What’s New in Sibelius — December 2020

By in Notation

We’re excited to introduce the December 2020 software update—our fifth release of the year. If you’d like a summary of all these releases and more, please visit the new “What’s new” page. We’ve been working hard from our home offices to bring you a release that completes the work we started around a year ago on the new File > Import page. There’s also a new addition to our ManuScript plugin language, as well as the usual collection of bug fixes to round out the 2020 releases.

If you can’t wait, you can download the update via Avid Link or from your account at https://my.avid.com/products. If you need to renew or crossgrade up to the latest version, you can find the options, here:


If you’re new to Sibelius and would like to try out the new version, you can get started with our free 30-day trial.


File > Import: Sibelius files

Following on from our recent Intelligent MIDI and Intelligent MusicXML import features, we’ve added the ability to import a Sibelius file into an existing score. You may think, “Why can’t you simply copy and paste what you need from one score to another?” But when you do that, you won’t easily bring over the system objects, musical structure, repeats, tempo markings, key signatures, and so on.

With the December 2020 release for Sibelius, you can combine several scores together by simply importing them into an open score. As this is based on the existing MIDI and MusicXML import processes, you now have complete control over what is imported, and you can arrange the music during the process as well.

Usually, you’ll start off with a blank template into which you import your music. You can repeat the process as many times as needed, so you can import just a few instruments at a time, and even import from several files too. The following examples show three scores being imported into a blank template. Each score has its own House Style that’s different from the template, and in the case of the Strings (on the left), it contains a piano reduction that doesn’t need to be imported. In short, the import process is really flexible and will allow you to achieve the results you need:

These three files and blank template

import as


When importing a file, start by opening the file you’re going to be importing into, such as your template. Your template will likely contain the instruments you’re going to be arranging or orchestrating for, as well as have all the engraving and house style setup you need for your score’s look and feel. Then, go to File > Import and click Browse to choose a file that you’d like to import:

Those familiar with the MIDI and MusicXML import workflows will notice the same Instruments table, where you can assign the incoming instruments to the staves in the score. At the bottom right corner of this table is the “Auto Assign” button (available only in Sibelius | Ultimate), which will dramatically speed up the import process by comparing the instrument names with the names of the staves and matching these up. As before, it will match abbreviations (such as Vln → Violin etc.) and use our unique system of using hashtags, which was covered in June’s blog post, allowing you to automatically bring across music from any number of staves in a single click.

Underneath the table are new options to this release that are now also present when you import a MIDI file and MusicXML file. These allow you to control the preview on the right hand side. For very large scores, importing can take a second or so for each assignment, so you can now untick “Generate Preview after every change”, and you will notice that the score preview is blurred out. Now each assignment is instant, and you can click “Generate Preview” to check on progress.

Import and overwrite House Style from file

This allows you to simply import a House Style from any incoming Sibelius file—really useful if you have a score that looks great, and you’d like to import just the House Style to replicate the same appearance.


Import and overwrite Document Setup from file

As with a recent release, we separated the Import House Style capabilities so you can independently control the Document Setup and the House Style. Here, you can do the same by choosing the option above, and choosing to overwrite the Document Setup too.

Both of these options are off by default as it’s going to be more common that you don’t want to overwrite the look of the template that you’re importing into, but it’s sometimes useful to bring these over too.

As with the MIDI and MusicXML import features, you can choose whether to arrange the music across multiple voices, or reset the note spacing after the import has completed, and also to explode the music when arranging across multiple instruments. Behind the scenes, this is using the Arrange feature, which we’ve also enhanced to better handle tuplets.



There are some limitations to what you can import. The structure of the scores you’re importing needs to either match (e.g., have the same Time Signature changes throughout the score), or the score you’re importing into simply needs to have no time signature at all, which is the case with the template above. When you try this, you’ll see a message that offers you the choice to open the file instead, allowing you to copy/paste and import the House Style between the two scores.


Font handling

A small but important change is to the way Sibelius handles fonts on Windows and Mac. Sibelius is now much more consistent in how it identifies and interprets fonts that support symbols.

Sibelius now prefers Latin 1 as the fallback for symbols when the font is not marked as supporting the “Symbol” code page, and we do this on both Windows and Mac for more consistent results on both. With this change, there’s general improvement on Windows across the board, but if you encounter any problems, it’s important to check that you’re using the latest version of the fonts. In particular, if you’re using the excellent Pori fonts, be sure to get the recent update from Notation Central.

The following types of legacy music fonts are not supported:

  • Music fonts which are not flagged as providing Symbol Character Set mapping
  • Music fonts which are so old that they have an internal “OS/2” table of version number zero

ManuScript plugins

ManuScript is the simple, music-based programming language built right into Sibelius, allowing you to build your own plugins to speed up your workflows in Sibelius. We often make changes to the underlying language to fix bugs or to enable new functionality, and this release is no different.

Currently, a plugin can obtain a list of installed House Styles via the Sibelius.HouseStyles command, as well as apply these house styles to a score. Now, it’s possible to export a House Style using

ExportHouseStyle(house_style_name) or ExportHouseStyle(path/house_style_name) :score.ExportHouseStyle(“ExportedStyle.lib”)score.ExportHouseStyle(“C:/Users/username/Desktop/ExportedStyle.lib”);

The new ExportHouseStyle ManuScript function mirrors the functionality of the in-app Export House Style Dialog. Files are saved (by default) into the users House Style folder, or to the path specified.


General bug fixes for plugins

In this release, we concentrated on improving the way you work with plugins too:

We’ve fixed a bug where Sibelius wouldn’t retain any changes to the locations of plugins, so you can now move them around the Ribbon (and they’ll stay put)!

When unloading a plugin, it really is unloaded and won’t reload when you restart Sibelius. We’ve also fixed some UI issues related to unloading and reloading plugins.

Keyboard shortcuts that have been assigned to plugins are no longer mismatched after unloading/deleting a plugin. This enables you to assign a shortcut to a plugin, then unload that plugin and find that the shortcut now doesn’t trigger another totally different plugin(!). Thank you all so much for your help and patience in helping us get to the bottom of this bug.

We hope you enjoy all these improvements to Sibelius. Please let us know how you get on via the Sibelius.com support forum, or via our official Facebook and Twitter pages.


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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.