tempo control

Since expressiveness and rubato are a big part of what makes music live I’m wondering about how they’ll be supported in Dorico. As a composer I find it hard to determine whether an idea works unless I can hear both those elements. I understand Dorico has implemented flexible dynamics therefore expressiveness. What’s your intention with regards to graphic tempo editing, ie. rubato?

Playback in Dorico is currently pretty basic, and although it does include interpretation of tempo marks written in the score, it doesn’t include any rubato or humanisation features as yet. All of these things will come in time, including a tempo map that can be edited graphically.

That sounds great Daniel.

It would be nice to have a tempo map which can be manually edited, either with a mouse or pen, or with a midi controller (using the “read / write / nudge” etc. automation mode). I never quite got the hang of that “live tempo” thing in Sibelius – the results were always pretty crazy. If people want to breath life into the playback by tweaking it here and there, it is really a musical choice they have to make themselves imo, I wouldn’t worry too much about computer algorithms that attempt some kind of “human playback”. Again, in Sibelius this doesn’t really work.

As to the relationship between engraving and playback, my suggestion would be that small tweaks here and there wouldn’t affect the notation; but if it goes beyond a threshold (maybe a preset that can be changed) you would get a warning message. Something like “do you want me to change the lento to presto?” etc.

I’m not familiar with the Live Tempo from Sibelius, but the tempo track in Finale has been one of the best for me of anything. You specify in notation which beats you want to conduct, essentially, then make a run through the piece tapping those tempos in. I’ve found that easier than drawing in tempos in Cubase.

Anyway, just my 2 cents on that.

PS. Is it Wednesday yet?!

The Finale solution is twofold, both by tapping the tempo track in or by altering the MIDI file, but in Finale’s case the MIDI editor is arcane and the tempo-tap option is much harder to sync than a “starting tempo to ending tempo” by number option would be. I have my fingers crossed that something like that will happen in Dorico eventually.

I use metronome marks and fermatas to implement timing and phrasing of choral music all the time–I’m the music director of a liturgical church, using live playback from Sibelius and Hauptwerk.

I agree with the comment above that automated “humanizing” doesn’t really work–because, at least with hymns, the phrasing is driven by the lyrics as much as the music. What I’d love to see is a graphical means of displaying phrasing–something visually like a slur across an entire phrase, but on something like a layer (such as you’d see in a CAD program) that you can hide or display when you need it.

Oftentimes I will mark up a score with slurs just for markup–I’ll mark the phrases with fermatas (adjusting duration and length), then using slurs to show phrases. Then I’ll use metronome marks to add phrasing. (I’ll then delete the slurs, just so they don’t clutter the score.)

Doing this one metronome mark at a time is hugely tedious–I’ve adapted some tools, and written others, to really help my workflow. I find that the easier it is to do markup, the more markup I do–I’ll typically use 12-20 metronome marks in a single hymn verse, and different timing in each of the verses. That’s only feasible when you have the tools–that becomes accessible to many more musicians if that phrasing can be done by changing spline points on a Bezier curve.

I agree that in sibelius it’s really hard to edit the live tempo according to your will. It’s always hard to modify the graph afterwards.
I really hope for an editable graph (like tempo graph in Cubase) which can be drawn with pencil tool, so in each bar I’ll be able to define it exact tempo and feeling. When it will be implemented together with other important features like: Guitar Tabs (fingering+string number) and ability to take midi file I played freely in my piano without tempo and be able to make it as readable notes (without spending a full day for a 2 minute composition), and real-time midi input notes - then I’ll jump into Dorico happily.
Hope you will implement those feature with the same level (details/options/usability/user friendly) you’ve implemented chords.

Not asking for much, are we?
I’m sure many of these ideas will be implemented, but not necessarily by tomorrow.

Defining tempo as a continuous spline curve seems like overkill most of the time. The only significant parameter is the time interval between successive notes, and for a typical hymn tune there are not many notes involved. There is never any need for more than one MM mark per note, to define the tempo completely!

Doing this one metronome mark at a time is hugely tedious

Actually, I find it’s quick to do using MM marks, once you have learned by how much (as a percentage) you need to change the tempo to get the effect you want. After that, you can copy-and-paste most of the markings.

But I’ve heard far too many organists (and harpsichordists) who have very strange ideas about rhythm - if you pull the tempo around so much that the listeners can’t predict when the next beat is likely to happen, the result is usually rhythmical chaos. I remember once sitting in on a masterclass by Peter Hurford where he gave a brilliant demonstration of how not to play a Bach chorale prelude “expressively,” by deliberately making that mistake!

But if you find continuous curves are easier to work with, that’s fine, of course.

If we are talking of controlling accel’s and rit’s here, music more complex than hymn tunes should have the option of setting a starting and ending tempo and specifying a straight-line or curved tempo change between them.

I don’t mind the option of straight lines or curves, but (based on what I can hear!) it doesn’t seem to match how humans play accels and rits. A smooth interpolation tends to destroy any “groove” that the rhythm had before the accel or rit, but the “groove” may need accentuating, not covering up, to help the listener keep track of the rhythm.

Not to mention situations where you can fool the audience into hearing an accel but actually end up at a slower tempo than you started at, since that’s the only way to make the music playable! The same can also apply to dynamics, with a long cresc or dim.

If you really want the sound of live players, you hire live players. Fortunately Dorico will print out very clear attractive parts for them to play from.
I do not relish changing tempo marks every beat: if I want to micromanage a simulation note by note, I’d use a DAW.

[thank you button]

thank you Rob, very well explained.

Well described!
Maybe an idea is to control the accels and rit graph, like you have in cubase for fade out - you have several options to reduce the volume level - basic one is linear which goes from 100% to 0% in same pace, but you have other options like logarithmic graphs - 1) pull down fast then release slow at the end 2) pull down slowly and release fast at the end…

From the “Playback Tempo” thread: