Notehead playback changes for non-percussion staves

Hi Everyone!

I am wondering if it is somehow possible to assign certain notehead sets as playing techniques for non-percussion staves.
For instance, I use square noteheads in wind instruments to indicate air sounds.
There is no need to write “air” above every effected note or passage, the notehead says it all already, and very clearly, too.

Unfortunately, though, I can’t work out how to use a notehead to trigger a key switch in this situation.

Any help would be much appreciated.



No, you can’t automatically specify that e.g. a cross notehead should produce an unpitched percussion sound on a pitched instrument staff. If you can contrive to produce the right playback through a playing technique change (e.g. by defining a channel change in your expression map) then you can always hide the playing technique required to produce the switch. But perhaps another approach would be to assign a percussion kit to the player holding the pitched instrument as well, and use instrument changes as normal to switch back and forth? You might run into some issues with not being able to hide clef changes at the transitions between the pitched instrument and the unpitched percussion kit.

I would probably suppress playback on the special notes and use a separate (non-printing) staff to provide the sounds.


I’m afraid I haven’t made myself very clear. Sorry.
It is not about some instruments also playing unpitched percussion instruments, but about the text of the instruments itsself (e.g. flute) containing alternative noteheads that would indicate changed playing techniques. Like harmonics in strings or air sounds with square heads in wind instruments or other things like that.

Derrek’s solution seems to be a nice workaround, although in my case (complex contemporary score with a potential multitude of different noteheads per instrument) this might turn out be a bit of a hassle.



@dspreadbury Hi Daniel,

It’s been a while this topic has been off but I don’t find any other mention of that idea.
I’m wondering if there has been any news on that front to use noteheads of regular instruments (not only percussions) to control playback?
Like Max wrote, we might want to use noteheads of different shapes and colors to trigger different types of air sounds on a flute for instance (with different vowels), or a different “dosage” of air + sound, inhaled or exhaled, etc. Let’s imagine I have a vst instrument library with all of those different articulations, with possibility to change the pitch as well of course.

Is there any way to write that kind of material in Dorico and have some kind of direct feedback?
Especially if those phrases are heavily rhythmical it might be very hard to add a technique change on each note and hide it. That would soon become unreadable, and also it would be quite difficult to correct the score afterwards. Do you have any suggestion?

Thanks in advance !


At the moment, there’s no way to achieve this, I’m afraid, Julien, but I agree that this would be a useful enhancement for us to add in future.


Thanks Daniel, good to know it makes sense, I hope it will happen eventually !