Expression Maps for VSL and Dorico 3.5


I have created this subject for Expression Maps for VSL and Dorico 3.5 and up because the Expression Maps subject is now 24 pages so it is hell to find what you need.

Thanks to Steinberg for the improvement in 3.5

If you have some Expression Maps for VSL and Synchron Libs, they are welcome



See the new thread where I’ve shared some VSL Synchron Strings expression maps and some tips for working with them:

Paul, you have no idea how helpful your post in the Expression Maps thread is. And a thread dedicating to setting up VSL? Great! THANK YOU!

I’ve created expression maps for

  1. Synchronized VSL SE + vols 1 and 2
  2. Synchronised SE vol 5 Dimension Strings
  3. Synchronised Solo Strings

Because of the important improvements in 3.5, I need to check and where appropriate, update these. Have already done this for the strings in SE+ to incorporate the Note Length feature. If any of those are of interest, I’d be happy to post them with a brief explanation of how they’re organised.

If you have any expression maps then I can link to them from the sticky thread.

I look forward to seeing what others are doing with VSL. VSL ViPro and Synchron are both so entirely flexible that I reckon hardly any two users will be using it with the same keyswitches. Only if they use the absolute unchanged factory presets, but its so easy to change the layout and change keyswitches…and often times should be done actually…so… it will be tough to have a set of expression maps that universally works for everyone. But we can get some good ideas from the sharing about how to handle the typical VSL instrument tasks…Velocity XFade, for example, etc…

OK – here are the current EM’s for the Synchronized Strings SE+ vol 1 and 2 as a starting point. They’re less complicated than the others. CC2 is the default dynamic controller as (correctly) suggested by VSL and Vel crossfade is active.

Just brief points:
My idea is to include all the articulations which make sense to me in a notation environment – the vast majority in this library --and there are only entries, including combinations, which actually map to specific patches. Some other maps (including to some extent how VSL create the Sibelius ones) I’ve seen use duplicate and combination entries simply to allow a wider range of notation combinations. Those in favour of this approach may want to add extra entries – after all EM’s should really be customised to the individual user’s way of working.

I have now included a suggested way to programme the NoteLength feature with this library and would welcome feedback on how well it works or alternative suggestions. I have not made use of the auto Mutual Exclusions though they’d probably work fine here as my own thus far are pretty basic but I don’t think you really need too much with this library.
VSL SE+ Synchron- Violins and Violas with (7.03 KB)

I pretty well agree with every word. The Special Edition orchestral libraries are just about simple enough that there will be a measure of consensus over the articulations at least and I haven’t significantly changed the default VSL programming to make it easier to follow. With the other libraries I have done, there will be huge differences of opinion and I probably spent more time in trying to work out the concept of how to plan the expression maps than actually writing them. In both I have copied articulations across instruments (against the advice of VSL it seems but I find it works OK) to give more of a uniformity to them. This is particularly an issue with the new synchronised Solo Strings where the new instruments are missing entire banks of articulations.

many thanks, I see you’ve done that.

Apologies if this is stating the obvious but just in case there are users or potential users of the VSL Synchron player who are not aware of this, your EM is of the Synchron Strings is a completely new library specifically designed for the new player and mine is the so-called synchronized version of the original VI version of the Special Edition. I don’t know the Synchron Strings but from your map the articulation mapping looks to be programmed along similar lines – however the musical concept is quite different so users should not make any attempt to compare the two!

UPDATE I’ve now done a Note Length updated EM for brass and woodwind too in case anyone gets far enough to want to try that

For anyone who just wants a very brief teaser of what happens with Note Length, here is a short test VSL SE Synchronized project which strips everything down to the basics for clarity. Watch how the artics. change in the Synchron Player or look at the new Note Length automation lane which shows the steps.

The detache could be substituted by Legato. rep which I see as more as tenuto and thus don’t want to programme it under the legato category but it could be done that way. The decision to make staccato explicit is simply due to only really having four steps available, otherwise sustain kicks in too soon in just about anything I tried. With the Special Edition, the number of articulations is relatively limited, thus making management a bit simpler. With solo strings, I suspect I’ll need to give it more thought.
Note Length (396 KB)

I have made a new Expression map for VSL synchronized Solo strings based on that of dko22.
It is fur use with the preset “Viola basic”, to which I have added two articulations:
and Portato:
Instead of working with “sul tasto” for “con sordino” I have made a filter for this:
which is controlled by CC 24. In the Expression map there is an init CC 24,127 to assure that dorico plays back senza sordino by default.
The EM works with just two conditions: Note length ≥ long will be played by “sustain” and note length < long will be played by “Multi shorts leg.” which will chose the fitting length by itself. (Alternatively one can distinguish between
Note length ≥ medium and note length < medium, which one can activate if wished so.)
In this way a playback quality is achieved which is much mor realisitic than before 3.5.
Any comments and any suggestion for improvement are welcome.

This is the Expression map which belongs to the former post.
VSL Synchron-ized Violins and Violas V. (2.77 KB)

Thanks, I’ve linked to them on the sticky thread.

This is great, but I just have the original version of VSL Solo Strings 1 & 2. Is there an expression map for them, or will this work with them as well?

there are Cubase EM’s for the original VI Solo Strings which you can download from Steinberg. They’re more or less useable as far as they go. The VI mapping bears no resemblance to the Synchronised version. Most of my Sibelius stuff is still programmed with VI but getting the two extra instruments is worth the price of the upgrade, I feel.

incidentally, the EM I posted is for the SE solo strings, not the full version, just in case that’s not clear. The full Solo Strings Synchronised version with note length programming version I’ll upload shortly when I’ve finished the quintet I’m currently writing and am reasonably happy things work the way I want them to. Just want to make sure I don’t feel the need to add any new conditional entries.

Ok, as I probably won’t make major revisions to the Synchronized Solo strings maps for a while so they are attached below. Rather than a detailed explanation, just one or two pointers as to whether my philosophy behind then might make them attractive or not as a basis for further customisation.

  1. EM entries are tied to the articulations which actually exist without substitutions for playing techniques you might want but are not programmed though the library is pretty comprehensive.
  2. Although it’s comprehensive, the vast majority of my p.t’s come from the basic template as much of the full consists of switches which are arguably irrelevant in a notation setting. Because VSL in their infinite wisdom did not see fit to include certain things like even trills with violin 2 and cello 2, I have simply copied all the essential stuff from the original instruments. Sacrilege, but to my mind better than nothing.
  3. Note Length conditions are programmed for Natural only. For legato, there actually seem to be fewer speed automated patches or just tempo-related in general than in the VI version – at any rate I haven’t found a convincing case for Dorico automation here, though I’m happy to be proved wrong.

An entire quintet (over 40 mins) using these maps can be found here.
The timing points are 2nd movement scherzo 16:53 and 3rd movement largo 25:22


the original EM’s have not included using the scaled secondary controller which to my mind definitely help to give better dynamic differentiation. So I’m uploading more recent versions which I would recommend or try both and compare
VSL solo strings Nov (17.4 KB)
VSL Solo string (16.1 KB)

I don’t know how many are using the VSL Dimension Strings for the Synchronized Special Edition vol. 5. Unlike the average Expression Map which tends to have two actions to define a technique, this map not only has all techniques both con and senza sord but also combinations for all the available instrument combinations which is up to 8 for the violins. To put all of this including note length conditions into a map would be pretty time consuming if it were to be comprehensive (the official Sibelius version for instance doesn’t even try to support the player combinations), though if and when mass copy/paste becomes available for switches in the Expression Maps, the job would be much simpler. I’ve found in the meantime that it’s possible to support all the entries individually with the sole restriction that you cannot combine an instrument grouping (like divisi 1) together with an other playing technique in one instruction. If there’s a hidden “ord” straight after any “Player” switch then it seems to work OK but of course feedback is welcome in case anything is not as expected.

I’ve updated and greatly simplified these maps and the new versions can be founf further down the thread. Using add-on’s allows not only all the player combinations to be supported but also mute. There are therefore only 14 entries to exactly match the 14 available articulations (including imported trills for senza sord, otherwise there are only 12) for each instrument. The other ten entries are all add-ons. Some, like VSL themselves, add duplicate entries for things that may be in notation but are not supported by any individual keyswitch. If it’s not supported, it will simply be ignored by Dorico so I’m not sure of the point of this – perhaps it is a hangover from Sibelius or perhaps there are genuine reasons. If anyone knows of any, then I welcome being enlightened!
SE Dimension (10.1 KB)

I’ve just acquired vol.5; thanks for the post, which I’m about to try out

OK, comments:

  1. ain’t no trills on E1 D2 in SSE vol.5, just tremolo & trem. marcato.
  2. I made user presets for SSE chamber strings that combined muted & open. For that, I just made entries in the expression map for muted and open, with a mutual exclusion. Seems to work, so I don’t think one needs to craft individual entries for each articulation.
  3. I notice that you don’t have secondary dynamic assigned to cc11. I’m puzzling about this at the moment, just set up a test with cc2 as main, cc11 as secondary – works nicely – and another with them the other way round, which seems to work just as well. I’d be interested to hear any comments about that.

Here’s my initial map for violins 1. (Haven’t thought about how to implement desks yet.)
VSL SSE Dimension Strings Violins (1.87 KB)
::update:: I’ve amended this to remove other articulations copied from chamber strings, which aren’t available in vol.5, e.g. harmonics