Suggestion for minimal piano VST in Dorico.app package

Recently I have run into the situation of using Dorico without a large VST drive, and/or using Dorico on a brand new installation where the libraries are not installed.

Can’t Dorico have a minimal instrument inside the app, to use when sample libraries are not mounted? Such that, at a minimum, a basic piano can be synthesized?

Result when running Dorico without any instrument installed: (complains there is no Sonic)

Result when running Dorico when instrument is installed but no Content is found (VST is assigned but no program slots are loaded, because there is no Content yet; or alternatively, a program slot may be assigned, but the Content is not mounted so there is no output):

To playback, Dorico requires either a VST or external MIDI device. But you do not need Halion. (though it is slightly inconvenient without it). Just load a VST that you do have and route your instrument(s) to it.

If you don’t have room for large libraries, use something small like Pianoteq or a synth like Surge or Vital. Something like Sforzando will even give you access to many interesting legacy soundfonts that can sound remarkably decent!

Dorico generates DoricoBeep without any VST. So, Dorico can synth sounds without VST or external MIDI device.

This is a similar use case which falls under my suggestion: Install Dorico 5 without content

On Win I often use GS Synth which has a decent piano…
image

Some users claimed some malfunction, but I never had an hiccup!

“When I delete all the sounds, the sounds don’t work.” :grin:

You could just leave yourself a minimum installation of HALion that includes a piano .vstsound file. That would use very little space – Megabytes. And probably no more than a hidden default VST piano inside the app would.

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Explain? I thought that Steinberg mandated one and only one directory for all VST. So how does it work to use a minimal installation, and then, when needed, use the maximum installation?

However what I really want is a bit more flexibility than that anyway, which I will have to explain some other day.

There are various cases where I would prefer a minimal piano VST directly in Dorico itself. In some situations it would be preferable to be able to (temporarily, non-destructively) switch all instruments to use this minimal piano.

Here are many examples… I have run into all of these at one time or another.

  • Ex. In brief compositional sketching sessions, when I want to use Dorico as if it is TextEdit, i.e. a low-overhead notepad for ideas (near-zero system resource), with no regard to VST except wanting a basic piano sound. Compare sketching music to the various ways any OS allows for jotting written ideas: there’s a full blown word processor, yet there is also TextEdit, there are also Stickies (very minimal text jotting), there are also Widget Notepads, there is even a macOs hot-corner now for pulling up a quick notepad, etc. There is a need for zero-load-time, no-overhead way to read/write musical ideas.
  • Ex. With multiple projects open, it takes time to activate playback when switching between projects. This wastes time and can mean losing the sense of melody/harmony if the intention is to compare the projects to each other tonally. Thus it is quickest to Open or switch to the window with Activate off, yet this produces no sound.
  • Ex. In composing or studying a composition, it can be much easier to hear melody/harmony if all instruments are temporarily played with a piano instrument. Just like it can be easier to hear rhythm if the metronome is enabled. Yet switching Playback Template in order to do this introduces other complications and hassles.
  • Ex. With libraries not yet installed, or installed but soundbank not mounted (i.e. external drive not connected), Dorico should be able to Play something.
  • Ex. Using a library installation set that requires 300+GB, while the “VST installation directory” is restricted to be one and only one location rather than split across multiple locations (severe limitation), installing on an internal drive is not preferable. External drive is better, yet if unmounted, Dorico can’t produce sound.
  • Ex. To answer a quick musical question which requires Open & Play, Activating the project requires extra load time. Not Activating it would be preferable yet then the project can’t Play anything.
  • Ex. Loading a project which uses missing VSTs or libraries, the project can appear Activated, yet playback will not be accurate (maybe some instruments play, the missing ones don’t). Dorico recognizes missing VSTs as a general project warning, but not as it relates to the Project’s specific VST routings. The routing assignments have become more complex with Playback Templates which allow fallbacks to other libraries, so this creates ambiguities regarding which VSTi are used. It would be better in the ambiguous case to switch to non-Active for playback, and non-destructive to existing routing compared to assigning a Playback Template.
  • Ex. Playback of projects which overcome system resources have various problems such that it could be better to de-Activate. It is unknown in Playback if notes are being dropped (the instruments simply don’t play their lines), so the Playback will not be correct harmony. Sometimes this is Ok, and other times it is not Ok and would be better to temporarily switch to a low-overhead instrument (without having to modify existing routing).
  • Ex. Switching Playback Templates to a simpler VST is destructive to customizations, so is not preferred. Setting up custom Playback Templates to match unique projects might be possible, to allow switching to/from various VST sets, but that requires a chunk of time, and would need continual refinement when projects add new instruments.
  • Ex. I haven’t encountered this since I haven’t worked this way yet, but I assume if an external MIDI device is being used for output, yet then wanting to quickly check if a project is tonally correct, or if it the external device not connected, Dorico can’t quickly switch to playing something and back again, for just verifying MIDI or verifying harmony.

I believe all of these use cases can be covered by this feature as follows:

  • Minimal internal Piano inside Dorico itself, which is available to use for Playback of all instruments regardless of whether a project is Activated.
  • A button which switches on/off the use of the Piano for all instruments, bypassing the project’s VST assignments.
  • Switching to/from the internal piano takes no overhead, just like enabling/disabling the Metronome or Chords instrument takes no overhead.
  • The Piano does not modify existing VST assignments or VST customizations when enabled or disabled. i.e. it is not like applying a Playback Template.
  • If a project is not Activated when opened, the Piano is automatically enabled instead.
  • Perhaps Sketch staff’s use the internal Piano as their instrument as default. (Rather than being assigned a loadable VST from the Playback Template)

Minimal Piano probably means a synth (FM?), takes tiny storage space, uses tiny CPU, has infinite polyphony, and has two types of timbres:

  • Acoustic Piano style voice (i.e. finite sustain)
  • Electric Piano style voice (i.e. infinitely sustained, for more easily hearing harmonies)
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I also would benefit greatly from this idea (although I don’t have my hopes up). Most of the time all I need to hear is that the notes are correct

Now the only thing left to argue is which Yamaha piano synth should be embedded inside Dorico.