Playback of 2+ voices on one staff, now and in the future

I think this post is 1/4 question and 3/4’s musings on future development.

I’m thinking about situations such as Flutes 1 and 2 are notated on one single staff vs separate staves for 1 and 2 - regarding playback in the initial release of Dorico, but more importantly where further development could take this.

I’m going to guess that right now, 2 flutes on a single staff will output to a single VST channel treating it effectively as one instrument playing “chords”, not two different players. Limited articulation switching would effect both voices, meaning that the particular VST channel has to be multiphonic to hear both parts. IE, if I am outputting to a monophonic legato sample, it won’t behave properly. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Whereas 2 separate staves for Flute 1 and Flute 2 would be fine for monophonic legato samples because they are going to different channels.

For future development in this area, it would be awesome if in the single score staff for 2 flutes situation would effectively play them back as if they were truly 2 different parts. In my head I would make sense of this as the score showing the parts combined, but playback was actually generated from the parts - and maybe this is similar to what your plans are for in this area. Or, alternatively… the score would have 2 (or more) hidden tracks that contain the individual flute lines (Similar to Lanes or Midi Sends within folders in Cubase) that can be collapsed onto one score staff for display purposes, and expanded again to edit the individual parts. Music could be entered as 2 voices on the combined staff, or on the individual parts, and the other would be automatically generated. So essentially the score simply displays the music, but playback is actually generated from the parts themselves.

If that were the case, then in theory any number of parts could be displayed on a single staff or grand staff, not even just instruments of the same kind, IE Trumpet 1,2, and 3. It could also be used show an overview “reduction” of the brass on a grand staff. You could have several different score layouts - the full score, a slightly reduced score with 1st and 2nds collapsed to single staves ,an overview score showing woodwinds, brass, and strings as separate grand staff reductions, or even a full piano-style reduction. All would play back identical, because the playback is not coming from the current score view, but from the full parts. Similarly, a single part could be exploded into a “score view” that shows each of your expression map articulations on their own staff.

I recognize that the Dorico team already has a plan in motion for handling how multiple parts could be displayed in the score, and that we aren’t really at the point of having that plan communicated to us. Hence this post is more a commentary on where I hope things go in the future using language that makes sense to me, since we don’t know your plans in this area yet. However, it does sound like theses are all concepts you’ve been thinking about for a long time.

I would assume/hope that, since the basic concept is “players playing instrument(s)”, each instrument will have its own endpoint (sound source) regardless of how the parts appear in the score… (?)

Currently Dorico just plays back each instrument on a separate VST channel, so that a player with multiple instruments will have them routed independently.

However, the core playback code has been written so that it is also able to play voices independently, just currently there’s no way to control this. It’s something we hope to get in place very soon.

I think I may be somewhat confused on the player holding multiple instruments as it pertains to the score, if it’s scope goes anywhere beyond someone doubling on flute/piccolo, or theater reed doubles and the like, where only one instrument is played at a time. Though it does make me curious whether that concept could be applied in a less traditional way where a player is holding “instrument articulations” for a method of VST routing until expression maps and other advanced playback features are fleshed out.

At any rate I appreciate your reply, and I’m very excited to start working with Dorico so soon! I’m quite glad and surprised to see the release just a week away – a very wise choice of Steinberg/Dorico team release now with fewer advanced features rather than everyone have to wait until December or later to start getting our feet wet.

The usual relationship between player and instrument is for the cases you describe (which in the score would appear as an instrument change), but it can also cover cases where both instruments are being played at the same time (typically for percussion, for instance). I imaging that the combination of multiple instruments, multiple voices and expression map support will give users lots of interesting options for playback.

Take a look at the discussion on this other thread a few days ago: