Note Spacing Improvements in Sibelius 2018.6

By in Latest Software, Notation

Today, we’re pleased to announce and release improvements to Sibelius that reach as far as installer and licensing, note spacing, workflow and a host of bug fixes.

This is a free update to all Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate customers with a current subscription or software update plan. To download the new installer, head to your Avid Master Account.

In conjunction, we’re also releasing our first ever free version of Sibelius: Sibelius | First. This completes our suite of “First” products alongside Pro Tools | First and Media Composer | First, perfect if you’re entering the world of music recording, production and video editing.

Sibelius 2018.6 not only delivers on improvements to long standing issues, but also simplifies our approach to developing and producing several applications and solutions to a huge variety of musicians. With the release of Sibelius | First today, we now have a complete desktop range of music software, an iOS app, an iOS SDK, and a whole ecosystem that lives on the Avid MediaCentral Platform in the cloud for running music publishing solutions that are delivering millions of scores around the world each month. Whether you’re a beginner, student, educator, professional musician, engraver or publisher, we now have something geared towards your musical need.

Read on to find out what’s new in June’s release of Sibelius.

Sibelius – A New Single Installer

We now have a single application called “Sibelius” that will run with the features based on the license you have activated. In the past, we’ve had separate applications for all the different flavours of Sibelius that would run with different features based on the version you had installed.  The three tiers are:


• Sibelius | First – will run when you have no license of either Sibelius or Sibelius Ultimate

• Sibelius – will run only when you have a Sibelius license activated

• Sibelius | Ultimate – will run when you have an Ultimate license activated


This allows a new customer to come in, try Sibelius | First, unlock more features by subscribing to Sibelius, then need the Ultimate features as their music and career develops etc.. On the practical side, it also allows us to reduce the number of installers we have to maintain, and simplify the activation process by consolidating the separate activation processes into one.

On a new computer, Sibelius will now only install a single application. On a computer that already has either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, or even Sibelius | First 2018.1 or earlier, these will get replaced by the new application, called “Sibelius”.

When you run Sibelius, it now checks the licenses and entitlements it can run with:

• Is there a Network License Server running on the network, only used for Schools (Sibelius has always done this)

• Is there a license of Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate on this computer

• Is there an on-going trial of either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate

• Is there entitlement to run Sibelius | First

If any of the above is true, it’ll run in that mode. If not, we’ll pop up a new redesigned welcome dialog:

This gives options to start a new trial of either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, or activate your own license, or continue with Sibelius | First. There’s a “Don’t say this again” tick box so you can run the trial or Sibelius | First straight away without having to choose it each time. If you have a license of Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, click Activate, which will launch Avid Application Manager. The simplest thing to do is to log in and Sibelius will auto-activate. If you need to manually activate, click the Licensing page and paste in your System ID and Activation ID, which you can find in your Avid Master Account.

Once the activation is complete, restart Sibelius and you’ll find the activation is picked up and Sibelius will run with either the Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate features.

“Sibelius is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive and deeply flexible orchestration tool available. If I can conceive it, Sibelius can put it on paper in a very intuitive way that most mirrors my original thought. Every dynamic and articulation is readily available and easily inserted and edited at a whim.”

—Mark Yaeger, film composer

Notation improvements in Sibelius 2018.6

Note spacing

Grace notes in multiple voices

Writing grace notes across multiple voices in Sibelius has been historically hard to do. It has usually required a plugin and then some manual changes in the Inspector to align correctly – but a simple Reset Note Spacing would revert all your careful placement. From now on though, Sibelius will always get this right. Here’s a typical example of the old spacing verses the new:

Under the hood, Sibelius is aligning the grace notes in voices 1 and 2 together. When there’s no corresponding note in the other voice, Sibelius will insert a hidden rest that is used to ensure the correct spacing is preserved.

Opening older scores will continue to look exactly the same. To take advantage of the new spacing, simply select the passage of music and do Reset Note Spacing from the Appearance tab.


Note spacing of chords in multiple voices

Thank you to those who reported cases where chords with back-to-back stems started to collide with the new Version 3 spacing, introduced in April, when compared to version 2. In some cases, stems would touch ledger lines as well.  We’ve fixed many of these now so you should find things are generally cleaner:

Sibelius 2018.1 and earlier

Sibelius 2018.4/5

Sibelius 2018.6

We’ve also tackled some of the more gnarly issues with chords that were left over from our release in April too. The below comparison shows how things have come on. The improvements are in the following areas:

• When chords in two voices are a semitone apart, they are now slightly offset when they are written in the stave.

• Notes no longer collide when there are unisons in either chord. This was particularly tricky when there were unisons in both voices. In these cases, the chords will appear side-by-side, as required by the new note spacing algorithm.

• Sibelius now treats the note spacing offsets differently when the notes are within the 5-line stave compared to when they are outside the staff on ledger lines

General improvements

Changing notes by semitone across tied passages

In Sibelius 2018.4, we introduced the ability for all tied notes to be changed when the first note is changed. We omitted support for the Shift+Page Up/Down shortcut, which moves a note up or down by a semitone. Now, in 2018.6, you can select the first note of a tied note and move all tied notes by a semitone:

General bug fixes

We’ve been hard at work improving the overall stability of Sibelius, as well as chipping away at problems that have been reported via our forum, Twitter feed and new Facebook group (thank you again to all those who submitted them!). In summary, they are:

• Deleting the first bar of a score no longer deletes the time signature

Continuing the improvements from April’s release, where we added the ability to delete the first bar of the score without losing your Title page and other blank pages, title, composer and other text etc.. In today’s release, the Time Signature is no longer lost. This works in such a way that it retains the Time Signature that was in the first bar of the score, as you would expect, however Sibelius will now check to see if the next bar contains a Time Signature change, and places that in the new ‘bar 1’ after the deletion. For example, if you’re deleting bars 1 to 5, and there’s a Time Signature Change in Bar 6, Sibelius will now display the Time Signature that was in bar 6, rather than retaining the initial Time Signature that was in bar 1. If you’re used to being cautious of deleting bar 1, try it now – it’s really quite liberating!

In addition to this:

• Empty text boxes no longer remain after removing multiple items of text with undo

• Multiple cursors are now displayed when entering expression and technique text across multiple staves

• Keyboard focus is now brought back to a text object after changing the size of it in Text > Format > Size

• As well as several improvements to grace notes, Sibelius will now retain the spacing correctly when copy and pasting passages. This saves the extra step to reset the note spacing.

• When the Quick Start is disabled, the blank score that is automatically created used Version 2 voice spacing instead of Version 3

• Several rare problems entering lyrics and chord symbols have all been resolved. This even included a crash and issues with the Undo queue

• A lyrics extender line now no longer reappears after saving and reopening a score. This would only happen if there were empty bars between two lines of music that contained lyrics.

• In rare cases, Sibelius would crash when working with text

• You can now enter multiple pieces of text or lines using a very short lasso selection

• When entering multiple hairpins onto a minim followed by a minim rest, it no longer results in a hairpin under the rest


This completes the improvements in this release. The development team are already working hard on the next release, which we can’t wait to deliver to you.

If you’re new to Sibelius, head over to for a complete overview. If you already have Sibelius but haven’t yet upgraded to Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, please take a look at for a comparison of the two. To upgrade today, visit the webstore or choose from one of our resellers.

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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.