Percussion Kit question

I am beginning to think about the possibilities of using Virtual Drum Line with Dorico. As such, the other day I tried to create a drum kit that would handle the Marching Snare Drum from VDL. I realized that I can only add instruments to the kit that Dorico already knows.

Is there a way to add, or create, my own percussion instrument to add to the kit? Such as ‘RH hits’ and ‘LH hits’. I am thinking at the moment the answer is ‘no’.

If the answer is indeed ‘no’, I would recommend this as a feature for future versions.


I’m not totally following you since I’m not familiar with VDL, but we cannot yet contribute to the software’s ontology: no instruments, no techniques, no nothing. This should be relaxed in the future, as far as we know. What you can do, as certainly you know, is to change their name, as it is displayed in the score. Can you illustrate in any way the point you’re trying to make?

To be a little more specific… The Virtual Drum Line library has gone down to recording the sounds of each individual hand playing on marching drums (Right and Left Hands). To give the added sense of reality when you write music, you can actually put in the stickings that the player should use. Therefore the the sticking pattern RLRR and LRLL will sound slightly different from each other and more realistic than a sound than just a repetitive 1 sound over and over.

I am trying to create a marching snare drum ‘kit’ where I show the RH and LH sounds on the same staff space. When I go to add the instruments, it just takes me to the percussion list of instruments already available within Dorico. I wasn’t sure if I was missing something or not. I suspect that I am not missing anything and that the functionality is not quite there at the moment.

I hope that clears up what I was trying to do.


I wondered that you might’ve wanted playback, but since from your contributions on the forums I take you to be knowledgeable and what you described is somewhat possible already, I figured you were talking about something that wasn’t.

Any instrument can be routed to any channel on any VST. Assuming you’re writing percussion on a standard five-line staff, you should be able to create two similar instruments — so, two Snare drums —, place them in the same position on the staff and route each MIDI stream (each instrument on the kit gets its own, well, instrument) to different patches (or apply different expression maps and send them to the same device, if that’s what you need). This might be a bit slower when it comes to note input, but you can have that control over the triggered sounds.

OK, I appreciate the comment. I do have a working knowledge of certain things in Dorico, but honestly playback is something I have an understanding only up to a point.

What your saying makes sense, a little. But if I understand it, I have to choose an instrument from the current list, name it something else (like RH hits), then set it up some where to have it trigger the MIDI note value that corresponds to RH Hits?

Sorry to sound obtuse in this area, while I understand a few things about MIDI, there are a few things in Dorico that don’t seem like MIDI. And I think this is one of those cases.


Here is another graphic I have to help explain this…

Here is the Key Map for a portion of the VDL samples. As you can see, the C# and D# above middle C are to the keys to trigger the RH and LH hits.
Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 9.55.39 PM.png
Based on your information, I am assuming that I need to work in the percussion maps department to get this squared away?


As it stands I don’t think there will be a simple way of getting the correct left and right hand samples (there are more hacky ways of getting it to work such as using some obscure playing technique change to mean left or right and then setting it to be transparent). This is something that we hope will be much easier in future versions. However for the moment I wouldn’t worry too much about getting left and right hand sounds because almost all sample libraries will do ‘round robin’. This means that if you had multiple strikes one after the other then it would alternate samples so that it wouldn’t sound like exactly the same sound (the effect of which is known as ‘machine-gunning’ because it’s very repetitive). For VDL though you should be able to use some of the other playing techniques that it provides, and map them onto the appropriate noteheads. We’ve found a number of playing techniques in VDL that we don’t have yet which we’ll add, and there’s some bugs in the playback of the playback technique overrides which we’ve fixed for a future version.


Thanks for the answer and insight. I believe I understand the concepts you have stated. But to even get close to what you are talking about at the moment (not worrying about the RH and LH samples), how would one go about changing the midi note for the snare drum that is predefined in Dorico? That is currently where the hang up is for me. Not a major concern if that is not available at the moment, I just can’t seem to find it.

I am working at trying to create Dorico percussion maps that in the fullness of time could be used with VDL. I’ll be more than happy to share those with you guys and the Dorico user community once those are complete.


You change the key for the snare in the percussion map. That’s the easy bit. The harder bit is how it relates to the technique presentations and technique overrides in the percussion kit definition. We are now embarking on the documentation of play mode, so hopefully things will become clearer quite soon.

I have been doing some work on marching percussion since Dorico 1.2 was released in December. Whenever the next update appears, it will have some modest improvements in this area: you’ll be able to create kits of marching cymbals in 16”, 18”, and 20” sizes, marching bass drums in every size from 14” up to 32”, marching tenor drums with the four main drums plus up to two “spocks”, and a reasonable approximation of a marching snare line that combines solo, ensemble, snares on and snares off techniques. There won’t be any reasonable playback possible with the default HSO sounds, but I am also working on some basic percussion maps for at least the four or five most commonly-used VDL patches so that you can get some kind of playback approximation for these basic drumline instruments. At the moment I can’t be sure exactly how comprehensive this will be, but it’ll be a lot closer to what is needed than where we are right now.


That sounds totally awesome. PM me if there is anything I can do to help you. I have started working on a VDL Drum Set Percussion Map. I have a lot done on it (I think - I can’t get it to take Key Switches), but it might need someone who knows what’s going on to look over it to make sure that I have everything correct. I am willing to donate as much time as I can to help in anyway to get VDL Percussion into the hands of users. Please let me know if you like me to do something.

And for being a vocalist, you sure have a pretty solid understanding of marching percussion!!!


I think I began to figure some things out. So I appreciate it. I am looking forward to documentation.


The problem with producing a percussion map in 1.2 as it stands is that the repertoire of playing techniques mapped in VDL do not all have equivalents in Dorico, so one of the other things I have been doing is expanding that repertoire (at least internally – they don’t necessarily have additional appearances in the Playing Techniques panel in Write mode) so that the percussion map can more closely reflect the mappings in VDL.

I understand, but if I can help with some of the heavy lifting, such as getting the instrument names into a map, along with the correct corresponding MIDI note value, etc., with a list of what needs playing techniques, etc. I am willing to help. If I can save you any amount of time, please let me know.


Thanks, that’s a kind offer.

Anytime Boss!!! You guys are working hard to help us users, I don’t mind volunteering some time to help you guys (if it’s possible). Especially since this is in an area that is very near and dear to me.