microtonal playback

(I am in the middle of my 30 days trying out Dorico)

I am currently a Sibelius user, thinking of moving to Dorico.

To get microtonal playback I either

  • use the supplied quarter-tone-playback plugin which inserts pitch-bend commands, or

  • write pitch-bend commands over the notes manually , or

  • use a self-written plugin which reads the accidentals and inserts the appropriate pitch-bend command.
    Eg I can assign a different pitch-bend for the three-quarter-tone-sharp sign as for the quarter-tone-flat-sign.

How near does Dorico get to this ?


  • in Sibelius microtonal playback is limited to monophonic music.
    Will Dorico have the same limitations ?



I’m afraid Dorico is still some time away from implementing microtonal playback.

Luís is quite right, Dorico is still some way away from having proper support for microtonal playback, though when it does, it will not be limited to monophonic music as the VST Note Expression feature allows pitch-bend on a per-note basis for compatible VST3 instruments such as HALion Sonic.

You might find this earlier thread useful and/or interesting.

Wulfrun, Finale has polyphonic playback of microtones without pitchbend, and you don’t need to write pitchbend values or use special plug-ins. I’ve had Dorico for one and a half years already but have never used it because the promised microtonal playback is not there yet, and I need that in my work. We have not been given any information when it’s going to be implemented, so if it takes another two years, for example, you might as well switch to Finale, which is the best notation program for microtonal music at the moment. All the accidental fonts that Dorico uses can be used in Finale, too

I’m more than intrigued…
I’ve been writing in Ben Johnston’s notation (and also 19-ET) in Finale for a long time and have never seen a way for an accidental to create a microtone.
Microtonal accidentals have to be applied as expressions with defined pitchbend. This has never been polyphonic. You also need to set a ‘natural’ expression to return the bend for the next note.
I’m on 2014.5…if this has changed for a later version, I will upgrade swiftly…but I doubt it.

Steve, yes, that’s indeed the way to do Johnston’s notation or any other Just Intonation or un-equal system in Finale. In addition you need to tune the white-note scale to a just major scale (5-limit in Johnston’s case). For this you use a re-tunable instrument (such as Garritan) that you tune with a script (such as .scl). So you already know about re-tunable synths. That’s what you should use for the playback of an equal temperament. For the notation of ET’s, you can specify your ET and its accidentals in the Special Key Signature Tool. Using it, your accidentals transpose by midi notes, and they appear as normal accidentals, with correct automatic spacing etc. There are only 128 midi notes per channel, so the range per channel for 31ET is only about four octaves. But 19 and 24 work very well. This feature has been there for decades but it’s not explained in the manual. Here’s an excellent guide: http://www.erelievonen.eu/documents/microtonal/finale/microtonal_accidentals_in_Finale.pdf

I use scala files to tune the white notes and either that or Kontakt to tune 19-ET.

Yep. And for 19ET you can have it all automatic as real accidentals. Eb sounds one step above D# and so on. No pitchbend.