Strange ranges for certain instruments


Just using some instruments I’ve never used in Dorico before and found a few of them aren’t working as expected - the contrabassoon and tubular bells (so far) seem to have the wrong ranges? I am writing notes for them that are definitely in their range (the lowest notes of the contra, and A above middle C for the tubular bells) but they are not sounding. I can get them to sound if I put the contra up an octave, and the bells down an octave.

I haven’t looked into how to correct this yet - will try and work out how - but just thought it was worth mentioning.


The audible range of an instrument has first to do with the used VSTi.
The default use of Halion Sonic Orchestra in Dorico is only a “suggestion”.
Though a quite good allround VSTi HSO is not the deepest one and does not indeed cover the whole possible range of each instrument.

In fact HSO does not seem to have a contrabassoon!
You can find a contra bassoon in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5.

edit 2
The tubular bell of HSO has a limited range but the GM(015) tubular bells is playable over the whole midi range!

It would be useful (for beginners and when writing for instruments with which one - beginner or not - is unfamiliar) if Dorico could one day indicate out of range in the same way that Sibelius does:

  • change note colours (and even ledger lines?) to show out-of-range
  • fulfill the function of some of its plugins which indicate the playability of what one has written

I do agree, though, that there’s no substitute for really getting to know what all the instruments for which one writes are capable of and comfortable with.

Knowing the range of an instrument is not very helpful if HALion (or any VST) doesn’t provide the proper range of the instrument or transposes it unexpectedly by an octave (like the vocal tenor) without letting the user know.

(Yes, I know the Tenor transposition has been explained.)

I think some of this ALSO has to do with Dorico’s idea of the instrument. For example, the Glockenspiel (aka Orchestra Bells) transpose up 2 octaves in real life. Dorico seems to handle this correctly, but I believe Halion does not (or I have that backwards). I have to move my keyboard MIDI range up 2 octaves to get the Glock to notate correctly. The Xylophone is transposed up 1 octave, but this one does not handle correctly. I have to be centered around middle C to input correctly (which I like better… As I am inputting the “written” pitch, not the sounding pitch - which makes me wonder why the glockenspiel doesn’t do this).

As such, I think part of this falls on the limitation of Halion SO, and the other might be an issue with the instrument definitions within Dorico itself.


The standard range for chimes (aka tubular bells) is middle C to F in the next higher octave. If you open the Halion Sonic VST window, it has the pitches an octave lower C2 to F3. To make those pitches sound in Dorico, you must write an octave lower than normal. See attached. That picture shows the pitches that sound. Notice that the out-of-range color applies to the first octave. You can use the EDIT page in Halion Sonic to shift the sounds by one octave. That works, but I presume that will reset if you re-apply the playback template.

Either Dorico or Halion needs to transpose by an octave so that this is automatic for the Dorico user. It looks to me like Halion is in error. I suppose Steinberg would be very reluctant to change that now because that would throw off any old Cubase projects that used tubular bells.

It there a way for Dorico to tell Halion to to the octave shift as Dorico is assigning the voice (when adding a new player/instrument or when applying the playback template)? That would seem to be the best solution if it were possible. The next best thing might be for Steinberg to supply a new sound ( i.e. “Chimes-correct”) that Dorico could use without disturbing all those old Cubase projects.
Chimes range.png

I get the impression the Glock is having the same problem transposing one, rather than two, octaves up from notated notes. Therefore it just stops sounding as I write into its higher range.

Probably so. You can try that same work-around by changing the octave in Halion. But these things really should be fixed before any more projects become dependent on the sounds in the wrong octaves.

I find this feature rather problematic as well. I know the ranges of the players I’m arranging for, so I just turn it off.

For this feature to be actually useful to me, I’d like the ability to modify the values per player via a menu in Setup mode.

I find it useful even though I am conversant with the ranges of most instruments. The problem in this case is not the out-of-range colors. The problem is that the VST and Dorico disagree on pitches by one or two octaves. That problem remains even if you turn off the out-of-range colors.

One doesn’t find these disagreements on the common instruments. But cases like glock and tubular bells have evidently been overlooked because of their infrequent usage.

You can specify an expression map for the channel on which the tubular bells (or indeed glockenspiel) is loaded in the Endpoint Setup dialog that will tell Dorico to transpose the notes by an octave on playback.

That’s good to know as a work-around, but shouldn’t this work correctly by default?

It’s possible that a couple of patches that don’t currently have those expression maps assigned by default should do, yes.

Just for the record, I did create an expression map “HSO Tubular Bells” (and also (“HSO Chimes”), with a NATURAL technique of transpose -12. This works fine, but is lost when applying the playback template. Is there a file I can update so that this will be assigned automatically?

You can do this in Dorico 3 without hacking any system files.

It’s a bit too long to explain without just copying a chunk of the documentation, so check out “manual playback templates” in the user guide or the release notes.

I don’t know anything about VSTIs and expression maps (hope to avoid needing to know for the remainder of my life!), but I would like to contribute that that when it comes to glockenspiel, the HSSE Elements playback template behaves correctly, and the HSSE Pro playback template doesn’t (octave out, and not playing glockenspiel notes that are still within range).

Dear lilayu,
It looks as though you have attached no diagram at all…

Marc, the post is an exact copy-and-paste from

Maybe we have a bot as a new member, since nothing else in the thread has been about the piccolo.

They have been banished to the ban list.

Is the Tin Whistle set up correctly? The notes appear to be written an octave lower.

Or is it something I need to adjust in Kontakt? I’m playing from middle C upwards and using the Tin Whistle from Ventus Ethnic Winds…

ETA: I’m getting the same result with another Tin Whistle VST.