What’s New in Sibelius — March 2020

By in Notation

We’re pleased to announce the release and availability of our March 2020 release of Sibelius. Following on the heels of our January release, which brought a huge range of improvements and new features, we’re now building on the new capabilities of ties with new support for Laissez vibrer (L.V.) ties. We also have a good crop of other bug fixes and improvements to the House Styles, Manuscript Papers, Magnetic Layout, plug-ins and of course even more for Accessibility.

If you can’t wait, you can download the update via Avid Link or from your account at my.avid.com/products. If you need to renew or crossgrade up to the latest version, you can find our new simplified options at avid.com/sibelius/upgrades-and-renewals.

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.


Laissez vibrer – Sibelius | Ultimate only

A long awaited addition to Sibelius, L.V. ties are now natively supported, and come with a fair amount of options in the Inspector, Engraving Rules and ManuScript to give you total control over the way they are displayed in your scores.

To enter an L.V. tie, simply add a regular tie to a note, then tick L.V. in the Inspector:

We’ve added an entry in Keyboards Shortcuts called “Toggle L.V. tie”, which can be found in the “Other” category in the Keyboard Shortcuts page of Preferences.

To give you full control there’s a new RX value in the Inspector to allow you to specify an offset. Set the “L.V. tie endpoint is n spaces after notes” value in the Ties 1 page of Engraving Rules.

Sibelius will take into consideration the notes in the chords, stem direction, and the settings within the Inspector and Engraving Rules. Hereʼs a summary of what to expect:

You’ll also note that L.V. ties which coincide with a system break no longer draw an erroneous 2nd tie segment at the beginning of the next system (a long-standing bug that was previously very difficult to workaround). With the introduction of the new L.V. ties, we have increased the file format once more and secured it further so you have to export to a previous version in order to open them up in those older releases. Exporting files to previous version replaces L.V. ties with small non-magnetic slurs that closely match the appearance.

As with introducing any new feature into Sibelius, we need to carefully see how it will fit into the program around other features, and what impact it has to the old basic methods. Now proper L.V. ties are possible in Sibelius, it has highlighted the limitations of the playback effect when entering LV or L.V. in the score. As such, we’ve removed both of these entries from the Playback Dictionary as it simply doesn’t make sense to hold a note forever.

L.V. Ties are only available when using Optical Ties. If your score is particularly old, you may still be using the “Version 1” or “Version 2” tie position rules. To take advantage of the new L.V. ties, go to Engraving Rules and choose “Optical ties” from the Ties 1 page.


Ties – Sibelius | Ultimate only

Our January release included two new styles of ties (Dashed and Dotted). In our March release, we have introduced a new shortcut to toggle between the three styles. To use it, select a note containing a tie, or the tie itself, and type Alt+Enter (that’s Enter on the keypad, not the Return key – laptop uses will need to type Fn+Alt+Enter).


House Styles

The new Podium, Moderna and Handwritten House Styles, introduced in January, have been translated into all 9 languages Sibelius supports. This includes the addition of the Wildcards right-click menu for most System Text Styles too. We’ve also fixed a couple of things along the way in the English files too (e.g. Metric Modulation in Moderna) but these remain largely unchanged.

In Sibelius | Ultimate, a new option has been added to the Accidentals and Dots page in Engraving Rules to allow you to specify whether the score is respaced after toggling Cautionary Accidentals. This was introduced to prevent you from losing any manual note spacing you’d made in the score.

The new Time Signatures (film score) are now available in all languages

To finish a feature we released in January, importing a House Style with only the Document Setup option checked, the document parameters are now properly imported into the score (i.e. Engraving rules and Document Setup import are now truly independent when importing a house style into either the score or the parts).


Manuscript Papers and Magnetic Layout

In 2020.1, scores created from the new Manuscript Papers would have incorrect Magnetic Layout behaviour for horizontal lines, for example, Octave lines now correctly trigger auto-optimize, but now also avoid collisions with objects in other staves. We’ve fixed these all up, as well as an old bug where clicking ‘Restore Defaults’ would cause many lines to not be magnetic anymore.



We’re continuing our improvements in Accessibility and this release has focused on the File tab (Backstage) and the Ribbon descriptions. You’ll find varying results when comparing Windows to Mac, but you should find things have improved on both OSs with all screen readers.

Since a few of these controls are shared with the QuickStart (both Win and Mac) and the Status Bar (Mac only), there should be some improvements in there too. We’re keen to hear how you get on!



This feature has been revolutionising people’s music writing, and is saving hours of manually editing time by producing great looking and well spaced scores automatically. In our March release, we’re tightening up the feature in number of useful ways:

  • Reset Position for System Text now triggers Auto-Optimize
  • “Remove all articulations” now triggers Auto-Optimize (Sibelius | Ultimate only)
  • Auto-Optimize is now triggered correctly when moving a note down between one system to another
  • Adding highlights no longer trigger Auto-Optimize
  • The space between systems is now properly auto-optimized after deleting a clef
  • The left and right “Staff Rulers” now display correct values one more (Sibelius | Ultimate only)

The logic for handling clef changes has been improved. If you move a clef, only the bars that the clef moved over will be auto-optimized. If you add a clef without having made any selection, then Sibelius will only auto-optimize the bars up until the next clef change (or until the end of the score if there’s no other clef change).


ManuScript – Sibelius | Ultimate only

We’re exposing the ability to turn the new Auto-Optimize feature on/off via ManuScript. The Syntax is the same as toggling Magnetic Layout.

To get current state – Score.AutoOptimizeEnabled

To set current state – Score.AutoOptimizeEnabled = True;

We’re also adding support for L.V. ties, so you can now query it with:

if (note.LvTie = True)

… and set it with:

note.LvTie = True



We have updated the MusicXML schema used in Sibelius to v3.1. This doesn’t add any new functionality but now doesn’t throw up an error when a newer 3.1 element is contained in the incoming MusicXML file.

Sibelius also no longer crashes when importing a MusicXML file when manually choosing instruments and then cancelling the operation before completion.


New options in Add Brass fingering plug-in for French Horn – Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate only

The fingering available for the French Horn via the Add Brass Fingering plugin has until now been limited to displaying only a few options. From this release though, when adding fingering for Horn in F, you now have a few more options to allow an F prefix, Bb fingering, Bb fingering using T for thumb and Bb fingering with a 4 for the thumb valve.

The new dialog looks like this:

…and produces the fingerings like this:

Huge thanks to the kind and knowledgeable folk over on the Horn People Facebook group for their guidance.


Notarization and code hardening on macOS

We’ve been working hard on bringing Sibelius up to date with the latest security requirements from Apple, which now allow us to notarize our builds on the fly. This should have no impact on those running Sibelius on macOS Catalina. As well as this, we’ve have added entitlements to Sibelius on Mac to allow it to run third party audio plugins, including those protected by Steinberg’s eLicenser.


General improvements and bug fixes

As always, this release fixes a number of bugs and includes some smaller improvements. These are:

  • Time Signature (Film Score) has been added to Preferences -> Music Fonts
  • If you move the left-hand end of a Repeat line in the Part, the right hand side no longer slowly moves to the right
  • You no longer get a black screen after closing a score when Sibelius is in fullscreen (Mac)
  • Roman numerals and Figured bass text styles are now included in the Text gallery in Sibelius | First
  • A few worksheets had a problem where their staves were missing. We’ve caught a few of them, but there are others that will require larger changes in the way these files are generated. More on this in the future.
  • It’s possible to assign a command to F19 key on Mac
  • The Divide Durations and Nashville Chord Numbers plugins no longer have cut off text in Chinese and Japanese language versions
  • Textures (in Preferences) are now correctly translated in Russian
  • In rare cases, Sibelius could display a keychain-related message on startup every time on macOS. This now no longer occurs.
  • In ManuScript, the DOCSETUP keyword within the ApplyStyle ManuScript function now correctly imports document settings exclusively (as specified in the Reference Guide).



Sibelius no longer crashes…

  • when dragging a Tie-Into tie that is connected to a L.V. tie.
  • in the Edit Lines dialog when you modify the dash length of a slur to be 0
  • on Mac when trying to enter a note when you have a brace, bracket or sub-bracket selected (many thanks to my daughter for finding that one!)
  • when extending a lyric line

… and that’s it! We hope you enjoy the improvements included in this release, which started out as a small big-fix release, then turned into something more (sorry, we got carried away!)

Stay safe and well, wherever you are.

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