Expression Maps OR multiple instances with separated articulations?

The age old question!

For the longest time, I've been told that dedicated tracks for different articulations is the way to go, but never got a straight answer as to why this method is beneficial. I assume it has something to do with gain staging articulations, to make sure they're all are running at a uniform gain; or sending longs and shorts to different strength reverb busses (according to one of the many Christian Henson videos I saw way back). Expression mapping just seems to be a way easier method of composing. According to his YouTube Cubase template tutorials, JunkieXL apparently works with expression maps, but every other person I talk to tells me that that is just "not the way". I just migrated over to Cubase from Reaper, and I'm dying to know the way.

For background: I'm relatively new to the orchestral scoring world. I'm a student who scores short films, so everything is done "in the box", meaning I don't have the luxury (or budget) to hire musicians to re-record things. Luckily, I have these awesome sounding libraries from Spitfire Audio to help me out with realistic samples. 😄


  • I use expression mapping because I use the score editor a lot (it is just more efficient than piano roll when you've been reading music all your life). It makes sense to have the whole instrument part on one line, and to see the articulation changes. Imagine a legato run which has to end with a few staccato notes. You wouldn't want to have that split over two separate tracks.

    I use TouchOSC Mk 1 on my iPad to allow quick articulation switching and I've amended some of Babylon Waves' expression maps (and articulation sets) to ensure that a single page on my TouchOSC app covers all the articulations of a particular library.

    For efficiency, I have set up all my libraries in VEPro to handle the mic channels (CTAO) and Longs/Shorts (gain-staging, plus occasionally some EQ, compression or early reflections), and for down-mixing the lot to a smaller sub-set of channels feeding into my DAW. Those configurations are then saved and remain available, even when you change a project or switch between DAWs (I use both Cubase and Logic).

  • Francisco
    edited November 2021

    Having one track per articulation has it befenits. You said some of them. It's easier to have everything on time because you just add the negative track delay to every articulation, which is usually different from one to another. Also, shorts samples tend to need less reverb than long.

    Other thing to consider is layering multiple articulations. For example, in BBC it is really helpful to layer the Long Marcato with the Legato while doing runs. It is also usefull when you work with different libraries. If you want to copy the celli spiccato ostinatti of BBC with, for example, the short patch from Albion One. you just need to copy the part. No worry about differents expression maps.

    And finally, one of the reasons that I follow this path is because my PC is pretty modest, so having every BBC instrument with every articulation loaded is not an option. Having one art per track allows me to use only the articulations that I need and saves RAM.