"Is there a good jazz library?"

Would you mind taking the Dorico file I posted earlier in the thread, loading the library, and exporting audio? It would be useful to compare what it sounds like straight out of notation software without drums or chordal instruments covering up the horns. Thanks if you’re able to do that!

Does he list somewhere exactly who from WDR played the samples? I couldn’t find any info on his site. Just curious, as I have a couple friends in the band.

I play a lot of instruments, piano, organs trumpet, flute, sax, trombone, guitars. I think the heart of the OP’s questions is about sample based tech. It’s good for some instruments but not for others. Try getting a Muddy Water’s wailing harmonica out of samples for example.
Piano is a percussion instrument you hit the key, it hits a string. Beyond this event there is the tone of the piano, the lid, the velocity, pedals and string resonance - all of which can be reliably replicated by VSTs. After a note is struck, that’s pretty much it for thje performer, nothing can be done to change the sound.
Wind and Strings are entirely different. A reeded note can be crafted AFTER it is struck. Players leanr embrouchure over many years and signature sounds are crafted by such things as tongue and mouth movements (inc vibrato), attack of the note and fade. Different instruments have different lmitations, a trombone can slide from one note to (most) others, a sax cannot do this. A violin/viola/cello can sustain a note and alter it’s sound too. In fact there are over 50 different types of “articulations” that they can produce, some using weird bowing/plucking/ back of the bow. Even simple techniques such as staccato change from phrase to phrase - often instinctively. Room also plays a huge part in the sound. A violin in a field sounds terrible. Musicians instinctively adjust to this as they play.
The simple philosophy of sample technology often fails to capture all of these nuances and tehy are really mission critical to getting a good sound. Think of the difference in sound between a military man playing The Trumpet Voluntary and Chet Baker or Miles Davis, or even the first trumpet of a Classical orchestra or Glenn Miller The range of tone is enormous.
If one were to ta;lk guitars a similar picture could be created, the gap will be even greater.
Personally, I have a lot of libraries, and all winds and strings don’t satisfy me, for either sound or useability


So, I was curious to know how well Dorico handled jazz, so I gave it a go with the file above and I have to say I’m very happy.
Saxes: Combination of WARPIV and VSL

Brass: Just SM

All together: VSL Bass and Straight Ahead Drums


Is that straight out of Dorico? How did you get the falls and doits to play? Those were drawn in? Or through the expression map? If expression map, can you share how you did it?

No, I don’t use Expression Maps because I find them unreliable and way too time consuming to make. I normally just add an ossia below and quickly type in the KS there. When I’m done I can just hide it, I have a shortcut for both (K & CTRL+K). After I’m done I quickly draw in the expression with the pen tool (it’s better if the instruments don’t match, you get far more realistic results) since dynamics are contextual and not db. You can also do this for drums i.e. write a normal part, add an ossia below with regular clef and just input how the drums should sound. Then you just hide it and the score looks normal, but plays everything.

I attach your score back if you want to have a look:
BigBandForForum.dorico (3.8 MB)


I was under the impression that an ossia does not play in Dorico. Am I misinformed, or are you using the term loosely for adding an additional staff rather than what Dorico defines as an ossia?

Yeah, they are very time consuming. The funny thing about them though is I feel like I can justify some of the time, because they can be used on any project in the future. They also give a better playback experience while writing, which is when I actually need it for proofreading, hearing how things develop in time, etc. Usually after I’m done writing, which is when I would do the manual edits for playback, is then when I don’t care about the playback anymore. Most of the time I don’t need to send out a sophisticated mockup, and even when I do I know 95% of the musicians aren’t going to listen to it anyway. (I’m guilty of this myself. I had a recording session last week where the leader sent out the music ahead of time. I looked at the parts for about 30 seconds and thought, “ok, I got this.”)

My workflow and end product may be different that what others require, but I guess ideally I’m trying to find the best possible results for use while writing without creating separate files for notation and playback. Obviously there are trade-offs and limitations with this approach.

Thanks for posting your file! I actually purchased Straight Ahead Drums a couple of months ago when they had a 50% off sale. As there was no documentation that I could find, I just haven’t had time to explore them yet. It’s certainly helpful to see your file though. So these “notes” in your playback staff are just triggering specific samples, right?

It was also really informative to see how your file opened up a VEP instance! Obviously I don’t have much of it installed, but it was really interesting to see how you have this set up. I guess I had been using separate instances for each library, so one for SWAM saxes, one for Samplemodeling Brass, etc. This of course means each instance returns a signal to Dorico. You have them all in once instance, where each section is routed to a bus to control the volume for that section (I think), and then only one signal goes back to Dorico, right? I think I like your way of doing this better so you just remove Dorico from any mixing altogether. It looks like you are using VirtualSoundStage too. I wasn’t aware of this plug-in. I have MIR 24, VirtualSoundStage does sort of the same thing as MIR right?

Nope, I literally mean an ossia and at least until 3.5, they played back. They’re useful because they don’t require extra setup and you can easily hide them.

Well, for me that is not the case. I started writing way before computers came around and it was incredibly time-consuming. Parts alone took months to make. So now that I live in the future I’m happy to spend a few hours massaging my music into something that’s actually pleasant to listen to. It’s my experience people are way, way more likely to listen to your demo if it’s “musical” than if it’s a horrible, mechanical MIDI rendition. Most musicians are allergic to them! I also rarely bother with playback for a commission, but I do for archival purposes or when the client wants to hear “how it’s going”. And it’s also a beautiful way to spend time, come on! Why would anyone not enjoy playing around with your own music, trying to get it performed beautifully? It’s certainly less stressful than rehearsals! Sample libraries never ask for a break, they always show up on time, they stay as long as you ask them, they never complain and most importantly, they always play exactly what you ask them for, unlike their analogue counterparts!

Yes, the ossia staff is for the playback. There you can trigger the loop and hits using separate voices. It also comes with a couple of feels, but not enough for my taste. However, I often use a MIDI pack that I can just drop in and quickly edit it on the staff to play the right drums. That way I don’t have to bother with complex drum mappings either! :grin: Then you hide it and the score looks normal, but plays back!

The VE Pro setting comes from the days of Sibelius, but Dorico suffers from the same issues. Basically if you don’t use Expression Maps Dorico runs much, much faster. But if you also decouple VE Pro, then Dorico only has to concern itself with the score and runs much smoother. My PC is pretty old, but it has no problems running a Big Band with 30 odd instruments and Dorico flies!

And yes, I do all my mixing in VE Pro. VirtualSoundStage is the poor man’s MIR. It’s use for panning and 3d placement, then you need to add a reverb tail. I use the fabulous LiquidSonic SeventhHeaven Standard.

1 Like

LOL! Eh, I guess Dorico playback is never going to approach actual humans, so I sorta feel like why bother after the fact. For me, more realistic playback is useful for writing, not so useful after I’m done. For example, this week I’m working on a commission for Eddie Palmieri’s little big band that they will record in June. No library is ever going to come close to the vibe that band gets, so I doubt I’ll ever listen to the Dorico version again once I send the parts off.

I have been using one drum staff for notation, and a separate hidden drum staff for playback. The playback staff uses percussion maps and percussion notation. Your workflow of using MIDI for this seems like it will sound much more natural, so I’m definitely going to try this your way.

1 Like

I have spent the last 10 years doing exactly this. Manipulating samples to sound as much like the real thing as I can. Exhausting. I didn’t spend all those years learning to be a musician to become a programmer - adjusting endless CCs, articulations, matching this string library with that wind library with that brass…

Yes, Samples don’t require a break and all that. But in my experience, it’s in the breaks where the best stories are told. It’s while shooting the sh!t that ideas form and new directions are discovered.

Sure, samples don’t complain, they also don’t inspire new arrangements, or suggest a new way of playing. Or say, “that isn’t how it would really sound on my cello, I would play it like this”

There is a call for both methods of course. But for my money (and the last 1/3rd of my career) I will take real players in a rehearsal any day over working by myself in a dark room staring at yet another lane of CC curves. :grinning:

You’re millage may vary, or course.


Ha, ha, ha, ha! Of course, I was being hyperbolic. Anyone would prefer to spend their time with humans, especially if they’re good at their craft. But for me the programming is very much an art-form too, somewhere between sculpture, drawing and music. Knowing how, when and how much to draw and edit is completely a labour only an artist can do! I work with programmers and I have tried to learn a bit myself (mostly scripting) and it’s a completely different way of thinking and a different part of you brain. So no, I don’t agree it equates to programming, it’s an art! And it is hardly different from playing with a musical instrument.

1 Like

I apologize if I took your comments at too much of face value. I know some people who feel like that and we get into “arguments” about it, so perhaps I am a bit touchy on the subject. :grin:

I whole heartedly agree there is an art to making samples sound as best they can, and knowing which ones to use and how to manipulate them in the best light. And there certainly is an art in fine computer programming - It seems like magic to me that computer software even exists, let alone accomplish the stuff we do in Dorico and DAWs.

1 Like

This looks like it could be interesting …

There’s a freebie Trio already available. I’m downloading that one now.

Nevermind … the saxophone ranges are unusable for notation. Alto sax range is listed in the manual as concert F#2 - F4 (with middle C being C3). There’s an entire 4th on the bottom of the horn missing and a major 3rd on the top without even going into altissimo. Tenor Sax is C2 - D4. Lead Trumpet tops out at E5. Oh well.

Wonder why they chose those restrictions?

Doesn’t really matter, from the demos, it sounds to me like they missed the boat. The saxes sound very fake to me - there are way better examples posted here, at least to my ears. Be interesting to see where they go with this, and I will give it another look when they post more, but I think this is an easy pass for me. Especially for $300+

Yeah, easy pass for me too. I guess it’s not really designed for use with notation software since so much of the notated ranges are missing.

I still haven’t gotten around to posting a render of your sample file, but I will as soon as I have some spare time…


Fwiw, Native Instruments has a decent library for horns (sax, trombone, flugerhorn, several trumpets, tuba). I don’t know whether anyone has created an expression map to make them work with Dorico, but they are nice to play with a keyboard in a DAW.

Yikes! That sounds awful…

1 Like

Has anyone tried any of the Musical Sampling libraries? Specifically either the Sasaki Trumpet or Austin Saxes? It doesn’t appear like they offer a lot of control with keyswitches, etc., but might be decent for basically a plug-n-play library.

I just downloaded their free Solo Legato Trumpet. Here it is flat with no MIDI editing or dynamic shaping.

That brand is new to me, so just curious if others have any experience with them.