Sibelius 8.4 and Update to Avid Scorch are Now Available

By in Music Creation, Notation

We’re pleased to announce updates to both Sibelius 8 and our iOS app, Avid Scorch. Sibelius 8.4 introduces a new Custom Staff Sizes feature, along with various fixes. Avid Scorch is now a native 64-bit iOS app and can play back to external MIDI devices.

Sibelius 8.4

Sibelius 8.4 adds two new staff sizes to the existing normal and small staff sizes that existed in previous versions of Sibelius. There are now four staff sizes for you to choose from, defined in the Engraving Rules > Staves dialog. These are the defaults you’ll see:

  • Normal – 7mm
  • Medium – 6mm
  • Small – 5.3mm
  • Extra small – 4.5mm

The medium, small and extra small staff sizes are scaled proportionally to the normal staff size. Changing the normal staff size will also cause all the other staff sizes to change (effectively allowing you to globally scale your score), whereas changing the smaller staff sizes is completely independent.

Changing the staff size of your instruments

The quickest way to change the staff size of an instrument is from the Add or Remove Instruments dialog. Let’s say for example we’d like to add a rehearsal piano “instrument” to an unaccompanied choral piece:

1. Press the I key on your keyboard to display the Add or Remove Instruments dialog.
2. Find Piano from the left hand list, select it and click Add to Score.
3. Piano will be added to the list on the right, just like before.
4. Select piano on the right, and you’ll see a staff sizes drop down box becomes available to you.
5. Click the staff size dropdown, and you’ll see the four staff sizes listed. The default staff size for that instrument is denoted with “instrument default” (more on that later).
6. Select the small staff size for both the right hand and left hand staves of your piano.
7. Click OK.

The piano, with small staff size, is now added to your score.

Note that, when adding instruments to your score, Sibelius always chooses the instrument default for you, meaning that if you don’t need to change the staff size of your instruments, then there is no extra step in your workflow.

Engraving rules

The finer controls relating to staff size are found in the Engraving Rules dialog. Navigate through Appearance > Engraving Rules > Staves, and you’ll find a new Staff Sizes table, allowing you to edit each individual size.

Sibelius shows you staff sizes using the same unit of measurement that you select in the Document Setup dialog. As before, you have the choice of millimeters, inches or points.

House styles and instrument definitions

It’s also possible to define a default size for your instrument as part of the instrument definition itself. This, along with the settings you choose in Engraving Rules, is stored in the House Style, meaning you can easily export a standard set of staff size settings and apply them across your scores for a consistent look and feel.

Note spacing

As aforementioned, the medium, small and extra small staff sizes are all scaled proportionally to the normal staff size. The same is true for note spacing, where the normal staff size can effectively be considered the master size.

MusicXML support

We’ve added support for custom staff sizes on both MusicXML import and export, meaning that if you work with other notation programs, you can now expect even more consistent results, requiring less manual clean up.

Further notes on custom staff sizes

The choice of four staff sizes is in fact purposefully limited — the updates we have made to Sibelius’ notation engine actually allow it to display any number of staff sizes. We’ve artificially limited the number of staff sizes you may have to make the feature easier to work with and also to encourage sensible choices when laying out your score for consistent results.

The custom staff sizes feature that we’re introducing today is in fact just the first step in a larger feature that we’re working on for a future Sibelius release. We’ll be able to reveal more about that in the next few weeks!

Here’s an example of a score showing the four independent staff sizes:

Other fixes and improvements in Sibelius 8.4

The following bugs are addressed in Sibelius 8.4:

  • Sibelius could crash if the name of your score had certain words in it on Mac OS X, as reported on Twitter by Ivan Boothe.
  • Sibelius can crash when attempting to input notes after having unchecked the Use Virtual Instruments and Effects checkbox in Play > Setup > Playback Devices > Audio Engine Options, as reported by various users on the Sibelius forum.
  • Key signatures could collide with a start repeat barline, as reported on the Sibelius forum.

We’ve also made a minor improvement to Sibelius’ Japanese localization.

If you haven’t upgraded to Sibelius 8 yet, there are only a few days left to get it at $89 before the price goes up. To buy the upgrade, please visit our online store.

Avid Scorch for iOS

Our iOS app for viewing and playing back Sibelius scores has had two updates recently too. In summary:

* 64-bit: Avid Scorch has been re-built as a native 64-bit iOS app to take advantage of the latest iPad models. As such, the playback engine has been upgraded too.
* MIDI out: You can now play your scores out to an external MIDI device, whether it’s attached via a USB camera connection kit, network or over Bluetooth.
* Support for Sibelius 8.4 files — you can now open scores directly saved from Sibelius 8.4.
* Browsing and previewing scores is now more robust.
* We’ve also given the store a more modern look and feel too. You should find the store and app in general is snappier to use.
* Numerous stability improvements and bug fixes.

To find out more about the app and to download the latest version, visit the Apple App Store:

App Store

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As senior product manager at Avid, I work with all the departments in Avid from Design, Development, Sales, Marketing, Legal and Global Services to produce the future of the Sibelius family of products and solutions.