Holst's Mercury with Dorico


I’m continuing to refine my setup to move all my music work on Dorico. I think I’m very near to be able to get rid of any sequencer. Just some more polishing…

Just Dorico, the VSL VI library, MIR PRO, my custom presets, xmaps and techniques. Being able to work on the score, instead of computer code, is pure fun!



Well done, ptram.

This is excellent, thanks! Would you be willing to share the Dorico file? If not, I completely understand.

Great stuff Paolo…

However, anyone else find the high-pitched ‘whistle/harmonics’ sound from 0:44 - 0:59 far too loud…? Not sure what instrument its supposed to be… I checked a couple of YouTube vids of the same piece from full orchestras; still unclear about the instrument, but the volume was almost as a minimal texture in both examples…


Sound like the glockenspiel.


Thank you everybody for listening!

Bob, I’ve lowered the volume of the glockenspiel (Jesper was right) and of the violins harmonics before it. I too think they were ear piercing. I also smoothened out something else here and there.

If you have the patience to listen again to it, I would be very grateful if you can point out other passages that can be improved!

Stephen – ouch! – sorry, I’m not ready for sharing the file. It’s also heavily a work in progress.

What I can say is that there is no secret sauce. I’m just using Dorico as a glorified sequencer. And I’m having a confirmation on how powerful the old notation is even in modern times. We just needed someone to create an effective bridge between this incredibly advanced and flexible symbolic language and the virtual sounds.

First of all, the score gives all the fundamental controls. Volumes and dynamics are right in the page. Articulations are there, clearly readable.

Fine-tuning tempi, dynamics, attacks, is like you do in a sequencer: draw segments and curves, adjust them at will. The only difference is that here you have a clear reference on the base articulations and dynamics, and can draw over them, instead than painting in the dark.

Custom playing/playback techniques can be hidden in the score to select not-so-obvious articulations. For example, the VSL VI library has a useful short portato/détaché. It can be used as a collé in faster passages, but also for shorter longs or longer staccatos. Add a custom technique in the score to select it, hide it, and you have incredible control on the nuances.


Much better Paolo, well done…!


(Finally completed. I guess the experiment did work. Bye bye, DAWs!)

Excellent rendition, congrats!

Do you think you can share files, or at least tips, about building expression maps/matrices for VSL VI instruments and using them in Dorico please? :slight_smile:


Gil, thank you very much for listening! Glad you like it!

I’m not ready to share a score that is still a work-in-progress. However, I’ll be happy to answer about what I did to create it. It’s just part of being in this forum! :slight_smile:


The MuseScore sheet music site has MusicXML downloads of the score for each movement. Though, they’re not without error, and will need checking against the original score. (Here’s your first: English Horn, Mars, bb. 12-13.)

But they’re good raw material for getting to grips with either playback or condensing, or anything else.

… and here’s a very quick hack of the opening of Jupiter, using Garritan Personal Orchestra. I dare say there’ll be lots to complain about. :smiley:

Some bits (fast Clarinet scales) are pretty poor, but it does surprisingly well for such a small and venerable package. The brass is a bit tinny, without all the ambience. But the strings are pretty decent, if not very butch.
Jupiter.mp3.zip (1.94 MB)

Good try! All considered, more than one could expect from traditional notation programs!

By using three different classes of sound libraries (all VSL: the ensemble Synchron BBO, the light Synchronzed SE, and the full VI) I would say that a combination of Dorico’s humanize features and fine control, together with an abundance of articulations, is a good arsenal to make rather credible renderings.

A limited number of articulations is not totally satisfying, even if you can get reasonable results. Modern libraries with a lot of expression baked in should work very well, since they work together with the humanize functions to give a realistic result.

If the only choice is to use more limited sound libraries, however, I would think NotePerformer can give better results.


like many, I used Garritan for a while up to around 15 years ago when the VSL SE came out. It was certainly better than GM but, apart from a not bad flute, I really don’t see any point in using something like this nowadays though it was certainly interesting to hear the mockup and I appreciate the effort. But, as Paolo says, NP is surely the best library for little money, minimal system resources and minimal work required.

Ouch! Damning with faint praise, there! :laughing:

For ‘straight orchestra’, you may well be right: though spending more money on more gigabytes may not always be an option while existing samples sit idle.

My current idea of fun is to see just what I can squeeze out of these. I’m still working on the expression maps and improving the results. I’ve already made a major breakthrough and produced a better rendition of this track. (And see my other post with the V-W Fantasia - also a work in progress, but not bad, I like to think).

Outside the orchestra, Garritan still has a number of perfectly serviceable, if not excellent, instruments: the pianos, harpsichord and organs, (though the latter can be hard to wrangle).

Many Finale refugees will already have GPO, or GIFF at least. I hope to upload my Ex Maps once I’ve got them to a decent state. Ironically, I think Dorico may be able to get better mileage out of them than Finale.

you’re right – Garritan has a few serviceable instruments and the fact that Finale refugees often used it means that for compatibility alone, it has its place. And with Dorico, you may be able to squeeze more out of it than I could imagine! Please post your latest work on Jupiter — you never know – I might even be impressed :slight_smile:

It would be unfair to ptram to get sidetracked too far from the original post, though, which was of course about Mercury.

Of course. I’m trying to see how close I can get to ptram’s version using GPO! But Mercury’s a bit trickier than Jupiter…

Indeed! But I have to confess I’m more of a fan of Jupiter, anyway…

Should we start a separate thread about tricks, tips, VSTs, expression maps, etc to get more realistic playback? I sorta derailed Ben’s thread the other day with this kind of discussion too. If the mods wouldn’t care, I definitely would be interested in a consolidated thread to discuss playback stuff like this.

This area is in constant development. I’m afraid the tricks would be obsolete at each update! My understanding is that the devs’ goal is to make our lives easier, not give us a complicated toolbox. My 2 c.