Expression Maps

The new version 2 of Dorico is awesome but I am having problems with creating my own Playing Techniques and having them play back properly…This is a crucial element for me to get going before completely switching from Sibelius…It is essential to be be able to select articulations at will and create my own expression maps that work effectively.

Here is an example of the problem: I create two new playing techniques in Engrave: Playing Techniques - one is called zapp, one is called zonk. I also create two respective entries in the edit playing technique area - Therefore the text is zapp, the popover text is zapp, the playing technique is zapp and likewise for zonk.

Now I go to PLAY: Expression maps and add these into one of the existing expression maps. As this is a test I will use the HSO Violins Combi. I create a new technique and add zapp, I then assign a keyswitch to it and likewise for zonk. Now, when I go into my score (violins using this expression map) and insert a new playing technique above a note the results are erratic. I have a bar of four quarter notes and I assign the playing technique zapp above the first one…and it works. When I go to play mode, I can see zapp in the new playing techniques lane and it is playing the assigned keyswitch.

Now, two quarter notes later I want to change the articulation so I assign zonk…Not only does the sound not change, but the Playing techniques lane in PLAY has not updated to the new playing technique…Indeed it enters zapp again. According to the HELP, you may need to insert a NAT or natural command to reset the expression map, (and this does work) but if you are changing articulations/playing techniques on two adjacent notes, where do you put the NAT?..and surely there must be a way to switch from one custom playing technique to the next without always having to insert this command? If I use the regular playing techniques already inside Dorico, it switches perfectly and the Playing Techniques lane updates correctly. I can’t see what is different about using my custom playing techniques which is stopping it working in the same way? Maybe I am missing something obvious?

All in all, once I can get this element straight I can create custom expression maps for all my VSL custom matrices and I will be a a very happy camper…
Dorico is definitely going to be the new standard, and combining sequencer type elements along with fantastic engraving and play back tools makes this software outstanding in my opinion.

Hello Daniel

Yesterday VSL said again :
i]We are watching the development of Dorico and probably will offer Dorico Expression Maps for our libraries in the future. At the moment there are still some requirements that would need to be fulfilled by the Dorico team. I have sent them a list some months ago.[/i]

Is Dorico 2 solving VSL’s requests ?



The sorts of things that Andreas at VSL and I have talked about are the same sorts of things that are necessary for the production of expression maps for any library: proper handling of mutual exclusion between different techniques or groups of techniques; support for the missing pieces of the Cubase expression map format (e.g. local note length control, etc.); the ability to change MIDI channel in an expression map; and so on. None of these areas received any attention in Dorico 2 because of work on other aspects of playback, such as playback templates, NotePerformer, MIDI controller automation, repeats playback, and so on. But we do of course plan to work on all of these areas as soon as is practical.

A question on the Playback Templates if that’s OK, Daniel.

Referring to the new Version History - will users be able to create their own Playback Templates without the need to use the data files?

There’s no way within Dorico to create a playback template at present. In the future, this is something we will certainly think about.

As you probably know there’s a list of compatibility issues with Dorico on the NotePerformer site (here). Is it realistic to expect these to be ironed out in the 2.x updates, or ever?

Hi Everyone! This is my first post, so I hope this is the right place. I am trying to develop an expression map for EWQL Solo Violin. However, when I enter the articulations in Write Mode, the wrong technique shows up in Play Mode. For instance if I add non vib. in Write, it show up as Spiccato in Play even though I entered the correct midi note when I created the non vib. technique in the expression map I created. When I look at the Play VST instrument only half of the key switches are being used. There seems to be a random disconnect between the articulations I choose in making the expression map and what happens when I choose techniques in Write mode. I watched the video on expression maps several times and the result is not predictable.

I am looking forward to figuring this out, and I will be happy to create some maps once the result is more certain



Well, several of those compatibility issues arise from differences in design approach – Arne has been very vocal to me about what he thinks is appropriate for a notation program to do with its playback, and what it is not. That amounts to a difference of opinion and I can’t guarantee that we will simply acquiesce to whatever Arne says he thinks would be best for NotePerformer, though I would hope that the fact that we have already done a substantial amount of work to help him deliver a working version of NotePerformer for Dorico demonstrates that we see the real value in his work. But some of the issues, like the fact that some combinations of articulations and techniques don’t work together, of course will be taken care of in the future because they have a general impact, not only on NotePerformer (though I can’t say exactly when).

My guess is that you may need to insert additional “nat.” playing techniques in Dorico between each other change of technique, as Dorico currently lacks the smarts it needs to be able to work out that e.g. “open” and “mute” are opposites of each other, so if you write “mute” followed by “open” it will go off and try to find a sound “mute+open”, which it presumably will not be able to find, and hence will do nothing. Using “nat.” to put things back how they were between each change of technique generally works.

Hello Daniel

Thanks for your answer.

Would you say that Expression Maps in Dorico 2 is 100 % compatible with Cubase Expression Maps or there are still some expression that cannot be done in Dorico 2 ?

I do not see any interest of changing Midi Channel i an Expression Map !!!

VSL spoke of “sfz” and “pp”, what is the problem there ?


No, Dorico’s handling of Cubase’s expression maps is not 100%. Some of the fields in the Cubase expression map are imported but are not used during playback.

There is currently no support for “envelope”-type dynamics where a single dynamic like sfz needs to give rise to some kind of continuous set of controllers to shape the sound over time, or indeed to trigger a keyswitch for a performed, sampled sforzando or similar.

Daniel hello,
Congratulations for the new version of Dorico! :slight_smile: On the videos and the description looks very improved.
I can see in one of you posts that it’s still not possible to assign expressions - articulations, techniques, dynamics, to CC, Velocity, KeySwitches, Program Changes in “Write Mode”… still not a Dorico user, but I’m long time Cubase user and from my experience the Expression Maps is kind of wasting time feature and not intuitive.
Overture 5.5 is part of composing tools, especially if I need to score something faster. The way how the expressions can be assigned/mapped in this program is the best, the fastest and most intuitive I’ve ever seen. Yes the Engraving side of OV5 is still not the best thing for creating scores for publishing, but I can always transfer a project into Sibelius. Don Williams really knows how the musicians thinking while composing music.
I really hope that you and your genius team will implement a similar, or even better way for assignment / mapping.

I’m still waiting the real-time recording to be integrated and the working with VST instruments, Kontakt libraries… to be more improved (HSO and Noteperformer are too far from the sound quality level of Orchestral Tools - Berlin Series, Spitfire Audio, or East West - Hollywood) before buying Dorico.

Success and keep doing your great job! :slight_smile:

I confess that I’m not super-familiar with Overture’s workflow: can you point me to a bit of documentation or a video that shows how Overture manages the assignment of expressions, so I can understand exactly what you mean? Thank you.

Daniel, thank you for the fast reply! :slight_smile: Well, the documentation is html based inside Overture, but there is demo version which can be downloaded from the links here: so, you’ll be able to make some tests. You may take some ideas.
I was able to make basic 16 bars orchestral arrangement just for around 1h 40m. after the first installation… which includes: the time for learning the basics of the program, the time for creating orchestral template with libraries I’m using the most in Cubase, the time for learning how to assign expressions… to do some CC editing and humanizing, and the time to think about what piece to orchestrate and orchestration itself…
Overture produces very good looking notes, I did some orchestrations for orchestras here and asked the conductors and the musicians for feedback on how the master score and the parts look, without telling them what software I’m using… They liked the sheets. No reading difficulties :slight_smile:
Don is going to release new update soon, with updated documentation, because he did many changes and improvements which are still not documented.
Worth to spend time to learn how it works… You could find very good ideas for improvement of Dorico, I find the Hybrid View (Staff View/Piano Roll) in the “Linear View” very helpful and you can use it while entering note. Without need to switch to “Play Mode”.
I’m following the development of Dorico since 2015. Then I started dreaming about about easy to use notation based Hybrid-DAW for composing, arranging and orchestrating with high quality Engraving, to compete Sibelius and Finale. For the composing process the most important thing is the tech work to be reduced to minimum, which is achieved in Overture 5.5…
Last Autumn I discovered Overture 5.5 which answered my dream on 80%, just the Engraving side is still not on the level of Sibelius and Finale, and needs some more stability, layout and audio engine improvements. But Don is the only one to develop the very complex software and everything takes time. Fortunately he focused his attention more on improving the Engraving.
Every expression - symbols, technique text and dynamics on the score needs just double mouse click to open dialog for assignment option. In the Right Panel you can create almost complete assignment for all expressions per instrument.

I really hope that you would take Don’s work very seriously because he does what is really needed by DAW composers who prefer to work with notes, with optional but enough powerful midi mockup editor (Staff View/Piano Roll). The real-time recording is really good, too.

The good thing is that after the trial period ended you can continue using Overture, but without saving and exporting options.


Daniel, thank you once again for the replay! :slight_smile:

Best regards :slight_smile:

Thanks for taking the time to share those videos. VST Expression Maps in Dorico provide – or will provide, in some cases, since not everything is yet implemented for them – the same kinds of controls as you see in Overture, except that they are abstracted away from individual items in the score. In Overture it appears that you can (and perhaps have to?) set the behaviour of e.g. a staccato articulation on each instrument independently, whereas the idea behind the VST Expression Map concept is that you have a set of mappings between the item in the score itself and the actual playback that will be produced, and the application (whether Cubase or Dorico) automatically maps between them as needed. But it may be that we can help to make the connection between the item in the score and the VST Expression Map being used more direct, e.g. by somehow making it possible to get to the specific expression map in use for a given instrument and select the appropriate playing technique in there. Definitely some food for thought as we continue to build out this part of the application.

Daniel, thank you for the reply! :slight_smile:
Yes in Overture you have to do assignment per instrument, but there are global maps per instrument track too, where you can set custom defaults. It’s logical to be per instrument, because, for instance, staccato is placed on different KeySwitch for every instrument library, or separate patch… What if you use instruments from different libraries?! It’s meaningless to make custom VST Expression Maps for customized template and then to use more direct mapping… Too much tech work. Please, think about that! :slight_smile: For me the VST Expression Maps in Cubase Pro is kind of useless thing, I’ve spend enough time to give it a try, Even I bought the maps of Babylonwaves… Very useless for Orchestral Tools, the library I’m using the most…
The musical logic is to load all patches - long, shorts, special bows, sfx , for example Violins I, into one Kontakt 5 instance on different midi channels, as one instrument. The maps for OT in Babylonwaves bundle are arranged separately per patch, which makes them non-functional. The much easier way in Cubase is just to create separate midi tracks per patch and use the keyswitches as midi mockup and to forget about the Maps. But this cannot happen in notation software because there is one stave per instrument.
From my long time experience working with different DAWs and testing different Notation software… I can say that the VST Expression Maps in Cubase is the worst, and the assignment in Overture is the best existing. If you find a way to make it easier, time saver and more logical than Overture, yours will be the best. :slight_smile:
You can give VST Expression Maps to those who like them. Personally I know many Cubase users and none of them use this function. :slight_smile:
I’m aware that you’ll have to make Dorico in the future to work more closer with Cubase and Nuendo, and to transfer as much as possible data from and to them. Please, keep Dorico simple, clean and easy to use. This is what attracts me in Overture, despite the weaknesses it has.
Dorico by the time becomes more and more powerful and I like how the development going, but the DAW functions have to be very carefully and well developed and implemented.

As I can see Dorico is going in the same hybrid-DAW direction as Overture, so if you have enough time, spend it for learning the functions in Overture, it won’t take too much time. :slight_smile: The expression assignment, actually, very flexible. Even the harp pedal can be assigned per pedal CC.

Thank you once again! :slight_smile:

Best regards

The idea behind Overture’s design is genius, but it’s implementation is appalling. I have not been able to do any work on it (for three years) since it seems to crash for no reason and Don loses his temper very quickly (even deletes posts if he doesn’t like them).

I think the simplest solution would be to allow the drawing of keyswitches, that do not appear in the music, in the Play Mode automation window. Since most articulations depend on context and not on a specific patch e.g. a staccato in an adagio is not the same as in a presto, this method would allow for very sophisticated performance programming.

One question about the triggerin of different artikulations:

In HALion 6 I find several Instruments with different articulations if I type “VX” in the search-box.

for example:

  • brass section VX
  • clean guitar VX
  • steel guitar VX
  • bass guitar VX
    … and may more (see pic):
How can I use these instruments in Dorico with it’s different articulations?



You would need to create expression maps for them in Play > Expression Maps, and then assign those expression maps to the corresponding channels in the Endpoint Setup dialog, which is the dialog opened by clicking the cog icon next to the specific instance of the VST instrument you’re using, in the VST Instruments panel in Play mode.

O.k. - but these instruments don’t have normal keyswitches.
They use the controller lane in Cubase’s key-editor to trigger the different articulations.
That’s a Cubase-specific thing… (… maybe I didn’t understood you’re answer. I’ll try it again in the Dorico-software!)