Expression maps, DAWs, and general inquiry

I’ve recently learned about expression maps in Dorico… I’ve attempted in the past to find ways of defining such way of associating vst instrument settings in Ableton, but mostly feeling like it’s an afterthought or something only really addressed with 3rd add-ins… maybe I’m overlooking something

Are expression maps somewhat uniquely “Steinberg”? I’m wondering if there are merits of staying more within the Steinberg ecosystem, and should be considering Cubase for DAW… and wondering about the integration, or general benefits, or using Dorico with Cubase.

I’m really more of a hobbiest than a professional… but that said, I’d rather pay for well functioning tools that enable creativity, rather than being hindered by clunky workflow. Just wondering if there are any good resources or insights that would be good to digest.


Steinberg calls them “Expression maps” in both Cubase and Dorico, but pretty much every major DAW has something similar, except Ableton. The implementation of expression maps in Cubase badly needs a revamp, particularly in terms of the GUI, as a large number of articulations/techniques can require an absurdly tall articulations lane at present. It was designed for a day when sample libraries were simpler and had far fewer techniques in general, and so listing the techniques vertically made sense back then. Expression maps are in a much better state in Dorico at this time.

At the moment, there isn’t much yet in terms of integration between Dorico and Cubase, but I would expect that to change over the next years.

Interesting… thanks.

Personally I like the way Logic visualizes articulations. You see them in the piano roll inspector and you can also chose a view with a note color per articulation.

No cluttered or unreadable articulation lane as in Cubase. However with a VSL library you run out of colors in Logic. They actually have more than the Logic articulation map limit which is 256 I think. Cubase does not have that limit in their EMs.

You can take a look at Art Conductor, that can help you using expression maps in Cubase:

(This is the Dorico forum, not the Cubase forum)

Right, sorry. I didn’t notice it, as he mentioned Cubase.

In fact the Art Director Cubase expression maps can be imported in Dorico. They still need some work to make them work flawlessly but you do have a good starting set of switches.