Sibelius 8.6 Now Available—What’s New

By in Music Creation, Notation

I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of Sibelius 8.6. This release introduces Magnetic Glissandi, streamlining the creation and manipulation of gliss.port. and wavy lines, as well as fixing a whole host of long standing bugs in Sibelius, improving the stability and overall speed of the program.


Magnetic Glissandi

Sibelius automatically places your glissandi lines as you enter them into the score, positioning them between the two notes. As you compose, Sibelius automatically updates the positioning of the glissandi lines, saving you the manual steps of positioning the lines on creation, and subsequently when editing the notes too.

When entering Glissandi lines (Gliss, Port, or Wavy) in your score, you will now find these position themselves between the two notes, and will attach themselves to these notes, following the notehead as you move it. This saves you the manual steps to reposition the lines when creating them, and subsequently with editing the notes too.

The method for entering these lines has changed slightly, but it should feel familiar enough to experienced Sibelius users and is straightforward to grasp for new users. To enter the new gliss.port., or wavy lines, select the note with which you would like to start the line, and choose the line from the Lines gallery. Sibelius will draw the line from the note you have selected, to the next note:

You'll see the line is placed between the note you have selected and the next note.

Lines follow the direction of notes as you edit them.

Sibelius automatically provides more space for rhythm dots and accidentals.

Glissandi lines will even slope upwards or downwards between two notes on the same position on a staff to show the direction the gliss. is going.

Changing the appearance

In Sibelius 8.5, we introduced the new Inspector, which brings relevant settings and features within easy reach and streamlines your workflow in Sibelius. With Sibelius 8.6, we’ve added new features to the Inspector to give you ultimate control over the new glissandi lines. In your score, select a new glissandi line, and open the Inspector (Ctrl+Shift+I/Cmd+Shift+I). You will see the following:

In the Lines section, you now have the following controls:


Slide ends: This allows you to fine-tune the precise position of each end of the gliss line.


Slide style: Changes the type of line from a Glissando, Portamento, Wavy, or a Line.


Slide text: Allows you to toggle the “gliss.” or “port” text that runs along the line. This will happen automatically when the lines get too short to display the text, but you can override this, which is useful in cases where you need to.

If you wish to place a gliss line freely and independently of a note, you may do so by first deselecting anything you have selected (by pressing Escape) and then adding the line from the Lines menu. Since the line you create this way is not attached to any notes, the Inspector controls that are available for magnetic gliss lines are not available.


Creating multiple glissandi lines at once

Creating multiple gliss lines at once is fast and simple to achieve with Sibelius 8.6. In previous versions, you had to add the line manually, and then adjust each one by hand. If you then changed the notes, the line would then need to be manually positioned again. Now it’s really easy:

Select the notes you’d like to add the lines to, go to Lines, and choose the type of line you need:

You can then use the Inspector to toggle the text off:

Customizing lines

If you need to move the ends of the lines, you can manually reposition them by dragging one using your mouse or selecting it and making fine adjustments using your keyboardAs you make further edits to the notes, the line will retain its relative position to the notehead to which it is attached. This is useful when indicating the gliss should go to a different note in the chord, say, or even when writing passages across a grand staff with cross-staff beaming. Once this has been done, you’ll see the lines move relative to the notes as you edit them. To reset the line’s ends to their default position, select the line and go to Appearance > Design and Position > Reset Position.

Creating your own lines in Sibelius is easy as well. You simply go to Notations > Lines > Edit Lines, and then choose the line you’d like to edit or to create a new line from. In the cases of the Gliss or Port lines, you can change the text that runs along the line, to whatever you need:

Any custom lines that you have created based on gliss lines receive the same treatment from the Inspector allowing you to edit them in the same manner as the ones that Sibelius provides by default.


Additional tweaks for writing for guitar notation

Slides, up until now, have always been able to play back a continuous slide (that is, if you slid your finger up a fretless guitar), but from Sibelius 8.6, you’ll be able to change the way these play back from the Inspector:

Opening old scores in Sibelius 8.6

Sibelius will open any score from Sibelius v1 all the way through to Sibelius 8. These will open up in exactly the same way as before and will not move or convert any gliss. lines. This is important to retain the same careful layout you’ve spent so much time on. However, adding further glissandi to your score in Sibelius 8.6 will now create the new style of line.


Opening scores from 8.6 in older versions of Sibelius

As ever, Sibelius has a way to convert a score into an older version, allowing you to work with someone who hasn’t upgraded to Sibelius 8.6 yet. This is simply done by going to File > Export > Previous Version and choosing the version of Sibelius you need to export to.

When doing this, Sibelius will convert what it can into the equivalent object that was supported by the previous version. In the case of the new glissandi lines, these are all converted into the old style gliss. line and their positions are retained.


New ManuScript support for magnetic lines

In Sibelius’ built-in scripting language, called ManuScript, Line objects now have a new <code>SlideStyleId</code> variable representing the Line style state of the note. This read/write variable lets you attach or detach glissandi as well as other lines to a note.

You can also define and assign additional custom Line styles that are not based on the available default Line styles (see Line styles in the ManuScript Language Guide for more information).


MusicXML improvements

The new Magnetic Glissandi lines feature was borne out of an overall improvement and better support for MusicXML. It’s a long term project that we will chip away at for a while. When we started to work on adding support for importing glissandi lines, we needed a way to position these nicely to notes. As such, we rewrote how these lines are handled, so there is now very minimal cleanup to do after importing MusicXML files.

Here’s a summary for the changes to MusicXML that are included in Sibelius 8.6:

• Better support for small staves (improvements on support added into Sibelius 8.5)

• Sibelius now imports page margin values correctly (in previous versions, margins form odd pages were applied onto even pages, and vice versa)

• Ties are now no longer missing in chords over bar lines, and the direction of ties are respected (over or under)

We’ve also made several improvements to the way MusicXML files are parsed in general. As we all know, not all MusicXML files are created equally, so Sibelius 8.6 is now less prone to crashing or failing in some way when opening malformed MusicXML files.


Improvements to many long-standing issues

As well as introducing new features and new ways to work in Sibelius, we are working on some old and hard-to-crack issues to improve Sibelius’ stability and overall performance. Some of these may be small niggling bugs and others will be larger scale issues that may have been getting in the way. Here’s the list of what’s included under the hood in the 8.6 upgrade:



• Sibelius is now over 10% faster starting up

Auto-save now works much more reliably. This is the feature where Sibelius will periodically save a copy of your score. If Sibelius unexpectedly quits, Sibelius will now recover the most recent version of the file, and hopefully won’t have lost too much work. To set how often Sibelius auto-saves, go to File > Preferences > Saving and Exporting.

• When opening older scores in Sibelius 8.6, rests in parts are now where you expect them to be positioned

• Sibelius no longer crashes when doing ‘Paste as Cue’ followed by ‘Undo’. This only occurred when pasting across different time signatures

• When sliding notes from one page to the next, your selection is now followed so it’s clearer to see what’s happening

Annotating when the Inspector the is open is now muchsmoother

• Improvements to the licensing engine, which should result in fewer “Error Initializing License Engine” messages

Editing values and navigating fields in the Inspector is now easier

• The Inspector now resizes vertically when undocked

• There’s now better spacing between a key signature and start repeat barline when there is no time signature



• A rare issue that would cause Sibelius to crash when installed alongside Pro Tools with certain HD hardware is now fixed.  Click here for more information on this.

• We’ve improved the overall handling of audio devices on Windows. Sibelius now initialises the audio engine even in the presence of minor errors coming from the audio device driver.

MP3 export works as expected on Mac OS 10.9 once more



• Characters created with Shift + Option + <number> shortcuts are no longer doubled

• When editing text  with Shift + Option + Left/Right Arrow no longer deletes the text you’re editing

• Editing text in the Backstage (Score Info, dialog boxes etc.) with Shift + Option + Left/Right Arrow no longer deletes text as you do it

• Sibelius will no longer hang when attempting to play back to a disconnected audio device


Application Manager

Application Manager 17.5 is now included with Sibelius, which introduces a new Open button enables you to open Sibelius directly from the Apps tab. The Open button only appears if you have an active Avid Upgrade and Support plan or subscription, and Sibelius is up to date.

The following improvements have also been included:

• Application Manager no longer randomly opens a terminal window on Mac

• Choosing to restart App Man Helper in the Preferences tab is now nice and quick


Customers with an active upgrade plan or subscription can update to Sibelius 8.6 using Application Manager or by downloading the installer from their Avid Account. If you have an older version of Sibelius and wish to upgrade, you can do so via one of our resellers or our online webstore.

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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.