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What’s New in The New Sibelius

What's New in The New Sibelius

Sibelius is the world’s best-selling, most trusted music notation software. And now you can access the software and express your creativity in more ways than ever. In this video I explain some of the changes and new features that are now available in the new Sibelius.

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Get The New Sibelius Today

Access Sibelius in more ways than ever: subscribe, perpetual, upgrade from Sibelius 1 to 7.5, or switch from Finale, Notion, Encore  and Mosaic with a crossgrade.

 

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Access Sibelius In More Ways Than Ever

Access Sibelius in More Ways Than Ever

The new version of Sibelius started shipping on June 18th 2015, and with it comes new ways for you to acquire and use the world’s best-selling music notation software. While we have a great summary of Sibelius licensing options, including comparisons between different purchase options, in this blog I will summarize the best value options and explain some of the philosophy behind the changes.

What’s new — The main change is the addition of both monthly and annual subscription options. We have retained the normal perpetual license that you buy and own forever, and the multiseat education licenses, although we have also made some changes to the perpetual license as we now include an annual Avid upgrade plan.

Annual Avid upgrade plan — New purchases and upgrades/crossgrades to the new Sibelius perpetual license include this plan that simply gives you access to all new feature upgrades as they become available for a one year period. At the end of the 12-months you get the option to renew the plan for another 12-months of feature upgrades. If you decide not to renew the plan you still get to use the most recent version of software you have but cannot receive any future features or upgrades. If you then want to get the latest version of Sibelius you will need to move to a low-cost subscription or purchase a new version of the software. Subscription customers automatically get access to the latest version of Sibelius throughout the duration of the active subscription.

Benefits and savings — For some customers subscription offers savings and benefits, see below for customers who benefit from subscription. We are also changing the way we distribute Sibelius software, moving to a model where all users have access to a steady stream of new features—much more frequently than before—as part of the Avid upgrade plan. This enables you to get your hands on the latest tools as soon as they’re available instead of having to wait for a major release, so we plan on providing multiple releases each year and we are taking away the emphasis on a version number. It enables us to react much faster to new feature requests, and to developments we are planning that integrate Sibelius with other Avid products such as Avid Scorch, Avid Connectivity Partners such as publishers, and the new Avid Marketplace — all part of the Avid MediaCentral Platform.

Reasons to upgrade — If you are on Sibelius 7 or earlier there are many features we have added, both in the 7.5 release and this new version, that can streamline your notation workflow, and the upgrade price from all versions of Sibelius from 1 to 7.5 is only $89 USD. If you are already on 7.5 check out the new Annotate feature, the Surface Pro 3 support, simplified activation through your Avid Master Account and other improvements, as well as the knowledge and the peace of mind that you’re covered by the Avid upgrade plan that will deliver upgrades and support for a whole year.

Best Value Choices For Purchase or Upgrade/Crossgrade to the new Sibelius

Check out the pricing comparisons in the License section of the Sibelius product pages for more details.

If you are new to Sibelius…

Best value: Annual subscription
Access the software at a lower monthly cost than a monthly subscription, and without the higher startup costs of a perpetual license. Annual subscription is $239, and for students and teachers* only $99.

If you own Sibelius and want the latest tools…

Best value: Annual upgrade plan for perpetual license
Since you own Sibelius, including Academic versions, the only cost is the annual Avid upgrade plan at $89.

If you want to crossgrade from Finale, Notion, Encore, or Mosaic…

Best value: Perpetual license with annual upgrade plan
The crossgrade from Finale, Notion, Encore, or Mosaic to a perpetual copy of Sibelius is only $199 and then $89 per year to renew your annual Avid upgrade plan.

If you are an Educational Institution…

Best value: Multi-seat Licenses*
Multiseat licenses for Sibelius are available at a discount from authorized Avid resellers for only $148 and $29 for an upgrade.

*Academic eligibility verification required – click here for more details.

If you purchase Sibelius 7.5 now and get the new Sibelius – If you register Sibelius 7.5, either from purchasing an upgrade, a crossgrade, a new version, or an academic version, on or after April 11th 2015, you will get the new Sibelius in your Avid Master Account so check your account and download the new Sibelius. We will also honor Sibelius Academic versions that included 4-years of free upgrades, and the new Sibelius availability falls within that 4-year time period, with an upgrade to the new Sibelius.

 

Sibelius Box

Get The New Sibelius Today

Access Sibelius in more ways than ever: subscribe, perpetual, upgrade from Sibelius 1 to 7.5, or switch from Finale, Notion, Encore  and Mosaic with a crossgrade.

BUY NOW




See What’s On Stage at Musikmesse 2015

Avid at Musikmesse 2015

Experience the exciting innovations Avid Everywhere is bringing to music creation and pro audio at Musikmesse 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. Join us at Hall 5.1, Stand C76 to hear about the latest news from Avid, meet with our staff and see some of the many demos we have planned for the show.

With Pro Tools 12 get more choice in how you access the industry standard in more affordable ways than ever, including low-cost subscriptions. Or get started with Pro Tools | First, a free version of Pro Tools. And connect, collaborate, and be heard with Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools.

See what’s new with Sibelius the world’s best-selling notation software for composing and arranging music and editing, printing, and publishing scores. As part of Avid Everywhere, Sibelius now integrates with the new Sibelius | Cloud Publishing technology enabling publishers to provide their customers with the ability to view, play, transpose, change instruments, and purchase scores using any current web browser (no plug-in required) or mobile device, including Android, iOS, and even Linux. And Avid Scorch iPad app offers even more ways for Sibelius users to distribute their scores.

Get hands on with the Pro Tools | S3 a compact, EUCON-enabled, ergonomic desktop control surface that offers a streamlined yet versatile mixing solution for the modern sound engineer. And check out Pro Tools | Duet and Pro Tools | Quartet interfaces with Pro Tools, now it’s an even better value than ever—get your choice of two additional premium Avid plug-ins, plus a free year of Pro Tools upgrades.

 

Avid Music Creation Products

Check out the calendar below for 6 different Avid music creation demonstrations including Pro Tools 12, Pro Tools | First, Sibelius, S3 and EUCON control. On Thursday through Saturday there will also be VIP presentations with special guests sharing their experience about Sibelius, S3 and Pro Tools.

Wednesday, April 15th

9:15 am

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

10:00 am

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (English)

10:45 am

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

11:00 am

Raise Your Score with Sibelius (English)

11:45 am

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

12:30 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

12:45 pm

Small format – Big Mix – S3 (English)

1:15 pm

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

2:00 pm

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (German)

2:45 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

3:00 pm

Raise Your Score with Sibelius (German)

3:45 pm

Small format – Big Mix – S3 (German)

4:15 pm

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

5:00 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

Thursday, April 16th

9:15 am

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

10:00 am

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (English)

10:45 am

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

11:00 am

Raise Your Score with Sibelius (English)

11:45 am

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

12:30 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

12:45 pm

Small format – Big Mix – S3 (English)

1:15 pm

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

2:00 pm

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (German)

2:45 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

3:00 pm

VIP Sibelius Masterclass with Frank Heckel (German)

3:45 pm

Small format – Big Mix – S3 (German)

4:15 pm

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

5:00 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

Friday, April 17th

9:15 am

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

10:00 am

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (English)

10:45 am

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

11:00 am

Raise Your Score with Sibelius (German)

11:00 am

VIP Pro Tools | S3 with Andy Gray (English)

12:00 pm

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

12:45 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

1:00 pm

VIP Pro Tools | S3 with Andy Gray (English)

1:30 pm

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

2:15 pm

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (German)

3:00 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

3:15 pm

VIP Sibelius Masterclass with Frank Heckel (German)

4:00pm

VIP Pro Tools | S3 with Andy Gray (English)

4:30 pm

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

5:15 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

Saturday, April 18th

9:15 am

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

10:00 am

VIP Composing and Producing Hits in Pro Tools with Phil Schardt and Tom Olbrich (German)

11:00 am

Raise Your Score with Sibelius (German)

11:30 am

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (German)

12:15 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

12:30 pm

Small format – Big Mix – S3 (German)

1:00 pm

VIP Composing and Producing Hits in Pro Tools with Phil Schardt and Tom Olbrich (German)

2:00 pm

Create with Pro Tools 12 (English)

2:30 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

2:45 pm

VIP Composing and Producing Hits in Pro Tools with Phil Schardt and Tom Olbrich (German)

3:45 pm

Music Creation and Pro Tools | First (English)

4:30 pm

Remix in Pro Tools 12 (German)

5:15 pm

EUCON Control of Pro Tools (English)

Avid at Musikmesse 2015

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Behind the Scenes of Sibelius 7.5

Many Sibelius customers have been in touch wanting to know more about what went in to creating Sibelius 7.5, what we’ve been up to in the last year or so, and what we’re planning on next. I’m going to share with you some of the behind the scenes work we did to bring you two updates to our Scorch solutions as well as an upgrade to our flagship notation product, Sibelius.

At the start of 2013, we assembled a new team of Sibelius programmers and testers, and brought in folk from other teams around Avid. The whole team working on Sibelius (including Support, Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, IT, Engineering and Product Management) now totals over 30 people. For the engineering and product teams, we have six in Kiev in the Ukraine, three in our San Francisco, Calif., office, one in our head office in Burlington, Mass., and two in the UK, which includes me, working from home and our office in Pinewood Studios with Joe Pearson, product designer. We are all musicians with formal music education and most of us play regularly in bands (or just to our families!).

This team got straight to work assessing and getting familiar with the Sibelius and Scorch codebase and build systems. First on the list was to move these systems to the same environments used by the Pro Tools and Media Composer teams. This had the advantage of having a dedicated team to maintain the build systems rather than pulling a developer away from writing features in Sibelius, and it gave us the ability to share code more easily, for example, the scoring engine in Pro Tools can now inherit changes and fixes made in the Sibelius notation engines. It allowed us to utilize the same installer team, too, freeing up more core developer time, so they set to work converting the Sibelius and License Server installers to msi format to match our other products. (The msi format allows schools to deploy Sibelius to all their computers automatically. For those interested, we have this article that goes through the procedure).

At the end of the nineties, I created the German localization of the first versions of Sibelius. It is great to see the amazing progress Sibelius has made in the last 20 years – it really is my every-day tool which enables me to meet my terribly tight composition/orchestration deadlines.

– Frank Heckel

2013 continued to be an extremely busy year for us. We released two successful updates to our  Scorch web plug-in, as well as an update to our Avid Scorch iPad app. The update to the Scorch web plugin made it compatible with more browsers than ever before, as well as supporting 64-bit browsers on Mac. This allowed the publishing community to continue to sell their digital sheet music, and to a wider audience. The update to Avid Scorch brought much needed stability to the overall app, especially to browsing scores in the built-in marketplace, where you can browse hundreds of thousands of titles from Frozen to John Lennon to Back to the Future.

Once the updates to Scorch were complete, it was time to implement the changes we’d committed to  in the next version of Sibelius, which we would call 7.5. What we had thought was going to be a Sibelius ‘8’. Changing this to version 7.5 was quite a challenge as the version number is buried in a lot of places, and which affects licensing too. We were able to bring in help from the Media Composer licensing team to assist with this work as we’ve been using the same licensing scheme since Sibelius 7.1.

Joe Pearson and I were familiar with the new features from our previous work in the support team, and since the new features in the ‘Sibelius 8’ were either not implemented at all, partly implemented or nearly complete, we had to make difficult decisions about which to complete, fix up and even re-write vs. removing and archiving that code for the future.

Avid’s reborn commitment for Sibelius is great! Keep it coming!

– Peter Duemmler

For example, the Timeline looked and behaved quite differently compared to how it functions today and was mainly re-written from scratch for version 7.5 to make Sibelius think of the structure of the score running horizontally as opposed to vertically. We brought in the user interface team that works on Pro Tools to help refine the overall experience of the Timeline in Sibelius and how the new Timeline Presets are handled.

Next, we had to make changes to the new interpretation of how Sibelius plays back ornaments, the new Swing styles and Espressivo 2.0 as well as the new social sharing features. Now, Sibelius can interpret turns and mordents (pictured above), A Tempo instructions and even allow you to specify the style of playback for each individual instrument in your score.

During that time, the new testers validated every feature in Sibelius 7.1.3, the Sibelius 7 Sounds library and License Server for qualification on Windows 8 and Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks. This gave them the deep understanding of each feature in Sibelius and how it works, laying the foundation for regressing the fixes and features we were to add into Sibelius 7.5.

Meanwhile, my colleagues and I had to review all the box art, contents, DVD design and out-of-box experience, download and upgrade logic with the various teams around Avid to move Sibelius 7.5 towards the point where we were able to announce and get the upgrade into your hands.

Once this was all complete, it wasn’t the end of the Sibelius 7.5 journey of course … the marketing launch at the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, Calif., in January 2014 was a huge success and the reception we got couldn’t have been better. When it came to the official release of Sibelius 7.5 in February, the number of people upgrading to 7.5 was astounding. We knew, however, that a number of fixes existed that we wanted to get into a free update so we started on 7.5.1 right away.

We have put Sibelius 7.5 through its paces without any interruption to workflow. The 7.5 upgrade is very stable and Sibelius continues to be the primary notation software used for all of my projects.

– David Pritchard-Blunt, DavePB.com

7.5.1 took us through to July and includes more than 160 improvements and fixes that builds on 7.5.0. It went above and beyond that by fixing crashes that dated back to 2009 in the Sibelius 6 days, as well as problems that had existed in version 7, too. The new development team was truly impressive in tracking these down and getting resolutions to them quickly.

This then allows us to start work on our next version of Sibelius, version 8. Although we’re in the early days, initial signs are looking very promising. However, this isn’t the only solution we’re working on. Historically, a smaller project has been slipped in between each major version of Sibelius, be it G7, Student, Instrumental Teacher Edition, Sibelius First or Avid Scorch and now is the time for just one of those.

In working with 7.5.1, I found it to be appreciably more stable and responsive than 7.5.0.

– Philip Rothman, Sibelius Blog

 

We’ve laid the foundation with a solid update to Sibelius, it’s time we, once again, revolutionized an industry. For the next project we’ve taken on is…

… well, you’ll just have to wait for my next post to find out.

I’d like to thank our friends and families for the tireless support over the last few years and I want to thank, too, our invaluable beta testers and passionate userbase for all their feedback and support. This is spurring us on to continue to drive development and deliver on the best possible solutions to help you continue to write great music.

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Scoring Success from ‘Independence Day’ to London 2012 with David Arnold

Music: Scoring Success from Independence Day to London 2012 with David Arnold

Ever wondered what inspires a film composer? How they use their craft to pull in the audience and make them laugh and cry at the right moments? At BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers held at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, we were lucky enough to spend time with one of the industry’s most acclaimed composers and Avid Sibelius customer, David Arnold. Listen here to the discussion.

Music: Scoring Success from Independence Day to London 2012 with David Arnold

With a body of work spanning over 20 years and covering all walks of the entertainment industry—from film and television to major global sporting events and theatre—it’s no surprise that David is a multi-award winning composer.

Best known for his work on blockbuster films including Independence Day (1996) and Stargate (1994), in 1997 he took over the mantle from John Barry to compose the music for five James Bond films (including Casino Royale, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA and a Grammy). His television credits are equally as impressive and include the BAFTA-nominated Sherlock (with Michael Price) and Little Britain.

Moving into the realm of large-scale live events, in 2012 David was appointed musical director for the London Olympics and Paralympics closing ceremonies, for which he curated, composed and produced almost all of the music. This year has seen him teaming up with Richard Thomas to write the music and lyrics for the new West End musical Made in Dagenham.

‘I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a composer.’

Using Avid Sibelius, the industry’s best-selling music notation software, as his composition tool of choice, David kicked off the evening joking: ‘I’ve even got Avid in my name!’ When asked the three films that inspired him, Oliver! the 1968 musical, The Jungle Book (1967) and of course a Bond film, You Only Live Twice (1967) sparked his passion for composing. ‘I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a composer,’ he recalled.

Forming a friendship at sixth-form college with director Danny Cannon led David to writing the music for the short films Cannon created. But it would be eight years before he got his first film credit, teaming up with Cannon in their respective major film debuts for The Young Americans, and the film’s song by Björk, Play Dead.

The Young Americans catapulted David into the limelight and work soon followed on some of the highest grossing films of the 1990s. End of the world sci-fi-style blockbusters became his calling card. And using music as a tool to draw in audiences during epic opening scenes and battles was one of his specialities. ‘On Independence Day, for the President’s final speech and the battle afterwards, it was all about tracing the intensity of the speed through music,’ commented David. ‘Emotionally, another explosion won’t get you anywhere, but music will.’

A Bond fan and also a fan of Bond composer John Barry from an early age, in 1997 David was recommended to Barbara Broccoli by Barry as the composer for the upcoming Tomorrow Never Dies. He was hired to score the film and scored the four subsequent films: The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. It was an honour David took very seriously. ‘With Bond films you’re inviting people into a world you’ve created with music,’ he said. To add to his Bond credits, David also co-wrote the main theme songs for The World Is Not Enough (The World Is Not Enough by Garbage) and Casino Royale (You Know My Name by Chris Cornell).

Team up with peers on filmmaking courses and use the power of YouTube as a way of getting your film scores heard.

After talking through his career, David had some sterling advice for today’s generation of upcoming composers. With many free media sharing platforms available, he recommends teaming up with peers on film-making courses and using the power of YouTube as a way of getting their film scores heard and noticed. This modern way is a far cry from David’s humble roots composing for Cannon’s films in a back street studio in Luton. But there’s no doubt that talent, combined with best-in-class technology, makes for compelling collaborations.

BAFTA

BAFTA is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, an independent British charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image. As a leading charity in the UK, BAFTA ensures that the very best creative work can be accessed and appreciated by the public.




Developments in Sibelius Give Blind and Visually Impaired Musicians More Tools to Craft Their Scores

Developments in Sibelius Give Blind and Visually Impaired Musicians More Tools to Craft Their Scores

It has taken me decades to be able to say that I’m a composer. When I was young, I used to say that I was a pianist, then a jazz pianist, then a songwriter. I only settled on considering myself a composer a few short years ago. The thing that made it possible for me to make that conscious professional choice was the development of music notation software that could be used by a composer with a serious visual disability. That software was Sibelius.

The path to developing Sibelius as a resource for me and the blind and visually impaired community has been a work in progress since Sibelius made its appearance in the music industry. However, over the years, improvements to the software have been promising, especially recently. With the newest release of Sibelius, version 7.5.1, it better supports blind and visually impaired musicians with the ability to use screen readers like NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) on Windows.

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of a screen reader, its purpose is to read the contents of the screen to a blind or visually impaired user. There are several packages commercially available. The best known of these is called JAWS (Jobb Access With Speech).

 

Developing Sibelius for the Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Right from the start, Sibelius users, visually impaired or not, have been encouraged to use the computer keyboard as a primary method for working on their scores. The early documentation stressed that most functions could be performed without using the mouse at all. For this reason, the idea of making Sibelius accessible for blind and visually impaired users began to take hold.

David Pinto, who is both an accomplished musician and JAWS scripter, began development of a set of Jaws scripts called “Sibelius Speaking.” They were designed to work with Sibelius 3, and were sold by Dancing Dots, a company specializing in accessible solutions for visually impaired musicians, many of whom were quite successful using Sibelius both in educational and professional settings.

The thing that made it possible for me to make that conscious professional choice was the development of music notation software that could be used by a composer with a serious visual disability. 

While Sibelius Speaking did open a lot of doors, it had its problems. It relied heavily on recognizing the graphics on the screen. This meant that everything had to be set up in a very specific configuration, and at that time, different video cards would often yield unsatisfactory results, leading to a good deal of frustration.

When Sibelius 5.25 was released, another programmer, Dan Rugman, who happened to be visually impaired and was also an expert JAWS scripter, developed a new set of scripts for this version of Sibelius. Unlike Sibelius Speaking, this set of scripts made extensive use of Sibelius’s manuscript language, which enables the creation of plug-ins that can perform a wide variety of functions. Since these scripts did not rely on the graphical user interface at all, they were much more robust than Sibelius Speaking in many ways. However, since Dan had committed himself to offering these scripts as freeware to the visually impaired community, he was unable to devote the time needed to continue development as newer releases of Sibelius became available. Although, he did develop a script set for Sibelius 6.20, it never made it past Beta.

While Sibelius 7 was being developed, Stephen Penny, who at that time was working for Avid and involved with the building of Sibelius 7, became curious about the idea of accessibility to Sibelius for blind and visually impaired musicians. In his spare time, he began working on the foundation of what is now the current Sibelius access module. He openly admitted that this was in no way as comprehensive as the work that Dan had done for Sibelius 5, but Stephen’s access module had the distinct advantage of not being limited to one specific screen reader. Because it was a native part of the Sibelius program itself, Stephen felt it should be possible to make it work with any screen reader including NVDA, which reads everything you mouse-over or select on your computer.

Me with my fans at a recent Taipei concert at the Taiwan International Convention Center.

Me with my fans at a recent Taipei concert at the Taiwan International Convention Center.

By this time, Sibelius 7.5 was being launched but was not compatible with the open source screen reader, NVDA. Thankfully, Avid was eager to fix this. I had the pleasure of meeting Sam Butler, Michael Ost and Dimitri Vandellos of the Avid Sibelius team at the NAMM Show 2014 and shared my workflows with them. Over the next few months, the team worked with me, Gordon Kent, beta tester and Sibelius user, and Sibelius plug-in guru Bob Zawalich to come up with a list of improvements that would allow us to use Sibelius with NVDA.

The finished product—Sibelius 7.5.1 with NVDA access. While this latest solution has not yet reached the level of accessibility that was achieved by Dan Rugman’s plug-in based solution for Sibelius 6.20, the fact that a solution has been created by the Sibelius development team itself, involving an essentially free screen reader for Windows, means that, over the long term, the blind and visually impaired community can look forward to a support environment. It will be far less vulnerable to the sort of problems faced previously where a change in either Windows, Sibelius or JAWS would cause the metaphorical three-legged stool to collapse until the development cycles of three unrelated products came back into sync.

The long-term goal is to create an environment in which blind and visually impaired users can use Sibelius to its full effect.

Moving Forward

Presently, development to make every feature accessible to the blind and visually impaired community is being undertaken by Avid in conjunction with experienced visually impaired Sibelius users to ensure a practical fully featured working environment. This effort is the most comprehensive of its kind between a major developer of notation software and the blind community.

We are confident that future versions of Sibelius will continue to reflect this ongoing effort. The long-term goal is to create an environment in which blind and visually impaired users can use Sibelius to its full effect.

Sibelius Resources

To learn more about the work we’ve done with Avid to improve accessibility of Sibelius for blind and visually impaired musicians, read our Sibelius Accessibility for the Visually Impaired User guide.

Review documentation and download the VIP.zip file available from the Sibelius website. It contains a custom feature set containing a comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts specifically designed to aid blind and visually impaired users and a folder called VIP plug-ins which contains six useful plug-ins specifically developed by Bob Zawalich.

Get Your Free 30-Day Trial

Experience the fastest, smartest, easiest way to write music. Try the software free for 30 days and see why pros and students alike choose and trust Sibelius.




The Role of the Producer in Music Creation

The Role of the Producer in Music Creation

People often wonder what a music producer does. When I get asked the question after I play tracks that I’ve produced for family, friends, or artists, my answer is not always the same. That’s because music production has changed a lot over the years and has become a very difficult process to describe without tying it to the style of music it is referring to. A producer on a Classical record has a very different job than a producer on a Trap track. They both are music producers though.

Fab Dupont and Stefan Myburgh
Stefan Myburgh and Fab Dupont and

In the traditional process of record making (read before midi and computers aka back-in-the-day) the producer was the person who would bridge the technical and artistic sides of the journey from raw song to finished record. The producer’s role would range from picking songs (if the A&R had not already done it, back when A&R’s job was to find songs for artists) to picking keys and tempos, picking studios and engineers, choosing colors by choosing instruments or players, sometimes writing horn or string charts, managing the record budget, approving mixes, and coaching musicians and singers to get the best possible performance out of them.

He would kind of be the temporary additional member of the band, but one with tremendous musical culture, deep experience of studio life (remember, artists make a record every year or two, a busy producer makes a record everyday). A good example of such a producer would be Quincy Jones or George Martin. Their jobs were mainly to take existing songs and elevate them to the highest possible level by their deep knowledge of music, orchestration skills, business strategy and good taste.

Then, as technology evolved and made the recording studio an instrument itself, a new breed of music producers came to the fore. People like Trevor Horn or Brian Eno changed the way records were made by imparting more of a personal sound to the records they made, crafting the instruments’ tones and often playing on the records themselves. They were still working off a more traditional musician skill-set, alongside audio engineers and the rest of a crew to achieve their results but those records sounded more like a hybrid of the artist’s and their taste rather than just the artist’s taste.

Recently, through the advent of affordable music software, the producer became a one stop shop from writing to producing to recording, and sometimes mixing the record. Doing it all himself, often in a personal studio instead of big commercial rooms. As the technology became more and more accessible over the years, it has afforded people with little music theory knowledge but with inspiration, creativity and individualized taste to enter the playing field, further adding to the confusion around what a music producer really does.

Because of their more encompassing involvement in the creation of the song, modern music producers tend to have better name recognition than their vintage counterparts. More people will recognize the name ‘Timbaland’ more than ‘Phil Ramone’ although their respective contributions to music history is equally impressive despite the fact that they contributed in vastly different ways.

In summary, there is one common value from Quincy Jones to Kanye West and that is: taste. It can be good taste or bad taste, garish or sober, narrow or wide but through the years, regardless of skill-set, the reason artists and labels have hired producers to make records is because of their particular taste in music.

Pam de Menzies

Pam de Menzies - vocalist and keyboard player - 'The Arrows'

The reason why The Arrows hired me to produce their record is because they liked records I had produced before. Those records tasted good to them. My personal approach to music production is a mix of all types described above. I like to be involved in the whole process from song choice to string orchestration to sampling drums and crafting synth sounds to recording live instruments and mixing. Depending on the artist I’m producing songs for, I can do a lot or I can do little. The song and the artist come first.

Working with The Arrows was fun because they know what they want, they are exceptional musicians, exceptional writers, producers in their own right, they are very smart about their music and they move fast. In the case of their record, my role was that of a catalyst. The songs were there. The vibe was there but it did not soar right, it did not yet ‘sound like a record’. They had hit a point in time where they needed direction after a long writing process.

Singer Pam de Menzies with Producer Fab Dupont

Pam de Menzies works with Fab Dupont on the track

So I stepped in as a sounding board and aimed to provide unified style and song direction where I felt it was needed. I also helped crafting tones for bass, guitars and synths, added beats under the tracks on some songs, suggested instrument parts in places where they had none, coached them in giving their best possible performances instrumentally and vocally, recorded most tracks and, in the end, mixed the record. It was a perfect hybrid of modern and vintage music production processes.

The From Creation to Final Mix video series is intended to give you an overview of a process that can last from a day to a week or more, depending on inspiration, skill-set and level of intricacy of the song and whatever everybody had for breakfast that morning.

We hope you enjoy it. If you do there is plenty more stuff like it at pureMix.net

Cheers,
Fab Dupont. NYC 2014

From Creation to Final Mix

In this 6-video series, Grammy-nominated NYC producer, mixer, and co-founder of puremix.net, Fab Dupont, works with The Arrows to take their demo idea all the way to a complete set of recorded audio and MIDI tracks—ready for final mixing.

DOWNLOAD THE TRACKS




Pro Mixing: Music Composers for TV and Film Look to System 5 and Pro Tools to Deliver Compelling Scores

Pro Mixing: Music Composers for TV and Film Look to System 5 and Pro Tools to Deliver Compelling Scores

When you stop to think about what one of the coolest jobs in the world would be, being a film and TV composer has to be high on the list. But they really do have very challenging gigs and I’ve seen it first hand on many big movies that I’ve freelanced on over the years (including The Spirit, Collateral, Star Trek Nemesis and Solaris). Composers have to write, record and mix a ton of cues each with dozens (if not hundreds) of tracks in a compressed timeframe, compressed budget and still find a way to be creative. They are on the hook to deliver great sounding cues that match the film and most importantly, what the director is looking for. To do this, they need reliable, repeatable and efficient workflows. Their studios often contain a writing room and a separate mixing room to work in parallel – (for instance, the composer could be writing cues for reels 5 & 6 of the show while his crew is mixing to deliver cues for reels 1 & 2).

“Almost every major film and TV composer who has their own studio and is delivering big wide (stem) mixes… they’ve all got the S5. And there’s a reason…it’s got incredible amount of adaptability.”

Chris Lennertz composing on Cubase and Pro Tools

“It does what people in our position need it to do, which is: work fast, work steady and then give options to quickly spit out wide mixes. There’s no other piece of gear that does it better than S5.”

—Christopher Lennertz

Chris in his mix room with System 5

Workflow That Sounds Great

Whatever the composers choice of composing MIDI Digital Audio Workstation that they write on: Logic Pro, Cubase, Digital Performer or Pro Tools, there will be many ‘pre-record’ sounds (synths, samples, etc) and tracks that are generated on that rig that will live all the way to the final mix. They can stay fluid as MIDI and virtual instruments in the host application or (more likely) get printed off as audio files for Pro Tools playback on the scoring stage where a real orchestra will replace the ‘mock-up’ strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, choir, piano, etc. Those real instrument recordings are recorded (usually at high sample rates) into a Pro Tools | HDX rig and then brought back to the studio, cleaned up (alongside the pre-records) and prepped for mix.

That's me at Fox Scoring

My Pro Tools scoring rig at Fox Studios

So any one cue will be likely made up of hundreds of tracks and sounds, often completely changing from moment to moment within the same cue and will likely have incredible dynamic range from quiet to loud, all playing from multiple DAW systems, (unlike a traditional pop/rock song mix). Having a console that can handle these multiple systems, offer integrated DAW control (through EUCON), as well as great DSP mixing, summing and automation, offer a ton of headroom, a great set of EQ’s and Dynamics, easy digital patching, intuitive surround panning, flexible monitoring and being able to quickly deliver wide stems for options in the final film mix is critical.  Why do composers have to deliver wide stems? This allows the filmmaker and dubbing mixers to have the most control in the final mix to blend the music parts with the rest of the soundtrack. All of this is why many of the world’s top composers choose Avid System 5 as their console of choice. It becomes a critical centerpiece in their mission to deliver a great sounding music score.

What Do Composers Think of System 5?

Hear what composer Christopher Lennertz (Supernatural, Revolution, Horrible Bosses) says about his path to becoming a successful composer and how his System 5 console plays an important role in his success in this video interview we recorded at his Los Angeles based studio.

Across town is a colleague who also came from Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control camp of successful young composers: Trevor Morris (Immortals, Olympus Has Fallen, Vikings) and he also relies on Pro Tools HD systems with a System 5 console.

“The S5 handles everything we’ve thrown at it. It’s comfortable too… big enough, but not too big. It’s all centralized and easy to work with the layers in the center of the board and my mixers really love the format.”

—Trevor Morris

Trevor Morris at his composing rig

Trevor mixes on his System 5 console

Trevor says: “I had experience with the System 5 in the past working with other composers before I owned one and there’s a certain intangible magic to it. Film music is a very three-dimensional thing, it has height and width and depth, more so than stereo pop music. To hear what the S5 does with that – there’s a clarity to it, it just opens up – it’s undeniably the best sounding digital or analogue console for me, for what I do with the language of Film and TV music. I can’t even describe how it makes me so happy to hear the returns on what I’ve worked so hard writing, come together and go to the next level. It never gets old – I love mixing!”

“And the S5 handles our massive track counts really well. With a big feature film we have a whole Pro Tools rig for just the orchestra, a second Pro Tools rig for pre-records like synths, percussion and guitars and then a third Pro Tools rig for printing stems and video playback and the S5 handles everything we’ve thrown at it. It’s comfortable too… big enough, but not too big. Gone are the days of the 100 plus channel big ‘wheel your chair down to the first channel’ analogue desk. It’s all centralized and easy to work with the layers in the center of the board and my mixers really love the format.”

A Scoring Mixers Point Of View

Alan Meyerson is a leading scoring engineer who has been using System 5 consoles to mix and control multiple music tracks from multiple Pro Tools|HDX systems for many years. “I work in Hybrid mode, with some tracks controlled by the System 5 DSP and others within Pro Tools using EUCON. I prefer to use the ‘hardware’ channels [controlling the System 5 DSP engine] for trimming my overall balances and stem levels, and the DAW channels for the component orchestral and other tracks.”

Scoring Mixer Alan Meyerson

System 5 at Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Studios

Recent film-scoring projects for this busy music engineer include Man of Steel (with composer Hans Zimmer at Remote Control studios), Despicable Me II (with composer Heitor Pereira), Pacific Rim (with composer Ramin Djawadi), White House Down, and The Smurfs II.

“I like the familiar sound of the System 5’s DSP engine for orchestral balances—the EQ and dynamics sections within the System 5 are great sounding—using channel returns from 200 to 300 tracks replaying back from one of my several Pro Tools|HDX rigs. That DSP/DAW hybrid approach also leaves more core power for all the Pro Tools plug-ins I like to use on component elements. I also prefer to keep my prerecords very wide with multiple passes of orchestral tracks, so that I have plenty of options during the final 5.1- or 7.1-channel mix of the score I’m working on.”




Sketching in Sibelius: The Finishing Touches

Sketching in Sibelius 7.5: The Finishing Touches

This is the fourth and final Sketching in Sibelius tutorial by John Hinchey, producer, arranger, composer and trombonist.

If you’ve been following this series, so far you’ve learned: why I sketch, how to setup your score for sketching, how to input the details of the sketch and how to adjust the length and timing of the arrangement. Next, I covered some techniques on how to quickly fill in the rhythm section parts of the score using the sketch. Now we will get to the horn parts and a few final details.

 

Here Come the Horns!

The score is looking pretty good and I think we can easily make this deadline but the horn parts need to be orchestrated. Are you thinking “Tabula Rasa” (the blank slate) again, as you look at the empty horn staves? Not a concern with a good solid sketch. The horn parts need to stay out of the way of the vocals and add some punch and flavor to the scene. Almost every horn line I need is either cued in or outlined in the chord structure or the sketch. Let’s start at the top.

 

Exploding and Arranging

The first thing I want to do is use ‘Focus on Staves’ to show just the sketch staves and horn staves. You remember how to do this from part one of this tutorial! And I also switch to Panorama as I find this the most efficient way to view the score when orchestrating.

In bars 1 and 2, the horn voicing is spelled out pretty clearly. Here is a quick way to blast that chord out into our 6 horn staves, using ‘Arrange Style’:

1.  Select the treble staff of the sketch in bars 1 and 2 (blue passage selection) and press Ctrl+C or Command C for copy. The contents of this staff are now on your clipboard.
2.  Now select bars 1 and 2 of the Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Trumpets 1 and 2 and the Trombone. I am skipping the Baritone Sax as it will take the root of the chord (blue passage selection).

3.  Go to the tab Note Input > Arrange > Arrange > Choose An Arrange Style. This window will come up and I’ll scroll to the top and choose Explode.

4.  Click OK and I’ve got the voicing I want in the top five horns.

5.  For the Bari Sax, I need the root of the chord. I could input these notes using the normal step input, but there is a more efficient way that will copy the notes with all the articulation, the fall and the dynamic as well. So that’s what I’ll do.
6.  Select the Tenor Sax in bars 1 and 2 (blue passage selection).
7.  Next Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Bari Sax staff bar one and the part copies over and, of course, is an octave and a seventh too high, easily corrected as long as the bars are still a blue passage selection.
8.  Hold down the Ctrl or Command key and press the down arrow on the keyboard twice, release the Ctrl or Command key and press the up arrow once. Now Bari Sax has the right notes with the correct articulation and dynamic.

A note about why I used the Arrange > Arrange > Choose An Arrange Style > Explode (Arrange Style window) and not Arrange > Explode. The latter Explode will only explode to 4 staves or less with a top down voicing. So if I had only 4 staves, and the score order was for example Trumpets 1 and 2, Tenor Sax and Trombone, this would work well. But I’m using a more traditional score order and 5 staves. So in this case Arrange Styles is the way to go.

 

Sometimes Unison is the Way to Go

In bar 10 of the sketch, I have cued in a horn line. This line is going to be played in unison and octaves in the horns, so let’s grab that and quickly put it into all the horns.

There are several ways to do this but let’s use this method:

1.  I’ll go to bar 10 and select the top stave and copy that bar, so it is now on my clipboard.
2.  Go to bar 10 in the Trumpet 1 staff and select the bar (blue passage selection).
3.  Next I go to Home > Clipboard > Paste > Paste into Voice. Set it for ‘Copy from voice 1’, ‘Paste into voice 1’ and click OK. Now you have the line in Trumpet 1, with one little extra bit of text that needs to go.

 

4.  Click on the piece of text that says “horns” and delete it. Now you have a clean copy of the line with all the pitches and articulations. At this point there are several ways to get this line in all the horns but let’s use this one.
5.  Select bar 10 in the Trumpet 1 staff and copy it (Ctrl+C or Command+C).
6.  Select all 6 horn staves in bar 10 (blue selection passage).
7.  Go to Arrange > Arrange > Choose An Arrange Style > Explode but you’ll notice something interesting here. Since I’ve already used the Arrange > Arrange > Choose An Arrange Style > Explode it is now a choice under Arrange Style, so choose it! No need to go to the next window and click OK. Sibelius fills in the unison line in 2 octaves.

8.  For this arrangement though, I’d like the Alto sax and Baritone sax notes to be an octave lower than this. Easy fix, select the Alto sax and Baritone sax in bar 10 (blue passage selection), hold down the Ctrl or Command key and press the down arrow on the keyboard once. Now I’ve got this bar just the way I want it.
9.  Using these two techniques in combination Alt+Click or Option+Click to copy and paste, I can quickly go thorough and finish up the horns.

 

Let’s Make Some Room

Turning back to page view of the score it looks a bit crowded. And one way to alleviate that situation is to remove some staves. At this point in the process the sketch staves are redundant in the conductor’s score. So if removed they really would not be missed. But I did use the sketch staves in the Piano Vocal part, I can’t just delete these staves. So what I’ll do is hide them in the score. Thanks to Bob Zawalich, there is a plugin that does this quite simply.

First install the “Show Staves In Parts Only” plug-in. You will find it by going to File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins. At the top of the dialog, choose All plug-ins from the Show drop-down. From the Plug-ins list, choose Layout > Show Staves In Parts Only.

Once this handy plugin is installed, you are two clicks away from making some room!

 1.  In page view of the score select both of the Sketch staves, only one bar is needed.

2.  Run the “Show Staves in Parts Only” plug-in. It is very simple; it opens and you click OK—nothing more to do! Those staves are removed (hidden) from page view in the conductor’s score.

3.  If you look in Panorama view the sketch staves appear blank. But if you go to Appearance > Invisibles and check “Hidden Objects” you will see the content of those staves have only been hidden. And if you open the Piano Vocal part, you’ll see the staves and content appearing normally.

 

That wraps it up for this tutorial. See the Sibelius file for the final version of this score.

 

WAIT S.O.S from the Client!

The score is done, parts are formatted, everything is exported to pdfs and I am just about to attach to an email and send, when this email arrives in my inbox:

“John, we have a last minute situation. The baritone who was singing the solo has broken a bone in his foot! We can strategically place him on a stool for most of the show but for this one the singer has to be mobile! So we are back to the original tenor soloist (don’t ask me what we did about the costume … it’s not pretty…). The music director feels it would be best for the tenor in the key of ‘G.’ Dress run later tonight, I need the chart in ‘G’ ASAP! But you are the miracle worker right? Best, K.C.”

Sibelius makes this a pretty easy rescue and makes me look good in the process!

As I showed you in Part 3 of this tutorial, transposing the whole score into a new key is a simple process and I’ll do that again here. The real time saver is Sibelius will also transpose all the formatted parts, as well. But I’ll use one of my favorite features in Sibelius and that is Versions. With this feature, I can save different versions of my score as I work all in the same file. I always try to remember to save the final version of my score when I’m done. So in the future, if the client does want to edit or transpose an arrangement, I still have a copy of the original in case he changes his mind and wants to go back to the first version.

So before transposing the score up to the key of G, I’ll go to:

•   Review > Versions > New Version.
•   A window pops up and I’ll name this “Key of Eb_V1.”
•   In the comments box, I may write something like “Baritone solo version pre broken foot” and click OK.
•   Now in the future I can go back to Review > Versions > Edit Versions and if needed, I can go back to this version, make it current and print or edit as needed.

After saving the Eb version, I will transpose the entire score. Before I hit print or export the pdfs, I always give the score and parts the once over to make sure nothing has to be tweaked. I want to make sure the transposition hasn’t caused any orchestration problems.

In about 20 minutes, with proofing included, I’m ready to send the revised score and parts to KC so he can get on with the show!

 

Top Image Caption: The cast of “Sapori d’Italia”, one of three new shows (music produced by Hinchey Music Services) featured on board the Costa Diadema. The Diadema is Costa Cruise lines newest and largest ship. It’s maiden voyage is scheduled for November 1, 2014.

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Sketching in Sibelius: From Sketch to Score

Sketching in Sibelius 7.5

This is the third of four Sketching in Sibelius tutorials by John Hinchey, producer, arranger, composer and trombonist.

If you’ve been following this series, so far you’ve learned—why I sketch, how to setup your score for sketching, how to input the details of the sketch, and how to adjust the length and timing of the arrangement. Now I’ll cover how to turn a sketch into a score.

 

A Note from the Producer

Well, I heard back from KC:

“Hey John! Perfect; this will work great! Flosse is happy and has already blocked and choreographed to your demo. There is only one problem, turns out the tenor male soloist is too tall for the costume, which we already have and we can’t afford to have a new one made to fit him. The good news is the costume fits the other male singer perfectly, but he is a baritone and there is no way he can hit that F at the end. But he’s strong up to an Eb. Can you transpose it? THANKS BRO! K.C.”

Sometimes artistic decisions come down to who fits the suit! With Sibelius, this is of course, no problem. So before I expand this sketch out to a full score, I’ll transpose it to the correct key.

1.  Open the score and type Ctrl+A, or Command A on Mac, to select all (system selection purple)
2.  Go to the Note Input > Note Input > Transpose
3.  Set it to Transpose by Key > Down > Eb > Options > check Change Key at Start > OK

Perfect except for one detail, the drum pattern in bars 2 through 4 is also a step down.

That’s a quick and easy fix.

  • Select the drum pattern (blue passage selection)
  • On your computer keyboard, press the up arrow key once

This moves the drum pattern up one step diatonically and puts it back in the correct position. Now I’ll send a new PDF of this off to the music director so he can continue rehearsals.

 

Orchestrating from Sketch

If you look at the blank staves beneath the sketch in the score, you may think you are back to “tabula rasa.” But this is not the case. Sure you have to fill in six horn parts and a 4-piece rhythm section, but this is a pretty good sketch. A lot of your orchestration decisions are already clear. Your keyboard and bass parts are fairly well defined by the sketch. So I almost always start with getting the rhythm section filled in first. Go with what you know and the rest usually falls into place! Did I mention the clock is ticking? Let’s get to it!

Here is a Sibelius file of the score up to this point so you can follow along.

The keyboard part will be almost an exact copy of the sketch staff. So I’ll copy that over. First, triple click the sketch staves and this creates a blue passage selection the entire length of the score. Then, hold down the Alt key, or Option key on Mac, and click the top Keyboard stave.

For some situations, it would be fine to have the cues in the keyboard part. However, let’s assume we want just the information in the keyboard part that the player needs to play the part and no extra cues.

  • Select the drum cues in bars 2 through 4, including the percussion clef and the bass clef and type Ctrl+X or Command+X for Cut

This works great except for some extra rests in voice 2.

There are several ways to delete these, but I’ll use this technique:

  • Select all of bar 2 (blue passage selection)
  • Go to Home > Select > Filters > Voices > Voice 2
  • The rests in voice 2 are now selected (green), tap your delete key and you are done

Bar 10 in the Keyboard part is another matter and there is a quick and easy way to delete this cue—by using the very versatile Paste into Voice feature.

  • Select the treble staff of the piano in bar 10 (blue passage selection)
  • Command X for cut and the bar is now empty, but the contents are on the clipboard
  • Go to the Home > Clipboard > Paste > Paste into Voice
  • Set it for Copy from voice 2, paste into voice 1 and uncheck Paste text, lines and symbols from all voices
  • Now click OK

The notes from voice 2 are pasted into voice 1 and the contents of voice 1 are discarded all in one easy move.

Copy the bass clef of the sketch into the Electric bass staff using all the same methods.

For the Electric Guitar, I’d like to create rhythmic slashes copying what the keyboard is playing in the right hand and there is a quick way to do this. First, you need to install a plug-in called “Move Pitches To Transposed Midline” which you will find under File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > All Plug-ins > Notes and Rests.

For a tutorial on how to install plug-ins in Sibelius, see my blog post, Sibelius Tutorial: Installing Plugins in Sibelius 7.

1.  Copy the treble staff of the keyboard part into the Electric guitar staff
2.  Next select the Electric Guitar staff for the entire score (blue passage selection)
3.  Run the “Move Pitches To Transposed Midline” plug-in and set it like this:

4.  Then click OK now you should have rhythm slashes for the entire staff.

Next we need to add the chord symbols.

1.  Select the bass clef staff of the Keyboard part for the entire score (blue passage selection)
2.  Go to Home > Filters > Text > Chords Symbols this will select just the chord symbols (they turn blue)
3.  Next Alt+Click or Option+Click the quarter note on beat 2 of bar one in the Electric Guitar part and chords symbols all copy over.

There are quick and easy techniques for creating the drum part, too. For tips on drum set notation, see my 5-part tutorial beginning with the blog post, Sibelius Tutorial: Drum set notation-part 1.

Here’s a Sibelius file so you can keep track of what I’ve done so far.

 

In Part 4, we will fill in the rest of the details of the score.

Top image caption: Martina McBride and the Martina McBride Horns: Vinnie Ciesielski, Tyler Summers, Randy Leago and me. All the horn charts for Martina’s Everlasting tour were written in Sibelius by me and Jim Hoke.

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