far :slight_smile: is that when clicking on a note, the secondary dynamic matches the primary rather than scaling to it which makes the quietest dynamics almost inaudible. I assume this is as designed as it appears consistent. Surely it would be better to hear the same level as in the actual playback as normally happens with only a single dynamic controller if this were possible to implement?

This isn’t a bug, inasmuch as Dorico is not trying to use the secondary dynamic controller when determining the dynamic for auditioning, but I agree that it would be nice for the program to do this in future.

"bug"in the title was an unfortunate choice of word as indeed I wrote that this was probably as designed. Actually what happens is that the note auditioning volume behaves as if the secondary matches the primary rather than scaling to it so I’m not sure you could define that as not taking it into account. But we’re possible talking semantics here and we seem agreed that the auditioning volume should ideally match the playback.

If the actual process of composition through MIDI input takes place using this set up then it will be necessary for the quietest dynamics to be played in to select a note from elsewhere in the score with a louder dynamic or temporarily mark something in the score. Hardly deal breakers but worth bearing in mind. But anyway, thanks again for the feature – there are of course other ways to control the likes of the Synchron libraries but this seems to me the easiest and most efficient.

incidentally, for anyone wanting to try out this feature, it’s surprisingly easy as you can select all the switches in the EM and then activate the secondary controller with the required parameters for all of them at once. The actual switch values are unaffected, otherwise this would be of no use. Another member had spotted this behaviour (which I don’t think is documented yet?) and kindly pointed it out to me. This makes it easy to test out various settings quite quickly.

I want to second dko22 and say how useful the “Use Secondary Dynamic” function is! I’m using Spitfire Symphonic series. Having CC11 track with CC1 (while also mapping velocities to CC1 within Spitfire) has saved me a ton of tweaking time. The additional ability to limit the scale of values is just awesome!

I’d love to see Dorico expand this function even further. Would it be feasible to add additional CC#'s? In my case I’d like to have CC21 (Vibrato) also track with volume. Perhaps I’ll discover others.

Can anybody think of a way I can accomplish this with Dorico currently?

Interestingly, I’ve just got the Spitfire BBC Core orchestra and with this library, it’s absolutely essential as dual control is built into the logic of using it. At the moment, I’m starting with mainly matching dynamics as, unlike with VSL, much of the library seems to be conceived with this being a feasible way of working but in certain patches, I’m likely to finish up with scaling. The critical things is to be able to adjust both independently such as when you want a higher volume without switching to a new dynamic layer – or indeed the opposite.

Of course it would be useful to add other CC’s into the mix but we can’t have everything at once. Unless Paul knows some clever way?


That’s interesting. By this do you mean being able to adjust CC11 up without affecting CC1?

My greatest difficulty in working with the Spitfire libraries is that the Longs and Shorts don’t seem to match volume or timbre at equal Dorico dynamic levels. By limiting the max CC1 values on Shorts and the minimum on Longs I’m able to make them match better. As I mentioned I’ve got velocities mapped to CC1 within Spitfire which has a lot to do with this I think.

My other big problem is note lengths on Shorts. The staccato artic’s in Spitfire work for “Very Short” 16ths and above, but not “Shorts” like standard 8ths. Using Longs on these notes, even with tight release, just can’t get the 8th notes to speak properly. I’ve taken to experimenting with accents and tenutos, while playing with the Playback Options on how these behave. But that creates score items I don’t really want to see and is an awkward and unpredictable solution. Curious, do you have that problem as well?

Having said that, using Dorico’s Expression Maps is a Godsend overall - especially with the new note length function. Indispensable for creating realistic orchestral mock ups without spending hours and hours programming the subtleties.

sorry for the delay in replying, I recently suffered a total hard drive failure and am only just starting to get back to reinstalling Dorico etc so it wil be a while before I can get round to testing anything. But to answer your question, yes indeed, you can and should at times adjust the lanes independently in the PLAY window. The dynamics controller will show the primary CC1 and you should also have open the CC11 for comparison. Using John’s template available here https://blog.dorico.com/2020/07/spitfire-bbc-symphony-orchestra-templates/ if you’re not already using it, you’ll probably have noticed that the short notes do in fact default to velocity. I agree with the NoteLengths — the only way to get it to work with strings anyway, is to keep the “very short” setting and probably indeed staccato is a better choice than spiccato for this library as John has done. What I’ve been trying is to make legato the default patch as it is designed for various lengths and often gets round your problem. Of course at times for various reasons you will need to call up the “long” patch on ocasion and I for that simply defined a new “sustain” p.t.

It’s still fairly provisional but this looks to me to be the most promising direction. I’ve found surprisingly few issues with woodwind. With horns you have sudden changes in tone and here it can be good to boost the CC11 volume while keeping the CC1 dynamic fairly low for smooth, lyrical playing

These are great suggestions. I’m going to experiment with setting “Natural” technique to the Legato patch. Due to their being restricted to unisons (at least in the SF symphonic series) I’ll have to add additional instruments for divisi’s, but that might be a better way to set things up and solve a lot of my note length problems, as you said.

I haven’t been using John’s BBC template, but I’ll give it a try with my Symphonic Series. Do you think it will work the same way? In any event it will be interesting to look at John’s settings compared to mine.