Multiple techniques in percussion maps


I’m trying to create percussion maps for quite sophisticate percussion kits.

To reduce all at the bae minimum, imagine I have to map the following techniques for a suspended cymbal:

a) center LH hit

b) center RH hit

c) edge LH hit

d) edge RH hit

e) center roll

f) edge roll

Am I correct in thinking that (c) should be all the following alternatives?

  • Natural

  • Edge (cymbal)

  • Edge (cymbal) + Hit (medium)

  • Edge (cymbal) + Hit (medium) + Left Hand (LH)

Also, I seem to see that rolls would need these alternatives:

  • Edge (cymbals) + Rolls

  • Edge (cymbals) + Tremolo

  • Edge (cymbals) + Trill

  • Edge (cymbals) + Trill (half-step)

  • Edge (cymbals) + Trill (whole-tone)

Or can I simplify something?


I don’t really understand why you’re looking at it this way. The way I see it : your library has a finite variety of sounds for an instrument. The number of sounds that can be triggered = the number of lines for this instrument in the percussion map.

The percussion score has different layers of information.

  • A first layer is the one where you see either hits or rolls.

  • A second one is the indication of the place where the beater will fall (cup or edge).

  • A third layer indicates the beater.

It seems to me that these layers have to be entered as combined techniques, choosing among the ones supplied by Dorico.

An alternative would be to enter a different custom technique for nearly each beat, but I think this would result in an overly crowded score.


Just to show some practical case, here is a set of symbols that can be found in a percussion score:

This may be a map trying to represent the above cases:

Not everything is working, so there is obviously something wrong, or so overcomplicate to include some overlapping.


Thinking about it later, I thought you forgot to mention the beater — which you have, in your last post. My question is : does your library have sounds for all of these configurations ? Because I can understand that one edits a score with such information (playing techniques), but it’s no use to build a percussion map with techniques that are not present in the library. This is why I wrote I don’t see the problem the same way as you do. Which library are you using ?

Marc, I’m using VSL libraries. A mix of the full VI, and the smaller BBO libraries. The last one has fewer articulations, that are in any case a good amount (including hits on the center, rim and side, rolls ringing and stopped, recorded crescendos, upbeats…).

The full VI is huge, and includes even the most exoteric techniques. While I may not need all of them, having some advanced techniques is something that I would like to use and include in the map.

The newer Synchron Percussion have way less instruments and techniques than the older VI collections. However, here is the list of techniques in one of the sets:

The beaters are the easy part, because they are to be included in an expression map, and can be left out of the percussion map.



Did you ever figure this out?

I am just beginning to grapple with Percussion Maps for VSL Synchron Percussion 1, and right away I realize that this is not as straightforward as I had imagined.

As you indicated, with VSL Percussion there are in one Synchron Player preset:

  1. Variations in the instrument itself.
    For example Piatti has two different sizes of cymbals, 16 and 18 inch.

  2. Variations in the beater used to strike the instrument.
    Sticks, hard mallets, soft mallets, rods, brushes and bow.

  3. Variations in the type of hit (via.
    Single hits, rolls, crescendos, diminuendos.

  4. Variations in the location where the instrument is struck.
    Top, edge, bell shaft, bell tip.

  5. Variations in the strength of the hits for rolls.
    Crescendos and diminuendos have strong and light variations.

  6. Variations in the duration of rolls for crescendos and diminuendos.
    1, 2, 4, 6 and 8 seconds

  7. Variations in RS for rolls (will have to look up what that refers to).
    Long and short.

All these have specific mappings across the MIDI note range to different patches in the Synchron instrument.

This is just the VSL complexities. The Dorico complexities are an additional layer.
Notation and playback, correlation with defined Dorico instruments, correlation with playback techniques (I am familiar with creating custom ones, so that is not a problem), various staff presentations (single line, 5-line, and regular staves), notehead design (which is optional and need not concern me up front).

You know all this, of course.

I’ve read some threads attempting to deal with all the complexities, and there was a very helpful explanation by Daniel in 2019, but my bewilderment is not dissipated. Some people suggest one can combine the use of Expression Maps for the selection of cymbals and beaters with a Percussion Map for the other variations, while others seem to suggest this does not work.

I am having significant success with my own custom Expression Maps for regular instruments, but I’m faced with the fact that unpitched percussion is a whole different ball game.

My next step is to see if the VSL-created maps offer some insight, but I’d love any perspective by others who have traveled this path before and either did or did not succeed.

Okay, I see that the VSL-created Percussion Maps do indeed provide some sort of road map. But they use individual maps for variations in the instrument itself, in the case of Piatti it would be a separate map for 16" and 18". And that does not take into account the variation in beaters.

I’d be really curious to read up on that if you still remember what thread it was. Thanks!

It must be the thread where I give the Spitfire Percussion Joby Burguess percussion maps. The crescendi in the rolls can only be achieved with a “default expression map” added to the appropriate percussion map.

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I think it was in this thread, which includes Daniels extended treatise:

How Does Mapping Work?

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So Marc, are you saying Expression Maps and Percussion Maps can work together at the same time, linked to the same VST instrument?

Yes. At least it was compulsory to get gradual dynamics working with Spitfire Percussion. It might depend on the way the library is designed. Spitfire’s library responds to CC1 and CC11 for those rolls, and there’s no way to use a percussion map to express it in Dorico (as of yet, but the default expression map does exactly that (and only that, IIRC).

Thanks, and thanks for the link you suggested. I’m reading it and trying to digest it’s lessons.

:laughing: It might take me some days to experiment and put it all together, and those days will be interrupted with travel for Christmas. If there’s one thing about DAW and Dorico work. It’s an adventure.

Thanks - I remember it now! Was able to get quite a few articulations mapped for the timpani using those pointers, but I could never figure out how to map various types of rolls - only one ever worked and then I gave up because it was giving me something quite similar to extreme road rage.

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:innocent: :grin:

gee, I never experience that kind of rage :angry: … ever … well, almost never … well, not lately … not in the last five minutes.

Indeed, you can combine expression and percussion maps. If I remember correctly, it wasn’t by design. I guess it just works because all midi is send out.

Eh. That’s why I exclusively use my custom presets, made as symmetrically as possible. With no fear of “empty” cells if needed to match other presets to be driven by the same map.


Thanks for chipping in.

I just verified this myself, at least with a small experiment with Snares, changing beaters with Ex Map and strokes with Perc Map. This crosses one major hurdle.

I am having one problem, however. Because of my previous experience with Cubase I have by custom eschewed using Direction with Playing Techniques, always using Attribute. For beaters or snare on/off it only makes sense to use Direction to avoid having to select long sets of notes before applying techniques. However, the Direction parameter does not seem to be working for me. When I try it, it acts like an Attribute, only continuing so long as I select all notes before applying the technique.

Yes, thanks.

I started down the custom preset path, but for me creating them seemed as much work as creating and maintaining Ex Maps as needed for the various instruments and available patches. So far this time around avoiding a universal approach it is working well for me. All I’m trying to accomplish at this point is successful dimension and slot switching for the VSL factory presets. After I get that all working, I will likely venture into deeper waters, but first I want to master the skills needed to accomplish this more limited goal.

One skill that I learned this go-round was organizing my lengthy lists for Playing Techniques, Playback Techniques, Expression Maps, and Percussion Maps by the use of custom codes at the start of my names. This has greatly reduced the task of finding what I want to give attention to. It would be nice if some day we have folders for such things, but for now I have overcome the problem.

At this point I have my Ex Maps sorted by library in score order, and my technique lists are all in one technique category, grouping together those that are unique to an instrument category. All my custom entries start with a period so they sort at the top and don’t get mixed up with the stock maps and techniques. Then among those I add codes for techniques, “p” for percussion, “s” for strings, and “w” for winds. I’ve started refining this further by using “pb” for beaters, and I plan to continue this sort of thing.

May not be useful for others, but it sure has revolutionized my ability to keep things more in order.