Triggering a playback Technique in expression maps

I’m using Dorico Pro 4, VSL Synchron Strings Pro with VSL exp. map for Violins & violas.
In the Violins 1 patch in the synchron player there is an option called “Staccato ff” which will trigger a louder staccato. In the actual exp map there is a technique called Staccato+fff which will trigger the patch Staccato ff in the Synchron player points to (I’m assuming one of them is a type - it should be “ff” of “fff” in both).

I thought the obvious way to trigger the patch was to simple choose the staccato dot in dorico’s left panel and put “ff” (of “fff”) underneath the note - this says to me “play staccato loudly”. Didn’t work. So I added a new technique called “staccato+ff” and tried again. I also added “staccato+ff” to the playing techniques and the playback techniques. This didn’t work either, so I can’t seem to trigger the “Staccato ff” from the expression map.
Any ideas what I’m doing wrong? I could just edit the cc data for the staccato notes but this is too easy - I wanted to learn a bit more about editing exp maps etc.

Thanks, CD

If you can attach a simple project that uses your expression map and contains just a bar or two of music, I’ll take a look and should be able to work out what’s going wrong relatively quickly.

unfortunately I don’t have that particular VSL library, otherwise I’d be keen to test. It’s the first time with VSL I’ve seen a patch which is supposedly triggered specifically with a dynamic marking (which should surely be ff as fortissimo is the description on the website). Like you, I would expect this to be triggered with a staccato dot + dynamic underneath the note. Perhaps Daniel has access to the library and can test directly.

I can’t test anything in the library itself, because I don’t have it, but I can test what Dorico is doing and what it’s sending out to the library.


Thanks, See attached.

staccato-ff.dorico (711 KB)

I’m afraid I don’t understand VSL’s programming here. We’re talking about the staccato +fff entry aren’t we? Their programming is C1, (short notes) C2 (staccato) and F2 (detache) which makes no sense as F2 simply cancels out C2 as it’s another entry in “type”. Can Dorico really execute something like this, even if it made any sense? Perhaps Daniel can confirm. To me, it’s suspect.

And staccatissimo + fff should logically be C1, C#2 (stac short fff) and not D#2 (stac fff)

Here are some observations and a workaround which might help:

  • Looking at Key Editor > Playing Techniques lane, Dorico is selecting 2 Base Switches: “Staccato very short” and “Staccato”.
  • You can get it to trigger “Staccatissimo” by using the staccatissimo articulation (2 down from staccato).
  • I believe the “Staccato + fff” Base Switch might be the one @MaestroD created. It includes only the “ff” Playback Technique, not staccato or fff, and as @dko22 said, the C2 and F2 key switches seem to contradict each other in Synchron Player.
  • I haven’t had luck getting Dorico to recognize the dynamics Playback Techniques using regular dynamics markings. Maybe I’m wrong about this?
  • You can trigger the dynamics Playback Techniques by creating your own Playing Techniques linked to them in Edit Playing Techniques dialog, which you can then hide in the score.

So a workaround:

  1. Create a Playing Technique, let’s say “User ff” linked to the “ff” Playback Technique.
  2. Place that where you want in the score and hide it.
  3. In the Expression Map, duplicate the “Staccatissimo + fff” Base Switch, if it has the actions you’d like, including the C1 and D#2 key switches.
  4. Edit the copied switch with the pencil button, deselecting the existing techniques and selecting the 2 Playback Techniques “User ff” and “Staccato” (make sure you have both selected with command/control key).

Hope this helps!

I tried with one of my own VSL string libraries to get ff +staccato to trigger a test keyswitch without success. However, as I’d successfully created my own patches in the past using sfz in combination, I tried sfz + staccato and that works fine.

From that, it seems that ordinary dynamics cannot be used together with an articulation or playback technique, yet sfz (and probably variants) is OK. I checked additionally with spiccato instead of the staccato dot to ensure the problems was not with the latter. If correct, this seems a bit strange as ordinary dynamics are in the Expression Map playback technique list.

Of course it’s easy enough to work around by creating a single new custom technique which specifically targets that patch as @Eggsalad has suggested.

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I’ve tried as @eggsalad has suggested. I merged two playback techniques - staccato and ff - into a new single playing technique - staccato+ff, but couldn’t get t to work. I’ll revisit it later. Thanks, CD

staccato +ff is not a single playing technique but a combination in the sense I meant it (I only meant @Eggsalad in the sense of creating a new technique, not in the sense of combining two into one --apologies for any confusion)

I’m not clear on what you did. Feel free to upload a revised file if you’d like.


Here’s how I understand it. At the most basic level there is a patch that is to be played - in this case a staccato sample at an appropriate pitch and loudness. This sample is played using the appropriate playing technique. A playing technique needs to have an underlying playback technique (or combination thereof) before anything will work. The playing technique is invoked by having some sort of trigger in the score, eg, text or a glyph, which when triggered sends the appropriate sequence of keystroke identifiers to the sample player to play the appropriate patch. In the case of "staccato ff” it needs to send C1 C2 D#2 to the same player. I created a playing technique from the “ff” and “staccato” playback techniques (which gave me “ff+staccato” and identified it with a glyph (I also tried another version using text (staccatoff).

When I triggered “staccatoff”in the score it didn’t work - it got to C1 C2 but didn’t reach D#2.

I’m more familiar now with exp maps and the like and can now create my own which actually work, so it was a worthwhile exercise.


This might be a helpful overview.

The relationship of the 3 structures is this: Playing Technique → Playback Technique → Expression Map.

  • Playing Techniques are the visual symbols/instructions in the score, although they may be hidden.

  • Each Playing Technique is mapped to 1 Playback Technique.

  • Expression Maps map Playback Techniques, individually and in combination, to instructions sent to virtual instruments/MIDI devices.