Groove Agent meta thread

If I’m understanding you correctly, you have to use Playback Techniques to connect the staff position to the instrument sound. A while back I made a map for VSL Jazz Drums which has a zillion different techniques, but obviously need to be mapped onto the normal 5 line staff. I had to create Playback Techniques for each to make the connection, and then these of course have to be defined in the kit as well. Look at the number of snare techniques alone:

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A good place to start is with a General MIDI drum map.

Every GA kit isn’t going to be 100% General MIDI compliant, but it’s usually pretty close for the ‘meat of the kit’.

Start with a that and adapt it as required.

Also, be aware that it’s possible to remap pads in GA itself. Sometimes it might be easier to do that than it is to fiddle with a whole new Percussion Map in Dorico.


Right, but what about duplicates? Meaning I’ve got the following for example

  • F2 Ride A.scribes
  • F#2 Ride A.scribes
  • G2 Ride B.scribes
  • G#2 Ride B.scribes

OK there’s two versions of scribes - that will map via the Playback Techniques as you say via the two MIDI notes - and in there it will map to “Ride (High)” say of which I have two, but which ride in the Dorico kit does it pick, since they’re otherwise identical?

Because in this case I’ve got two High Rides, and one Low Ride. I’d call one as Middle Ride if it existed - but Dorico only has the high/low rides defined, maybe I should add instrument type that to resolve the ambiguity?

You can keep the same instrument, but use different playing techniques if they are different sounds. So scribes1 and scribes2 for example. As the playing techniques are then unique, they can be mapped uniquely. Of course it helps if the library also has unique names so everything matches, but if they don’t you can just give the variants some sort of sequential naming scheme.

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I haven’t tried it personally yet, but here’s a suggestion to give a try.

Start with a copy of a General MIDI drum map.

Edit that to get yourself a basic kit going that complies to those GM standards. If GM standard only has one or two rides, then ‘pick’ one/two at first. You can add the others elsewhere in the map as you discover a good spot to slip them in.

Note, you can right click pads in GA, and change their trigger note(s). You can even have more than one trigger note for a pad.

From there, you can substitute and replace what you like as needed.

Don’t forget that you can save ‘instrument templates’ that’ll keep up with actual GA instance states, making it easier to use your tweaked and tuned kits in future projects (even by default).

If you just want to ‘experiment broadly’ with some kit sounds a bit, without worrying what the score looks like at the moment…you can ignore percussion mapping all together…

You could use a piano stave routed to a ‘default’ expression map. Put notes on the stave (or even in the key editor tab) that coincide with the trigger notes for the pads in GA.

You could also use very simple one line staves with single entry percussion maps to ‘test ideas’ on the fly. Because sometimes it’s easier to deal with a single entry or two in a very simple map, right?If you like what you’re hearing, work it into your larger percussion map for the GA kit at hand and teach it where and how on a stave you’d like notes for the kit-piece to be engraved.

As for CC events in GA. Out of the box, that isn’t used much (some hi hats for ‘some kits’ accept CC1, but not all, and in those cases you can also optionally access the same sounds via individual pads instead).

One nice thing about Cubase, is there’s an option to ‘import the drum map’ directly from Groove Agent. Maybe Dorico will be able to do this as well someday.

(Edited in PS)
One advantage to sticking with General MIDI maps (or pretty close to them), is that your ‘exported MIDI files’ will play back in just about anything and much closer to what was intended. You’ll hopefully have fewer issues ‘importing’ such a MIDI file into other software, and playing it back on other plugins/kits/keyboards/etc.


Yeah this is an excellent idea, I’m getting wonky results with a from scratch map, reason being all the settings like


That are already set in the default.

Yeah that would be a really good idea.

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There is one very nice piece of integration with Cubase and Nuendo: you can export the mix inside GA to the DAW. That will recreate all the channels, EQs, effects, etc. in the Cubendo mixer and disable the mixer inside GA. I think that’s brilliant as it lets you use your normal DAW workflow for mixer automation, handling stems, etc. Details ate on page 152 of the GA 5 manual.

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I’m guessing you maybe need the full version of GA for that? That feature seems greyed out for me in GASE.


If we can export a Cubase expression map from GA, and we can IMPORT a Cubase Expression map to Dorico, doesn’t that do all this for us???


giving it a go …

I haven’t looked too closely at Dorico 5 yet. I gather there ‘might’ be some bugs popping up here and there. I.E. Some have reported issues with Piano Staves not doing proper note off events. Some signals getting lost in VST3 plugins, Dorico not loading the playback engine on some systems, etc.

They’ve already had one hotfix (Check your Steinberg Download Assistant to see if you’ve got it), and more are on the way I think.

So many irons in the fire right now and I’ve not had much time to load this stuff and see how well it works in Dorico. Do have a bit of experience with GA in other hosts though.

I’m still thinking for somewhat instant gratification a GM map should get you in the ball park pretty easily.

For now, try that, and simply change the trigger events on GA pads to suit your needs. Save your tweaked kits in GA so they’re easy to recall (can worry about learning default Dorico playback templates and such later).

After playing around a bit with your GM map interacting with GA, I think light blubs and bells will come on for ya as to ways to implement the kits you want/need as you need them.

Expression maps are a bit different from drum maps.

Drum maps literally might remap one MIDI note to another (or even channel, plugin, midi port, etc). In the case of scoring software, it’s also used to ‘classify/name’ given percussion pieces, and allow the software to track how to draw the stuff on a page. I’m not sure if it works in Dorico this way yet, but another reason for ‘mapping’ percussion like this is that it adds flexibility so it’s possible to build a kit that uses different plugins/midi ports/channels. I.E. One could point to a snare from Garritan, Tampani from East West, a set of timbale in GA, and so forth. Even though stuff lives on a single stave, such a stave should be able to communicate with all sorts of instruments.

Cubase can make drum maps too.

It’s one of my favorite things about Cubase! Not a pretty interface, but it’s very powerful and easy to use (Just a big spread sheet where you name the kit-piece, tell it what line/space, note shape, trigger note IN, trigger note OUT, and plugin/port/channel out). Love how you can see the WHOLE MAP at one time, and not have to click and clutz about with a few lines of stuff at the time. The Cubase drum maps might be convertible with Dorico as well, but I haven’t read that deeply into it. At this time, I don’t ‘think’ they are.


Yah I got the difference between P-maps and E-maps, but I was confused, I thought GA could export maps back but it appears it doesn’t. And in Nuendo I’m back to my original problem in that GA over there doesn’t see my new kit library, seriously … I can browse to it but not load it

  1. Open activation center. Make sure your content has been activated. Check your My Steinberg Account if you have trouble there.

Still not working?

  1. Try opening Steinberg Library Manager.

If it’s there, ‘remove’ it from here. Reboot. Install the content again through your Download Assistant. Reboot.

  1. Open GA Stand Alone and just let it sit for a while.

Hopefully whatever was broken got fixed by this point and all your content is accessible. Close the stand alone version of GA, and try it in your host(s).


No, it works in SE as well. Click this thinggy at the bottom first.

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I was absent - are there any questions now?
With a little practice it is actually easy to understand.
Percussion map extract:

Column 1 - the incoming midi key number, for which the following columns give a UNIQUE mapping.
Column 2 - Doriko sends this key number to the plugin, which then outputs the matching sound.
Column 3 - An iInformative user name of the instrument (preferably as used in the plugin).
Column 4 - The associated instrument
Column 5 - the articulation of the instrument (may have to be created as a playback instruction by the user)

Column 1 and 2 generate the sound from the vst-plugin
Column 4 and 5 are used for note input and display (used in the percussion kit)


Ich war abwesend - gibt es jetzt noch Fragen?
Mt etwas Übung wird es eigentlich gut verständlich.

Spalte 1 - die eingehende Midi-Tasten-Nummer, für die die folgenden Spalten eine EINDEUTIGE Zuordung geben
Spalte 2 - Doriko sendet diese Key-Nummer an das Plugin, welches dann den passenden Sound ausgibt.
Spalte 3 - Eine iInformative Anwenderbezeichnung des Instrumentes (am besten so wie im Plugin verwendet)
Spalte 4 - Das zugehörige Instrument
Spalte 5 - die Arikulation des Intrumentes (muss eventuell erst als Wiedergabe-Spielanweisung vom Anwender erzeugt werden

Spalte 1 und 2 erzeugen den Klang aus dem vst-plugin
Spalte 4 und 5 werden für die Noten-Eingabe und Darstellung gebraucht (im Percussion-Kit verwendet)



Oh, I think that feature unfurls the drum kit so every individual kit piece, as well as any internal GA ‘sub mix busses’ gets his own fader on the Cubase mixing console. It kind of does away with the GA ‘plugin interface’.

It’s mainly of interest to people who want to host effect plugins (including 3rd party ones that you can’t get at from inside GA) on the mixer inserts for every individual kit piece, as well as any sub mixes that are part of the GA kit. It can be QUITE A BIG SPREAD across the mixing console to say the least!

I kind of doubt it’ll be supported in Dorico 5. Just tried and don’t even see the menu option when hosted in Dorico.


You can assign each instrument of the kit separately in Dorico too if needed, but yeah, that results in a pretty big spread across the Mixer.


For those who are looking for a brush kit.

Not sure if the Dorico distro of GA has the Groove Agent ONE files or not.

If you see this “Groove Agent ONE” library on your system there might be a hidden gem for you.

Long ago these were part of Cubase and use an older Groove Agent plugin. For whatever reasons the presets aren’t seen in newer version of Groove Agent, but I’ve extracted a few of them in a way that should work (Installed and Loaded GA1 in Cubase. Saved the presets there, and they showed up in GA4/5!). Here they are!
GA1 GM (217.2 KB)

Not sure about Macs (should be something similar)? But on Windows unzip the presets into your “Documents\VST3 Presets\Steinberg Media Technologies\Groove Agent SE\Program” folder.

Here’s a thread with more details…


I’m only just catching up on this thread as I didn’t realise you were talking about this, but I’ve been working on percussion maps and kit definitions for Simon Phillips Jazz Drums. I’ve just made them available here if you want to try it and let me know how you get on. Please excuse any errors and the fact that it’s the weekend - I’ll check in next week, but let me know if you spot any issues.
There is an important -read me file in the zip file that hopefully explains everything.


Good to hear. Stating the obvious, the costs of this package were mostly sunk 5 years ago. Other than this work to adapt it seamlessly to Dorico, it should be essentially free to Steinberg. The content itself is pretty good, but most people aren’t going to want to deal with all these arcane details. I believe many people would be willing to pay the asking price if it were essentially plug&play in Dorico. But that would require a little marketing effort to make people aware of what it can do for them.

And who knows? If this caused a bump in sales, maybe Mr. Phillips would be willing to develop additional patterns to add depth to what is already there. The patterns are pretty good, but I’d appreciate more choices.