Playback sometimes out of tune

Hello, I have a long standing issue when it comes to playback.
As an example, I playback a string quartet score (with the standard/default Halion sounds). Everything is fine, but after a few bars one of the violins starts being out of tune (painfully sharp). As if a MIDI command pitch bend had been triggered.
I would say it is less than a quarter tone sharp. If I stop playback, re-select a note and start playback again, it might be fine again or not. Sometimes I am lucky and a whole piece plays without an issue. Strange thing though, I had this problem already since years, when I was still working with Sibelius exclusively. My system OS is macOS 10.14 - I have a USB connected 49 key Midi controller- just for note input.
If in Dorico I do an audio export, the file is fine. It just happens during playback.
I am thankful for any hints.

Have you tried to reproduce the problem without the midi controller connected? Maybe the Midi controller is randomly sending Midi Pitch Bend messages?

Thank you Asacius,
next time this happens I will disconnect the Midi keyboard and see whether it makes a difference. Will keep you updated.

I had this years ago with Finale and a dodgy pitch bend wheel on an attached QS8, so Asacius’ diagnosis is probably correct.

It happened again, and I switched off the Midi keyboard. Nothing changed.
I then tried another path: whilst the playback was again out of tune (it seems to be first or second staff instrument) I gently moved the pitch bend wheel out of its centre - until the playback got in tune.
I then switched off the Midi controller and playback stayed in tune.
This is strange, why should the pitch bend wheel influence the playback at all - if I just want to use it for plain entering of notes? I never use the keyboard for anything else. I would like these wheels disabled (pitch bend and modulation). I do only sometimes need the octave switches.

eKeys-49 USB MIDI Keyboard

Well, the behaviour of the pitch bend wheel can be explained. Since MIDI works with messages when a state is changed, you have to give Dorico the message that the pitch bend wheel is in normal position, else it supposes the wheel is not in normal position, even if you disconnect the keyboard. I#m not into Midi that much, but you could try Bomes Midi Translator. This program captures the Midi messages, transforms them into different messages if you wish, and then sends them to the normal Midi in channel.

ah, thank you for your explanation. I remember in Sibelius one could just type in hidden midi commands after a tilde (if I remember correctly. I would love if I could just tell Dorico to ignore these kind of messages and just take in note input even without dynamics (don’t know the correct midi term for this).

It is getting weirder: I have a score with just violin and viola. In playback, (I get the impression) after an expression change (let us say from piano to mezzo forte) suddenly the violin drifts out of tune - quite a lot. I can correct this with the pitch bend wheel - which I have to turn quite a lot away from its centre. I am trying to replicate this behaviour, but: this time the viola jumps out of tune. Why sometimes the upper staff and sometimes the lower staff? This is obscure. Also I have disconnected the USB-cable from the midi keyboard, but the playback stays out of tune. I wonder why Dorico should receive these kind of midi messages at all…

Because MIDI input goes to the instrument/staff that you selected last. Pitch bend messages only affect one MIDI channel.

Because disconnecting the cable doesn’t “magically” send a message to cancel everything sent previously. It just means you aren’t going to send any more messages until you reconnect the cable.

Because if you want to record “live” MIDI input for an electric guitar for example, you want to use them!

The most likely cause of all this is a faulty keyboard. Even if you accidentally move a pitch bend wheel, it should be spring-loaded to set itself back to zero when you let go. Quite likely if this is an old keyboard, some dirt has got into the wheel mechanism which is either creating “random” messages and/or physically stopping the wheel from returning to its zero position.

Depending on the keyboard, the sensor might be optical and a bit of dust is interrupting the light beam and making the electronics think you moved the wheel, or it is electrical and some dirt is conducting electricity and generating random signals.

Thank you Rob, that is great help.
I am beginning to understand :slight_smile:
As the „old“ keyboard still looks as a new one and I practically never used these pitch bend and modulation wheels, I will still go and take the whole thing apart - as dust might be an issue… Especially if the pitch bend wheel seems to work optically.
Hopefully this will then solve the issue.

If you are going to take it apart, get an “air duster” can of compressed gas. Blowing out the dirt is safer than trying to clean it mechanically. You will probably find some grime in the keyboard itself so you might as well clean everything.