Assignment of VST Instruments

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Wizzarts
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Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Wizzarts » Tue May 24, 2016 12:07 am

The most annoying thing in Sibelius and Finale is the assignment of instruments - and Sibelius is even worse so to speak.

Is the assignment similar to Cubase where you just select the player - channel and Xmap and to save those as a preset?

Although I have read in other posts that on one hand Dorico allows to use Xmaps and on the other hand there will be a track for every articulation which is quite common for film composers.

Would someone be so kind to spread some light on this? :)
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Tue May 24, 2016 12:23 am

It's hard to give a chapter and verse answer on this, since all of the playback functionality is very much in its infancy at the moment.

Allow me to introduce the term "endpoint", which may well not end up as a user-facing term in the application, but which is nevertheless for us an important concept. An endpoint is a combination of virtual instrument (device), channel, patch (if known), and any required switch information (e.g. a particular key switch or a specific MIDI controller set within a particular range, etc.), that produces a playing technique for an instrumental sound.

If you're using the supplied HALion Sonic SE 2 player and its own factory content or HALion Symphonic Orchestra (HSO), then the assignment of instruments to endpoints is automatic: Dorico examines the instruments held by the players, and knows which playing techniques are provided by the HSO instruments, so it can instantiate as many instances of HALion as it needs and load the appropriate HSO patches automatically.

If, however, you're using any other virtual instrument, then this allocation of instruments to endpoints has to be done manually. You might, for example, load up Vienna Ensemble Pro and load it up with 16 channels of patches. Dorico can't see inside VE Pro, so it doesn't know what patches you've loaded there (beyond their names), and nor does it know anything about the switches those patches may use to access different playing techniques.

If a suitable expression map is available, then you'll be able to link that somehow to the instrument's assignment, so that Dorico knows about the capabilities of that endpoint, and will then be able to perform the necessary switches to access the available playing techniques more or less auomatically.

If no expression map is available, then it'll be up to you to define the capabilities of the endpoints yourself. You will be able to specify what device, channel, patch, and combination of switch mechanisms should be used when a given instrument plays a particular playing technique.

The hope is that it will then be possible to save this information – i.e. the specific set of virtual instruments loaded into the rack, together with the information about which instruments and playing techniques are accommodated by each endpoint within those instruments – in such a way that it can be applied to other projects, as a kind of playback template.

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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Wizzarts » Tue May 24, 2016 12:41 am

Daniel, thanks a lot - although you are just about to connect the playback feature your describtion draws a very clear picture of how it will look like in the release.

I have heard this question several times so your answer will def. clear this up... :)
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by dbudde » Tue May 24, 2016 1:22 am

Could a Cubase user who is using expression maps comment on what one does in the case where an expression map does not exist for a particular articulation?

I ask because there is a method that the Logic Pro X users are developing to deal with this situation. Logic does not have expression maps at all. But it can associate an articulation ID with every MIDI event. So some adventurous developers are creating a mechanism to store an articulation ID with every note during recording/note entry. Then there is a MIDI-effects "scripter" plugin that can be inserted in an instrument's channel strip to map the articulation ID back to a keyswitch or whatever the sample library expects for a given articulation. The articulation ID acts as a generic set of articulations that can be uniquely defined for each instrument in any sample library. Works sort of like a codec where you encode the keyswitch information to an articulation ID during recording/note entry and then decode the articulation ID back to a keyswitch during playback.

This is done to eliminate the extraneous keyswitch in the score for readability and also solve the chase problem since logic does not chase embedded keyswitches. Expression maps don't have this problem, nor would a notation program since this is all done using articulation marks and text to denote the articulation. On the playback end, the articulation ID allows one to generate simple scripts to target specific sample library particulars.

So does Cubase audio engine have a scripter or something equivalent? How do you deal with this today?
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Wizzarts » Tue May 24, 2016 1:54 am

The Xmap is some sort of an interpreter which allows the user to assign specific articulations to graphical signs or Text such like staccato, tenuto, slurs, senza vibrato, etc.... to name a few.
Also combinations of up to 4 different signs/text are possible. The user has detailed features to control the output. (KS, transpose, CC, etc...)

When there is no Xmap the GUI in Cubase is just explains itself.

Here is a pretty good video that explains a lot done by Scott Lewis:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCXgbDhW1Jk

Hope this helps
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by dbudde » Tue May 24, 2016 2:18 am

Thanks. That helped. So you can basically invent whatever attribute or direction that you want and indicate it with a symbol or text. So that's pretty useful and complete.

So when people complain about the expression maps being limited, what are they talking about?
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Patrick OKeefe » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:38 pm

I have no experience with DAWs, Sequencers, etc. so am not sure I understand what is being said in this thread. I do sort of, in theory, understand Sibelius SoundSets. Is an expression map sort of an equivalent of a SoundSet? And if that is the case, is it also the case that if we use a library other than those that come with Dorico we will have to supply an expression map, and we will have to go through the equivalent to setting up a manual SoundSet (rather than the automatic process Sibelius uses with Garritan libraries and SoundSets)?
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:11 pm

Yes, a VST Expression Map fulfils a similar sort of purpose to a Sibelius sound set. Some third-party libraries already have VST Expression Maps available for download:

http://www.steinberg.net/en/support/con ... ssion.html

but I think most Cubase users who use Expression Maps at least heavily customise these, or create them from scratch themselves within Cubase.

If you're using a third-party sound library in Dorico, you should indeed expect to have to follow a procedure a little like setting up a manual sound set in Sibelius to set up for playback in Dorico, but you will have a greater level of direct control over how Dorico handles the extended playing techniques provided by your sample library, if you choose to take it.

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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Patrick OKeefe » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:55 am

Sounds like there may be a bit of a learning curve here. Is there a manual documenting building expression maps? I couldn't find mention of one on the web.

The term "third-party" is a bit vague when there could be 4 parties involved. Do any of the creators of sound libraries provide their own Steinberg expression maps, or are these all made by the equivalent of The SoundSet Project? I notice that the Garritan expression maps have a date of 2009 which, I think, predates GPO4. If the others are equally old, there may be a lot of work needed. It would be nice to have that work done by someone that knows what he or she is doing. (I assume Steinberg is not going to do it.)
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:27 am

You can look up the chapter on VST Expression Maps in the Cubase Operation Manual, which you can download as part of a zip file from this page:

http://www.steinberg.net/index.php?id=12494&L=1

However, the user interface in Dorico will not be the same as the interface in Cubase, so although this will help with the concepts of working with Expression Maps, it won't necessarily be directly transferrable to your use of Dorico.

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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by wcreed » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:42 pm

Here are EMs on the Steinberg site:

http://www.steinberg.net/index.php?id=1944&L=1
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Bryan Harmsen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:14 pm

I haven't done a great deal of reading on Expression Maps yet. If I was to start working on an EM for a library for which there isn't currently one available, would that give me a head start on the Dorico end of things?

I know that we want to start working on the Virtual Drumline maps whenever we can, so it would be fantastic if that's something on which I could get a head start by developing in Cubase—even if it doesn't yet involve the notated maps.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:22 pm

Yes, you would definitely be getting a head start if you try to set up an Expression Map in Cubase for Virtual Drumline. It would be very interesting to see to what extent you can even practically map the percussion techniques in VDL onto the set of techniques accommodated by Cubase's implementation – potentially not very far, I think.

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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by PaulWalmsley » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:33 am

Bear in mind too that the Dorico expression map format will be a bit different to the Cubase format, but we'll have the ability to import them (at least getting all the key switch and controller data in - we don't need the notation data). The format of them will be quite simple, so if you already had the data in a spreadsheet then there may be easy ways of creating them from that. Maybe we can create a new subforum for people interested in this.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by TheMaestro » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:52 am

Hi Paul,
what do you mean by "we don't need the notation data" ?

And, another question : how will the expression maps work in Dorico ?
In Cubase we need to have a "slot" for every possible combination of articulations. For example if we have set "arco" at the beginning of the score, and somewhere in the score we put a vibrato, a slot corresponding to acro+vibrato needs to be present in the expression map for the program to switch to the articulation.
Will it work the same way in Dorico ? Or will Dorico be able to do this combination by itself ?
This way the number of "slots" could be significantly reduced.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by PaulWalmsley » Sat Jun 04, 2016 7:00 pm

The reason we don't need the notation data is that notation events in Dorico have 'Playing Techniques' associated with them, eg tremolo, trill, accent staccato. The playback will find the correct switch in the expression map to play it.

Dorico will be able to find the correct switch in the expression map depending on the combination of techniques at that point. You don't need the Arco (which we call 'natural') for all combinations, so that you can just define' vibrato' and it will use that if it has a higher priority than any other techniques at that point. As an example, if you have mute and vibrato at the same time then it will pay using the one with the highest priority. If you have a 'mute + vibrato' sound available then this will be used instead. I hope that's reasonably clear.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Bryan Harmsen » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:51 pm

Paul,

I would definitely be interested in a sub-forum for Dorico-specific Expression Map development, when the time comes. I'm going to be working with some colleagues on developing template packages of sorts for the Virtual Drumline sound library—in which there are around 150 or so unpitched drum maps that need to be created and another 70 or so pitched instruments—so having a dedicated discussion area for that would be fantastic.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by PaulWalmsley » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:23 pm

Ok, well I'll take this up with Daniel
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Peter Roos » Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:21 am

To add to this, and at the risk of repeating myself, it would be very cool if Dorico could easily integrate with third party VSTs.

To give a simple example: let's say I have a 1st violins staff -- and I decide it works really well with East West Hollywood Strings.

Can I, from Dorico, control the following:

1. Decide exactly which Hollywood String patch is loaded
2. Decide how the patch is "played' (expression cc, pitch pend, etc)

Thanks!!

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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by PaulWalmsley » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:11 am

Yes and no: the key part in the process is that you will need to create both Playback Template and Expression Maps. (We may be able to have some way of sharing Expression Maps within the community, which would minimise the amount you need to do, but this may not be practical for things like VSL that can be set up in a totally custom manner).

The Expression Map tells Dorico how to play arco, pizz, staccato, etc via keyswitches or controller changes. The Playback Template is effectively a blank score with all the plugins set up how you like them (including EQ/compressor/insert/Send FX settings), and your preferred sounds already loaded in each channel. You then assign each Dorico Instrument to your preferred plugin and channel, and set the expression map for it. If you wish you can also assign different techniques to a different channel, eg if you prefer a different violin tremolo.

What we don't have the ability to do is automatically load the correct patch, because this would require custom code for every different plugin. We will have this ability for Halion because it's our own.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Wizzarts » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:37 am

PaulWalmsley wrote: What we don't have the ability to do is automatically load the correct patch, because this would require custom code for every different plugin. We will have this ability for Halion because it's our own.
This is good news. Nothing is more annoying than pre-defined automatic loading. Do everything manually and then save it as a user-defined preset, - instrumentwise or as a score-preset.

I already have created an Excel-Sheet that exports a full Xmap. Once Dorico is on the market I will start creating those maps and share them.

May I ask if you could open an Xmap page in the Steinberg Download area where users can upload and share Xmaps, sorted by libraries?
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by PaulWalmsley » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:46 am

That's great - we'll look into the options for sharing community content.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Bryan Harmsen » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:24 pm

PaulWalmsley wrote:What we don't have the ability to do is automatically load the correct patch, because this would require custom code for every different plugin. We will have this ability for Halion because it's our own.
So would you say that the workflow with regards to VST loading and setting up instruments for playback will end up more closely resembling Finale than Sibelius? One of the handiest features in Sibelius was the auto-loading features in SoundWorld. Having to manually load instruments like in Finale certainly isn't deal breaker—especially for people who want more precise control over instrument loading—but a mild incumbrance to the "it just works" sort of crowd.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by PaulWalmsley » Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:55 pm

This will necessarily be different to Sibelius. Older versions of Sibelius (v4-v6 I think) used the Kontakt Player and was able to load sounds via a proprietary API. Version 7 was able to load sounds in Structure (the Avid sampler plugin) via a proprietary API. Dorico will load sounds in Halion via a (you guessed it...) proprietary API. We don't have access to the APIs used by other products, and at present I don't believe there's any standard means in the VST spec of loading different presets into each channel.

Historically we know that advanced plugin users have been frustrated by some of the limitations they experienced in Sibelius which did try very hard to do the 'it just works' thing at the expense of letting you do what you want. We've made a conscious decision in Dorico to make the default user experience with the bundled Halion content be 'just works', but if you want to make your own decisions then we aim to give you that power and flexibility, at the expense of requiring manual setup to have things just how you want them.
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Re: Assignment of VST Instruments

Post by Patrick OKeefe » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:36 pm

Wizzarts wrote:
PaulWalmsley wrote: What we don't have the ability to do is automatically load the correct patch, because this would require custom code for every different plugin. We will have this ability for Halion because it's our own.
This is good news. Nothing is more annoying than pre-defined automatic loading....
I would say there is a differing of opinions here. In fact, I would say there is nothing more annoying than not having pre0defined automatic loading.

Daniel's previous product does an excellent job of finding and loading correct patches from,for instance, various Garritan libraries based on instrument names in the score. This can be overridden, of course, but the defaults are often correct (or at least adequate).

The support for this automatic loading must exist in the sound library, of course, and some have this (such as the various Garritan libraries) and others don't. (If the capability exists in EWQL libraries I haven't found it.) But the fact that it works fairly flawlessly in Sibelius for Garritan libraries demonstrates that the task is not impossible.

Matching instruments with library patches may be part of electronic music production, but it is not part of composing. It would be nice if it were not an extra task needed to use Dorico. (Of course I may find that Halion libraries are good enough to eliminate this concern.)
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