Trouble with Tremolos (Playback)

Testing out Dorico, considering switching from Finale, trying to get percussion to playback correctly. Sorry if this has been covered a lot. I’ve read previous posts about tremolo playback, but I’m not sure what the current state is. And frankly, it’s confusing.

What I’d like to do
The sample library I use (VSL), like many, has several variations, assigned to different MIDI notes, for the same written techniques. For example, there are 4 suspended cymbal tremolos differing by crescendo: no cresc., 1 sec., 2 sec., 4 sec. Visually they should appear identical, aside from the cresc. indication. I would like the ability to choose which sample to use based on context.

What I’ve tried

  • I added a sus. cym. player/instrument. I didn’t edit Percussion Playing Technique. I set up a Percussion Map with just the 4 sus. cym. notes above, in which I set Playback Technique for all to Tremolo. Having read a post which recommended it, I created an Expression Map with Tremolo set to an unused keyswitch. I assigned the Percussion Map and Expression Map in Endpoint Setup. I entered the corresponding MIDI note for 4 sec. cresc. And… it played the wrong note, the no cresc. note, maybe because it’s the first in the Perc. Map with the Tremolo Playback Technique.

  • I tried changing the Playback Technique for 4 sec. cresc. to Tremolo + Crescendo. No effect.

  • I tried creating a Playback Technique called “Tremolo crescendo 4 sec.”, assigned it in Perc. Map, added a hidden Playing Technique for it in the score. No effect.

  • Not that this is a complete solution, but I also tried adding a Percussion Instrument Playing Technique, assigning the 3-line tremolo mark to “Tremolo crescendo 4 sec.”. I added Tremolo crescendo 4 sec. in the Expression Map with an unused keyswitch and with min. velocity raised. This succeed in getting the correct note to play, but it wasn’t recognized as an unmeasured sampled tremolo.

Am I missing something? Seems like a lot of effort to have it playback the same note that was entered.

Any help greatly appreciated!

You can’t reliably use expression maps and percussion maps together in this way. However, it should be simple enough to get this working.

The basic steps:

  • Define four separate playback techniques for the four different tremolos in Library > Playback Techniques.
  • Assign each of these playback techniques to the appropriate MIDI pitches in your percussion map in Library > Percussion Maps.
  • Define appropriate notehead-to-playback techniques for your new tremolo techniques in the Edit Percussion Playing Techniques dialog for your cymbal instrument.
  • Assign the percussion map you’ve created to the appropriate channel where your patch is loaded in the Endpoint Setup dialog.
  • When writing your music, you can then use the Alt+up/down key combination to cycle through the different playing techniques mapped for the instrument.

Make sure that you specify exactly the same instrument in your percussion map as the instrument you use in your project: if they don’t match up, then the choice of playback techniques won’t work.


Thanks so much for the reply! There’s a lot I’m liking about Dorico!

Ok, there’s some progress, but not quite there. Assigning the 4 Perc. Playing Techniques to noteheads works to have it play the correct note, but it plays a triggered tremolo, reattacking the note, instead of playing the note just once. What do you think?

(I unassigned the Expression Map, BTW.)

To sort that out, go to Library > Playback Options and change the value of Minimum number of strokes for playback of unmeasured tremolos as appropriate.

Thinking about it a little further, it might actually make sense to define your playback techniques as combinations of tremolo plus something else. That way Dorico should know that it doesn’t need to generate any notes itself, instead knowing that the playback technique you’ve defined comprises the tremolo plus a modifier.

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That’s it! Combining Tremolo with the custom techniques in the Perc. Map did the trick! 2 things, FWIW:

  • Minor: it now plays the wrong note with alt-up/down, although it still displays the technique names and enters the correct notes. It also plays the wrong note when selecting in piano roll.

  • I have to edit the velocity in piano roll to play the desired sample velocity layer. This is a similar situation as the tremolo: the dynamics are built into the sample, so the displayed dynamics shouldn’t be played.

I can’t help but wonder if there’d be an easier way to handle all this, like more robust options to suppress playback for certain elements per instrument or per instance, or something like that. Maybe suppress playback is available for dynamic markings.

Anyway, many thanks!!

P.S. You sold me! Please DM your rep ID, so you get commission credit.

Select the dynamics and activate the property Suppress Playback?

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Ah, you’re right. Thanks! When you click a tremolo and select Suppress playback, it turns off the note it’s attached to. Clicking a dynamic and doing the same is different. I didn’t notice that.

I’m really glad you were able to get this working to your satisfaction. I hope you’ll find Dorico to be a worthy companion in your musical endeavours. We’ll be here if you need any further assistance!