How does mapping work?

In your favor, I added the picture after I posted. I didn’t expect you to see it so quickly.
After you’ve read the page and played around with the info a bit (perhaps on a copy of your file for safety’s sake), if you still have questions, by all means, post back. Someone will be able to help you even if I am off line.

I’m sorry, guys.

I’ve now been reading and watching the relevant Expression Maps video ( for two hours, but this doesn’t make any sense to me.
What I wish would happen is when I add a Cajon to my project and I input music to that instrument, it should play back.
Short of that, I need to understand how this is all connected. I mean, literally explain it to me like I’m ten years old. While a step-by-step guide to getting the result I need is nice, I feel like that solves it now, but leaves me almost as helpless the next time. I need to know how all these parts of Dorico communicate.

I tried reading the section on percussion maps in the manual, but it only explains how to make a new percussion map when using third-party sound libraries. I know I should be able to translate that to making a percussion map for my Cajon, but I just don’t know what I’m doing. It feels like the manual and the How To video on Youtube both require some previous knowledge on something. Midi, software design, I don’t know.

For the patient, I’ll now explain what I did and why, to the best of my ability:
(Please keep in mind that english is a second language, so if I ‘sound’ snarky, that is not my intention.)

  1. In the Percussion Maps dialog, I click the ‘+’ under all the maps, because my understanding is that to make notes in my 1 line percussion staff actually produce sound, I need to make a custom percussion map. I have no idea why, if I can duplicate an existing one, or indeed if Dorico 2 HALion Sonic SE or Symphonic Orchestra even has a sampled cajon to play back. I don’t know where to find out.

  2. I now give my new map a name (Cajon, for now) and an ID. I also choose that this map defines sound for a single instrument. I do that becase I am currently trying to make my Cajon produce sound, but when I make that work, I plan to add eight more percussion instruments to the same project, so I’m not sure what I should do.

  3. I click Show all in the Drum Kit Note Map, scroll down to row 60 and click that. I do that because I’m thinking middle C on my midi keyboard is as good a key as any for this.

  4. In Edit Drum Kit Note, next to Instruments:, I click ‘…’, choose Cajon (Low tone) and click OK, because that’s the instrument I added to the project.

  5. Next to Techiques:, I click …, choose Centre, and click ok. I do that because I want the sound that plays back when I press the middle C on my midi keyboard to be the one that you get when you hit the Cajon in the centre of it. I have no idea if Centre really refers to the centre of some other instrument or something else entirely.

  6. The name is now Centre. I think “why not” and click Apply. This information now shows up in the Drum Kit Note Map. That feels like progress and makes me a little happier.

  7. I want to add a sound for hitting the Cajon more on the edge and make that the Natural Technique, but to see if this is working so far, I click Ok for the whole dialogue.

  8. I now have no idea what to do. In the main window of Play Mode, I press the down arrow to the left of the name of my instrument, and then press the next arrow down that appears.
    I have no idea what to choose from the drop-down meny that appears. 02. HALion Sonic SE or 03. HALion Sonic SE?
    The two 1s underneath that, I have no idea what they mean.
    Should I add a VST instrument to the list on the right?

Just to give you a sense of how lost I am: If you were to look at the How To I linked above, between 5:45 and 6:00, I literally don’t understand what anything he says in those fifteen seconds means. Yes, I know that’s about Expression Maps, not percussion maps, but shortly after that, at 6:44, he briefly mentions that there’s something similar called expression maps, but I’m just as lost. (I also don’t understand why I can’t find a similar How To specifically for percussion maps.) I mean, I guess I understand the sentence “(the percussion map) tells Dorico which midi notes trigger which percussion instrument in a loaded patch”, but when I input a note to my single-line Cajon instrument in write mode, I have no idea how to tell Dorico to interpret that as the middle C/the centre hit I made in steps 1 through 8.

I realise it’s not fair to ask anyone to be my teacher for free. I’m obviously not a professional composerand didn’t learn this anywhere. Honestly, at this point, I’ll pay someone if I have to. I’m just tired of not getting to do the work I enjoy doing because I don’t know how this works and can’t find the information I need.
Anyone? Please?

On a more positive note: I realise that there’s probably a good reason it works like this, and I still love Dorico!
All the best to you all!
Jim-Roger Knutsen

Hi Jim!
Sorry your having troubles!
I don’t think there are any Cajon samples bundled with Dorico (maybe in one of the kits, but I haven’t found one so far).

The automatic mapping usually works great for anything (most) that’s bundled, and is very flexible for anything else. However, linking music notation to playback is very complex, and the downside with Doricos flexible mapping system is that the learning curve is quite steep for the few occasions where you don’t get the desired result automatically.

Do you need proper playback, or is it mostly for the arranging process and mock-ups? Several other percussion instruments, such as congas, are pre-mapped, so the easiest solution would be to rename one of those.

However, if you really need a Cajon, there seems to be a few free alternatives out there, for instance this one To use it, you need to install the free Kontakt player, and make sure it is whitelisted by Dorico (this is usually done automatically, but there has been several reports on the forum since the 3.0 release with people having problems getting Kontakt to work. It’s always worth a try, though, and the recent threads on the subject should help you)

If you need further help on mapping the Cajon once you have samples for it, feel free to call me! And of course - drop by whenever you’re in town, and we’ll have a Dorico session!

The Cajon samples are in Note Performer, but not in HALion.
I was operating under the misconception that the OP had a sound sample of the Cajon.

Thanks again, guys!

I officially give up. I can’t figure this out because I don’t understand the underlying concepts, and while this Hangout: certainly starts off handling that, it’s just too quick and too much “on the surface”.

While I’ve been made painfully aware that I’m not as clever as I thought I was, I still think I’m not completely useless when it comes to understanding technical concepts, and frankly, it has me thinking: If that’s the case, and I, a relatively basic user of Dorico has this much trouble understanding how to use the program, shouldn’t there be a long, really thorough Tutorial that covers this, to help me and others like me understand how this works, so we can keep making music?

Anyway, thank you Anders for offering to help me. I’ll probably be back in town within the next couple of weeks. I’ll definitely call you and drop by your place, bearing gifts and gratitude!

Anders is correct that this is perhaps the most complex confluence of concepts in the whole program, and indeed in music notation in general. Conceptually I do believe it’s simple enough, but fitting the pieces together isn’t necessarily so simple.

An unpitched percussion instrument produces a set of unpitched sounds: a note written on its own with no special notehead or articulation can be said to produce the “natural” sound of that instrument, but you can also define other sounds by specifying different noteheads, or combining existing noteheads with articulations and/or tremolo beams. Each combination of notehead with optional articulation and tremolo produces a unique “playing technique”. i.e. a different sound produced by that instrument. Crucially each unpitched percussion instrument cannot produce sounds from another instrument: you cannot define a snare drum sound, say, for a cymbal. Equally crucially, you can define playing techniques for an unpitched percussion instrument completely in the abstract: there is no requirement that the particular playing technique you are defining should be available in the set of sounds you are using for playback. This is all about notation, and specifying how you want particular playing techniques to appear in the printed music.

For a given instrument, these mappings between notehead with optional articulation and tremolo and playing technique, or sound, are made in the Edit Percussion Playing Techniques dialog. For an individual percussion instrument that is not part of a kit, you reach this dialog by expanding the card for the player holding the instrument in the Players panel in Setup mode, hover over the blue label for the percussion instrument itself so that a chevron > appears, then click to show its context menu, and from that menu choose Edit Percussion Playing Techniques. If the percussion instrument is part of a kit, then when you hover over the green label corresponding to the percussion kit, from its context menu choose Edit Percussion Kit. In the Edit Percussion Kit dialog, select the instrument whose playing techniques you want to edit from the main display, then click the Edit Percussion Playing Techniques button to open that dialog.

Documentation: Edit Percussion Playing Techniques dialog | Edit Percussion Kit dialog

Once you have defined the playing techniques for a percussion instrument, you can input music onto that instrument. Use Shift+Alt+up/down arrow to cycle between the different playing techniques you have defined, and you will see a textual description of the current playing technique shown to the right of the caret. Hit Y to input a note using the currently-shown playing technique. You can also use your MIDI keyboard, including using different keys to cycle between the defined playing techniques.

Documentation: Inputting notes in percussion kits

The final piece of the puzzle is how to obtain the desired playback sounds. If you are using the default HALion Sonic SE and HALion Symphonic Orchestra sounds that are supplied with Dorico, or you are using NotePerformer, then there is nothing to do here: all of the available unpitched percussion sounds are already mapped for you, and once you create an unpitched percussion instrument in your project, Dorico will choose the best available sound automatically. If you are using the sounds provided with Dorico, or NotePerformer, and you don’t hear the sound you expect, then you will not be able to hear the sounds you expect unless you add more sounds.

If you want to add more sounds, then you will need a virtual instrument or patch within a player like HALion Sonic SE, Kontakt, or EastWest Play that provides the sounds you want to hear. The documentation supplied with the sounds that you have bought should include a listing of which MIDI notes or pitches in which octaves produce which sounds and playing techniques. If you don’t have any supplied documentation, you will have to discover which sounds are which by experimentation: open the patch in the sample player, and play or click each key in each octave, writing down the sound produced by each key.

Once you have either found the appropriate documentation or written down the list of sounds included in the patch, you need to create a percussion map. A percussion map tells Dorico which combination of instrument and playing technique is produced by each MIDI note number or pitch for a given unpitched percussion patch. This is done in Play > Percussion Maps. Create a new percussion map and name it appropriately. Referring to the list of MIDI notes and sounds produced, define an entry for each note in the patch. Make sure that the playing techniques you define here match the playing techniques you defined for the notation of the instrument in the Edit Percussion Playing Techniques dialog.

Documentation: Percussion Maps dialog

Finally, you need to connect together the percussion instrument in your score with the percussion map you have created. You do this as follows:

• In Play mode, add a new slot in the VST Instruments panel on the right-hand side by clicking the + button in the action bar at the bottom of the panel.
• Load the VST instrument needed for your percussion patch into the empty slot.
• Show the VST instrument’s window, and load your percussion patch into one of its channels.

  • Click the cog icon in the VST Instruments panel to show the Endpoint Setup dialog.
    • For the channel into which you’ve loaded your percussion map, choose your new percussion map from the Percussion Map column and click OK.
    • On the left-hand side in Play mode, expand the track header for your percussion instrument, and using the controls there, choose the VST instrument containing the percussion patch, and specify the correct channel.

Documentation: Endpoint Setup dialog | Instrument track header

That’s how it works. I hope you find this helpful.


Since this gives links to several external help files, is there any way to save this explanation in a blog post or somewhere folks can easily retrieve it when needed (again) later?

Oh, and thank you, Daniel, for taking the time to write this extended explanation about this very involved area.

Dear Daniel,
I am really impressed by the quality of this last answer.
May I translate it to make it available to the French-speaking fellow Doricians?
Thanks in advance!

Daniel, also don’t you want to make sure in Preferences to “Use Percussion Map” vs. “Use Staff Position”? I don’t fully understand the difference yet, but I needed to select Use Percussion Map for it to line up, especially when importing MIDI.

Use Percussion Map = enter notes from a MIDI keyboard corresponding to (for example) GM drum kit sounds
Use staff position = enter notes from a MIDI keyboard as if it was a treble clef

1 Like

And another thank you from me. I’m pretty sure there are some steps in there that I didn’t previously fully understand…

I’ve created a percussion kit for taiko (toontrack orchestral percussion library i) and a percussion map with 3 entries for small, medium and large (midi notes 90, 96, 106). Only the small drum is played back. Using midi monitoring in Superior Drummer 3 (plugin in Vienna Ensemble 7), of the 3 midi notes, only 90 appears to be transmitted.
A Dorico drumkit instance using SD3 in a separate instance in VE7 performs as expected (GM mapping).
Any insight greatly appreciated…

Welcome to the forum, leakin. How are you expecting Doricoto differentiate between the three sizes of drum? Are you using a separate playing technique for each one on a single drum, or three drums, or something else?

To Daniel.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a Splendid and thoroughly answer from the staff in any support section/forum. I’m impressed, and thank you!

Thanks for your response, Daniel;
I’d like to create a “kit” I suppose, for a “taiko player”; just the three drums in the tt library to go on the score. Later, other players/kits (tympani, piatti, toms, etc). I don’t know how to get there. When adding to the kit, Dorico seems to differentiate between the drums, but in the map I created it does not follow.

This is a great post. However, when I select Latin Percussion for my drum kit in Play, then go back to setup mode and try to add instruments from that Halion selection, the Latin instruments are not there. Guiro short and long, for example. Any more posts with this sort of thing?

I can’t understand if my case falls among the ones described above. I’m thinking it’s a different one. Please let me explain.

I want to write Gongs into a 5-line percussion grid.

With VSL’s VI collection Gongs are supplied as separate patches of pitched instruments:

  • a patch contains hits with a soft mallet;
  • another one the rolls with a soft mallet;
  • another patch contains the hits with a wooden mallet…

and so on. The patches are not percussion kits, where each instrument and each technique has its own note on the keyboard. They are ordinary pitched instruments. Each technique has its own separate patch. Each patch includes multiple pitches.

Therefore, selecting a particular technique can be done with an expression map.


However, Gongs are also behaving as unpitched/fixed-pitch instruments. You have to choose which pitches you will use. You’ll then have to play them by sending from Dorico the Note messages corresponding to those pitches. Each pitch is a particular Gong. A Small Gong will be C4, a Large Gong an F3.

How to do it? It doesn’t seem that I can send a Note message with a particular pitch from the Percussion Kit.

What would be an ideal solution, for me, would be the reversing of the current Percussion Map editing. Now, you have a Note as the starting point. I would prefer a technique to be the starting point (like in the Expression Map), and the Note being part of the output. Edit the RH Hit, output C0 (the RH Hit in the actual percussion kit).

This would allow multiple MIDI messages in the output bundle. Not only the Note corresponding to a pitch/instrument/technique, but also a patch, if you can also send a bundle of Keyswitch/PC/CC selecting a patch.


Every pitch has an associated MIDI number. You need to find (from VSL documentation or by sussing out the MIDI number of the pitches given) which MIDI number goes with which gong. The question is whether you can find five Gong instruments in Dorico or will have to fake it by choosing other instruments,renaming the instrument in Setup, and assigning the appropriate MIDI number before putting them all in a Kit.

Wrangling the different techniques will take place via a custom Expression Map you will likely have to create yourself.

First, though, on the off chance that VSL has actually already created a setup you can use, try checking their documentation and forums.

This is very easy: the gongs are exactly tuned to the piano keyboard. A C4 will play a gong tuned to C4.

So, I can, for example, select a Tam Tam by choosing a percussion kit corresponding to a particular instrument of a particular size (say, a 100mm Tam Tam). But I can’t select a separate patch for a particular Gong: they are all set along the keyboard in a single patch.

They are pitched instruments, that I want to use as unpitched components of a percussion kit. But how to select one of the pitches?


You associate MIDI numbers with your sound names in a Percussion Map. I am guessing the gongs are all in one sound patch, since you didn’t say they were separate files.