Mutual Exclusion Groups

I am struggling now for some time with Mutual Exclusion Groups in Dorico Expression Maps and don’t know how to resolve these problems.

In Dorico one can define various directions (e.g. con sordino) and even several of them can be active during a particular part of the score, which is great :slightly_smiling_face:. These can then be ended by appropriate directions (e.g. senza sordino). Maybe I misunderstand this concept but so far I thought that this is what Exclusion Groups are for: I.e. if another direction in the same Exclusion Group appears in the score this ends the previous one … and at the same time (unfortunately) starts the new one.

I want to define different playback modes (resulting in a different rendition of a score) that can be selected by directions. I.e. I would like to define directions that can be active independent of others (like con sordino) and that are only ended by dedicated ending directions (like senza sordino). The only thing the ending direction should do is to end the corresponding direction and take the playback back to the standard case without the previous mode direction, but it should not end other directions (including e.g. con sordino). Ideally it should be possible to define directions that merely end others instead of being active afterwards, but this does not seem to be possible as far as I understand. In the Expression Map I surely would not want to redefine all standard playing techniques for every ending direction once more but I merely want to include the ending direction in the Exclusion Group so that Dorico removes the previously active direction (that it ends) and then falls back to the standard definitions in the Expression Map (without the ending playback technique).

However, there are problems to implement this:

  • if one does not include a dedicated entry in the Expression Map for the ending direction, a custom score symbol for this playing technique is apparently not stored at all in the Playback Template, so that one is forced to include the ending direction in some Expression Map entry (in addition to the Exclusion Group)
  • if I include only a simple entry consisting merely of the playback technique corresponding to the ending direction (so that it is stored) all other playing techniques (staccato, legato, …) fall back to the defined one, which is surely not what I want

Therefore I included an entry with some “dummy playback technique” that I do not use anywhere else. This is not elegant but in principle seems to do the trick. Yet there are other problems left in this case:

  • Although generally the correct standard playback techniques (staccato, legato, … without the mode specification) are correctly selected this way, in certain cases additional length specifiers do not work anymore and Dorico always plays the corresponding long notes even if the note length is short
  • nat./ord. seems to end any direction even if it is not included in the respective custom Exclusion Group for the considered playing technique. This means whenever I go back from say pizzicato to normal notes (for which there is no dedicated ending direction aside from nat./ord.) all modes are ended. This in particular holds for con sordino as well. This cannot be desired because one should be able specify con sordino, at the beginning of an entire movement and it should stay active unless one explicitly chooses senza sordino. I thought this would be the case if I simply do not include Natural in the corresponding Exclusion Group but this apparently does not help.

I guess I must be missing something regarding the Exclusion Group concept (and it is not clearly explained in the manual). What is the correct way to use it? Is there a way to circumvent these problems and achieve what I want (maybe even without Exclusion Groups)?

Thanks so much in advance for any help


Use arco to return pizz to a normal bowing state.

IIRC nat. or ord. return all altered states to the instrument’s default settings. If you are using nat. within your senza sord expression definition, I would expect it to wipe out other non-default settings: that’s what it does.

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I’m not clear on everything you’re asking, but here’s one piece of info.

This is possible. In the Edit Playback Techniques dialog, set the Articulation Type to Attribute. That will make the technique active only for the note it’s assigned to. And if the technique is in a Mutual Exclusion Group, it will cancel all other active techniques in the group. It won’t necessarily return the selected Base Switch to Natural as there could be other active techniques not in the group.

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Hello Derrek and Eggsalad.
wow, thank you so much for your insight! These were exactly the two pieces of information I needed and now everything works like a charm :blush:.
Like Dorico itself, this forum is just amazing and I should have posted here much earlier …
Thanks again and have a great day