Workaround for expression map limitation with articulations?


When I write a piano piece where, say, the right hand is non-articulated and the left hand is, playback treats it as if both staffs are articulated. From what I understand, it is a limitation of expression maps where all data is mapped to the same channel. I was just wondering if there is a workaround for this glaring problem (for me, anyway).

I’m using NotePerformer 3.1, by the way.

I would not say it’s a limitation of the expression maps. It’s a known limitation of Dorico, as it plays a grand staff instrument in only one MIDI channel. We know that the team will improve this behavior when it gets the priority.

I’m not a NP user, but would it even have any use for an expression map for a piano? Certainly this is something that could be rendered correctly off the note lengths and velocities alone?

Seems like there’s no workaround, as I feared. I’m not a patient person, but I’ll try waiting on this one. Not like I have any choice in the matter, anyway.

Thanks for replying to my post, anyway.

I don’t know if this helps in any way but I occasionally use a template where I’ve split a Grand Staff into two different instruments (NP example attached). It’s a bit of a headache repeating (and hiding) dynamics but it does allow for a lot of flexibility. I also quite like the separation in panning! (309 KB)

Hi, thanks for the reply. The only problem is, I don’t know how to split staffs. Could you give me a step-by-step guide, please?

Good question - I’ll have to remember how I did it! I think I had some help from Daniel… I’ll see if I can make it again and get back to you.

In the meantime, the example I posted is usable. Just delete the music, get rid of all but the first bar, save it under whatever name you want and it should work as a Note Performer Piano template with both staves independent of each other. But be aware that where you want instructions to apply to both staves, you will need to make separate instructions for both staves (and hide one of them if you want to make it look correct)

I haven’t tried NP for piano yet, but for orchestral instrument playback it is MUCH “smarter” than just using the literal MIDI data created by Dorico. That’s why it sounds so much better than other playback libraries with “no user tweaking required”. In fact the user guide says (correctly in my experience so far) that it works better with most of Dorico’s “humanized playback” options turned off.

For example if you play something simple like a major scale of equal length notes with no articulations etc marked in the Dorico score, the way NP plays it depends on the tempo (and possibly on the dynamics as well), in the same way that a human player would choose tempo-dependent bowing or tonging techniques, maybe different fingerings, etc.

FWIW there seems to be only one NP expression map for ALL instruments, so much of the “musical intelligence” must be embedded in the program code, not in the MIDI input. (That makes sense to me, first because it makes NP notation-program-independent, and second because reverse engineering expression maps etc would be too easy for competitors to do!)

Full disclosure - I have tried the NP harpsichord, and IMO it is by far the worst thing I’ve tried so far in the software - which might explain why I haven’t rushed to try the piano as well. If everything else had been as poor as the harpsichord, I wouldn’t have kept it on my PC even if it was free.

Dear Rob,
I’d suggest you lend an ear to Pianoteq sounds for piano, harpsichord (and harp), you might be happily surprised :wink:

I swear by Keyscape. It’s just astounding. Takes a lot of computing power though.

Marc, I already have Pianoteq and the Ruckers harpsichord. It doesn’t get much better than that. And I’m eagerly awaiting Organteq, if the teaser demo from last year was a fair sample of what they are doing.

FWIW I bought the Grotrian piano from Pianoteq out of pure nostalgia. My old music teacher had a small Grotrian-Steinweg grand (that was the original German company, before one of the founders emigrated to the USA and changed his name to Steinway). It was a lovely little piano, except for a few infuriating idiosyncrasies.

I played it regularly for about 20 years till my former teacher passed away, but I’ve never come across another one, except for one that was so decrepit it was barely playable. The Pianoteq virtual instrument has captured perfectly the annoying little things about it that I remember from years ago when I was a teenager!

Hi again,

You’re not splitting staffs, you’re joining two different ones to give the appearance of a grand staff. That gives you the flexibility of having what you want on either staff. If you’re after articulations on one staff and not on the other this approach should work as what you have are two instances of the same instrument that are independent from each other.

I got there by:

  1. Starting a new project, loading the same voice twice from the Singers group (I chose Soprano)

  2. Double clicking on the names and changing them to Piano (T) and Piano (B)

  3. Going to Engraving Options, selecting Brackets and Braces and then
    Select: Ensemble Type - Big Band
    Select: Instruments of the same Kind within a bracketed group - Use secondary Brackets
    Select: Instruments of the same Kind within a bracketed group - Brace
    Select Design - Brackets - Width = 0
    Select: Design - Brackets - Bracket end Design = none
    Select: Design - Brackets - Bracket distance from systemic barline = 0
    Select: Sub Bracket - Brace distance from bracket = 1/2

  4. Going to Engraving Options, selecting Barlines and then
    Select: Barline joins - Barlines on vocal staves - Allow Barlines to join staves

  5. Going to Play and (in the case of Note Performer)
    Selecting: Playback Template - Note Performer
    Opening the Note Performer mixer page. The channels will say Soprano. Click on each channel header and then Override Sound - Keyboards - Piano - Piano (you’ll need the latest version of NP to be able to do this step)
    In the case of Note Performer I generally dial the Piano Reverb back to around 15 for each channel and set the Piano (T) Pan to R32 and the Piano (B) Pan to L32.

  6. Going to Write mode and changing the clef in the lower staff to a Bass clef

  7. Saving it as a template so I didn’t have to go through it all again!

It’s a workaround, more than a bit Heath Robinson and there may well be far simpler ways of achieving the same result, but it does the job for me. Hope this helps.

Hi Rob, Marc and Dan

I’m also a huge fan of Note Performer - an absolutely brilliant tool for sketching out ideas and getting a real sense of performance. But, for me, the keyboards are a let-down - largely because I’m so used to Pianoteq. Their Steinway D and Grotrian pianos are sensational and I still can’t get my head round the fact that the entire program is only 62 MB. I don’t know Keyscape but am intrigued. What would suit me down the ground is Note Performer working with Pianoteq but faffing around reassigning instruments again and again to make it work is just too much trouble so I’ve found myself using Note Performer’s piano more and more. It’s OK, not great, alongside other instruments.

A quick thank you to Dan for the tip about Stream Deck. I find I’m using it more and more these days - not just in Dorico.

Hi David Tee,

Thank you so much for the workaround.

I also changed “Additional vertical protrusion beyond top or bottom of staff” in Engraving Options to -1/8 spaces.

:smiley: Your eyesight is WAY better than mine.

It occurs to me that I haven’t tested it fully with Note Performer - I use two separate VST instances of Pianoteq, whereas Note Performer uses just the one VST instance. If you come across any problems could you post them here? Thanks.

The weird thing about the Pianoteq Steinway D (which is one of the “free” instruments you get bundled with the program itself) is that it used to be “brilliant” several versions ago, but every new Pianoteq version makes it even better, and by large margin not just tiny details. Surely that has got to stop eventually, otherwise it will end up better than the real thing :wink:

Thanks for the complement. I do wear glasses which recently got a new prescription, after all. Really sorry for the late reply, I had to go out. I deeply apologize if the waiting caused you excruciating pain like it would me.

Well, I was wondering about the staff label position. In your template staff labels are seemingly blank, but I found that is because—since you used Soprano staffs—the staff label wouldn’t be centred like it is on a piano staff. Unfortunately, I’ve been having problems trying to get a consistent centred staff label. I tried inserting spaces above the staff label, but as I edit music the staff may widen and the label doesn’t move, if you know what I mean.

I am asking this in case I want to use such a template in a piece with more than one instrument, where there would have to be labels.

Thank you for taking the time to explain this. As I said, I’m not a user, but I have considered it and read about it, so I was aware that it would work like that. Keyboard instruments have many particularities, for sure, but for such a clear cut case that behavior is strange, That’s… actually worse? It’s a trade off, for sure, and in fact everyone seems to praise (rightfully) Wallander’s work, but this is an handicap baked into the approach that needs to be worked around.

Also, David: you were wondering how such a great-sounding piano was just 62 MB. Pianoteq is not sampling, but physical modelling, meaning it’s all real-time synthesis. While you might find it useful to split the instrument (for sound design purposes, perhaps), you’ll lose some of the instrument’s qualities, because I believe they model sympathetic resonances and spectral reinforcements – something that sampling each string alone does not afford. It’s a virtual instrument either way, so, for most purposes, there’s little use in being so pedantic, but when you take notice of the details, it really blows you away.

Hi, and thanks. No, I wasn’t really wondering about how they do it - I got the gist of it when I bought it however many years back. But as the proud owner of Lord knows how many libraries occupying however many terabytes, it genuinely blows my mind that the thing I love and use the most is only 62 MB.

And don’t forget that the 62MB contains the physical models of ALL the instruments they sell, not just one piano. When you buy a new instrument, you just get the registration code to unlock it, not another data file to download.