Extending Cello Playback Range?

This is Dorico Pro 3.5.1. With the default instruments, the solo cello range is frustratingly truncated, which is odd for a “Pro” program, truthfully. Is there a way to get Dorico to perform these higher notes, perhaps even by "borrowing’ some violin instrument for these missing notes?

The ranges of the instruments in HALion Symphonic Orchestra were set some 15 years or so ago when that library was recorded, engineered and programmed. There’s zero chance of the HALion sound design team returning to HSO now to change these patches, I’m afraid. Either use the GM cello sound, which covers the whole range (but which doesn’t support techniques like pizzicato etc.), or use a different library that provides the range you’re looking for.

FWIW, it is possible to play out of range notes with NotePerformer.

@Daniel, well, respectfully, I didn’t ask for you go get the Halion team back to record new patches. Considering the extraordinary flexibility of so much of Dorico, I thought it might be possible to use the existing violin patches to substitute for the missing cello notes. I guess not?

@Vaughn - thanks, I’ll investigate that also.

The thing is, there are lots more similar issues with the library as a whole.

For example the French horns don’t go high enough for “classical” natural horns G A or B flat alto.

The trumpet was presumably sampled from a trumpet in C, and it doesn’t have the bottom notes of a trumpet in B flat.

Etc, etc. …

Sure can…

Just substitute the default Cello program in the relevant instance of HALion SE over in the play tab to use this combo.

Ensemble Strings Solo Combi
Ensemble Strings Solo Pizzicato

If you prefer, you can just do this in a fresh instance of HSSE, and redirect the endpoint of the stave you want using the combo to the fresh instance.

You’ll need to adjust your expression map for the stave a bit, as this preset doesn’t support as many key-switches. It doesn’t have a pizzicato key-switch either, BUT, there is an Ensemble Solo Pizzicato program, and you can teach Dorico to ‘channel bounce’ to use it.

Tweak and experiment with the sounds while the score is playing to get the best sound for your piece.

If you have Dorico Pro 3 or later: Once you’re fairly happy with it, you can save the end point, and establish a playback template that will make this setup your new default cello sound.

To me, this is often a better choice than the default solo string instruments anyway. For small string ensembles, or exposed string passages in larger ensembles, I actually prefer to use different instances of this for ALL of my solo string staves. To me it blends a little better for small ensembles than the principal soloist sounds in HSO. I tend to reserve the principal soloist programs for solo work that has a LOT going on under and around it form the rest of the orchestra…given their harsh characteristics, they stand out of the mix and sound rather nice then. Note, that reverb in the right types and amounts, along with a little ‘stereo spread’ can help warm up HSO strings as well (can do it directly in HSSE in the effects tab of HSSE, or via channel inserts and VST plugins in the Dorico Mixer).

With HSO strings, it’s important to understand that they typically don’t sound all that great ‘out of the box’. The good news is that you can pull up your HALion Sonic instance and shape it up a bit. You can load up multiple slots in a HALion instance with different settings for extra variation, and teach Dorico to ‘channel bounce’ among the slots with his expression maps. I.E. You could shape up different variations for up-bow, down-bow, different flavors of detache, fashion out a more marcato attack/release, simulate the ping and pow of martele strokes, crank up the AIR set up a brilliant sautelli like sound, and so forth. So, experiment and have fun with it!

Here is an example playback template I threw together real quick to demonstrate the concept I mention in an earlier post here.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/14BIfnQonaFW-uyfDeAWVneowTzTuwG7t/view?usp=sharing
(Updated 5:00am CST, 9/5/2020: corrected some bad expression map entries that caused pizzicato get stuck)

I’ve set it up to replace Dorico’s Default strings with some alternate choices.

Instead of using the principal HSO choices, it uses the Ensemble sets. To me these are easier on the ears than Dorico’s default choices (less harsh) less of a pain to get an ‘easy mix’ and blend pretty well when exposed, particularly during long work sessions.

Of course you can edit and Change this template to your liking. It’s nowhere near perfect, but hopefully it’s good enough to demonstrate the concept of using the Ensemble Solo and Ensemble Tutti strings in place of the usual principal ones Dorico chooses on his own out of the box.

You can import it into Dorico via the play tab. Then go to Play/Playback Template…
Use the import option in the Dialog there.

Once it’s imported, you can apply it to a score by double clicking the HSSE + Alt HSO Strings + HSO entry. It’ll reload your score and apply these options instead of the default ones. I recommend working from a backup copy of your score while experimenting with the template.

If you like what it’s doing, you can make it the new default sound template in Edit/Preferences/Play.

If you hate everything about it, you can trash it from there as well.

On the Expression maps, the first thing I did was get rid of Dorico’s default behaviors for legato. Instead, set the overlap you like for slurred/legato phrases in Play/Playback/Timing/Note Durations. I.E. Setting legato note lengths to something like 105% will cause the end of a previous note to ring out a little longer and overlap the subsequent note a bit (a crossfading effect…smoothing the passage out somewhat).

By default for Solo strings, the expression maps will engage the staccato key switch for spiccato and staccato notes (No spiccato/staccato key-switches are applied for tutti strings). If you don’t like the way it sounds for a given piece, and would rather use the regular arco sound for spiccato and/or staccato notes, simply add/delete the spiccato/staccato entries in the expression map as desired (don’t forget to include a channel 1 event first in the list). If you elect NOT to use the short bow key-switches, you can instead set note length values for staccato and stacissimo marked notes, again under Play/Playback Options/Timing. Note, you could also shape up your own short bow sounds in empty HALion slots, and teach your expression maps to ‘channel bounce’ to them.

Pizzicato is triggered by channel bouncing to the second slot on channel 2.

I have it configured so each string stave for Violin, Violins, Viola, Violas, Violincello, Violincellos, Contra/Dbl Bass, Cotgras/Dbl Basses, each get its own HALion instance.

I have NOT pre-panned, db-balanced, or sound staged anything in this example! You will need to work on sound staging yourself. As you get a mix and balance you like, you can easily save over the end points in the play tab, and your HALion instances will be remembered next time the template calls them up. In the case of 1st and 2nd violins, I recommend making a couple of multi-sound presets to preserve sound staging. After Dorico has attached the violin staves, you can then go in through the play tab and change your second Violins to a stored preset that is staged and has tone settings more appropriate for the seconds.

Both sounds (arco and pizz) come out of the same stereo pair of outputs into the Dorico Mixer. If you need to re-mix the pizzicato and arco sounds independently, set it up as you like directly in the HALion instance itself…or you can move the pizzicato to another set of audio outputs in HALion SE through the MIX tab, and expand the visible channels on the mixer by adjusting the instances end point settings in the play tab.

Again, don’t forget that you can always load more copies of these same programs into new slots of the instance, shape them up for different effects/purposes, and add channel bounces in the expression map.

Finally, do not underestimate the potential of HSO. It’s worth it to spend a little time reading up on it, and HALion SE itself, then playing with the dials and settings it has to offer. The velocity curve feature alone can have a big impact on making an instrument much more musical. It’s also worth exploring the Effects tab provided in HALion instances. Don’t forget that you can save things in HSSE. Individual slots, as well as complete instrument sets. You can always make new endpoints to replace, or add to your Dorico playback template.

Good luck, and have fun!

Bumped for an update:

Here is an example playback template I threw together real quick to demonstrate the concept I mention in an earlier post here.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/14BIfnQonaFW-uyfDeAWVneowTzTuwG7t/view?usp=sharing
(Updated 5:00am CST, 9/5/2020: corrected some bad expression map entries that caused pizzicato to get stuck)

This is the same file as above unless you downloaded before 5:00am CST on 9/5/2020

Also … :slight_smile:

On the MIDI page of Halion SE one can set the active key range (and channel) of the Midi slots, so it’s basically a breeze to extend e.g. the cello range by a viola or violin…just adjust the range so that there are no overlapping notes.

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Bump, Had to fix yet something else…Same mistake, but for the Tutti variants. The links above are updated.

I also took out expression map entries for spiccato/staccato in the Tutti Variants. I found the score translation could be pretty bad on several scores I played with them in…so on the Tutti strings, it’s better to add these key-switches back in ONLY if you have a piece they work well with, and even so, you’ll usually need combi-techniques and trigger them selectively.

@Brian - wow, thank you so much for all of this. I am not that knowledgeable about these details, but you have been an amazing help! Thank you so much!

Yes, I have seen many similar complaints. It’s a shame that the software that is defining the state-of-the-art for 21st-century music notation software can’t playback 18th-century composers music. I’m guessing based on Daniel’s response that won’t be happening out of the box, perhaps ever.

I’ll try to prepare a one slot solution that I can share here later, and also provide a preset that simply extends the range of the principal cello a bit.

This morning I decided demonstrating some methods for non HALion 6 users to go ahead and find ways to supplement and get more out of HSO with options ALL Dorico Pro users have at hand would be a better contribution to make to the community.

I’ve some personal fixes done in HALion 6, and most of them are indeed simple things like extending ranges, or flat out working in an included substitute or free replacement. I make them as needed. They aren’t great, but they get me through the day and I can share the stuff with other Dorico Pro users without extra expense on anyone’s part.

At some point they might be good enough to share here with the community. The bigger holdup is that what I’ve done with strings thus far needs quite a bit of ‘documentation’ to go with it and explain the changes I’ve made to the macro screens, and I’ll have to make time to sit down and put that together. It also needs to be played through a LOT of different scores to get things balanced, staged, and tuned, and I really don’t have that many to play through the thing. Plus, it takes a lot of time to import scores that weren’t intended for Dorico from the start. Really, I think it needs some more elements in the macro pages as well…so users can have more control over shaping the sound if they don’t like what I’ve provided for some reason (will have to set aside time to figure that out).

The goal is to have something that sounds pretty good on 90% of the scores one plays through it without have to touch a thing, while having the tools to ‘custom shape’ our own short bow articulations as key-swtichable options. Load the score and hit play. In short, a full orchestra set-up that’s nicely balanced, mixed, and staged without having to tweak much in SE or fiddle with the mixer. I believe it can be done with HSO, it’s just a big job for one person, in a bad lab, without much content to test it with, in spare time.

Range extensions are usually pretty simple if one has HALion 6 in the tool box, though there are some cases where it’s harder and more time consuming to find a sample somewhere in HSO that’ll re-tune and still sound reasonably authentic. Sharing the preset is pretty simple, but again it needs enough documentation to explain to people how to install it.

The principal solo strings are a little more complex to extend however…as they have reverb tails and all that should also be extended. It’s easy to miss something important and end up with funky artifacts coming off the reverb tails, so I didn’t want to ‘rush’ that and throw something terrible up here today that someone with SE only is helpless in going in and correcting themselves to taste.

It’s mostly about time, and I don’t always manage mine the best. I often waste a lot making posts here…but then again, all the babbling helps me figure out how to prioritize what to do next, and set aside blocks of time for it :wink:

I’m also getting more and more reluctant to spend too much time on this beyond personal tweaks for my own use, as it’s become more than obvious the HSO library will NOT get any future support from anyone official at Steinberg (including implementing it better as it is). Does this mean we will eventually get a more modern/serviceable library included in some future release? If so, will HSO still come with the deal for legacy support, or will it go bye bye?

We need to remember that the included Halion libraries are a sort of freebie or throw-in so that users can have, to use your term, an “out of the box” means of playback. They are not intended as current state-of-the-art libraries. It’s been many years since they were state-of-the-art, else they would have had to raise the price of Dorico accordingly.

If you are serious about playback, you will either need to invest in a VERY reasonable solution like Noteperformer, which comes with a huge bonus, it’s own Playback Template for Dorico, or one of the many other third party libraries that will require a separate Playback Template. If you choose the former, once you install it things just work with no further setup effort from you. If you choose the latter you will have to either hope that someone has created and shared their own Playback Template or make your own.

In any case we can, I suppose, hope and expect the Halion Libraries will meet our playback needs, but if we are serious about it that expectation is very likely to be disappointed. And you can figure that in the unlikely event the Halion libraries ever receive a major update, they will probably not be free to Dorico users. Companies don’t tend to give away their newly released A-game products.

Dorico as a notation platform is very capable of playing back 18th-century music, but it will do so much better with a state-of-the-art third-party library.

Hope your Dorico efforts are rewarded!

I think the Iconica library(s) show that Steinberg is not planning to upgrade the HALion Orchestra library. What I do not understand is why members of the Dorico Team are working on Expression Maps for third-party libraries but no one seems to be interested in producing Expression Maps for Iconica.

Back in mid 2018, Dorico expression maps didn’t have the capability to support Ionica. See https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=140407

That particular issue (switching between channels for different playing techniques) seems to be fixed now but maybe there are more things that John Barron didn’t mention back then. Or maybe using it can’t be made completely automatic in Dorico 3.5 even if it is possible using manual endpoint configurations etc.

Honestly, the whole Iconica situation is puzzling. Is it just me? I don’t hear much mention of it, and considering it’s price it has not received much in the way of recommendations. Please correct me if you have it and think it’s fantastic. An Iconica that lived up to it’s Orchestral Tools collaboration and it’s price point would, combined with functioning Dorico Expression Maps and Playback Template be an attractive option. As it is now you wonder if Iconica has any real meaningful life left (again, I’d be glad to stand corrected.)

I don’t have Iconica and will wait until Steinberg supports it with Dorico Expression Maps before I consider any purchase.

Iconica is certainly not widely used by Dorico users, but it’s seeing reasonable take-up within the Cubase user community. We do believe it should be possible to produce workable expression maps and playback templates for Iconica now, and it’s something that John will be returning to shortly; he’s currently focused on completing the Spitfire BBC SO Pro expression maps and playback template.