Thoughts and suggestions about playback (especially alternative noteheads and percussions)

Maybe this was brought up before, but just in case, I’d talk about my thought on this.

I think it’s pretty fair to say that, when using alternative note heads in a normal staff, let it be cross or square or triangle, things like that, it would likely mean playing the instrument in a different and unconventional way. It probably should trigger an alternative playing technique rather than do nothing.

And for alternative playing technique, maybe it’s better if we can also choose to send certain playing techniques to a different midi channel, so that we would be able to trigger what isn’t covered by the original sample instrument. For example, knocking an instrument, or plucking the piano. Giving that artificial harmonics playback is likely already on the horizon, it might be a good idea to make things more flexible so that there’s no need to get a full version of Kontakt or HALion just to dig into the instrument file and inject some additional samples (which few people would like to do I guess, and it’s not even whether they own Kontakt or HALion or not).

And speaking of instrument knocking sound, it would be great if Dorico can include a sampler/SF2 player so that when there’s a need for unconventional sound there’s no need to get another sampler elsewhere. The sampler/SF2 player should provide a way to turn off key tracking (so that the pitch doesn’t shift when not playing the base note) of course. Sure, such thing would likely produce worse sound than a properly made instrument but it’s still good for emergency use, for example, when writing for a less conventional instrument (or playing technique), just search online for a sample and drop it in and problem temporarily solved.

(Better yet, maybe the sampler should provide multiple sample slots/layers for different techniques so that there’s no need to load multiple samplers to finish the job, but it would probably need a lot more works since that would mean implementing a way to send playing techniques without the use of playback templetes.)

You can of course use any VST2.x or VST3 compatible sampler or SF2 player with Dorico already, since Dorico already provides a very capable sampler in the form of HALion Sonic SE. If you want to produce patches for HSSE, you can do that with the full HALion 6 package, too. You can, using VST expression maps, also send specific playing techniques to different channels.

The only thing that Dorico doesn’t do compared to your description is automatically change playing technique when you use a different notehead type, and that’s not something likely to change soon, but it’s easy to add a suitable playing technique and hide it (via Properties) if need be. However, a textual description to help inform your human players what they should actually be doing probably wouldn’t go amiss.

I also need noteheads to change to a different playback technique. I’m trying to use the suggested workaround, (a text playback direction) but it leaves the instrument on the alternate channel, rather than returning to the normal channel for normal noteheads. I tried adding an off event in “Expression Maps” > “Techniques and Actions” but that seems to disable the “On Event.”

I’m able to get the playback technique to change the channel to withing the current VST instrument, but haven’t figured out how to get one playback sound to come from a different VST.

Noteheads controlling playback would be great. I can think of zero situations in which a non-standard notehead should result in a standard playback sound. I’ve been using “one text to change the channel, another to change the channel back, hide both text expressions” as a workaround in Finale for years, and it is a drag.