Playback templates and different violins


I undestand that you can use Instrument Overrides, in a Playback Template, to replace a solo violin from VSL with one from EW.

But what about if I want to have different solo violins? For example,

  • Solo Violin 1 from VSL
  • Solo Violin 2 from VSL
  • Solo Dimension Violin 1 from VSL
  • All other Solo Dimension Violins from VSL
  • Solo Violin from Xsample
  • Solo Violin from Spitfire Alternative Strings

Each one has a different specialization. The different Solo Violins from VSL are first chairs or quartet members. Dimension Violins are part of the orchestra, in various divisi combinations. Xsample and Spitfire are for special techniques not included in VSL.

How can I have all these violins in a playback template?


There isn’t a way of having these in the same playback template; you would need a separate playback template for them.

This is a question I was getting ready to ask…but I wanted to come up with the best way to ask it…which this may not be it…but I’ll give it a try anyway…

As ptram was saying… we sometimes need to mix and match different endpoint samplers for different sections of the same piece of music. I might want or need to use, for example, Appasionata strings only during the soaring section…and the rest of the time use dimension strings…or perhaps layer them, etc… but in Dorico I want it all triggered from one source 1 violins staff.

or as his example, maybe one library for one solo section a different library for a different section.

In a DAW, we would just add more and more tracks, so that we end up with, for example 3 or 4 or 5 flute tracks…which all together would be represented by a single flute staff on a score, but in a DAW…they can be multiple tracks…and we decide which part of the music will use which of those tracks, or sometimes they could be layered too.

I’m not seeing any easy way to do this with Dorico right now, it seems like we have to set up our endpoints…and the playback template…but no way to switch on the fly which endpoint gets used, perhaps based on a custom play technique or something.

I guess we could possibly use the relative channel setting of an add on technique, to have the results go to different channels, and if we use a sub-hoster of some kind like VePro, ploguebidule or others, then perhaps based on this add-on technique we might be able to get things channeled to different combinations of instruments outside of Dorico…still the same Dorico endpoint…but since that endpoint is a plugin hoster of its own…then using a different channel could route to different VST plugins inside the plugin subhoster. I guess? I haven’t tried it yet.

If I really want to get tricky I could do something in plogueBidule that could even respond to key switches to decide which plugin chain to use and the and add-on custom playing technique (for example “soaring”) could trigger a key switch, which effectively routes the midi through appassionata strings instead of dimension strings (for example).

Just thinking out loud, but its starts to get ugly and complicated very quickly…so I’m not sure I want to go too far down that rabbit hole, but still this is an issue I’m not sure how to best address with Dorico playback currently.

Thanks for the Dorico 3.5 Expression Map post you made by the way, its excellent!

You can’t practically create a single string part that will be played by several different libraries over time in Dorico at the moment. You can use several different patches, defining an expression map that moves between the various techniques by way of program changes, but if you need to switch to a different library altogether, you’d need to use a different instrument held by the same player so that you can have a different endpoint altogether. This would then introduce some notational infelicities you’d have to deal with, like redundant instrument change labels. Or, as you say, you could use some kind of plug-in agnostic host like VE Pro and have two different plug-ins on separate channels, which would allow you to mix and match libraries without needing to use different libraries.

Right. That’s why I was thinking about a plugin sub-hoster such as VePro or PlogeBidule. PlogueBidule could respond to PC messages and change the plugin chain used dynamically. VePro could not do that. But as far as using different channels for VePro…what would be the best way, currently, to go about setting something like that up with Dorico 3.5?

I’d like to avoid having to make combination techniques because that will add up to hundreds of combinations if you have to use every actual playing technique within each destination library.

If I make a custom playing technique, specify it as an “add on” technique, with one action of bumping the channel by n… Would that work? then use the custom playing technique to choose which ultimate channel it gets sent to, while all the rest of the keyswitches would be handled by the core playing techniques and sent through to the destination channel according to that custom add on technique?

I guess that would not work well with EW PLAY stuff which needs to use channels for even the basic articulation switching… But anyway…just thinking out loud at this point. This is a very common situation. I am looking hard core at switching from Cubase to Dorico for my mockups…the Dorico team is making expression maps so much better then Cubase at the moment in numerous ways. And I prefer to work with notation then piano roll. But there is no getting around the fact that we need to mix and match libraries often and it seems difficult with Dorico.

If you need the extra control of mixing and matching multiple playback libraries then you may be better served doing this in a DAW. There would be an enormous amount of complexity in the UI that would be required in order to configure and control this kind of set up. I’m sure it’s possible to get some way towards this goal using tools like VEPro and Bidule, though I don’t have any experience of this (search for Bidule on this forum though, as some users have quite sophisticated setups with it).

There’s another option which is a bit more manual but could be useful: create a second playback template, eg with a different solo violin and export the stems using each. Then mix in the DAW and slice up the 2 violin tracks to select which version you want for each section.

If understand correctly, any additional library has to be added manually. The Playback Template assumes that Violin is always play by the Standard Library, so you have to add any other Extended Library by hand.

This seems to me to have to be done this way:

  1. Create the additional instrument in the host (VEPRO or PlogueBidule).
  2. Add a second voice to the Violin staff in Dorico, and connect it to the additional instrument in the host.

I did this with a recent piece. However, I seem to understand that by invoking the Playback Template again will break all manual settings. So, it has to be invoked only at the beginning or the work, and then left alone after any manual change.

If the above is true, I want customizable instrument profiles! :slight_smile:


In a DAW this is very easy to do. But there are other things connected to using multiple libraries that are more difficult on a DAW than on Dorico. For example, writing glissandos, ricochets, quarter tones in Logic is completely awful. And even some very basic symbols are totally missing from its Score module.

In other words, with complex scores Dorico is preferable to a DAW, even in situations where a traditional notation program would be out of discussion.

Dorico is already able to manage two important things:

  • different sound libraries, via the Family or Instrument Overrides;
  • different voices that can be connected to different endpoints.

So, maybe it’s just be a matter of extending the Overrides concept to the individual voices, to make Playback Templates that can connect each staff to more libraries.


There are many possibilities for how we might extend these abilities in the future - we’ll continue to think about which approaches offer the most flexibility without adding too much extra complexity.

One reasonably simple solution would be allow playing techniques in expression maps to manually specify the endpoint, per technique. Right now the method is an automatic method using the playback template. That system, which is a bit complex and abstract in its own, makes it so that by default people can enter notes on a score and probably hear the proper instrument sounds without having to think about setting up expression maps.

It does add an additional level of complexity though for those of us that want to directly assign our instruments to one specific endpoint and we know what we are doing to set up the vst in that endpoint. Take it a step further then and it’s not that much harder to add a manual endpoint definition per technique in the expressionMap.

Then combo techniques would basically be used. For example lib1+staccato sends certain keyswitches to certain channel channel of certain endpoint. Lob2+staccato sends different keyswitches to different channel of different endpoint.

Well that doesn’t serve vepro quite as well since if you want to use vepro with one or few instances it all has to funnel through one vepro endpoint.


So the case for vepro, which is probably the most important use case for this particular audience, using different endpoints will never be the right solution. What needs to happen for vepro is that each combo technique needs to be able to specify THE PORT of its designated endpoint in addition to the channel and keyswitches. If we could do that then it would be possible to easily use a custom playing technique to choose alternative players in the score. And combo playing techniques in the EM could make sure to send the right keyswitches to the right port and channel in vepro.

Abstractly this kind like as if you had three or four flute players, for example, sitting in front of a score and they each have a different sounding flute and player idiosyncrasies, and somehow we can specify through the score which of them will play a given phrase, or perhaps sometimes it could be more then one of them at once too. Dorico can already do some interesting things with regards to players and instruments and that concept in the score so maybe this is already there in some way and we might only need to add a PORT parameter to the expression map in order to facilitate what we are asking about now?

The underlying design was intended to allow for this use case, where you might have different techniques played by different plugins, but the practical aspects of having a way of controlling this in the UI would be considerable (you have multiple players, each holding multiple instruments that have multiple voices, playing multiple playing techniques via multiple plugins). So it’s a use case that we’ll continue to think about.

Re port switch - that’s certainly something we can consider.

Yes the more I think about it, vepro is the most likely solution for this advanced usage and multiple endpoints won’t even help at all. Being able to assign port per technique in addition to channel could help a lot for vepro! Then a custom play technique can be used to specify which to use, layers can be facilitated in vepro but with some redundant channels needed to do so.

I want to investigate a little more the existing dorico feature of having a player that switches which instrument he is playing. That might work too but then it starts to show up more on the score and basically in this case we want to hide this from the score. It’s a vst detail not a real world detail that needs to shown on the score.

But just thinking out loud some more…for your future considerations about the ultimate orchestral scoring solution! :wink:

Regarding the possibility of using combo techniques, with channel and port per technique to direct to different instruments… I think that would probably work, with the port feature added… But…

I can say also that having to have super huge expression maps that span several different VST’s is very cumbersome to work with and unwieldy, hard to reuse across different projects. It can result in combination-explosion very easily and you can end up with humongous expression maps that only work for one or two projects even after spending a lot of time setting them up.

So there is still a preference to have one expression map correspond to one VST instrument preset inside one End Point, such that it can easily be dropped in and reused on different projects as needed. I guess an additional abstraction layer might be needed… whereby a custom playing technique chooses which endpoint and EM to use before digging through the technique definitions within that EM to do the rest. or something else different then custom playing technique to choose which EM, on the fly. Perhaps its the instrument/player abstractions, but as I said earlier, I feel this is a VST detail that should specifically be HIDDEN from the score.

So I think the solution to this is to be found somewhere within the ExpressionMap, Playback Template, Endpoint infrastructure…

I can say also, I might be able to solve some of this if Dorico provided a VST2 plugin slot in front of each instrument slot where i can host a midi-only VST2 plugin. Then any number of solutions can be provided to massage the midi before sending it on to the actual VST instrument.

As you pointed out, this is clearly where standard DAW’s win. Dorico, however, has a lot of other very compelling features specifically related to orchestral work…and so honestly I could see myself moving to Dorico, especially I see Dorico as ultimately becoming my end-to-end software, I can potentially do everything I need to do all in one program…the tempo mapping, the composing, the mockup and the paper production, but I do hope we can find a way to handle the issue being discussed here regarding the ability to use more than one VST instrument to represent a single staff of music.