Who uses the Playback Options -> Timing -> Default note duration setting?

Whilst working out what I would wish Dorico could do for me in terms of swing playback, I have looked at the Playback Options → Timing → Default note setting. I’m a bit puzzled by it.

Does anyone here use it? If so, for exactly what?

The setting shrinks all crotchets, quavers and so on to the percentage specified. I’m not sure what musical style requires that, but that’s what it does. However, a dotted crotchet is shrunk to a lesser extent, and longer notes are shrunk by even less.

Here is a table of what, visually from the piano roll, I think it does:

25%    50%    75%        Default note setting in Playback Options

25%    50%    75%        Length of crotchet/quaver/semiquaver
33%    56%    78%        Length of dotted crotchet
50%    66%    83%        Length of minim
75%    83%    92%        Length of semibreve

This is curious. What is the rationale behind this, and what use is it intended for?


I would be very surprised if even 10% of our fellow users have ever touched the numbers in the Playback Options > Timing dialog, meaning that 90% plus of us “use it”.

As I understand it, a little air is left between each note in an attempt to mimic the time it takes a wind player to tongue each (unslurred) note, or the time it takes a string player to change bow between each (unslurred) note, etc. In reality it takes a player the same amount of time to tongue or retake the bow regardless of the tempo or note duration, so the percentage that Dorico uses is scaled down as the note length increases.

It’s a while since the behaviour was documented in the Dorico 2.1 Version History, and it doesn’t seem to be clearly explained in the current version of the manual. Here’s an excerpt of page 72 of the aforementioned Version History

The question I really meant was: who uses it for anything other than that small gap between notes? Is there a purpose behind it being possible to set it to 10%?

By the way, on a slightly related topic: I don’t know if this is a problem with the VST I’m using, but the other setting there, the duration for “notes under a slur” is set to 105% by default. This means they overlap. This means that two repeated pitches under a slur overlap each other, and on my installation that results in the second note only sounding for the duration of that overlap period (i.e about 5% of a beat), followed by silence!


Sorry, I know this is unrelated to your query here, but just out of curiosity, what VSTs are you using for Ellington? I’ve struggled a bit with realistic big band sounds and Fable Sounds Broadway Big Band is definitely out of budget. Just wondering if you have a setup you’re happy with.

Fred, I’m still using the SF2 sound fonts I collected over time, years ago! Of course these are quite limited in what they can do but I found several saxes which were reasonably nice; this is more about the tone quality than the sophisticated functionality.

I was so fed up of hearing samples of "saxophones’ that sounded like people blowing down plastic drainpipes or sounding horribly modern that I went as far as recording my own baritone saxophone. Even done amateurishly at home it at least sounds vaguely Carneyesque.

I found a VST called TX16Wx which reads SF2 files and creates its own programme files, and that appears to work. On Sibelius I use Coolsoft VirtualMIDISynth to play direct from the SF2 files.

Last week I found a slightly better piano and double bass. The trumpets and trombones aren’t brilliant but they’ll do.

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Yeah, I hate most saxophone VSTs too and it’s sort of an endless search for me. I’ve been using the SWAM Baritone Sax since by tweaking a bunch of settings I can get something sorta Carney-ish. There are moments in a solo passage where it’s quite unrealistic (especially with articulation), but can sound passable in a section anyway. Here’s the Agra line straight out of Dorico with it:

I’ve been really liking the Ample Bass Upright for a bass sound.

I can’t imagine that anyone sets it to 10%. A percentage is a useful way of understanding how the thing works, though. By the same token, is it useful for it to be possible to set instrument change labels to be 96pt, or for the minimum distance for text items to be 100 spaces above the staff? Probably not, but restricting these numbers would cost development time for no appreciable gain in usability.

This is how my setup sounds on Sibelius (same as on Dorico now). This is a a transcription I never finished or tidied up. - I’ve noticed a few wrong notes now I’ve played it out.

The baritone sax is me. It was recorded on a basic digital recorder in my living room. It sounds a bit thin at the top. If I did it with better equipment (I’ve got a good condensor mic now) it would be even better. There are fifteen pitch samples in total.

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I’ve got a clip here with soprano, two altos and tenor sax (8 bars in). These were all soundfonts I downloaded on various soundfont websites, some of which no longer exist, some as long as fifteen years ago or more.

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I sometimes have it set to 100% when I need to export MIDI such that adjacent notes abut exactly.

However, I noticed that during Dorico’s playback, it doesn’t sort the MIDI events properly in this case. Abutting notes, say X followed by Y, have their MIDI events play in the order Y-NoteOn followed by X-NoteOff at the transition point. If X and Y are the same pitch, the second note will be cut short.

I hadn’t really considered making my own saxophone samples. I guess I just assumed it would be way too difficult. I don’t currently own a bari (and just remembered I lent my bari piece to a student and never got it back, LOL) but maybe will look into giving the other 3 a try at some point.