Ghost note playing technique

hi. I’ve added a Ghost note playing technique to my snare drum… but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to:

  • reduce the volume of the Ghost note
  • reduce the size of the Ghost note head


Hello DoYouLikeHam, one way you can show ghost notes is using notehead brackets, either round or square. I believe notes that have brackets shown on them play back much quieter than normal notes automatically.

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Thanks, @Lillie_Harris - yes, I found if I add () or using ‘Bracketed Noteheads’ (override?) setting, that this affects the velocity of the note… but how do I set that up as a Playing Technique? Ideally, I’d like to select the note and shift+option+Up/Down like I can with other snare note playing techniques.

Also, I’d prefer to use a small notehead, instead of () or (see image below)

Finally, where is the resulting velocity controlled for () and (and ultimately for the small notehead?

To use a small notehead, first make yourself a custom notehead set with its own small noteheads (reduce the scale of a notehead), then select that set from the “Notehead set menu” in the Percussion Instrument Playing Techniques dialog (in your screenshots).

Bracketed noteheads automatically have a lower velocity, which you can see in Play mode if you show the velocity lane for the corresponding instrument. If your playback device has samples for muted/muffled notes you could set the “Ghost note” playback technique to use those, or just change the velocity of the required notes manually in Play mode. If it’s a repeating pattern, I think if you change the velocity for the first instance and then copy/paste, the velocity should be included.

Hi @Lillie_Harris - I was able to create the custom notehead set as you pointed… however, I’m not sure how I would find out "if your playback device has samples for muted/muffled notes " and where I might “set the “Ghost note” playback technique to use those”… any additional info would be appreciated!

I guess you could look in the documentation for the playback device, which is e.g. the VST instrument you’re using for playback for the percussion. You can manage playback techniques in the Edit Playback Techniques dialog. That would be an alternative to managing note velocity manually on a per-note basis. Depending on what samples you have available, using e.g. a muted playback sample might be an OK compromise.

@Lillie_Harris I’m using the default / out-of-the-box settings… I’ve no special playback device… what I’m struggling to understand is how to associate a playback technique with a given sound or velocity modification… where is that setup? Seems that Edit Playback Techniques only lets you define a technique… I don’t see where/how to define how this technique affects the played note… thanks again for any further pointers!

I think that’ll be where you start getting into expression maps.

In this case, it might well be simplest for you to change the velocity of notes you want to be quieter (ghost notes) manually in the velocity lane.

Thanks, @Lillie_Harris while that option may be easiest in the short term… I’d really rather have a consistent mechanism by which I affect the note (Shift+Option+Up/Down, whether I’m changing from normal to cross stick or to ghost note)… it just would be far less friction in remembering using the steps to do something if there isn’t a complete different set of steps for a ghost note vs. other snare hits.

If there is anyone that could provide more specific steps to setup this up, it would be much appreciated! Thanks!

Once you set up an Expression Map and percussion kit properly, it will be a simple ALT+Arrow up or down to find your ghost note.

(You cannot expect Dorico to do custom Expression or Percussion maps for every individual VST setup and request.)

Hi @Derrek - that’s encouraging that it sounds like my desired result is possible… but being brand new to the software, it’s a bit overwhelming to not have any idea what are the sequence of things I’d need to do to make it happen, with a bit of detail of the process. E.g., in Expression Map, do X, Y, and Z… then in Percussion Kit, do A, B, C… presently, I’m still scratching my head as to how Dorico knows that a particular note creates a particular sound, and where that sound is comming from. I’ve tried editing the percussion map to make my snare into a different sound (e.g., vibraslap), but to no effect… it still makes a snare sound… so, I’m presently whack-a-mole all the wrong things, it seems.

@Lillie_Harris or @Derrek - please see this recording… I think I have everything setup properly, because I’m able to get the expected result from a Ghost note expression applied in the Percussion Map… BUT, it seems that Dorico gets confused when there is the same percussion note mapped to two different playing techniques. It seems to either be a bug that it doesn’t apply the appropriate maximum velocity, or a bug that it lets this be setup this way… or, if I should be doing something else, what?

Can you attach a minimal project that shows how you have things set up?

Hi @PaulWalmsley - thanks for reaching out. The file is attached: Ghost Note Issue.dorico (458.1 KB)

I also provided another short video showing the behavior of deleting Natural play technique from the expression map… resulting in the Ghost note working as expected (but, then of course, Natural doesn’t work as expected).

Hopefully you can help me get this resolved.

It’s currently not supported to use expression maps for percussion. There are a few cases that happen to work for single line percussion instruments (eg after playing technique text), but in general it won’t work well with a kit. You can trigger a different MIDI note for snare drum + ghost note (I found that if I removed the entry for note 38 and changed a different note then it would trigger) , but there’s no way at the moment of making the ghost note technique result in a lower velocity on a percussion stave.

To add to what Paul has said, I know it doesn’t suit your preferred workflow, but really the best approach for the time being is to use the provided ghost note functionality, i.e. to add brackets to the notehead, which also has the benefit of allowing you to make any other technique play back as a ghost note. You can assign a key command to the Toggle Round Brackets command using the Key Commands page of Preferences, to make it more convenient to add or remove this technique, notwithstanding that you cannot do it using Shift+Alt+up/down.

Thanks for chiming in, @dspreadbury and @PaulWalmsley … is there a setting that controls how much velocity / volume reduction the () or brackets apply?

No, I don’t believe there is at the moment, though perhaps this is something we could expose in a future version. I’ve made a note of it.

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