I just dropped in to see what condition my Condition was in (Expression Maps)

I am trying to gain a deeper understanding of Expression Maps Note Length Conditions in Dorico.

There are five Note Length Conditions:

Very Short
Very Long

The terminology is somewhat arbitrary relative to the notation, and some sample library documentation (ahem Cinesamples) tries to explain things graphically using terminology that relates to music notation, but in fact has nothing to do with the music notation.

In any MIDI sequencer, note length / duration and tempo are separate entities. As a starting point, this seems to be true in Dorico. For instance, in a sequencer, I can trigger a drum sample with a note length of only 1 or 2 ticks, and it doesn’t matter if the tempo is 60 BPM or 180 BPM - the sample is just looking for a MIDI “note on” at whatever pitch is the trigger.

For wind, brass and stringed instruments, the note duration / length is part of the performance data - but this, too really has nothing to do with the tempo, just how long the note is held down. In a sequencer you see it as some specific ticks - e.g. a quarter note might be 480 ticks (or 960 ticks etc)

But in Dorico, how do the 5 note lengths relate to the music notation? I don’t seem to be getting to specifics like “Very Short means a 16th note or shorter”. It does in a library like the Spitfire Discover, but may not in a library with a greater number of possible duration choices.

How fine grained are the steps between Very Short and Short? Between Medium and Long? Between Long and Extra Long?

I’m also not entirely clear on how various articulations can play into this - A staccato is pretty straightforward because there is a pretty big difference in the note length of a staccato 8th and an unmarked 8th - you can see it in the Play window. But something like a tenuto represents a more subtle change. If a sample library doesn’t have specific tenuto samples, for instance, can I use a Note Length Condition to get to a solution?

Thanks for your thoughts.


Hi Robert,
They do not relate to notation, only to actual resulting durations in (milli)seconds… I’ll check the manual later… :blush:

The specific durations are documented in the Version History PDF, on page 25.

Thank you, Frank and Daniel.

I understand now that these Conditions currently represent fixed durations rather than being related to specific note values or ticks which are given the same identity regardless of tempo:

Very short: dotted 16th at 120bpm (0.1875 seconds)
Short: dotted eighth at 120bpm (0.375 seconds)
Medium: dotted quarter at 120bpm (0.75 seconds)
Long: dotted minim at 120bpm (1.5 seconds)
Very long: any longer duration

Based on what I read in the Version History PDF, I’ll be very interested to see how the Conditions area of Expression Maps is expanded. It seems like this could provide a much more dynamic approach to controlling which samples are called.

These are the options. With a bit of trial en error I’ve had good results with this scheme so far myself…

Thanks, Frank. My initial thought is that eventually, it should be possible to pass conditions out of Dorico to trigger specific samples which are not locked to fixed timings, (for instance, if the note is this duration, and is within this tempo range then do this, else do that).

However, I’ll need to spend time building some (successful) Conditions before I comment further on this topic. Thanks again for the help.

what’s needed above all is to be able to adjust the timing boundaries and ideally to be able to increase the number to 6 or 7 as some of the most complex libraries such as VSL do have this number of primarily length related articulations. You’ll soon find when you work with this that there tend to be certain note lengths which frequently produce the wrong articulation which an adjustment to the scaling would largely correct without further intervention. If using all the five currently available lengths, I’ve found a tendency across the board for the existing programming to be skewed somewhat towards the short side.

In general, though, it’s already a great feature for any library with enough articulations to make it worthwhile.