Naming the articulations articulations


Just a modest proposal for a slight name change.

Some of us are sometimes confused by the coexistence of “playback techniques” and “playing techniques”. What about if these latter got their common name in the traditional music vocabulary? Calling them “articulations” would remove any overlap with “playback techniques”, and be more immediately easy to identify, due to the more common name.


Not every playing technique is an articulation. staccato is an articulation, but arco is not, neither is con sord. or “let ring”…
But I agree with the two terms being very close to being misunderstood.

Whatever the naming convention, this forum documents how confusing the original and current convention has been for many newcomers. When such features were introduced it took me awhile to “get” it. Once I got it, I had it, but the terminology was definitely a barrier to understanding rather than a help.

Playing techniques connect with the Score in Write Mode. Playback playing techniques connect with Play Mode. Perhaps something like Score Techniques and Play Techniques makes sense.

I’m sure in the bustle and history of developing Dorico the current names were useful for the programmers, and Lord knows there was plenty of bustle and an endless array of tasks for the team to complete.

The problem now is that the current terms have been used for so long that a change might only add to the confusion and make necessary a thorough review of documentation, as well as make obsolete the terminology in any videos or third party references.

Mind that these things are called “playing techniques” in the “real world” (meaning musicians talking about them). It’s like suggesting that dynamics would be called “score volume”, because it would conflict with another terminology in the program.

I agree “playing techniques” is a good name which describes what the things are. “Score techniques” doesn’t really describe anything. Using cutaway staves could be a “score technique” for example.

The problem seems to be that “playing” and “playback” are too similar in English, but there doesn’t seem to be a good synonym for “playback”.

VST techniques?

In the application, after a lot of discussion, we settled on Playback and Playing Techniques. Internally we originally referred to Playing Techniques as ‘Playing Technique Appearances’, which you may find a useful distinction. For example the words ‘mute’ and ‘con sord’ are two different Playing Technique (Appearance)s, but they have the same Playback Technique. You might also have a symbol attached to a note that means muted too. So there are several visual representations, which may depend on the instrument and the current language, but they create the same playback effect.

Internally, we refer to Articulations as properties of a note that are usually displayed above it (accents, staccato, etc). There’s quite a famous quote: “There are 2 hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-1 errors.”

What’s wrong with virtualPerformanceHumanInterfaceEntity and virtualPerformanceComputerInterfaceEntity :imp:

I think “Performance Techniques” and “Playback Techniques” might be a little clearer?

Performance tells you how to perform it; Playback tells Dorico how to play it.

I personally often think of them as “front of house” (playing techniques, the bits that appear in the music) and “back of house” (all the plumbing that goes on behind the scenes to produce the correct sound), but maybe that’s just my old life as a steward creeping out…

I often think of them as “written techniques” and “sounding techniques.”

Playback triggers?

I like the “triggers” term. Have for some time.