Mutual Exclusion Groups and the Manual

I can see I’m not the first person to find mutual exclusion groups a tricky area. The principle is easy enough to understand (you can’t usually play arco and pizz simultaneously so they are mutually exclusive), but the interface is not so easy for inexperienced users

So would it be possible to help us out by putting a link into the manual in the section “Adding/Editing mutual exclusion groups in expression maps” taking us directly to the mutual exclusion groups subsection in Expression Maps Dialogue?

Putting “mutual exclusion groups” into search only directs you to the first and not the second, and it would be very easy to read the first section and conclude that was the sum total of info. Or at least it was very easy for me, despite having seen it before.

Next, would anyone be able to explain the six default mutual exclusion groups that I see: Auto, Dynamic, Legato, Primary Brass, Primary String, Vibrato?

The natural and immediate questions I have when I see that list include “What do they mean by Primary String? Is there a Secondary String? What about woodwind?” The Auto Group appears to be empty and it’s not clear to me how to use it. Or even if I should. If I click “Create mutual exclusion groups automatically” is this Auto category somewhere I’m supposed to put the technique which I want to be mutually exclusive - and then the system does the rest automatically? Doesn’t feel very likely, but who knows.

Believe it or not (and you probably won’t with the fantastic lack of comprehension I’m displaying here!) I have managed to create a playing technique, link it to a playback technique and EM, create the relevant mutual exclusion techniques (and it even worked in the SYNCHRON player that I’m using.) But it feels more by luck than any real understanding, so it would be really nice to understand that default group properly.

Ideally, it would be great to have something like the excellent First Steps (Second Steps?) just on the Expression Map process. (And a great John Barron video too?!) That would be fabulous to help beginners and just-after-beginners in the future.

Meanwhile, if anyone can shed any light on my questions above I’d be very thankful.

It may not be possible to link to sections within pages, but I will look into this. There is already a link to the Expression Maps dialog at the bottom of the task you mentioned, and on that page for the dialog, there are heading links listed at the top right, so you can jump easily to the Mutual Exclusion Groups section.

The documentation structure overall splits out tasks (which describe the steps you should follow to achieve the advertised result) from reference material (which delves into dialogs, panels etc in more detail). The intention is that you become familiar with going to the reference topic for a dialog, panel etc if it’s referred to in a task, but you want more information. You should find a related link to such references at the bottom of every page where that dialog, panel, popover etc is mentioned (and if you don’t, let me know!)

To answer the question about exactly what the “auto” mutual exclusion group does, it examines the base switches in the expression map to find user-defined playback techniques, and then creates an automatic mutual exclusion group containing all of those user-defined playback techniques so that you don’t need to manually set one up.

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Thank you, that makes things a little clearer.

However, there’s still something that doesn’t yet work for me. I created a project containing a user defined playback technique called “trem dim 3s”, which uses a patch in VSL SYed Solo Strings Violin, and made a copy of this project.

In the original project I disabled Create mutual exclusion groups automatically; I then added two techniques - Pizzicato and trem dim 3s - to the “Auto” folder (though as far as I understand it I could have used any folder, or created a new one). When the music moves from pizz to trem dim 3s it works perfectly.

In the copy project I simply enabled Create mutual exclusion groups automatically. And, exactly as you outlined above, trem dim 3s immediately appears in the Auto folder. But when the music moves from pizz to trem dim 3s there is no patch change, the music remains pizz. Of course, being in Auto mode stops me from adding pizz to the group.

This may be the behaviour you’d expect and I may be missing some other essential point, or it may not be!

I can easily attach the two projects if you wish, but don’t want to complicate things if there’s something more obvious that I’m missing.

“pizz.” is one of the built-in playback techniques, so it won’t be added to the “auto” group, as explained above. If “pizz.” is mutually exclusive with your user-defined playback techniques, you should add them to a mutual exclusion group manually.

I’ve just been creating an EM from scratch for a new library. I have done nothing at all to the mutual exclusions and find in general they are automatically picked up with the exception of combined techniques – it looks like you need to put in a “nat” to reset in that case. No idea if that could be a source of problems with you?

Thanks Daniel, I follow that, and understand where I went wrong in the example I gave. (But still needed to be told “pizz” is one of the built-in playback techniques, so it won’t be added to the “auto” group!).

I suppose what is still confusing me is that “Base switches are mutually exclusive, meaning a new base switch replaces the previous one.” (from the manual). So in an EM consisting entirely of base switches - whether default or user - and no add-on switches, why do we even need any mutual exclusions? They are all already mutually exclusive.

I think I’ll just press on and try to solve any issues on an ad hoc basis, rather than attempting complete clarity before I do any work, as I think that’s beyond me!

Thanks dko22 - I think I get the use of “nat” as a solution, but was kind of thinking that it shouldn’t be necessary if the EM was correctly set up in the first place? Presumably if you put a “nat” in to your score, you hide it when outputting the score?

Pizz and Arco are mutually exclusive, but if you switch to pizz and then specify a tremolo, Dorico will assume you mean a kind of Flamenco pizz, I suppose. In other words, the program cannot infer that you intend the tremolo to be played arco unless you tell it to switch.

The mutual exclusion is “things to do with the bow”, so arco, pizz, col legno are mutually exclusive. In some sample libraries, sul tasto and sul pont. are also mutually exclusive to arco & pizz.

After all this time did not know that. Thanks for explaining.

well that depends whether the musicians need to be specifically told that a previous technique is no longer applicable!

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I don’t think the manual is exactly right here, for which please accept my apologies. In practice, for the built-in expression maps, it is probably always the case that the base switches defined by default are all mutually exclusive with each other, but that is only because of the default mutual exclusion groups that Dorico uses.

Thank you, that clarifies things (and also makes it easy to understand why the manual might have been written that way :slightly_smiling_face:)