How to Use the Playing Techniques Editor in Dorico Pro | Getting Started with Dorico 2

🎬  This article is a transcription of one of the excellent tutorial videos posted to the official Dorico YouTube channel.

The playing techniques editor in Dorico provides a huge range of options for explaining in a music score how to play an instrument. This tutorial coves the features of the playing techniques editor, including how to modify text, glyphs and how to add and depict your own, unique playing techniques.

Presented here in written form with the kind permission of its creator, Anthony Hughes, this tutorial is titled “Playing Techniques Editor in Dorico Pro 2″…


Hello, I’m Anthony Hughes and in this video I’ll be showing you how to edit Playing Techniques in Dorico Pro 2, the advanced music notation software from Steinberg.

What are Playing Techniques? (00:15)

Playing techniques in the score are instructions to the performer to play the instrument a particular way. Good examples are pizzicato and arco markings for strings;

or the many different mute markings that instruments employ.

These playing technique score markings are then linked to playback playing techniques that instruct Dorico how to play back the music, either by routing to different VST instruments or perhaps by modifying the dynamics and length of certain notes.

Opening the Playing Techniques Editor (00:50)

In Dorico Pro 2, it is now possible to edit Dorico’s built-in playing techniques and even create your own, using the new editor found in Engrave mode by opening the Engrave menu and choosing Playing Techniques…

There are a few other ways to open the dialog: you can double-click a playing technique in Engrave mode. In Write mode you can select a playing techniques in the score and then click the Edit Playing technique button in the Playing Techniques panel,

or even just select it in the panel and press edit.

This will pre-populate the dialog with the selected playing technique, but you can always select a different one in the sidebar, using the selector at the top of the list to change the category if required.

Walk-through the Playing Techniques Editor (01:38)

Let’s have a look at what’s available.

We can edit the name at the top here,

and then there is large display showing the playing technique appearance.

We can choose the category the playing technique belongs to and this will determine where it appears in the Playing Techniques panel in Write mode.

There are two types of playing technique appearance: Text and glyphs. Here we’re looking at a text-based playing technique and we can change the text that is displayed and also set which Font Style is used when rendering it in the score.

(You can create a new Font Style for this purpose if required via the Font Styles dialog in the Engrave menu.)

If I select the Harmonic playing technique in the sidebar, you can see that this is a glyph-based technique appearance. With a glyph we can click the pencil button in the display action bar to edit the glyph.

While there is enough here to fill a whole separate tutorial,

I’ll just mention that there are a host of tools here that allow you to change the size and position of the glyphs, and even add new components to build more complex composites.

Here we choose whether by default the playing technique is created above or below the staff.

And for glyph-based techniques there is an option to show different appearances when drawn above or below the staff, for example with the Snap Pizzicato technique.

Next, we can define the text that you will write into the Playing Techniques popover to create the item in the score. So, if you have a preferred shorthand for a particular technique you could enter that here.

And here is where we link the playing technique appearance to a playback playing technique.

These last controls let you specify whether the playing technique can last for a specified duration or persists until cancelled by a counteractive technique.

And finally whether the playing technique will appear as a part of a cued passage.

As an example, let’s look at the Vibrato playing technique which, by default, will show as ”vib.” in the score.

Let’s change this text to “vib-r-dot” and press OK. The playing technique is updated, not only in the score, but also in the panel, for creating new items.

New Playing Technique (04:42)

It’s also possible to create a new playing technique. Click the plus button in one of the Playing Techniques panel sections, to create a new technique in that category.

Now, the world is your oyster, and to demonstrate I’m going to call my new playing technique “Anthony’s Arrow”. I’m happy with this being in the Common category, though let’s make it a glyph, and then click the edit button to design our new technique appearance.

(edit playing technique dialog then opens)

Over here on the right I’m going to choose the ’Arrows and arrowheads’ range and add this arrow. Press OK and there it is.

I would like this to appear above the staff by default, and let’s set the text to summon it in the popover as ‘arrow’.

Now, I can choose any of the existing playback playing techniques, or I can press Edit

and create a new one.

I’m going to call this Arrow and press OK, and we’ll see in a moment how we can use this to influence the playback of the music by Dorico.

OK, this is all fine, so let’s click OK and now we can see Anthony’s Arrow in the Playing Techniques panel…

and indeed I can add it to a note.

Playback: Using Playing Techniques in Expression Maps (05:22)

Now, we can switch to Play mode and if we open the instance of HALion Sonic SE

Edit Instrument

we’ll notice that the violins patch that has been loaded includes this portamento expression that we can use to demonstrate our new playing technique in action.

The keyswitch we are going to want to activate is B0, which equates to MIDI note number 35.

Let’s just check which Expression Map the violin channel is using,

and we can see that it is HSO Violins Combi.

So, in the Play menu let’s choose Expression Maps…,

and find the HSO Violins Combi map.

Here is where we add our new Arrow technique.

And the action that we want the technique to trigger is a Note Event. The MIDI note number for our portamento expression was 35, so let’s add that here.

Click OK to close the Expression Maps dialog, and let’s switch back to Write mode to watch the score while we play back the music.

If you like, you can even hide the playing technique in the Properties panel.

Hopefully, now you can see the powerful ways that you are able to both add custom markings to your score and also influence playback by using any expressions and articulations included in your sample libraries.

I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.



I very much hope you’ve found this video transcription to be helpful. If you have, please subscribe to OF NOTE and follow me on for ongoing music notation news and info. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Dorico YouTube channel to see many more excellent tutorial videos like this one. ~robert puff

2 Replies to “How to Use the Playing Techniques Editor in Dorico Pro | Getting Started with Dorico 2”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.