Sibelius | First Now Available — What’s New?

Today we’re releasing a brand new version of Sibelius First.

As you may have read, we’ve been hard at work tying the Sibelius and Sibelius | First build processes together. We’re now in a position, that every time we spin a new Sibelius build, we also get a Sibelius | First build. That means that Sibelius | First is now set to automatically take advantage of the new features and improvements that we add to Sibelius as we go along. Because we have been adding a ton of features to Sibelius over the last 14 months or so, the new Sibelius | First 8 offers you a host of new features and hundreds of improvements to improve your workflow.

Here’s a tour of the new features that we’ve added with Sibelius | First 8.

What’s new in Sibelius | First

Rest collision avoidance and musical grouping

Sibelius | First now includes the same rest collision avoidance feature that we introduced in Sibelius 8.1. The feature is switched on by default so no extra setup of your score is required. You’ll see that, unlike in older versions of Sibelius First, rests now magically avoid collisions with notes as you input and edit notes.

When working in multiple voices, you’ll see that rests are now automatically vertically grouped with the pitches of surrounding notes.

New rest positioning and collision avoidance in Sibelius | First.  Notice how the vertical positioning of the rests now flows automatically with the pitches of surrounding notes.

The same musical example in Sibelius 7.5, with the differences in rest positioning highlighted in red.

The result is clearer, more beautiful (and correct!) notation without having to manually adjust it yourself by hand—a process that can be a time consuming and error prone. Of course, if you don’t like the way that Sibelius | First places your rests, you can simply move them just as you did before.

When creating Nth time ending lines in older versions of Sibelius First, you might have found that you continually needed to adjust the bounds of the lines to make them line up correctly with the bar beneath. Well, no longer! We’ve adjusted the system so that an Nth time ending lines now aligns perfectly with the bar beneath it every time, with no extra adjustment required from you. We’ve also adjusted the way that repeat bar lines and time signatures are displayed on your score, so that they are now in the correct order.

In older versions of Sibelius time signatures and repeat bar lines would be displayed in the incorrect order

In Sibelius | First, this is now corrected such that repeat bar lines and and coinciding time signatures appear like this

Slide and move notes in time

Ever wanted to move a note or a rest within time in Sibelius? Now you can with the Slide notes and rests feature—all without having to use your mouse or use cut-and-paste.


How it works

Moving a note or selection

  1. Select a note or passage in Sibelius
  2. Use Command + Alt + Left/Right (Mac) or Control + Alt + Left/Right (Win) to move your selection left or right

How Sibelius decides how far to move your selection

A selection will move by the minimum of the following:

  1. The duration of the adjacent note or rest.
  2. The duration of the selected note, rest or passage
  3. The duration of the bottom figure (denominator) of the time signature.

The result is that Sibelius will in most cases move your selection by a musically appropriate amount, given the current time signature and the length of your selection.

Collisions with existing notation

If you slide your selection into existing notation, Sibelius will swap your selection with the notes at the destination.

Handling tuplets

Sliding of tuplets is not currently supported. If you attempt to slide a passage in a way that would cause a tuplet to be modified (i.e, it’s either part of your selection or adjacent to it), then Sibelius will not slide your selection, and will display a message to indicate this limitation. We are hoping to improve this in a future release.

Moving notes in action

In all these examples, select the note or passage and type Command + Alt + Right (Mac) or Control + Alt + Right (Win) to move the notes.

Individual notes

Moving a selection

Moving a selection with multiple voices and/or staves

It’s possible to slide passage selections that cover notes in multiple voices and even span several staves. At all times, Sibelius maintains the musical integrity of your selection so that any important harmonic or rhythmic relationships are kept intact as you slide.

During note input

The ability to move notes without exiting note input mode is very useful indeed! The note input cursor moves with you as you slide, so you can quickly get notes down and continue right away—no need to exit note input mode, or reach for your mouse.

1. Enter the first note of your phrase

2. Enter the next note

3. Slide to the right

4. Continue composing right where you left off

Multiple staff sizes

Sibelius 8.4 added two new staff sizes—Sibelius | First gets them too! There are now four staff sizes for you to choose from, which can be selected from the Add/Remove instruments dialog.


Changing the staff size of your instruments

The quickest way to change the staff size of an instrument is from the Add or Remove Instruments dialog. Let’s say, for example, that we’d like to add a rehearsal piano “instrument” to an unaccompanied choral piece:

1. Press the I key on your keyboard to display the Add or Remove Instruments dialog.
2. Find Piano from the left hand list, select it and click Add to Score.
3. Piano will be added to the list on the right, just like before.
4. Select piano on the right, and you’ll see a staff sizes drop down box becomes available to you.
5. Click the staff size dropdown, and you’ll see the four staff sizes listed. The default staff size for that instrument is denoted with “instrument default” (more on that later).
6. Select the small staff size for both the right hand and left hand staves of your piano.
7. Click OK.

The piano, with small staff size, is now added to your score.

Note that, when adding instruments to your score, Sibelius always chooses the instrument default for you, meaning that if you don’t need to change the staff size of your instruments, saving you an extra step in your workflow.

The four different staff sizes you can now choose in Sibelius | First

General improvements

There are also a host of other smaller improvements and fixes that are now included in Sibelius | First:

  • Espressivo 2 for more realistic, expressive playback
  • A Tempo marking now returns to the last tempo change
  • Support for high density displays on Windows
  • Added support for Windows 8 and 10
  • Added support for macOS 10.11 El Capitan and 10.12 Sierra
  • 64-bit only architecture
  • Multi-touch support for the Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple track pads (and other touch-compatible devices)
  • Avid Application Manager – a centralized location to manage your licenses, replacing Avid License Control
  • Over 200 general stability improvements


Flexible licensing options

Sibelius | First now comes in the same two licensing flavours that you find in Sibelius: perpetual and subscription (available on month-to-month and annual plans). The annual subscription starts at $59.88 a year (that’s $4.99 a month!). Sibelius | First is still available as a perpetual license as well, which works the same as Sibelius: you purchase a perpetual license to keep, and included in your purchase is year’s worth of upgrades. After one year, you can choose to renew your annual support contract for $39 to continue to receive software upgrades. Note that your perpetual license never expires, so you’ll always be able to use your Sibelius | First software at the last version you’ve downloaded—even if you allow your upgrade plan to lapse in the future.


Sibelius | First and Sibelius Comparison

Sibelius First is intentionally designed to be a much simpler product than it’s bigger brother, Sibelius. As such, you won’t find some of the more finely grained controls that we have added in Sibelius in the last few years, including:


  • Annotation – files containing annotations opened, but you can’t add your own annotations
  • Timeline – this is not included in Sibelius First
  • Respell Accidentals in parts – scores from Sibelius will open with differences in parts, however it’s not possible to respell an accidental in Sibelius | First without it updating the full score too
  • Multiple Staff Sizes – You can choose from the four staff sizes in the Instruments dialog, but as there’s no Engraving Rules in Sibelius First, it’s not possible to customise these sizes
  • Rests avoid notes – on by default in Sibelius First, but again cannot be customised since there is no Engraving Rules dialog


Once again, it’s been a pleasure to work on Sibelius, especially with such a dedicated and hard-working team here at Avid. We’ve put in a lot of work to build a firm foundation for the future, and I’m looking forward to sharing the fruits of our labours with you as we release more regular updates to Sibelius | First (and Sibelius of course too!). I hope you enjoy working with the newly updated Sibelius | First.

Music Composition Starts Here
Introducing Sibelius | First 8

Create and share scores quickly with the same tools used by the world’s top composers and songwriters.