How to make an expression map from scratch?

Hey all,

I’d be grateful for any pointers… :wink:
Thx, and have a great weekend!

Cheers, Benji

First, study your instrument. Learn it deep: which articulations are you going to use, how is the velocity/expression handled with such and such articulation, etc…
Once this is clear in your mind, building the expression map should be relatively easy.
Create the natural state first, then add the different articulations you might need.
Can you give more precisions about the instrument you are working on?

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I’m no expert at this, but I would advise starting with a spreadsheet(!) that sets out all your instruments, playback techniques and Keyswitches/CC triggers and program changes.

(@benwiggy did a useful one for the Garritan GPO5 that’s a good template for other VSTs. IIRC it’s on the Dorico resources page?)

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I’m trying to map Ample Guitars L, which is a really nice acoustic guitar package.
Here’s my issues:

  1. I don’t quite understand the influence of “Direction” or “Attribute” in the Playback Techniques dialog. In Cubase, this layer isn’t there, and you usually put in the keyswitches for Direction or Attribute directly. In Dorico, since you can use articulations either just where they occur or with continuation lines (pedalling etc.), the distinction/necessity isn’t quite clear to me.

  2. How do I make sure a certain keyswitch is lifted after it’s duration ended, i.e. after the, let’s say, Palm Muting articulation is no longer required?
    Do I have to put a “Natural” articulation with the “off event” every time? I noticed that sometimes the switch is “sticky” and adds to the natural switch, leading to undesirable results.
    And this happens even though I put my “let ring” and “palm muting” switches in a mutual exclusion group.

These are the most burning questions right now, I’ll think of some more later…

Cheers and thx,

Exclusion group: natural and palm mute cannot co-exist. They must be put in the same exclusion group. Like arco and pizz. for strings.

I have not tried this myself, but I recently discovered that there is a tool called Fugalist, that supposedly would be a easier-to-use alternative to Dorico’s built-in interface, that might be worth checking out.

It sounds to me like the distinction you’re missing in #1 is directly addressed in first line of #2.

To “lift” the articulation once the note is released, you make it “attribute”. It’s called that way because it’s used solely as an attribute of a single given note.

To have the articulation continue, you make it “direction” and it can only be canceled with another “direction”. You “direct” everything from this point forward.

It’s exactly the same way in notation: an accent is an attribute in this sense, and “arco” is a direction. Hence: play everything arco from here, but also accent this particular note while you’re at it.

Hey thanks!

So , even if an articulation is extended with a line, say an arpeggio with “let ring”, this would still be classified as an Attribute, because it is turned off after the end of the extension line? And if it was a Direction, everything after would also be played “let ring”?

Let me try this…


An easy way to understand how Dorico is interpreting them is to look here, since they are all marked up and highlighted by default:

Library → Playback Techniques

The terminology is extremely confusing. “Playback techniques” is the name of this whole category, which includes the techniques themselves (how sound is physically generated) as well as dynamics, etc.

Yeah, that’s where I’m editing at the moment.
So: It appears if I just put “Let ring” (really CC64…) on a single note as Attribute, it let’s it sustain exactly until the next note. If I turn it into a Direction, it sustains all following notes. This is exactly like Cubase, and like you said!
But: If I extend “let ring” further backwards, then Direction or Attribute don’t matter, the CC64 always stops after the the end of the line.
Good to know, thanks for the heads-up, I was going bonkers…

I’ll keep exploring…


Yes, I know. It’s unfortunate. I think of Playback Techniques as some sort of container where everything needed to produce a certain sound or trigger a certain effect is bundled, so it can be referenced by the actual written playing technique glyph in the score.
Without this, you’d have to set the appearance in the score and the playback in the same dialog (namely that of Playing Techniques), which could have gotten unwieldy.
I only have/had experience with Cubase so far, but I’m learning…


I don’t know anything about guitar music, but this shows that Dorico is treating the standard “let ring” articulation always as an attribute, which is correct IMHO

Meaning: do NOT damp this particular note and let it ring out.

What’s not so clear to me is what you mean by "extending it further backwards.

Or perhaps it’s a case of some egg on my face if this refers to vibrate only and nothing more


I’ve added a “let ring” playing technique to the guitar subsection, since I want everything in one place, and it’s more common than “l.v.”
The extender line (for lack of the correct term) is added once you add the marking to sequentially selected notes, like when you want one arpeggio to ring out, but not the next maybe.


You can always go back to “l.v” if you want to stick to convention, that’s not a big deal.

The comment about the extender line makes me wonder if you’re asking your player to strum the notes up or down? That would sound like an arpeggio with let ring, wouldn’t it? Like I said, I don’t know anything about guitar music, so…

The first four notes would keep ringing, since the player would be instructed to keep the fingers on the fretboard, much like on a piano. In the second bar, you’d lift the finger off the string before you play the next note!
Picking/strumming direction doesn’t matter in this case… :wink:
And: The cool thing about this particular VST is that you can tell it to play it exactly like a real player would, in terms of position on the neck and all, which gives very different timbres… This I’ve got working already!


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:face_with_hand_over_mouth: Well, I hope someone who knows about guitars in Dorico would chime in!

The only other thing from existing setup I can think of right now is two types of “open” playback techniques (i.e. not muting). Open 1 is a direction and Open 2 is at attribute. In any case, my hunch is you’re looking for direction. And then you’d use “ord” or “natural” once you want normal playing to resume.

Now I’m curious, so would follow this thread to see where this goes…

But, it’s all working as it should, at least the “let ring” part!
I’ve found that, as soon as you use these extender lines, Direction or Attribute don’t matter anymore! Attribute is really the way to go in these cases.
So, I’ve got it working… :sunglasses:!


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After a period of frustration with my expression map project, I’ve made good progress today.

I’ll make sure to publish the map when it’s done…