Expression Maps

Dear Brian,

This one is very recent…


Brian, I’m just exploring creating a playback template for ARIA. As I understand it, in the following locations:

Mac: /Library/Application Support/Steinberg/Dorico 2
Windows: %APPDATA%\Steinberg\Dorico 2

You need to create two folders, one called PlaybackTemplateGenerators and another called PluginPresetLibraries, and then XML files within. You can see the default examples (on a Mac) inside the Application bundle /Applications/Dorico

Currently, I’ve create a Playback Template that allows you to select the ARIA Player as the default for new Dorico documents. However, it doesn’t load the relevant samples into the player, as I’ve no idea how you construct a vstsound URI for use with ARIA. (Or otherwise create a valid XML file for Dorico’s presets.)

I’m going to start a github project, if that’s of interest.


Unfortunately, Ben, you won’t be able to make ARIA load the sounds automatically, unless you can persuade it to do so by way of a MIDI program change message, which is how NotePerformer works. We would need access to a special vendor load command in order to make ARIA load sounds automatically, i.e. it’s not a part of the standard VST spec.

As a partial work-around for those who use a more-or-less set Aria configuration of instruments would be to set up custom ensembles in Aria. Then one would only have to match the MIDI channels of instruments to the channels in the pre-configured Aria slots. It is by no means automatic, but might save some time until a more efficient option comes along.

Hey Marc,

sorry and thanks for the link! :wink:

I have created expression maps for the Iconica library standard articulations set which you can download here. I have tested them and they all work correctly.

Originally, I was creating a map for every instrument, and then realized that almost all of the instruments use the same key switches. Low instruments such as Basses, Tuba and Contra Basson obviously need to use higher key switches so I created separate maps for those instruments.

Loading the “Violins, Violas & Celli” map allows correct playback of markings for staccato, pizzicato, marcato, legato and tremolo respectively. I set the “natural” playing technique to “sustain” which makes the most sense for me, although other users may prefer it to be set to staccato. In order for the tremolo to play back, it is important that your notes use the tremolo markings with three slashes rather than two or one.

Loading the “Iconica Woodwinds” map allows all of the woodwind instruments (except for contra bassoon) to play staccatissimo, staccato, marcato, legato and repetitions using standard articulation marks and text. In order for repetitions to play back correctly, you must use tremolo notes with three slashes.

Loading the “Iconica Brass” map allows all of the brass instruments (except for Tuba) to play staccatissimo, staccato, marcato, legato and repetitions using standard articulation markings and text.

Tuba, Contra Bassoon and Basses have their own separate maps.

For those who are not so familiar with expression maps, switch to play mode and then select “expression maps” from the “play menu”. Click “import library” at the bottom of the window to import this file. Next, you must click the little cog wheel next to the HALion Sonic SE VST instrument and assign these new maps to each of the instruments in your score which need them. You will have to manually load the samples from Iconica as this is not done automatically. You should then save your score if you want to use it as a template next time.

There are many more articulations included in Iconica, but at least this is a good start for an “out of the box” experience. I welcome all feedback and can make changes as people see fit.
Iconica Standard (2.11 KB)

Great work, David. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this! We are looking at building some special Iconica presets and accompanying expression maps to build on the sets of techniques that are loaded into the current Iconica presets and to enable the use of a playback template that will load the sounds automatically, but this is a great interim solution for anybody who wants to try Iconica with Dorico in its current form. It’s also worth knowing that a 30-day trial of Iconica is now available here.

Thanks for the positive feedback Daniel! Iconica is an exceptionally good library which I encourage other users of Dorico to seriously consider. I know that whatever you come up with regarding its integration into Dorico in the future will be fantastic, and I look forward to it.

I would be interested in EastWest Play Expression Maps.



I have created my own expression maps and playing techniques for several of the EWSL Silk sound library instruments. I figured out how to “Export Library” for the expression maps (by selecting all of the maps and pressing the “Export Library” button). But I can’t figure out how to save/export the playing techniques I have created. Of course I need the notation that triggers the playing techniques to be exported and imported to any new scores. Please advise how to do this. I notice a “Save as Default” button at the bottom of any single playing technique that I edit, but I don’t know what that will do. Thanks. John O

At the moment there’s no way to export the playing techniques you have created, but if you select each of them in turn and do ‘Save as Default’, this will save them into your user library file, which means that every new project you start thereafter will automatically include those playing techniques.

Thanks Daniel! I tread very cautiously when learning new software, having tended in the past to start creating workarounds too early, and then later discovering that there was actually something already built-in that I had missed.

I 'migh’t be able to help you with the URI…it worked with Sibelius anyway…

I am on Windows, and the Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 library is installed at “%SYSTEMDRIVE%\Program Files\Garritan\Personal Orchestra 5”

Once I get this deep, I’ve decided I want to use the notation variants, so I will go into the “.\Banks\Notation” directory from here.

Using my favorite xml (or text) editor, I’ll open “Personal Orchestra”

Be careful, you don’t want to overwrite this file, as tampering with this particular file may be one of the ways that one can break the ‘registration’ for the library.

Look at the bank file though…see the paths for the tags? Maybe this is the information that needs to be passed to ARIA to get it to load instruments?

At least that’s what I used to get Sibelius to auto-load GPO5 stuff. Sibelius also needed a ‘bank’ number…not sure why, but an entry in the soundworld file looks something like this:

<Patch Name="Piccolo Solo Flutter" IsMultipleNoteSample="true">
            <AriaPatch Instrument="Notation/01 Woodwinds/01 Flutes/n-Piccolo Solo Flutter" BankID="2013"/>

Note the entry…

Maybe this path is what you need?

Thanks, Brian. It’s certainly somewhere to start. I’ll look through it all when I have a minute…

That is all very reasonable. I just want to say that I recently picked up NotePerformer and I’m blown away by it. I will be using that almost exclusively for my work with Dorico. If a certain project needs to get mocked up more elaborately with VSL or whatever, I will export it to my DAW and work on it there outside of the notational domain. I understand that Dorico has its own goals, as it should, but hopefully NotePerformer and Dorico will be able to synergistically come together to resolve the couple of issues the exist to make the experience seamless. Right now, Finale is even less seamless then Dorico, but Sibelius apparently has the best integration with it for whatever the reason. NotePerformer might be the perfect orchestral sound source for working with a notational product to hear the results as notated. For my own workflow, I will be using NotePerformer through most phases of composition. However, for final mockup to distribute, if needed, I will export project to DAW and use VSL or other libraries, with all the tools in the DAW to craft the best mockup I can.

The simple truth is that articulation handling is right now a very moving target. All of the DAW’s handle it differently, some don’t handle it at all. The various sample libraries all handle things differently, in some cases substantially so. There are some interesting challenges to deal with when you start digging into it, and it gets even more complicated once you start combining different sample libraries in one project. People need to be realistic about an expectation that they will be able to get NotePerformer-like automatic articulation handling with all the different sample libraries out there, at least not any time soon. NotePerformer is simple the best alternative at the moment for automatic score reproduction without having to fiddle around with articulation management.

The best two DAW’s for handling sample lib articulations are Cubase and Logic. Cubase has expression maps, and Logic has articulation id, plus a javascript engine that can be used to do almost anything you want. I’m not a cubase user so I can’t really comment about expression maps, but generally my understanding is that there are pros and cons to both approaches. In any case, having followed this topic for some time, I can tell you that there are plenty of users that run into complicated problems to solve inside both DAW’s when it comes to articulation management, particularly when multiple sample libraries are used in combination. In short… its a moving target and its not even close to standardized. Babylon waves is trying to come up with a subset of standard input key switches to use that map to myriad of output key switches for any given library…and sometimes its not trivial to do that, depending on the sample library, in some cases Babylon waves can’t really accommodate all of the flexibility built into many sample libraries, due to limitations in the DAW’s themselves more then anything, and the desire to have a common front end, which is a lowest common denominator.

I think it would be good if Dorico at least duplicated the functionality entirely of Cubase expression maps. Articulation handling will evolve in Cubase and Dorico along with it, but people need to realize, that there is a lot of fiddling often, even with expression maps. If you need a top quality mock up, then that is worth doing. If you just need quick and easy score playback that sounds something close to what you intend, then NotePerformer with Dorico is, IMHO, the way to go for the foreseeable future. Notion also has done a pretty decent job with this, but not as good as NotePerformer and Notion is not that greatest notational program either.

Thanks for your thoughts on this, Dewdman42. It is certainly our intention to beef up the handling of articulations, to complete the missing bits of support for the Cubase expression map format, and then to go beyond that to try to make it richer and more expressive. But it will take a bit of time! We also have ideas about how to expand the playback template mechanism to make it possible for vendors like Arne to selectively enable and disable some aspects of Dorico’s playback to better suit the specific needs of their instruments. NotePerformer is a remarkable bit of kit and we are committed to supporting it as fully as it is practical for us to do so.

The main problem for me right now, is the ‘temporary’ fix of having to put in a ‘Nat.’ playing technique before another custom playing technique, in order for it to key-switch properly. This is compounded by the fact that playing techniques seem to snap to notes, so you cannot place a ‘nat.’ playing technique in a random spot at the end of a bar (after the last note of that bar, for example) so as to switch an articulation quickly before the next note, and avoiding therefore, the triggering of the articulation associated with that ‘nat’ key-switch.

Is this something that can be fixed in the short term, without having to wait for the full expression map implementation, as hinted at by Daniel above, or is it a major development/programming hurdle that will only come as part of the full monty of sample library and expression map routing?

Hello Daniel
Any improvement in Dorico 2.1 with Expression Maps