Scoring the 11 o’clock number with Dorico and Emvoice One


In this second of a series of video tutorials, composer Ian Blick shows how he scored his music-theatre song “Jack-in-the-box” using Emvoice One voice synth and Dorico Pro 4 notation software. This tutorial shows how to add vibrato using a plug-in inside Nuendo/Cubase to give the sung line much more expression in playback and also how to use the audio from a video file to synchronize with Dorico in playback mode to create a much larger vocal ensemble.

A table of contents and a lightly edited transcript follows.

00:08 – Introduction
01:00 – Assigning the VSTs
01:10 – Sending midi to Emvoice One
02:28 – Scoring a 16th century Ayre (recap)
02:54 – Auditioning the sounds
04:42 – Adding automated vibrato to Emvoice One
05:09 – Exporting the song from Emvoice One and Dorico
05:42 – Importing the song into your DAW
06:25 – Adding a Vibrato plugin inside your DAW
06:39 – Automating the vibrato effect
07:54 – Adding volume data
08:15 – Expanding the choir
09:54 – Saving the mix as a video file
10:11 – Synchronizing the video with the score
11:28 – The completed score (Full Playback)

Hello, I’m Ian Blick, and in this second video in the series Scoring for the Voice, I’ll be showing you how to score the 11 o’clock number found in musical theatre when you don’t have access to a singer to make a recording.

I’ll be using Emvoice One vocal synthesizer to provide the voice parts, Dorico Pro 4 notation software for the scoring, and, to add a bit more creativity, I’ll export the whole project into Nuendo for editing and mastering. We’ll also see how I can create a much larger ensemble from just a few vocal parts, and then add vibrato and phrasing to the recording by using continuous controller data produced inside my DAW.

The whole vocal ensemble will then be exported back into Dorico as a video track to complete the project. Thanks for watching.

In Dorico, I have created five vocal parts for the score: the solo part, and the chorus ensemble made up of two female and two male parts. I now need to assign an instance of Emvoice One voice synthesizer to each of these parts to hear the playback for when lyrics have been added later on. To do this, I’ll just set up these voices by clicking on the Play tab.

Under the VST rack, click on the VST instruments menu; add an instance of Emvoice One from my installed VST instrument list; and then duplicate the VST instrument four more times for the other ensemble voices by clicking on the Duplicate button.

Once these are loaded, I find it really useful later on to name each instance of the Emvoice One VST with its corresponding part in the score.

So, for example, Solo Voice will show up as that in the VST rack. To do this, click on the Endpoint Setup cog, and name each instance, linking it to the relevant part in the score.

Now we need to route the five VSTs to each vocal part by clicking on the Inspector tab, and then route it to the relevant vocal part. Once that’s done, we are ready to record the parts from Dorico into each Emvoice One VST.

You can see how easy this is by watching one of my other videos, “Scoring a 16th century ayre”, so I won’t dwell on that process right now.

Once the parts have been recorded in and the lyrics have been added to the Emvoice plug-in, you should be able to press Play in Dorico and hear each of the five vocal parts sung back. Let’s have a listen.

Once you’re happy with the score and the playback of the voices, we can now start to give their performance a little bit more expression to make it sound even more realistic. The way that we are going to do this is to add some vibrato to the sung line and also control the volume, particularly at the end of my example where the ensemble drops down to a subito piano marking.

This change isn’t possible in Dorico just yet as of version 4, because once Emvoice receives the MIDI that Dorico sends to it, it translates it into blocks of sound at one volume and doesn’t recognize volume change. We all know that the performance of a sung vocal line really includes volume changes and vibrato, so to make this happen, we’re going to export the parts you’ve just heard into a DAW — in my case, into Steinberg’s Nuendo. But in any DAW you choose, as long as you can control volume with MIDI CC messages, this process works just fine.

When I first started working with the Emvoice plug-in, the method I used for adding vibrato was to chop up the blocks of sound to make the voice part oscillate. This was okay, but very time consuming if I wanted to work on a large vocal part.

I needed a quicker method to achieve this result, so I decided to export the vocal line into my DAW, and then process the sound from in there.

There are a couple of ways to achieve this. Firstly, you can export the song from within Dorico as audio .WAV files and then import them into your DAW. Or, secondly, because I want to make a much larger core sound for my final playback, I’m going to save each of my five instances of the parts created in Emvoice as a separate song, and then open those up again in the same plug-in within my DAW.

I know I could have done this inside Nuendo in the first place, but I wanted to score the piece inside Dorico at first to make sure all my written parts were correct within the orchestration.

Inside Nuendo, I’ve created five tracks for each of the vocal parts that I made in my original score, and have assigned an instance of Emvoice One to each track.

I can now import the same version of the track, which I made earlier in Dorico to each instance. So, in the first track, I will import the solo voice part. And then I can choose which of the voice sounds I want to use for playback. For the solo, I’m going to use Lucy’s voice because it gives a good musical theatre type of sound, which I need for this track.

Once this is done, I’ll repeat the process for each of the other tracks.

I said earlier that I wanted a quicker way to add vibrato to the vocal part produced by Emvoice One. In Nuendo, and also in Cubase, there’s a plug-in called Vibrato, which I can add as an audio insert here. If we look at the settings for the Vibrato plugin, I have chosen a setting of 1/8 eighth triplet, which I find gives an authentic vibrato feel for the speed of this piece.

You can choose different speeds or even change the setting to show the vibrato rate as a frequency.

Once that is set, we need to automate the vibrato to fit the vocal track. By right-clicking on the depth knob, we can assign the automation to link to the solo voice track here.

Let’s add some vibrato automation to the solo voice. Firstly, we need to put Nuendo into Write mode, press play, and then watch as the automation appears on the track.

Let’s have a quick look at that automation just to make sure it’s recorded. It’s fine.

I’ve gone through the same process for each of the other vocal tracks and have added vibrato and some volume automation to every part. Let’s have a listen.

Now I want to make this quintet into a much larger choir. The easy way to do this is to duplicate each of the individual tracks, say three more times, so that we are making a choir of four now into a choir of 16. As we’ve already set the vibrato automation for each track, these parameters will also be transferred when we duplicate each of the parts.

So apart from the solo voice, let’s duplicate the four male and female parts to create an ensemble of 16 singers, each with their own assigned automation.

Let’s have a quick listen to how these 16 voices now sound. I’ve also panned the voices according to their stereo position within the hall mix, just to separate the ensemble a bit more. I’m using Valhalla room as my effects reverb.

So there we have our full ensemble of 16 parts and a solo voice. Now I want to be able to play that mix in Dorico so that I can synchronize the playback with my orchestral score. The way to do this is to save the mix that you’ve just seen and heard as a video file for exporting across to Dorico. An easy but important addition to the video would be to add a visible time code so that you can sync this video with the written musical score when playing back in Dorico. Doing this now saves a lot of time in the long run.

To save the mix as a video file, I use a standard free screen recorder such as OBS, and then save the file ready for exporting into Dorico. To record the video, press play in your DAW and start recording in OBS. Once that’s done, we are ready to open Dorico again and import our video file to synchronize with the score.

Whilst in Setup mode, right-click on the flow title and choose the video to attach to that flow. You’ll see the Properties menu for the video come up and you may need to change some of the parameters to match the frame rate of the project and also the video offset as I’ve done here, but it doesn’t take too much time to align the video with the music.

Once that’s all set up, we are ready to play back the full score with the solo voice part, along with the enlarged 16 voice choir that’s heard towards the end of the piece.

To finish off, I’ll leave you with a completed score of my piece for playback. I’ve used the Vienna Symphonic Library Prime Orchestra as a VST in Dorico.

I’ll show the imported video from Nuendo when the choir ensemble sings their parts, and also how the Steinberg Vibrato plug-in gives expression and character to the solo voice part created in Emvoice One.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed watching this tutorial, and please do subscribe to my channel by clicking on the link underneath and you’ll be notified when there’s another video available.

In the meantime, I’m Ian Blick and thanks for watching.


  1. Adrian Verkouteren

    I recall seeing this recently on YouTube (I think); it is an excellent article!

Leave a Comment

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