Global Volume Automation in Dorico 5

I’m working on a complex composition containing about a dozen instruments. I would like to boost the volume of an inner movement – about 50 or 60 measures, a couple thousand notes – by about 8 dB, without affecting that movement’s meticulously arranged dynamics or timbres.

The volume change would obviously have to be global, affecting all players identically.

Note that simply changing MIDI velocity values or scored dynamic markings would not accomplish this. Doing so would also change timbres and any other velocity-sensitive or dynamics-sensitive parameters.

I’ve explored Dorico’s MIDI CC and Key Editor functions, but don’t see anything obvious. Dorico’s Automation capabilities initially sounded promising, but I haven’t found anything in the manual describing how to do what I need.

The best fit would be a simple mixer-automation function, but I don’t see any way to do that. All but one of these players use NotePerformer 3, which replaces the Dorico default mixer with its own.

Is there some clever way to do what I need within Dorico? My next step is to update NotePerformer to V.4, but I don’t expect that to add automation capabilities to NP’s proprietary mixer.

I hope that I’m missing something obvious – although, TTtT, I suspect that Dorico is so MIDI-centric that there’s no way to adjust the volume of a note in an exported audio file without changing its MIDI velocity.

I look forward to any educated comments on this topic.

I don’t believe you can automate Dorico’s mixer (output, for example), but you can automate any VST parameter assigned to a MIDI CC. In Vienna Ensemble Pro, for instance, it’s pretty straightforward to automate channel/bus/master volume. I don’t use NP, so someone else might be able to help more specifically with that.

Is the inner movement its own separately exported flow, or is it part of a flow?

Any exported audio file does not contain midi, so making the audio louder of an exported flow won’t alter the midi velocity or tone in that sense.

Otherwise I feel like I’d be shooting in the dark without hearing it / seeing it / measuring it. The easiest answer may lie in the audio signal chain. Something in the style of a LA 2 leveling amplifier plug-in could be a solution - or not, you know?

I was going to say can’t you just increase the CC7 (master volume) level for the relevant section ? Just select the entire passage and a draw a CC7 event in the Key Editor at a somewhat higher level than the Dorico default of 100 and put it back down at the end. CC7 should not affect timbre in any way.

The trouble is that NP4 at any rate unfortunately doesn’t seem to respond to CC7 - not sure if 3 is the same but probably yes. With just about any other library, this would be at least one fairly simple answer and one I use for balancing out libraries with greatly differing dynamic response settings.

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gdball: No, the passage in question is in the middle of a longer flow.
I’ve never heard of LA 2, but I’ll look into it. Thanks for the tip.

dko22: CC7 wouldn’t affect timbre? Maybe I misunderstood MIDI volume, a CC I’ve never had the need to use. It affects only output volume, like a mixer – not merely playing a note louder or harder, like velocity? If so, that could be an easy fix, assuming the dynamic range possible with this controller is big enough. Going through the score again today, there’s one part that might need a boost of at least 10dB – pretty extreme.

What are the true peak levels versus RMS short term LUFS and such in that region?

CC7 will normally just affect output volume like a mixer unless the library in question is programmed in a non-standard way (such as NP but just about everything about it is non-standard). Tone dynamics are usually controlled by CC1 or velocity. If you need a huge jump in levels for a certain passage then it may be necessary to set initial CC7 levels lower than the Dorico 100 default (and if necessary compensate with higher mixer levels) to give sufficient headroom as obviously the max MIDI value is 127.

gdball: You’re gonna have to help me with that. How do you determine “RMS short term LUFS” in Dorico? Or peak levels, for that matter, without exporting an audio output to another application?

dko22: All but one of my instruments use the NotePerformer 4 library. Are you saying that I’m SOL?

At this point, I’m still trying to learn the ins & outs of the Key Editor, which I’d never used before. (I work almost exclusively in score notation.) I’m guessing that my questions will be answered by trial-and-error, now that the people on this thread have pointed me in the right direction. IOW, I may not yet have a solution, but at least I now know where to look.

Sure. You don’t have to go to a DAW just to use inserts and plugins. Dorico comes with a “supervision” Analyzer plugin which you can configure to show a whole lot of things. Apologies if I’m over explaining - we’re strangers and I can’t exactly look at your face for feedback that I need to shut up. :slight_smile:

Here in its default mode, Supervision is showing loudness as a sort of statistical average (RMS) in blue - commonly used to show how loud we perceive something to be at a certain point in time- but the orange and grey lines represent peak values in the same bit of passage.

The problem is that you might want to automate the volume up quite a lot to get the blue numbers to the average perceived loudness where you think the passage should be - but in this example you can only raise it about 2 db on the right channel, and no more than 6 db on the left before you start getting distortion because of the peaks.

That’s the problem with volume automation. So… Here is a different tool:

Notice the orange line at the top which represents the action of limiter. I have the gain of the limiter cranked up a lot - by 13db. But when it gets to some peaks the orange line automatically goes down - quickly and in proportion. That is the limiter recognizing that being up a full 13db at those brief points would be too much).

It is for that reason, I’d quite possibly want to put a limiter on one of Dorico’s inserts, and if I still needed automation, I’d automate the gain of the LIMITER rather than a bunch of individual instrument volumes - plus it is just one knob to automate. :slight_smile: Each piece of music is obviously different, so we’d have to hear the piece and see your values to have a more useful opinion. This is just an idea to keep or sweep.

When people say you can’t automate certain things in Dorico - they are right, yet … that doesn’t mean there still aren’t ways to get automation done while working inside Dorico. I’ll save sneaky Element and Bluecat connector tricks for another day if anyone is still speaking to me. :slight_smile:

gdball: You say we’re “strangers,” but after taking the time to post that last message, I say we’re “family”! :smiley:

You’ve introduced me to a whole new world of Dorico functionality – compressors, limiters, LUFS analyzers. I had no idea that it was possible in Dorico to perform operations in the audio (not MIDI) domain.

Now I just need to figure out how to locate & load these plug-ins, which you mention are included with my Pro package.

I’ll also need to figure out how to apply identical curves to all (or almost all) of the instruments in my piece. Do these plug-ins permit global changes on an entire score – not just player-specific automation?

Are there specific sections in the reference manual or tutorials that I should read to get a handle on all this? Documentation on the plug-ins? I don’t recall reading about any of this.

Have a look at the Mixer. There you can insert any effects/analysis plugins that you have. Dorico will find any installed plugins during its start up VST scan and present them to you in the drop down menu.

unfortunately any test I’ve made with NP changing the CC7 level has no effect. For this reason, NP does have a “secondary expression” controller mapped to CC110 – however this seems to increase/decrease the dynamic level level by up to 2 steps which may also affect the timbre. I’m not sure if there’s a way round this and I don’t know why NP has disabled the standard CC7 function, though I’m sure Arne could explain or indicate if perhaps there’s another way round this I haven’t yet thought of

Thanks, Janus, but remember that I’m using NotePerformer, which replaces the Dorico mixer with its own mixer, which has limited funtionality compared to the Dorico default.

I’m discovering that, as great as NP is at doing what I bought it to do, it’s so narrowly focused that using it has compromised the functionality of other modules. “Doing one thing and doing it right” is great – but not when that one thing also means losing important, and only peripherally related, features.

I’ve spent the last 18 months working on one large piece, my first major project based on the Dorico/NotePerformer combination. I’ve run into suprises & speed bumps along the way, but I’m still addicted to NP’s output. When my next large project starts in Q1 2024, I’ll at least be able to walk into it with eyes open. Rather than, like this time, having to figure out how to “fix it in the mix.”

In summary, I think that what people like dko22 & gdball are telling me is that, once a user commits to NotePerformer, there’s no way to automate mixer volume in Dorico. So it’s back to Ableton, where everything is so much less intuitive than it is in Dorico, and where the support and documentation are so much weaker. I’d hoped to avoid all that and complete this piece on a single platform.

Not quite - audio from NotePerformer’s mixer comes back into the Dorico Mixer as single track, which is both problematic and convenient in some ways when you asked about doing things globally.

The automation issue has to do first (as you say) with what NP allows to be automated. And second, there is a general limitation in Dorico at the moment that doesn’t give you a way (natively) to route midi to any other plugins.

There is at least one workaround for the second set of problems though. Kushview Element lets you bundle instruments and connectors together in such a way that any plugins in the same bundle will receive midi from Dorico. Once you get a plugin receiving midi - automation is pretty much solved.

If you want to automate plugins on an Aux channel or the master (as for instance you want to send audio from NP and several non-NP instruments to one place to automate) then that takes a little more plumbing.

  1. Use Dorico’s sends to send the audio you desire to a Dorico Aux channel.

  2. Insert an instance of Element as one of your VSTi, and insert an instance of Bluecat Connector in SEND mode inside Element, along with whatever actual VSTi you want - probably NotePerformer. It won’t affect NP, we’re just gonna use it to capture the midi CC we need and send it where we need it to go.

  3. Step Three - insert an instance of Element on the Aux channel. This time insert an instance of Bluecat Connector in RECEIVE mode inside Element along with your chosen limiter. We’ve now created a bridge where midi cc is being sent to the limiter.

Lets say we’ve mapped CC 24 to the limiter’s gain control. You can now draw the automation for CC24 on one of your NP tracks and have it take effect on the Aux channel.

I said you could, I didn’t say it was completely pretty. :slight_smile: And I did skip how to configure Element. But what growing studio doesn’t benefit from having a patch bay of some sort?

gdball: I have to measure whether this is a cleaner way to do what I want – now and on future projects – than exporting everything to a DAW. I’d consider the latter to be the most professional & flexible option, but it would be nice to have a way to do simple, common functions like volume-level automation without having to move digital renderings back & forth between multiple applications.

Wallendar replied to my query & confirmed that it’s aware of the CC7 limitation & understands that some applications would benefit from a workaround. But there doesn’t appear to be any resolution coming any time soon.

I’m unfamiliar with Dorico’s mixer, since I use NotePerformer almost exclusively, but maybe it’s time to dig through your suggstions. If I make the effort to get them to work once, that could be the long-term solution I need. I would, though, have to take a few steps backward first, since I’m not really sure how to work with the Dorico mixer.

You wouldn’t happen to have a Dorico project handy that already implements what you’re describing, would you?

I’m gonna tackle this right now, gdball. I’ll keep you posted and if I succeed, I’ll post the details here for posterity.

Hi gdball:

Yikes. I have a Master’s degree in Computer Science & I still can’t figure out how to do this. In particular:

  1. " Use Dorico’s sends to send the audio you desire to a Dorico Aux channel." I have no idea where I would do that. I wasn’t aware that Dorico has any audio capabilities other than to export a rendered piece. If you’re referring to a mixer function, remember that NP bypasses the Dorico mixer.

  2. " Insert an instance of Element as one of your VSTi, and insert an instance of Bluecat Connector in SEND mode inside Element, along with whatever actual VSTi you want" The only “Bluecat Connector” I see online is a $50 VST plug-in. That seems like a steep investment for an experiment that may not work. Are we talking about the same thing?

  3. " [Bluecat] won’t affect NP, we’re just gonna use it to capture the midi CC we need and send it where we need it to go." Not sure where these CC instructions are entered, or even if we’re still referring to CC7.

  4. “insert an instance of Element on the Aux channel. This time insert an instance of Bluecat Connector in RECEIVE mode inside Element along with your chosen limiter. We’ve now created a bridge where midi cc is being sent to the limiter.”
    OK, again, I don’t see any way to access Aux (or any other) mixer channels in Dorico. And I’m not sure why we’re talking about limiters – all I want to do is automate mixer levels.

  5. “I did skip how to configure Element. But what growing studio doesn’t benefit from having a patch bay of some sort?” Completely baffled by this statement. Element is a patch bay? I’m just starting to plow through some Element tutorials, so maybe after spending a few hours going through a clutch of them, this will become clear.

But I think the threshold question relates to your earlier comments about how this might not work with NotePerformer. If I’m gonna spend days downloading, installing, learning, and configuring these plug-ins, when there’s no guarantee that this would even work, maybe I’d be better off exporting rendered audio to a third-party DAW and devote my time & efforts to learning that interface.

Or am I missing something really obvious?

I think it’s my fault for throwing too much out there, and not being sure where you were coming from. I think a reset would help.

First thing to reset: Note Performer DOES NOT bypass Dorico’s mixer. Dorico routes midi for an instrument to a VST. That VST must return audio back to Dorico’s mixer if it wants to be heard. So the audio goes:

Note Performer → Note Performer’s mixer → Dorico’s Mixer

I noticed what I think would be a possibly be a more helpful thread this morning titled "Playback Template: Individual Mixer channels for Note Performer. " Let me put some stars on this one. ***** :slight_smile:

Next thing I would suggest to reset: Think of Dorico (for the moment) as if you expect to find most of the audio capabilities of a DAW. There is a fair bit of discussion on the forum about how much that is (or should be) true. I’m not meaning to open that can of worms. I’m just suggesting you look at Dorico’s mixer from that perspective for a while as you reset. And that exploring those capabilities starting with Dorico’s mixer will serve you well - even with Note Performer, and even if you end up working with Nuendo or something.

I apologize for using words like “Aux channel” - just a habit that comes from the labeling on various hardware. Look up adding FX channels in the Dorico documentation. It is indeed in the Dorico mixer, and the feature is usable with Note Performer. We can talk about the rest later.

P.S. Notice the parallel set of holes on this Tascam patch bay, and how you use short cables to wire things together?


(Gag, I need to dust!)

Element has the same general concept with its rows of connectors and wires used to connect together various VST.


My apologies again for introducing some confusion. It may be a while before you are comfortable with re-visiting Bluecat - but know that it has a trial version that is capable enough to help you decide if it works and does something you need before you spend money.

Interim report:

gdball: I’m making progress. Getting familiar with the Dorico mixer didn’t take long.

But my first idea would be to to simply route audio output to a mixer FX channel into which I’ve inserted a mixer VST that supports automation. I would then apply level automation to the audio output before exporting. Wouldn’t that be simpler than inserting & configuring Elements and BlueCat?

I suspect you’ll tell me that this would simply route NP-generated MIDI to the mixer – resulting in the same old problem of requiring NP to recognize CC7.

If so, can I simply add to the FX channel a downstream plug-in that recognizes CC7 instructions (that is, this other plug-in would appy CC7 volume changes to a MIDI stream after NP has generated the MIDI data)?

Actually, I’m so far having trouble even finding a free VST plug-in that supports mixer automation. So I still have a way to go…

@gdball: I’m still trying to automate volume levels of content produced by NotePerformer, using your suggestions. Here’s where I’m at:

While experimenting with the FX channels & various VST plug-ins, I discovered that Ozone Elements 9 (NOT Kushview Element), a plug-in that I received for free as a promotion, can alter the volume level of NP output, as I’d hoped. Strangely, I can’t load it as a VST plug-in, but it does appear as a drop-down option as an Insert in an FX channel.

The next issue is: How would I automate the level changes that I make with Elements 9? So far, all I can do is change volume levels, EQ, image width, etc., in real time, as the piece plays.

As I mentioned earlier, I can find no VST plug-in (at least none that are free) that provides volume-level automation.

After playing around with this for a week, I’m wondering if this is a lost cause…

One idea: Is it possible to insert Dorico’s Mixer Automation function somewhere in the signal chain after NP’s MIDI has been rendered?