Expression Maps

Kind of like the octave glissando Hamelin can do (although, while seemingly simpler, I find it much more impressive). I’ll leave it to him or to very, very specific occasions!

Not only Hamelin. Octave glissandos have been around since Beethoven, Op. 53. Czerny wrote an exercise with glissandos in thirds in one hand as well as octaves.

Even kids can learn how to do octaves …

You’re totally right. I meant specifically glissing up — reacting to your comment about breaking a finger — but I had totally forgotten that both lines in the Waldstein finale are in octaves, not just the right hand! I imagine that’s really the earliest precedent, no?

There is some debate about whether the Waldstein really is a precedent, since Beethoven didn’t mark it as a gliss, but a “pro” argument is that Czerny was his pupil and included it in one of his sets of exercises, so there must have been some precedent for that.

Beethoven fingered each octave 5-1, and his fingerings are rare and significant, so that presumably meant something - though it’s not obvious what.

Given that Beethoven was demonstrably “arithmetically challenged” you could make an argument that the previous pp passage of triplets is actually notated at double the speed it’s supposed to be played, and there’s then no need for glissandos if that continues at about the same tempo as the last movement (especially if you note it is marked Allegretto moderato)), with another accel to prestissimo at the end.

Argerich just plays octaves - and not as fast as she can play octaves, either.

Just for amusement, there is a novel “diagonal” notation of a couple of chords on the previous page of the first edition which is actually the reverse of Beethoven’s manuscript, where they slope downwards not upwards. Isn’t musicology fun? :slight_smile:
Waldstein MS.jpg
waldstein 1st edition.jpg

What are the “Internal Effects” I sometimes encounter when I hover over a PT in the PT lane in Play Mode? I think they are messing with my EM’s.

I guess they are PTs generated by standard music notation in the score - e.g. staccato dots, slurs, etc.

That’s correct: they are techniques which we have a fallback method of rendering if the expression map doesn’t provide that technique. Staccato/staccatissmo/tenuto change note lengths, accent/marcato/ghost increase the dynamic level, tremolo/trill/buzz roll have notes generated for them.

Thanks, that’s what I suspected.

So does that mean if I need Staccato to play back with a particular 3rd party VST staccato patch (as opposed to shortening the note, which seems to be what the standard staccato dot does), I have to define my own Staccato Playing Technique and Playback Playing Technique for use in an Expression Map entry?

Yes, of course.

Got it, thanks.

I know I’m a long way behind on this, but just to note that I found it wasn’t fruitful to import Cubase VSL maps. Lots of duplicates and extraneous things. As easy to start from scratch as to weed those out.

There are supposed to be VSL Dorico-specific maps coming out shortly. Don’t know if there’s any update on the timescale?

For what it’s worth, the Special Edition Cubase map more or less works for me and it’s transparent enough to be able to make the occasional addition/correction if necessary. The far more complicated full VSL package like the strings remain a completely dark art where the Expression Map bears no resemblance to what is actually being triggered by VSL from what I can see, though I’m happy to be corrected.

Yeah I waited for the Finale maps, and by the time they came I’d worked out how to set it up for myself, and didn’t fancy the risk of trying to merge with the official set and losing everything I’d done. Starting from scratch with Dorico, but that experience certainly helped a lot.

I’m completing an xmap for VSL’s Vienna Smart Orchestra XP, and while nearly everything is working fine, there is something that seems reluctant to obey my orders.

  • Some branches of the tree in Synchron Player are controlled via CC4 messages. It seems that this message does nothing to select slots from Dorico.

  • I have a technique selecting a Tremolo articulation when the tremolo symbol is added to a note. It works fine if the tremolo articulation is actually included in the sound. If the articulation is not included with the sound, Dorico switches to Natural, but plays a long sustain note, without playing a fake tremolo.

  • If I insert at the same time a technique selecting a top-level slot (the Strings in the first branch of the Synchron tree), and the ‘nat.’ technique selecting a lower-level slot (the Longs-Normal articulation in an included branch), only the first selection command seems to be considered.

Can someone understand what I am doing wrong?


Hi Paolo,
I might have answers for you but I mostly have questions!
I’m programming an xmap for VSL VI

  • Did you manage to send CC combined with Program change and KS?
  • How did you link the tremolo sign? I had to create a new glyph and go thru the zing articulation. By the way, if you don’t have a tremolo patch for a sound, you’ll have to tell dorico to fall back on the sound you want to use instead so it won’t trigger the Nat. sound by default. Not sure if it’s gonna trigger the false tremolo though;
  • I use the Nat. only as a back up sound and a reset button. I try to map all sounds without using the nat. playing technique. For example, for violin, my nat. sound is basic détaché, but that patch is also map as détaché and the rest of group uses détaché as pointers, not nat.
    Hope it can help a bit.

Hi there,
three questions for the forum…

Does somebody know if there is a hierarchy between playing techniques?
Same question for written techniques?
Does anyone else had problems with fallback behaviour? In my case, it just seems to block everything.


I don’t think these three question have much to do with expression maps. They probably deserve their own thread/threads. Also, I have no idea what you mean by the third question. Fallback behavior? What’s that?


Of course it does since they are all linked together. I usually have multiple programmed variations of my sounds (soft-normal-hard attack, sfz-legato, sfz-détaché, sfz-stacc…) and I have created modifier playing techniques to call them up (- would give the soft attack version,+ the hard one…). I end up with Playback playing techniques looking something like “legato+staccato+sfz+bis±”, that would give me a “tenuto sfz using repetition patch with soft attack”… So if there’s a hierarchy between the groups of playback playing techniques (techniques, dynamics… don’t remember the other two in English), or between “attribute” and “direction”, or just because of the order in which the playback playing techniques are added in an xmap entry, it does change what you actually have to enter in the score and what you can omit. There seems to be some kind of hierarchy somewhere but I just can’t figured it out yet. By the way, fallback is found in the Playback playing technique edit menu.

I’ve been working on Dorico expression maps for VSL Synchron Strings. I have a preliminary version for just the first violin working, which I’ve attached. I’ll be working on the rest of the strings, but I wanted to get early feedback if I’m making any horrible mistakes or missing something important.

What it covers:

  • Techniques: natural, tremolo, pizzicato, snap pizzicato, half-step
    trill, full-step trill.
  • Articulations: natural, staccato, staccatissimo, tenuto, portato
    (i.e., tenuto-staccato)
  • Attack: normal, soft, cantabile, marcato, flautando
  • Legato: normal, legato
  • Vibrato: normal, no vibrato, molto vibrato

More details in the attached ReadMe.

-mike (40.1 KB)

Thanks very much for sharing this, Mike!