Multiple Playback Techniques in Ex Map Entries - Label and Sort by Selection Order not Alpha

When I am creating Ex Maps and adding an entry that combine multiple Playback Techniques, the resulting entry label is currently created with the techniques in alphabetical order. This has some unfortunate consequences when working with a map that has numerous entries.

To illustrate:
I create a Legato entry, then several that combine Legato with other playback techniques. (I have my reasons for doing this rather than using add-ons.)

The entry labels come out like this:
espressivo + Legato
Legato + very soft

rather than this:
Legato + espressivo
Legato + very soft

In addition, because the overall entry list is sorted alphabetically, the “espressivo + Legato” entry will appear in the list far removed from my other Legato entries:
espressivo + Legato
(other entry)
(other entry)
(other entry)

Legato + very soft

I have no idea how hard it would be to implement, but what seems to me a better sort order for the label would be by order of selection in the Playback Techniques popup that is invoked when I double-click on the entry. Select Legato first, then any additional selections are shown in selection order (selection 1 + selection 2).

Not sure if this is meaningful to anyone else, but I’ve got to believe anyone working with lengthy expression maps would appreciate this change.


I totally understand. Some of my expression maps have a lot of entries. This fact along with generic names like “CC14” usually means I dread it when I have to go back to edit something because I probably already forgot what this CC value stands for. And it takes time just to re-orient myself.

In the meantime, I started to name my EM entries with numbers to force the order I need. “01_Legato Espressivo”; “02_Legato soft” and so on.

Thanks. It looks like that would be my only recourse at this point. I’ve used that method in other DAW applications.

Another useful suggestion, at least to me, would be showing an entry’s Playback Technique combinations even when I override the label. That would allow me to use a simplified custom label for any entry and not lose the detail of what PbT’s are assigned to it.

As it is now, if you override the automatic label you lose such feedback in the listing. That’s why now I don’t customize any labels containing combined PbT’s.

I usually see the underlying Playback Technique when I hover the mouse over the entry name, although it won’t show in a screenshot.

It’s very possible I’m doing it wrong - but in some cases the underlying playback technique is actually more confusing. For example, I use Con Sordino Espressivo in one entry because I know what this is from the library, but the underlying technique is “muted+crescendo”. In any case, my entry names are a mess, as you can see and I use a ton of CCs (and that’s why I get so desperate about that)…

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Okay, working with your suggestion I find it to be most useful.

I also created a Playback Technique called .dummy that will only be used for adding what I am calling “info” entries. This allows me to document all sorts of things:
Instrument exceptions (17a Flute 1 : tongue ram)
Category labels (20 LONGS)
Will be adding CC assignments, etc.

And I do see that hover works well enough. I’d prefer to see this info up and down the list at one time, but that may never be implemented.

As I see it now, this likely changes the way I approach Ex Map building. First work through the library slot by slot and create dummy entries with no action assignments. Then as needed I can come back and create supporting Playback Techniques, action assignments, and Playing Techniques. But up front the entries for each library are done methodically without bouncing around with other screens.

One final niggle, I have to hit “OK” and close the Ex Map screen before the entries re-sort. Would be best if it re-sorts when I accept an entry’s name modification.

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This is interesting. My approach has been different- first separate the articulations that correspond directly to established notation markings from the ones that are more performance orientated and would need custom symbols, etc. For example, there’s a bunch of so-called “arcs” in some libraries and I’ve never figured out a smart and logical way to handle them, very often I end up with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that seems clear at the moment and then I have no idea what this is two months later.

Also, I think there is an opportunity potentially with add-on articulations as well as length conditions to get to much more effective Expression Maps (of course these have no name or comment fields either, so I’d have to keep a separate Excel spreadsheet).

Right now, my maps are very basic. I’d love to continue but I’m a bit apprehensive as I don’t know if there’s going to be any change in this area in Dorico 4. It would be great if @dspreadbury could drop a little hint!

There aren’t any changes coming to expression maps in Dorico 4.0. We certainly have lots of plans in that area, but Paul has been very heavily involved in the Steinberg Licensing project this year, so his time to work on these features in the software has been quite limited – though the thing he has been working on for Dorico 4 is pretty special in its own right, it’s just not related to expression maps.

Refining the approach I started above using numbers in the Name field for Ex Map entries to better sort them.

I decided that it’s best for me to start, before messing with more sophisticated conditional entries, to simply reproduce the Dimensions and slot names of a Synchron instrument as a first step. This way it’s easier to find and troubleshoot entries. I’ve created a special Ex Map project that facilitates testing by “walking through” the Dimension tree of an instrument.

@DaddyO I don’t have any VSL libraries, but am I right in assuming the key switches and articulations are shared across instruments and/or sections? That’s how it works in the libraries I do have (a couple from OT and Spitfire). The reason I’m asking this is because I’m wondering if makes more sense to make an Expression Map for a single instrument even if the articulation set is identical across the entire instrument section.

For example, a single-instrument map would seem to follow the Dorico approach more closely when it comes to adding individual instruments during Setup (totally speculating!). It could make the map shorter in length; and the entries would then focus on the articulations only instead of instrument names, and so they would hopefully be more legible. And then of course it can be copy/pasted and renamed for the rest of the instruments that share the same articulation set.

The other reason, and I’m really confused about that, is if it’s possible to take advantage of custom endpoint configurations and the sequence of overrides, to set up the preferred order in which the same instruments from different libraries appear during the set up (say Flute 1 VSL, Flute 2 OT, and then Violins I, Violins II, etc?). But again, this is very confusing and not very clearly explained so I’m speculating.


It’s funny you should mention this, because my recent efforts are causing me to experiment with the approach of a separate Ex Map for each instrument, or nearly so. Each approach has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. We will see where this goes with my current efforts.

As of this morning here’s my Ex Map listing for Synchron Brass.

I use only VSL. It has some uniformity of articulation mapping but there are differences of octave to account for instrument range differences, and there can be some variation in available articulations between instruments in a family.

Once I get the Ex Maps for the library all worked out and fully tested, I think I’ll act on your idea of a literal 1 to 1 mapping of instrument to Ex Map. I think as you suggest it might have advantages for End Points and the creation in Dorico of instruments newly introduced into a project.

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