Workflow for a better playback

I used to use cubase before switching to Dorico but was never satisfied with the quality of the playback, even with NotePerformer. The main issue is about the dynamic playback automation which is too basic. I found a useful workflow and would like to share it with you.

1 - I first write my music with Dorico & NotePerformer, including all the dynamics markings : NotePerformer is perfect for quick check

2 - I import my score into my Dorico orchestral templates (based on the Spitfire libraries & proper expression map - Note that I am using a unique Expression map based on the UACC standard applied to all Spitfire libraries, far more simple and quicker than defining key switches library by library, and set the CC#1 for dynamics in the Expression Map).

3 - At this stage, I have two options (with a preferred one) :

Option 1 - I set the dynamic intensity curve to Zero (in playback options / dynamics) : this desactivates the dynamic markings to CC automation (because I want to directly record the dynamic with midi CC, otherwise you will have CC triggered automatically in addition to your recorded CC with annoying effects). This is the trick. Then I record my CC (dynamic CC#1, vibrato CC#21, etc.) live with my faders, this instrument by instrument.

Option 2 (preferred) - I don’t want to loose the dynamic markings in my score and the CC#1 playback automation, so I left unchanged the dynamic curve so CC automation is active (the dynamic is automatically played back). In this case I record the CC Expression (CC#11) for fine adjustment of the dynamic within the dynamic. And I record as well vibrato, etc.

5 - I make the final adjustments manually with the editor

The quality of the playback is then significantly improved.

Note after few weeks : I work increasingly without NotePerformer and am composing directly in my Orchestral Template : I enter my notes manually for an instrument, enter my dynamic markings (p,f, cresc., etc.), select then the first note of my new phrase, launch record (Command-R), move my fader CC#11 for fine adjustment of the dynamic and push the space bar for stopping the recording. Not possible when travelling.

Thanks for sharing your workflow, kcnarf007!

This is an addition to my first post in this topic explaining a workflow for a better playback. There is at this stage no function to reset to zero a CC lane (or to another unique value) : you need at this stage to select all the connected dots and to remove by hands which is rather tedious with numerous bars (or draw lines after lines). This is useful if you want to deleted the CC values you have recorded. Hereafter is a simple trick, not optimal, to reset to zero a CC lane (or to another value), if you need for instance to record again you CC and want to reset the values before.

  1. Select your instrument and then switch to input mode at the beginning of your music
  2. Launch recording (make sure “chords” mode is not selected)
  3. During the pre-count, move your cc fader down to zero (or to the desired value)
  4. Let you music play to the end and do not touch your fader (note : there will be no change to your playback)
  5. At the end, push quickly your cc fader up
  6. Stop recording

Result : Dorico will draw a CC line from the start to the end of you music with zero values (or the selected value).

However, it would be nice to have a function to reset to a selected value a CC line in one click.

I’m just experimenting a little with CC11 in NotePerformer for fine tuning of dynamics (in Dorico 3). Can anyone confirm what is the actual default value for this. Is it 64?


I would be interested to build a similar kind of setup as kcnarf007! So far I have been using only note performer but I’ve been looking for ways to improve the playback without the need to transfer to another program.

I would have couple of questions to kcnarf007:

-Would it be possible to for you to share the Expression Map you have for the Spitfire Libraries? Or should I build my own based on the UACC standard?

-What kind of external midi controller would you recommend for this? And is it straightforward to connect it to Dorico?

-I’m thinking of purchasing the Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra, but is there something else that would be recommended for orchestral playback? I would like to have the normal orchestral sounds, where every instrument has its own playback. If there are extended techniques included, that would be a great plus. But it would be nice to know it will work with Dorico (at least in the future) when purchasing such an expensive package.

-are you able to automate all of the different properties that come with these sounds with the midi controller (even at the same time)?

It’s interesting that there is yet no video explaining the use of an external midi controller - I think that is a really great feature if it actually works as kcnarf007 describes! Any help in this is highly appreciated!

I would suggest using the Secondary Dynamic feature to ride the expression (CC11) along with the Dynamics automatically from Dorico for the Spitfire libraries — this way one gets a nice swell out of the library, without the need to adjust Dorico velocity mappings
(which you cannot sufficiently do right now — if you use only dynamics from pp to ff Dorico cannot map pp to CC1=0 and ff to 127 — it leaves space for more extreme dynamics that I do not use in concert pieces, and those values tend to sound the best in this library)
It is not as powerful as riding the CCs yourself, but very time-efficient.

Hi ! I am so sorry not having seen your post / questions sooner !

Expression map - Since then the Dorico team has posted a Spitfire BBC orchestra template with proper expression maps and have greatly improved the way automation are displayed and managed. I have tried the Spitfire BBC orchestra but prefer the SSO packages because there are more techniques included and the vibrato is more convincing, but this is a question of taste.

Midi controller - Regarding the midi controller, I have tried various devices and they worked fine with no issue : the connection is straightforward. My preference would be the Korg nanokontrol2 : it is not expensive, transportable, precise for its size. But again it is a question of taste.

Automation - I have allocated CC11, CC1 and CC21 to the first left faders. All of them can be automated in a row but I am still practicing as it requires some techniques.

The Command-R makes the trick to record the midi automation.