Request: Different mallet types as default Playback Techniques


I’m starting to get some percussion libraries that have multiple choices between soft, medium, and hard mallets. I think these probably require their own Playback Techniques. The problem is that custom playback techniques don’t always translate over nicely to other systems - you can always see the name as something like user_pt.hardmallet or some other auto generated identifer. When I’m doing percussion maps I always try to avoid using custom Playback Techniques if I can for this reason. So, I’m wondering if there is the possibility of getting some of these “softness” choices in for various mallets as playback techniques in some future update for Dorico. That way I can program these into my percussion maps without having to worry about them showing up properly on other systems.

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I would think that unless the keyswitches (or other means) to call these different mallet techniques were standardized among several VST/instrument companies, implementing them in Dorico would not be a priority.

Of course John Barron or other users might be willing to write Expression Maps for some of these VST Instruments (or John might even do a Discover Dorico session on it), and I would certainly not be opposed to that.

Which percussion libraries did you have in mind that enable these mallet techniques?

VSL percussion.

I don’t need John Barron to program anything. I’m making my own percussion maps.

Then I am confused what you are asking the Dorico programmers to provide.

I just want things like “soft mallet” and “medium mallet” and “hard mallet” added to this list:

That’s it. I’m doing the rest of the things myself.

And I’m sure you will probably ask why I don’t just hit the + button to add them myself - the reason was explained in the first post.


Thank you for explaining.

There shouldn’t really be any problem with using user-defined playback techniques: the whole reason we allow you to define them is so that you can use them, after all. Provided you create a playback template, you can be sure that any playback techniques (and indeed any playing techniques) you reference in the expression maps will be included.

Have you encountered any specific workflow problems related to this? If so, it’d be helpful to know what they are so we can think about how to improve things in future.


Hi Daniel,

Thanks. Most of my experiences with weirdness around user-defined playback techniques have involved the direct import of expression maps or percussion maps made by other users. For instance, I remember importing a violin library expression map made by someone else on this forum and they didn’t realize that “muted” was already a playback technique with con sord. as a playing technique that linked to it and the result was the expression map having the technique listed as something like “user_pt.105305.con_sord” (this is just my recollection).

Because of things like that, I’ve always tried to use a built in playback technique and only make my own as a last resort if nothing really works for that.

It’s entirely possible that it doesn’t do this weird naming when loading a playback template on another system as I understand that the larger playback template system carries some of this information with it. I’ll have to do some testing to see what happens here.

However, I can think of another issue that not having it as a built-in technique would result in. A lot of higher end percussion libraries now have mallet choices. So in the VSL timpani, I have choices of soft, medium, and hard mallet. Although I don’t own the Berlin Timpani, it has the same three choices of mallet. Neither library offers expression maps/percussion maps from the vendor, so people would make their own. If I make my own expression map for the VSL Timpani and have to add new playback techniques and name them something like “soft mallet”, “hard mallet” etc, that is fine. Now later someone else might come along and make their own map for Berlin Timpani and similarly create playback techniques for soft and hard mallets. Now maybe later I might buy Berlin Timpani too and load up that other person’s template and want to compare them alongside by copying and pasting a line from the one timpani to the other, complete with mallet playing techniques and such. It might know to merge the playback techniques from multiple libraries if the name is an exact match, but if the person making the Berlin template decided to use “soft beater” and “hard beater” instead of “soft mallet” and “hard mallet”, or if they put parentheses around “mallet”, or some other such variant, there is no way that Dorico could know for certain these are the same technique to merge them both into one to allow copy and paste of a musical passage while retaining the mallet changes indicated in the passage.

If on the other hand, Dorico had these mallet types as built-in to the default playback technique list, this would largely be a non-issue - the people creating the libraries would independently find the similarly named technique for that mallet, use it, and then you could copy and paste a passage with mallet changes from one timpani to a completely different library and still hear the mallet changes without having to go in and remap the playing techniques to a different playback technique. There’s also the possibility that someone might use both timpani libraries in the same work (ex. a piece with two timpani) and don’t want to have to distinguish between the “hard mallet” playing technique that triggers the “hard mallet” playback technique in the playback template for VSL timpani vs the “hard mallet” playing technique that triggers the “hard beater” playback technique in the playback template for Berlin Timpani, with this complication only being present because the two template creators decided to name their playback techniques slightly differently for no good reason, and this becomes not very user friendly. So, I would still think it is very useful to have these as built-ins.

I don’t disagree that it would be useful to have these as built-in playback techniques, and we can add them, but the fundamental problem remains: it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to provide every possible playback technique in the factory set, and even if we did, people designing their own playback templates might still choose to create their own. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s an especially good solution to the issue of two users creating similar or even identical playback techniques and then dealing with switching between two playback templates (or mixing them in the same project) and having competing, similar playback techniques available. I agree that a deeper set of factory techniques will help, but it can’t solve it.


Thanks Daniel. I know it would not be able to solve the problem completely, particularly with percussion there are always going to be techniques that are unusual and almost defy standard classification, like bowing or scraping a tam tam in various ways with various implements, or bowing a cymbal placed on top of a timpani, or rubbing a bass drum membrane with your hands, etc. I think particularly with percussion techniques there are many advanced/weird things where users will likely just always have to create playback techniques for themselves. In my view, however, mallet choice is not one of those weird unusual things, but instead something rather basic and commonplace. Dorico’s default playback technique list is actually overall quite comprehensive already I find and I rarely have the need to add things to it myself. The main thing I find myself missing are the various mallets based on hardness, and I found it a strange omission given how otherwise complete the list is.