More expression map queries

I just wrote a long explanation to clarify my understanding of expression maps, only to find that since entering the test data things have gone awry.

I’ve just consulted the manual and in it it says ‘Dorico does not support all fields in the Expression Maps dialog’ which would have been good to know a few hours ago …or is the manual out of date?

Is this possible?

To choose the same playing technique eg ‘Staccato’ in two ‘slots’ set up for my two ‘staccato’ presets in my library.

One slot would be set to key change D#-1, with velocity set to min =1, max=41, with also ‘Use secondary dynamic’ set to CC=40 (to select my staccato p sound and also allow the ‘volume’ of the preset to be changed, my ‘preset volume’ is mapped to CC40)
The other slot would be set to key change E-1, with velocity set to min = 42, max =127, with also ‘Use secondary dynamic’ set to CC=40 (to select my staccato f sound).
By entering notes with a staccato dot with marking ppp up to mp, the first sound would be selected.
By entering notes with a staccato dot with marking mf to ffff, the second sound would be selected.

At any time this could be overwritten by going into PLAY and altering the velocity data of individual notes without altering the written score?

Wouldn’t changing sounds on playback have been easier to achieve just by making the bottom block in PLAY editable (the one that lists the playing techniques) without changing the written score? I’m sure this can’t have been missed so there must be a reason for not doing it this way.

I did try the other way of creating a new popover text playing technique in Engrave, then mapping it to one of the ‘template’ playback playing techniques, then using that in Play to create an expression map, but found you had to enter the popover text for each note in the score (hardly useful unless I’ve misunderstood something)… and then as I say, something happened and this stopped working.

Has anybody out there had much success with creating great expression maps? All it would seem to need is, I would have thought, the ability to have the ‘bread and butter’ of notation supported (dynamic markings, note duration, maybe attack what I’d call the ‘front end’) then the ability to amend note velocity (a playback over-ride), two or three CC information and note mapping for percussion instruments with all this ‘back end’ being adjustable independent from the written score. Dorico seems to have most of this already if I’ve understood it right…I just haven’t understood it enough to know how to go about achieving it.

You can’t currently switch between two different staccato techniques based directly on the velocity of the note to be played, I’m afraid. You’d have to manually manage that combination by defining two switches in your expression map, effectively “staccato + soft” and “staccato + loud”, and then add not only the staccato articulations but also the custom playing techniques that produce “soft” and “loud” at the right spots, so that Dorico knows that’s the combination you’re looking for.

Thanks Daniel.
Am I right in thinking though you can’t change the name of the ‘template’ playing articulations in PLAY? So when you say you’d have to ‘manually manage that combination by defining two switches in your expression map’ you mean using the template ‘staccato’ and staccatissimo’ and then mapping them to two new playing directions that you would create in 'ENGRAVE\ Playing Directions?
Also, is there a chart showing just what is mapped at the moment in terms of velocities, CC and the corresponding signs /text /directions in the written score. For example, from my tests I can see that dynamic markings (pp,mp etc) kick out a velocity number. The staccato ‘dot’ is linked to the ‘staccato’ playing direction etc. I didn’t want to spend time assembling a map to find out that I shouldn’t have used the playing technique ‘stacatissimo’ because that was linked to the actual mark in the score (which I have hardly ever come across in my musical life).

I think the slight mental hurdle to jump over is first to realise that Cubase Expression Maps and Dorico Expression Maps are quite different. In Cubase, they are primarily there as a means of letting the user choose what they want to hear (although they can be triggered by the notation too), so that the user never has to think about actual keyswitches. In Dorico though, everything is driven from the notation, and the expression map determines how the notation is translated into MIDI events. Unlike in a DAW, notes in Dorico also aren’t MIDI notes. They are notation objects that are translated to MIDI notes (this may be a subtle thing, but it’s helpful to remember that some DAW concepts don’t map onto Dorico). Notes aren’t stored with velocities (unless you’ve recorded via MIDI or have changed the velocity in Play Mode) - the velocities are calculated from the dynamic objects in the score. See the Dynamics automation lane in Play Mode. The velocity level is currently controlled via the dynamic curve in Playback Options > Dynamics. There isn’t currently any way of controlling this on a per-articulation basis, but this is something we hope to address in a future version.

If you have a note in the score with a staccato articulation then that triggers the Staccato entry in an expression map (if there is one) and also shortens the note. There are several other articulations that affect the note length, eg tenuto, staccatissimo, tenuto (see Playback Options for a list). ‘Legato’ is automatically triggered by any note under a slur.

It’s not currently possible to play different keyswitches depending on the dynamic, but this is the sort of thing that we aim to address in the future.

There’s a workaround to add keyswitches in a bit more flexible and ad hoc way. Expression maps and playing techniques are still the proper way to do things, but although they are very powerful, there’s still a few things missing, and you’ll need to setup everything in advance. Also, there’s no way to record keyswitches using expression maps. If your plan anyway is to hide these markings from the score, this workaround may suite your workflow better for now:

  1. In write mode, create an extra staff by using Edit > Staff > Add staff above.
  2. Add your keyswitches as notes to the newly created staff. You can also filter out keyswitches from your midi recording on the original staff, and use the “Move to staff above” command.
  3. Make sure the new staff is routed to the proper channel in play mode. I believe this should work automatically by default, but if you have messed with individual voice playback, you may need to assign this manually.
  4. When you’re done with setting up the desired keyswitches, select the “+1” signpost in Write mode and press delete. This will remove the Keyswitch staff from the score, but it will still play back (search the forum for an explanation on this design).
  5. If you want to bring the Keyswitch staff back, repeat step 1.

This can of course be used in combination with expression maps. Consider it more as a quick and dirty way to fill the gaps. The ability to add keyswitches directly in play mode has been discussed on this forum before, and I believe it’s on the roadmap.

Thanks for those replies guys.
I’ve just found the TAB that now it all makes sense…in Engrave \ Playing Techniques \ Playback playing techniques EDIT box.
You have to magically press EDIT then you can create what I was calling a ‘template’. I can then name it to match the preset name in the sample library.
Unless I’m wrong though, you still then have to enter a playing technique for EVERY NOTE?

Is that right? It doesn’t carry on playing the same note until it receives another ‘playing direction’ instruction?
If, so then what I had is probably better, that is mapping what Dorico already has as its ‘templates’. This way using a staccato ‘.’ for my library’s 'staccato p and using stacatissimo for my library’s ‘staccato f’ will be much easier.

I’ve never used Cubase’s expression maps Paul. When I got back into programming about four years ago, I did buy Cubase 9.5 but after getting the Presonus Studiolive desk (which came with a free copy of Studio One 4 Professional), although it didn’t (doesn’t) do as much as Cubase, the whole GUI is much easier to get around.
The track that I’ve just done in Studio One 4 was all midi and only used two C.C (for what my library calls ‘expression’ and ‘dynamics’. For anyone that doesn’t know about sample libraries etc (99% Joe Public) it is more than adequate in meeting my needs and fooling them its a real orchestra. I don’t really think Dorico needs to be any better in playback than this. It may already be able to do this. If you have time, have a listen and let me know if you think this is do-able in Dorico.

Thanks andgle for the reply. I’ll certainly look into this and try it. I’m just experimenting with a short piece to see what Dorico plays back out of the box in relation to my library. The ultimate goal is of course what we all want to achieve…inputting the damn data once.
Here’s the link to what I want to achieve.

Which sample library are you using? If we know that then we can (hopefully) give more useful advice.

From the questions you’re asking about setting playing techniques for every note, it seems to be there’s a bit of a disconnect between your expectation of how this sort of thing works from Cubase and Studio One, and how it works in Dorico. I would suggest the following, to get a better idea of how it works at a basic level, as I think you may be jumping into the more advanced issues before being au fait with the lower levels.

  • Create a new string quartet project (or open the Doricoverture sample project)
  • In Playback > Playback Templates, choose HSSE+HSO (Pro) if it’s not already selected
  • Make some notes staccato, ensure there’s some slurs and trills
  • Switch to Play mode and show the Playing Techniques lane, and see how the techniques for staccato, legato and trills are generated from the score.
  • Open Play > Expression Maps and look at the entries for HSO Solo violin to see how the entries relate to what you see in the Playing Techniques Lane.

In short though, you shouldn’t need to create any playing techniques in the score unless you’re trying to do something more advanced (eg triggering custom playing techniques that Dorico doesn’t know about). If you write ‘pizz’ in the score then all subsequent notes will be played with the Pizzicato articulation until the next ‘arco’, and then they’ll revert back to the ‘natural’ articulation.

Hi Paul, I’m using Native Instruments Symphony Series via Kontakt.

Thanks for that advice. I have watched Anthony Hughes’ s videos and John Barron’s so I think I’ve just about got it now. There is an interplay between note velocity and dynamics that I wasn’t sure about, but after experimenting I can see how some things (like sfz, or pp) generate a note with a certain velocity and dynamics shape, whereas others like an accent (>) or marcato (^) actually have a fixed velocity of 64 and no dynamics shape. The dynamics lane can be made to adjust my ‘dynamics’ (master volume) within the various instruments of Symphony Series. The velocity can too with an expression map. Taking the accent < as an example, I now understand you could have say 20 playing techniques in your expression map, with say the accent >, marcato ^ and ‘sfz’ all playing just one ‘sfz’ sample say on F#-1. I thought because I had 8 slots in the Symphony Series library, you assigned a different playing technique to each one. I didn’t realise you could have as I said, multiple techniques for the one sound.
It’s the subtle interplay between velocity (attack) and expression and dynamics that makes the sound ‘real’ …as well as round robins …but I’m not telling you anything that not aware of. It’s how I get Dorico to speak to my library that will determine of course how good the simulation.

Hello Dorico crew and colleagues,
I hope you are all fine! :slight_smile:
Well, the Expression Maps in Dorico has some positives, but still much more negatives… I hope this function will be seriously improved in the next
update in order to work and as expected by the users! :slight_smile:
On positive side:

  1. In Dorico E.M. window is far better organized than in Cubase… probably Cubase is the worst example for E.Ms integration.
    The current design in the future will open area for more intuitive improvement.
  2. Also Dorico has solid Global settings for the app default behavior

On the negative side:

  1. It takes enormous amount of time to properly configure even Berlin Strings - First Chairs, by Orchestral Tools…
  2. You have to think about all Combined Playing Techniques that are possible and set them in the list (This MUST Be REMOVED) The PT List MUST include only the techniques listed in the libraries!
  3. Mutual Exclusion Groups… another terrible function that takes so much time, but if don’t fill it, Dorico won’t be able to
    automatically switch from vibrato<->non vibrato, legato<->non legato, bucket mute<->cup mute<->half-muted.
    Well, this is another function that MUST be REMOVED, and Dorico should be able to switch them automatically
    when detect them.
  4. The E.Ms in Dorico aren’t enough flexible, and don’t provide complete options for expressions control per individual note, or group of selected notes.
    This is also important! One may want to u staccato from let say Orchestral Tools Berlin Strings Violin I for passage of notes, and then for another passage in different range to use staccato from Spitfire Symphonic Strings, because their sound fits better this octave range… Just an example. Yes. there is a workaround… to change the voice of the notes, the channel and then to assign different E.Ms., but this takes more time.
    Currently on the market I know about two good examples of well integrated Expression Map systems - Overture 5.5 I have personal experience with it, and Staffpad (I don’t have experience, only impression by watching videos).
    I believe that the Dorico team will come with properly working Expression Maps in the next major upgrade! :slight_smile:

Best wishes,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:

Yes, let’s drop everything, gut the current system, and configure Dorico for Berlin strings–and definitely by the next upgrade, which we really MUST have in less than a week.


Thuriasz, we try to take all feedback from our customers in the spirit in which it is intended, which we hope is always in the interest of improving the software’s usefulness and efficiency for musicians all around the world. But I confess that I do struggle to take your repeated posts in which you mix copious smileys with bold red type – as if somehow the one cancels out the other – in which you tell us what we must do, in that spirit… Not what you believe we should do, not what you believe in your own opinion would be useful, but what we MUST do. And not only what we MUST do, but WHEN we must do it. I know that this is very important to you, as it is to many other users of the software. But please try to restrain yourself from repeating yourself unless you have something substantively new and constructive to add to the discussion. I, and others on the team who read but don’t post here, would appreciate it.