Sibelius 8.5 Now Available—What’s New

By in Music Creation, Notation

We’re excited to introduce and announce the immediate availability of Sibelius 8.5. In this release, we’ve upgraded the Inspector panel and built on the features we introduced in Sibelius 8.4, where we added the ability to have four independent staff sizes.

If you have a current license for Sibelius 8 with an upgrade plan or current subscription, you will get a notification on screen from the Application Manager. Alternatively, you can find the new installer waiting for you in your My Avid account.

Here’s an overview of what’s new:



Part of the overall vision we have for the way you work in Sibelius, looks at minimizing features being hidden away in menus and dialogs, and presenting them in a clean and feature-packed Inspector panel. This will allow you to select an object in the score and see all the properties and possibilities for editing that object. Sibelius 8.5 is our first foray into this, by adding the new Staff size options, and we’ve smartened up the Inspector to give it a clean and modern look.

Click to see how the new Inspector compares with the old

The main area we’ve improved on is the Text section. To help explain and guide the user, there are now useful graphics to indicate the sorts of things you’re capable of doing to any given piece of text. The other sections have been smartened up to align tick boxes, feature labels and controls to give the Inspector the professional look you have come to expect.

The Inspector now also behaves like other panels. You can invoke it from the Home tab, as before, but also from the View > Panels section of the Ribbon:

The Inspector will appear docked on the left of your main Sibelius window. You can pull this off and dock to on the right, or if you prefer, you can leave it floating; useful if you have a second monitor. When undocked, you can resize the Inspector by dragging out the bottom edge. Sibelius will populate the Inspector with features and controls that are only relevant for the item or items you have selected. For example, the Scale % only appears when you have a Chord diagram selected. The contents of the Inspector will sometimes be too tall for it to contain all the controls, so a scrollbar will appear on the right hand side to allow you to find what you need easily. Each section can be collapsed up too, so you can hide controls you aren’t using at that time.


Multiple staff sizes on breaks

One such example of driving features and workflows to the Inspector is our new Multiple Staff Sizes feature. When you make a passage or system selection in your score, you’ll now see this new dropdown in the Inspector:

  • Select just one bar in your score, and changing the staff size will expand the selection to the whole system and change the staff size of that system.
  • If you have two or more bars selected, Sibelius will put a System Break at each end of the selection and change the size of the bars in that system.
  • Changing the staff size even works on individual bars, allowing you to have a smaller bar, say, at the beginning of your score—useful for defining the various handbells needed in a piece of music [see updated Handbells (2 staves) manuscript paper], or create a snippet of music that appears completely independently from the rest of the music:

Example showing how a snippet of music can now be shown with an extra small staff that’s independent of the stave above.

The new control of the staff sizes allows you to change individual bars, whole systems of one or more instruments, large passages of music, or entire pages at a time. This example, kindly provided by Bill Holab, demonstrates exactly what this new feature can be best used for:

Excerpt from The Manchurian Candidate Music by Kevin Puts, Libretto by Mark Campbell Copyright © 2014 by Aperto Press and Mark Campbell. Sole Agent: Bill Holab Music Used by Permission.

Guidance notes from Bill Holab:

  • The full score has an optional keyboard part (only played when a vibraphone isn’t available in the percussion section). That’s on a smaller staff on the first 3 pages.
  • Page 1 is normal size, but pp. 2-3 need more vertical space, so I made them “small” and made the keyboard “extra small”.
  • Page 4 goes back to normal, then page 5 is “Medium.” Page 6 is normal, and the keyboard part is no longer optional, so it’s standard size.


Sibelius | First and Avid Scorch for iOS

I wrote recently about the changes to how we’re building our applications. The main Sibelius codebase now feeds Sibelius | First, Avid Scorch, Sibelius Cloud Publishing and our Sibelius License Server too. For each release of Sibelius, we have the ability to build all our other applications and solutions at the same time, giving us the option to release updates to them as well. For Sibelius 8.5, we’re pleased to also release updates to Sibelius | First, Avid Scorch and Sibelius Cloud Publishing.

  • The Sibelius | First update is available at no extra cost to all those with Sibelius | First 8 with a valid support plan or subscription. Head over to your My Avid account to download the update.
  • Our Avid Scorch iOS is available on the iTunes app store, where you’ll find the latest version waiting for you to download.
  • Sibelius Cloud Publishing is a service for music publishers to help them sell sheet music online. You will have noticed the scores above are interactive, and are powered by Sibelius Cloud Publishing, which is built and kept up to date with the Sibelius 8.5 codebase. If you publish music online, or would like to, please visit our website to find out more.


Further improvements in Sibelius 8.5

During the development of Sibelius 8.5, we’ve been able to squeeze in good collection of improvements and fixes that have come up either on the forum, directly to us, through our support team or elsewhere. Here’s a summary of what else the upgrade has in store for you:

Improvements since Sibelius 8.4

  • It’s now possible to change Normal staff size to a smaller value then Medium staff size value in Engraving Rules. Smaller staff sizes all decrease so you can no longer get these out of order.
  • We’ve made dialog appearance improvements to Engraving Rules > Staves with 200% DPI scaling on Windows with high pixel density displays.
  • Making a change to a staff size in Engraving rules, and then clicking OK (without having unfocused the staff size spin box) now makes the change in your score.
  • Tuplet brackets and numbers now scale neatly when working with smaller staff sizes.
  • Instrument changes from unpitched to pitched instruments now create key signatures automatically.
  • MIDI input works once more after changing from an unpitched to pitched instrument.
  • Cancelling out of Document Setup now cancels the unit selection you may have made.
  • On Retina displays, some text fields in several dialogs are no longer too short, for example in the File tab > Score info dialog.
  • In Sibelius’ Manuscript plug-in language, note.Deselect() deselects entire parent NoteRest when it should just deselect that note.


Further general improvements

  • The version number now briefly appears on the splash screen once more as it did previously in 7.5, so you can quickly verify the version of Sibelius you’re launching on startup.
  • The Save As dialog on macOS now correctly remembers the current file name and last path saved, so that you don’t have to navigate to the correct location every time.
  • Sibelius no longer hangs or crashes in rare cases when clicking ‘Music Fonts’ in Edit Symbols.
  • The Inspector and Timeline panel sizes and positions are now saved along with the other panels. See File > Preferences > Files in the “Windows Sizes and Positions” section. This means that it is now possible to hide the timeline by default just like you can with other panels, which has been a longstanding request since it appeared in Sibelius 7.5.0.
  • A problem has been fixed where some keyboard shortcuts didn’t work correctly on macOS Sierra.
  • Sibelius Sounds and Sibelius | First Sounds now correctly install on macOS Sierra.
  • Application Manager 2.5.11 is now included in the Sibelius and First 8.5 installers.


Try Sibelius 8.5 and upgrade

If you’d like to try Sibelius 8.5 before you buy, you can download the 30-day trial. If you are using Sibelius 7.5 or earlier, and wish to upgrade, you can do so from any of our approved resellers and distributors, or from our online webstore.

Get Your Free 30-Day Trial

If you’d like to try Sibelius 8.5 before you buy, you can download the 30-day trial.

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.