What’s New in Sibelius — September 2020

We’re excited to introduce to you the September 2020 release of Sibelius. We’ve all been beavering away from our home offices to bring you a release that focusses on several areas of the program to help you get the best out of your scores.

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.

Focus on Staves and Hide Empty Staves

This release enhances the Focus on Staves feature so you can use both “Hide Empty Staves” and “Focus and Staves” at the same time. This opens up several new possibilities to have scratch staves that you may use to work out rhythms, tidy incoming MIDI files or split out individual staves or even combined staves that you can still use in the parts.

The setting is tucked away in Engraving Rules > Staves and is called “Show hidden empty staves when using Focus on Staves”. When this is checked, you’ll get the existing behaviour, where using Focus on Staves will unhide any already hidden stave. Unchecking this option will enable the new workflow.

Legacy view, where hidden staves are displayed when focusing on others:

New view, where hidden staves remain hidden when focusing on others:

Using Focus on Staves has become easier with a new dropdown allowing you to choose the staves that form the focus set:

Old UI

New UI

As you can see, we’ve moved the Focus on Staves button out and split it to add the dropdown. Clicking the top half now toggles it on and off, and clicking the bottom half shows the list of staves in the score or part.

When ticking or unticking the names in the list, Sibelius will turn on Focus on Staves and only display those instruments in the score. Choosing more instruments from the list will add them to the focussed set. If you untick them all, the score will revert to showing all the staves. To help you choose only a few staves, or omit a few (depending on your need at the time), you can click the “Clear All” or “Select All” options from the list.

There have been no changes in the way you can use a selection in the score to focus on a set of staves, so you’ll still likely find it’s just as useful.

We’ve also added a new Engraving Rule (Staves → Layout) that allows the Focus On Staves feature to be disabled in “Panorama” View while still being active in the “Page” view. This facilitates a workflow in which the Panorama mode could be considered a “Master Palette” for all available instruments within a score, whereas the Page View (used in conjunction with the Focus on Staves feature) may only show a subset of the score’s instruments. This allows users to see scratch staves within Panorama view that won’t ever appear within the Page View of the score. The new rule is ON by default (i.e. legacy behaviour), so you’ll need to turn the feature off if you’re interested in trying out the new workflow.

When a stave is hidden using Focus on Staves, there’s now a new layout marker (i.e. a dashed purple line) to indicate this. When an unfocused staves occurs alongside a stave that is also hidden using Hide Empty Staves (which uses a dotted line), then the two lines are slightly offset so that it’s possible to determine that there are two different types of hidden objects).

In this release, we have also included a small change to the way staves are hidden using Hide Empty Staves when Focus on Staves is on. Previously, if you were focusing on a set of staves and applied Hide Empty Staves on one or more staves, nothing would appear to happen until you turned Focus on Staves off. This would give the impression that nothing was happening to the score, but then have potentially undesired results when turning off Focus on Staves. Now though, Hide Empty Staves will only apply to those staves in view, so even if you do Select All and choose Hide Empty Staves, it’ll only apply to those in view.

In addition to these improvements to working with staves, the option when exporting audio and video to “Omit muted instruments” now works regardless of the selection in the score. So when this option is checked, the muted instruments will never be included in the audio export, and when it’s unchecked, the mute state in the Mixer will be ignored.

Now for the first time you can have scores and parts with their own independent set of focussed staves; and when combined with the new option to allow you to hide empty staves too, it unlocks whole new ways of working with parts. You’ll be able to have another “Full Score” that includes your scratch staves, parts with any number of staves that you can switch on and off at will, and all this while retaining complete control of the layout of each.

ManuScript Plugin language

In case you didn’t know, Sibelius has a programming language built into it, allowing you to create plugins that help you perform tasks that either aren’t necessarily easily available in Sibelius, or are repetitive. If you’re interested, check out the ManuScript Language Reference pdf, found in File > Plug-ins. In this release, we’ve added several improvements to the plugin language that we hope will go a long way. We’ve been careful to add new functionality that doesn’t affect older versions of Sibelius, allowing you to build plugins that will work in any (modern) version of Sibelius).
All new plugins can now have the following code inserted into the Initialize() method to allow Sibelius to switch on new behavior and to allow legacy plugins to continue to run as before:

// The following enables the latest behavior for the ManuScript interpreter.
// If you intend your plugin to run on previous versions of Sibelius where that functionality
// didn”t exist, you will likely have to revisit the following:
if (Sibelius.ProgramVersion > 20200600) {

With TreatSingleCharacterAsString, ManuScript will now treat a single character as a string rather than a number. SupportHalfSemitonePitchValues allow floating-point values to be accepted as “Pitch” so that plugins can add and manipulate quarter-tone values. Pitch is still specified and returned as a semitone, but 0.5 semitone is a quartertone. The same goes for Accidentals.
The following methods accept floating-point pitches:

• NoteRest.AddNote
• Bar.AddNote
• Stave.AddNote

The following methods return pitches or accidentals in floating-point values:

• Note.Pitch
• Note.WrittenPitch
• Note.Accidental
• Note.WrittenAccidental

When using single-character literals within a conditional, ManuScript no longer appears to guess between types (numbers and characters), leading to more consistent results.

Various calls to close a score are now consistent and reliable e.g. Sibelius.Close(False) There’s also a new all Sibelius.CloseScore(score…). This helps to remove ambiguity when closing a score to ensure the right score is closed. It can also take a new argument fCloseAll that closes all parts and score. There’s also a new Sibelius.CloseWindowsWithScore() method that allows you to reliably close a specific score without having to search the list of open scores for it.

We’ve also addressed a longstanding ManuScript bug which resulted in inconsistent behaviour when importing Text Styles from a House Style. Previously, manuscript plug-ins would not import the “Music Text Font” when calling the ApplyStyles() command unless the call was made to import ALLSTYLES. Now, the ApplyStyles() command functionality mirrors the Import House Style UI dialog within Sibelius, making it possible to import the “Music Text Font” by using the TEXT Style name (or any Style name that depends on TEXT) . Thanks to Bob Zawalich for his detailed reporting on this bug!

We’ve also fixed a couple of bugs too:
• Exporting a MusicXML file via ManuScript is possible once more when called from a plugin


As with all recent releases, we have aimed to improve the experience for those with sight loss. Although the formal agreement we have with Berklee College of Music is coming to an end, we will always strive to offer the best experience for these users. Our dedicated developer for accessibility, Edith, has done an incredible job this past year and I want to express my sincere thanks to her for everything she’s achieved – Sibelius certainly wouldn’t be where it is today without her contribution.

So, in this release, you can expect the following improvements:

Screen readers now announce text as you type! It’ll announce each letter, then the word as you press space to move to the next word. It’ll also speak the letter after the caret line too as you move through a word.
System object navigation just for easier, as it’s now possible to navigate to Instrument Names using Ctrl+Shift+-/+ and Cmd+Shift+-/+. Under the hood, it uses the ClickArea (i.e. can it be clicked on using a mouse pointer) to help the selection navigate to it. This has an added bonus of being able to navigate to an instrument name that has been deleted (e.g. select the instrument name and press delete. Select the Instrument name below it in the score and use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+- or Cmd+Shift+- and it’ll move the selection to the empty text field. Press F2 or Return and you’ll get a flashing cursor – it’s not incredibly clear, but useful nonetheless!).

In addition to this:
• Screen readers can now access word menus using VoiceOver
• When a stem is selected, the beam information is now read by the screen reader.
• VoicerOver announces the values in numerical spin boxes on Mac e.g. number of copies in File > Print, Text > Numbering > Bar Number Change to set the new bar number etc.
• File names, rather than the score’s title, are now read in the Recent Scores tab in the Quick Start
• ComboBox controls are now accessible on Mac using VoiceOver
• Checkable lists are now accessible, such as Preferences > Accessibility > “Exclude action types”. Previously, it wouldn’t announce whether the option is ticked or not, but now it does.

File > Import

We’ve had great feedback on the recently improved MusicXML features, and in this release we aim to fine tune this even further. These include speed improvements to fine tuning the UI.
• To help you speed through the mapping table, Sibelius can now handle stave mappings if done in quick succession.
• We fixed a crash that could occur after mapping and adding techniques on Mac
• The score preview progress bar is now consistent on both Windows and Mac platforms
• Sibelius no longer crashes when importing a MIDI Type 0 file to a multi-stave instrument you’ve already assigned music to.

Up until now, tuplets have remained fairly allusive to the new MIDI and MusicXML import features. Now though, incoming tuplets (as well as any other borrowed rhythm) are no longer lost when merging into a single voice. Previously, Sibelius would bail out and omit these notes entirely.



The new “merging” logic only applies when merging monophonic lines (i.e. it won’t work with chords yet), and it does not work with nested tuplets. For unsupported passages, Sibelius reverts to the legacy behaviour. All these changes also apply to the Arrange feature too.


As usual, we throw in a number of smaller fixes that cover several areas of the program, and this release is no different:

  • We’ve had reports that the “Magix Low Latency 2016” ASIO driver causes problems in Sibelius so we’ve blacklisted it from being initialised on startup.
  • The ‘Orchestra, film’ manuscript paper has been tidied up so the instrument name is no longer doubled, and the staves are all the same size in the parts.
  • Octave Lines can once again co-habitate with barlines. This is now the default in all new scores, but in your existing scores, you’ll need to restore the defaults in Magnetic Layout Options.
  • Palatino (used on Mac) and Palatino Linotype (used on Windows) now automatically substitute for one another, so you no longer see the Font Substitution dialog appear when moving a score across computers.
  • The “Musical structure” word menu in File > Preferences now displays correctly.
  • Tied Grace notes move the correct note within tie chains
  • We’ve fixed a rare crash on macOS 10.15 Catalina
  • Sibelius now displays Korean characters correctly in lyrics.
  • We’ve cleared up some inconsistencies with the Manuscript papers in non-English versions of Sibelius.
  • All the blank manuscript papers now use Podium fonts in all language versions.

In other news, we’ve started our validation on Big Sur running on both Intel and Arm processors. Initial tests have been very positive, so we’ll keep you updated as time goes on. If you’re testing on Big Sur too, please be aware that Sibelius is not officially supported at this time and we’ll be announcing compatibility as soon as it’s ready.

We hope you enjoy these improvements. We’ve already started on our next release for this year, and can’t wait to show you what we’ve been up to.


Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

What’s New in Sibelius — June 2020

Sibelius June 2020

We’re excited to introduce to you the June 2020 release of Sibelius. We’ve all been beavering away from our home offices to bring you a release that focusses on several areas of the program: new color options to help you see the music more easily as you write and edit scores; new MusicXML Import workflows that allow you to import music into your template and arrange on the fly; plus some further improvements to Accessibility and a slew of new features and improvements covering far-reaching areas of Sibelius to help you get the most out of your music creation.

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 the options, here: 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.


Customise color to help whole range of sight loss

We’re pleased to introduce a further swathe of accessibility improvements. This time, we are addressing the whole range of sight loss by introducing features to allow you to customize the color of the four voice colors, notes out of range, and the color of the Staff and System selections.

The colors are controlled in Preferences and can be saved in new Color Presets. To set these up, go to File > Preferences > Accessibility, and check out the new pane on the right.

Sibelius comes with 5 presets to get you started, and you can create your own. These are:

  • Default – as they always have been
  • Vivid – very high contrasting colours
  • Monochromatic – mostly blue with a hint of pink
  • Grayscale – mostly gray with a hint of pink
  • Working late – specifically chosen to reduce eye strain in low light conditions

The options to set up your own colors can be found in the Accessibility pane of File > Preferences. Much like the Timeline Presets, click “New…” to create a new preset and choose a preset name. Then, you can click on each color for each item to choose from the standard color picker, which even includes control for the alpha channel/opacity. Combine this with changing the colour of the paper texture, and you can make your scores appear any way you wish:

Be sure you have “Voice Colors” turned “on” in the Ribbon > View > Note Colors.

Changes are saved to the Color Preset when you click OK and can be recalled from the dropdown at the top of these preferences. These presets are stored in:

  • Mac: /Users/YourUserName/Library/Application Support/Avid/Sibelius/Music Color Presets
  • Win: C:UsersYourUserNameAppDataRoamingAvidSibeliusMusic Color Presets


Accessibility improvements for screen readers

Continuing on our accessibility project with Berklee College of Music, here are the latest improvements to come to this release:

  • Within our accessibility effort, screen readers now announce the names of range-selected staves. Specifically, when a range selection is expanded to a stave above or below, you’ll hear the name of the instrument on that stave in order to know exactly what has been added to the selection.
  • The information from a screen reader is much more complete when navigating the menus in File > Plug-ins, File > Avid Link and Home > Clipboard > Paste.
  • Screen readers now announce the complete chord symbol, for example, “Chord Symbol D7sus4 (Text) Bar 2, beat 1” rather than just as “Guitar chord frame”
  • Screen Readers no longer announce Repeat Bar symbols as Bar Rests sometimes
  • The Ribbon items have been grouped so it’s a lot easier (less cluttered) to navigate using a screen reader.
  • When entering a Gallery or textual menu for the very first time, focus no longer fails to set on the first item
  • Multi-rests are now screen reader accessible
  • Various elements of the edit text, lines and symbols dialogs are now read by screen readers
  • You can now use the Numpad keys 4 and 6 to navigate through the Inspector
  • The Inspector is now screen reader accessible
  • The Inspector now gets focus when it is opened, allowing you to tab around it immediately. Closing the inspector will return the focus to the score.


MusicXML Import

Importing MusicXML files have historically been very dependent on the data inside the XML file, and this is only as good as the export functionality of the application that generated it. Sibelius’s legacy import process also had some limitations, especially while trying to honour the layout and instrumentation of the source material. Then, once in Sibelius, it was usually a case of copying that music across to your own template, then wrangling with the system objects and overall layout. Now, you can import a MusicXML file straight into your template or existing score, and have the musical structure preserved, and even choose which instruments to import then arrange and explode onto other instruments.

Those who know the Intelligent MIDI Import workflows (released back in September last year) will find the new MusicXML import features familiar. The File > Import page now changes depending on the file you’re importing e.g. MIDI or MusicXML.

The options along the bottom are far fewer compared to the importing a MIDI file, and allow a good amount of control of what’s imported:

These should be fairly self-explanatory, and will be handy in different situations, for example, if you’d rather retain your template’s House Style e.g. stem directions, default positions of objects etc. then untick “Use Layout and Formatting from MusicXML file”.

The routing table in the centre of the page, as with the existing MIDI import features, allows you to assign the incoming staves to the instruments in the score i.e. one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many. Really useful for automatically splitting instrumental parts across several instruments, or creating SATB arrangements from a piano in only a few steps.

As with the Intelligent MIDI Import (introduced in September 2019) Sibelius can handle this complex mapping for you with a single click of the “Auto Assign” button if the source file and the destination Sibelius file have the same (or similar) name, or you utilize mapping hashtags. You can find all the details on that mapping syntax in the Reference Guide (under the Importing MIDI section, p.54). But as a quick reminder, when importing an xml or midi file, if the instrument names in the source file contain a hashtag followed by an identifier (i.e. #SATB), then the “Auto Assign” button will attempt to match those incoming source tracks to destination instruments staves by looking for a matching hashtag identifier. The example below shows an example one-to-many mapping, and of course, the reverse is also possible. (Note: although not necessary, the hashtags below were added as “hidden text” using the tilde ~ character so that they can be easily removed from the current score view):

We realize that the hashtag mappings may not be immediately obviously useful for everyone, but if you happen to be working on a score with several other people giving you music from other music applications, all of whom are contributing different sections, it can really pay to learn about the possibilities of these mappings! It’s been said to save not only hours on a project, but days…


Sibelius | First and the Score Starter

The Score Starter, was originally introduced in Sibelius | First when it was a paid product many years ago, and now has been (re)instated to both Sibelius | First and Sibelius (not Sibelius | Ultimate). We’ve given the categories a facelift with new imagery for the tab in the Quick Start. Each of the new score starter templates has been trimmed down or created from scratch, to meet Sibelius | First’s 4-stave limitation, and have an audio example to go with them too. This provides a good springboard for budding musicians who would like to see what’s possible within Sibelius, and to provide them with inspiration for their own music.

Sibelius | First is a free version of Sibelius available to everyone. Sign up for free, here: my.avid.com/get/sibelius-first


LV and Tie-into Ties

We’ve also spent some time cleaning up our (relatively) new L.V. ties. In particular, L.V. ties on grace notes are now drawn properly, and L.V. ties now respond appropriately when notes are moved (chromatically or diatonically) within a chain of ties (i.e. L.V. ties now break a tie-chain).

Changing the pitch of L.V. tie note no longer moves the following note with the same pitch, and L.V. Ties have no playback effect on the following note of the same pitch.

In addition to this, it is now also possible to add Tie-Into ties to a grace note. These items were previously overlooked in the initial release of tie-into objects. They function just like non-grace note tie-into objects, and they do not have any special playback effect.


We’ve implemented calls to allow a plugin to save as a previous version for more recent versions. We’ve simply continued our current pattern of exposing backwards compatibility within ManuScript. Specifically, we’ve added the following ManuScript Calls.

  • SaveAsSibelius7_5
  • SaveAsSibelius8
  • SaveAsSibelius8_1
  • SaveAsSibelius8_6
  • SaveAsSibelius2020_1

With this in mind, we’ve updated the “Convert Folder to Earlier Sibelius Version” plug-in. We’ve also given the ManuScript language guide a spruce to improve the layout and formatting to make it easier to read.


Font handling across Windows and Mac

Opening scores that travel between Windows and Mac has been improved. Quite often, when using the same font on both computers, you’d find the “Missing Fonts” window appear even if the fonts appeared to have the same name. On Mac, it’s more common to have a font family that contains the styles, but on Windows, the fonts and styles appear to be separated into individual fonts. Sibelius used to only match up on exact names, but now will look at the font name and the style and see if it can match it up with an incoming font and style. When a match is found, the Missing Fonts dialog no longer appears.


General improvements and Bug fixes

As always, we throw in a good collection of improvements to each release, and this one is no different.

To improve the user experience for those with subscriptions, Sibelius now encourages users to be logged into Avid Link. This will give you the best chance for your account to be sync’d when the time comes for subscription renewal.

When exporting a MusicXML file, the file extension has been changed from .xml to .musicxml

Engraving Rules, House Styles and Manuscript papers

  • The Spanish Manuscript Papers have been updated to be in line with the other languages.
  • Time signatures (film score) style is no longer doubled in Engraving Rules in French and Spanish
  • Auto-Optimize is now turned on for new scores (as it should have always been)
  • Page number wild cards are now rendered consistently in a score if you try to hide the normal page numbers
  • Opening Engraving Rules after Importing a House Style used to change the page margins. This no longer happens, thankfully!



  • Sibelius no longer crashes after opening the Symbol gallery and then quitting
  • In very rare cases, scores exported from Sibelius 2020.3 as 8.6-2019.12 score, would crash when opening in Sibelius 2019.12 or earlier
  • We’ve removed the old Spotlight and QuickLook folders from the mac app bundle as they were causing several mdworker crashes. Those old components have been deprecated and replaced by newer methods. We’ll rewrite these in due course.
  • The background of the score preview in Quick Start > New Score is no longer garbled or transparent on Mac


Importing files

  • Opening a MIDI file no longer creates duplicate Dynamic Parts (introduced in 2019.9)
  • When opening a MusicXML file that contains an unrecognized element, the warning window now appears on Mac.


  • The German Reference guide has been added back into the installer so there’s a local copy rather than linking to it online.
  • “Tie Into” shortcut has been moved into the correct keypad area within Keyboard Shortcuts
  • The scroll bar now appears correctly in the Ideas panel on macOS
  • Something we fixed in our March release, but I forgot to mention…
  • Making any change to the Score Info in a part results in the connection to the Score Info from the full score being broken, even if you subsequently delete the data from the part.


…and that’s it! We hope you enjoy these new improvements. Please let us know how you get on via the Sibelius.com support forum, or via our official Facebook and Twitter pages.

We also hope you stay safe and well.

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

Helping You Stay Productive and Safe, Wherever You’re Working

The global response to the coronavirus outbreak is pushing the media and entertainment industry—from individual creators to the largest studios and broadcasters—to reevaluate our ways of working in order to stay safe.

In these difficult times, we need to come together as a community to find creative solutions to the challenges of working remotely. I’d like to share how Team Avid is quickly mobilizing to help you stay productive, no matter where you’re working.


Take Advantage of Free Licenses for Remote Users of Avid Creative Tools

For our commercial customers, we’re offering free creative tools licenses so team members can keep working remotely.

  • Free 90-day licenses for each of its registered users of Media Composer | Ultimate, Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Ultimate, and Sibelius | Ultimate. This offer is open through Friday, April 17.
  • Click here for details

For students whose school campuses are closed, we’ll keep creative tools in their hands so they can finish the school year on track.

  • Any student of an Avid-based learning institution that uses Media Composer, Pro Tools, or Sibelius can receive a free 90-day license for the same products. This offer is also open through Friday, April 17.
  • Click here for details


Leverage Remote Workflows in Your Current Applications

Commercial customers using Avid platforms to manage, store, or distribute content can easily tap into capabilities to extend news, sports, and post workflows with remote collaboration at scale. In the short term, you can do this within your current infrastructure.

For remote editing, customers can:

  • Share projects and media and stay in sync
  • Log media, prep content, group multicamera footage, and collaborate with others
  • Browse, search, organize, storyboard, and edit media just using a web browser
  • Extend production beyond the walls of your facility

For remote access to media workflows, broadcasters can: 

  • Leverage web-based access to the MediaCentral platform for a proven workflow with editorial teams
  • Access iNEWS from any location
  • Use VPN to keep information secure
  • Create, edit, and write stories and edit video and graphics remotely
  • Enable remote access for editors to work from home

To help teams transition to remote workflows, we’ve compiled technical documents outlining solutions options:

Consider a Cloud Strategy to Protect and Expand Your Workflows

For a more comprehensive solution, migrating to the cloud will achieve even greater economies of scale and performance. Several media companies are moving their workflows into the cloud with Avid platforms to find new ways to create, produce, and distribute content on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

      • Enable production teams to deploy workflows in the cloud
      • Rethink the way they get their work done, especially in anticipation of difficult times when teams need to collaborate from many locations
      • Deploy and operate securely in the cloud
      • Improve film and television production pipeline
      • Core solutions and technologies include the Avid MediaCentral™ | Cloud UX platform, Avid NEXIS | Cloud storage, and Avid Media Composer® all running natively in the Microsoft Azure cloud


Every situation is unique. Avid’s solutions experts and our cloud team are on standby to help you move to the cloud quickly.

Click here to request a consultation.


These are extraordinary times. The safety of each and every member of our community, including our employees, is job number one. We will do whatever we can to make your difficult decisions, like temporarily closing a facility, a whole lot easier.

Keep your input coming and we’ll keep working at the solutions.

Our Commitment to Students—No Matter Where They’re Learning

Educating the next generation of creative professionals is a responsibility that Avid takes seriously, and with the coronavirus outbreak closing campuses across the globe, we want to make sure that students continue to have access to their creative tools outside the classroom.

We applaud the efforts of educators to keep classes going remotely, and we’re committed to playing our part in ensuring that students finish the school year on track.

Here’s our commitment to you and to your students: For qualifying educational institutions that use Media Composer, Pro Tools, or Sibelius in your classes, we will provide free three-month software licenses so that students can continue their education with as little disruption as possible.

How to Request Temporary Licenses

If your institution is an Avid Learning Partner, you should have already received instructions from the ALP team directly. You can contact ALP.Support@avid.com if you missed the communication or need more assistance.

For other educational institutions with active licenses for creative tools, please follow the instructions here.

Users will receive a registration code via email, which they must deposit in their My Avid account or at avid.com/register by April 17, 2020. The 90-day license will begin when you register the code.

What Students Can Do

Students, if you are hearing about this before your teachers, help us spread the word! If your school hasn’t contacted you about getting a free, temporary license, share this post with your teacher.

For More Details

For step-by-step instructions, further information, and contact details, please refer to this document.

What’s New in Sibelius — January 2020

It’s with great pleasure and excitement to be introducing to you the January 2020 release of Sibelius First, Sibelius and Sibelius Ultimate. This release is jam-packed with new features and improvements that all users will benefit from. Whether you’re a budding composer or veteran engraver, there’s something here for you.

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, here: 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.

We’re demoing this new version at the NAMM Show in Anaheim on booth 15502, so if you’re in town, be sure to swing by and see it for yourself.


Auto-Optimize staff spacing

Optimize Staff Spacing has been in Sibelius for a number of years now and was widely accepted as a great feature for getting a good looking score over a decade ago, but you always had to trigger it manually. Now, Sibelius will automatically optimize the space between the staves in your score to fit the music you’re writing. Combined with Magnetic Layout, Sibelius will avoid collisions when you enter or edit anything in your score.

Here’s a quick comparison



This works with lyrics, dynamics, hairpins, pedal lines, symbols and articulations etc., saving you huge amounts of time cleaning up the score.

Auto-Optimize is turned on by default in new scores you create, and will need switching on when you open an old score. This is done by clicking the new Auto button from the Layout tab of the Ribbon:

The old “Optimize” button has been changed to “Optimize > Selection” so you can still perform a one-shot optimize if you still need to. Sibelius also gives you complete control over the optimization of your score, so if you don’t need it on (for whatever reason), simply tap the “Auto” button.

You can also override the optimization, by dragging a stave, if you’re looking to tighten up a particular passage, say. Then, Sibelius will respect your change and won’t optimize that system again until you use “Reset Space Above” or “Reset Space Below” from the Layout tab. We’ve included a helpful indication when you have Rulers turned on to indicate which staff spacing has been manually set. Consistent with automatic and manually placed System and Page breaks, the staves that are automatically spaced have a dashed ruler, and those that have been manually set have a solid line:

Those familiar with the old Optimize feature will no doubt appreciate a number of bugs being fixed in this area too. Writing slurs across staves, using Film Score style Time Signatures (see below to know more about these), adding comments are all ignored by the Optimize logic.

Along with the refresh of the House Styles (see below) the default space that is optimized between staves has been reduced from 1 space to 0.5. This allows you to have really nice and neatly laid out music that looks perfect.


New Dashed and Dotted and Tie-into Ties

It’s been a long time coming, and we’re pleased to finally release improvements to ties with three new styles of ties:

Dashed and Dotted are commonly used in choral work to indicate a difference in verses within a repeated structure, or to suggest an editorial tie.

Tie-into ties are useful across a repeat structure where the last note before 1st-time repeat is also tied into the first beat of the 2nd repeat. As with the linked ties we introduced in April 2018, these new ties are linked (and play back, of course):

To enter a Tie-into, head to the 4th keypad layout:

You have complete control over these ties i.e. style of tie, shape, distance between the dots and dashes in the Inspector:

We’ve also exposed these new tie styles within ManuScript (Sibelius’s own programming language for creating plugins). You can obtain the style of any tie using the keyword “TieStyle” or “TieIntoStyle” (respectively) and you can set the style of a tie using the same keywords with one of the following Style Strings: ‘solid’, ‘dashed’ or ‘dotted’ (e.g. tiednote.TieStyle = ‘dotted’;).


File version

To support the new ties, we’ve increased the internal file version. If you need to send someone a score that contains the new ties, you’ll need to go to File > Export and choose the version you need.

Dashed and dotted ties are converted back to solid ties (since they didn’t exist back then) and Tie-into ties are converted into small slurs to retain a similar appearance. If you’re working with someone who is going to rely on these new types of ties, it’s best to advise them to upgrade!


House Styles and Manuscript Papers

We have created three brand new House Styles in Sibelius to give your scores an elegant, contemporary or casual handwritten appearance. Introducing:


Main text font: Palatino (included in Windows and Mac) / Main music font: Helsinki


Main text font: Quicksand (now included with Sibelius) / Main music font: Opus


Main text font: Palatino (included in Windows and Mac) / Main music font: Reprise

Each of these new House Styles have been designed from the ground up and include several recommendations and best practices seen in the publishing and performance industries. There are too many to go through, but one noticeable change is the thickness of the staff and stem lines. These are very slightly thicker, allowing the music ‘pop’ off the page that significantly increases readability.

Our built-in Manuscript papers have all been revised to take advantage of the new styles, and we’ve included a number of changes to help you get started. There’s a new Common category that includes a Leadsheet and a Piano, as well as several new manuscript papers for Solo Instruments.

Using one of these new House Styles in your score is easy (and handling House Styles is generally easier too). Simply single click on a Manuscript paper from the Quick Start and you’ll be guided through the score setup process.

The three new House Styles appear at the top, above the old House Styles, which we’ve included in case you are particularly attached to them. Now though, when choosing the House Styles, Sibelius will omit the staff size and other layout differences, allowing you to cycle through the House Styles and quickly choose which one is right for you:

Similar changes have been made when importing a House Style into an existing score. Go to Appearance > House Style > Import and veteran Sibelius users will see that we’ve now split out Engraving Rules and Document Setup. As importing the Document Setup always enforced the incoming Staff Size, you now have a very safe and reliable method of importing a House Style into your score.


Wildcards in right-click menus


Those familiar with Wildcards will know that you can quickly enter text in Sibelius and have it pre-populate information from the File > Score Info dialog. Really useful for keeping the score information in the score updated, consistent and correct. However, if you don’t use them all very often, you’d find it hard to remember them all, and even which way the slashes go and what side the $ went. So, from this release, we’ve introduced a new Word Menu that will display all the Wildcards in the right-click menu when entering most types of System text into the score (just not Tempo, Metronome Marks and Metric Modulation).

To find out more, see “5.16 Wildcards” in the Sibelius Reference.

Large film score time signatures

As part of our overhaul of improvements to the House Styles, we have included a new style of Time Signature, which is common in film and TV scores. To turn these on in your score, simply go to Appearance > House Style > Engraving Rules. Go to Time Signatures and you’ll find the new option:

Accessibility – for everyone

At the NAMM show this week, I’ll be taking part in several panels on Accessibility. If you’re at the show, be sure to check out the sessions:

  • Saturday: Avid Booth 15500: 5:00pm
  • Sunday: Avid Booth 15500: 3:30pm
  • Sunday: Hall A7, Hilton Anaheim, 4th Floor: 12pm until 2pm as part of the Tec-Tracks presentations

During these sessions, I’ll be joined by Chi Kim, Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music, who will be demonstrating how he teaches and writes music in Sibelius, aided by the work we’ve put into improving Sibelius over the last 12 months or so.

This release has a good collection of Accessibility improvements, that not only provides more rich feedback from the score and Sibelius’s UI, but provides controls for choosing the verbosity of what’s sent to the screen reader. To find these, go to File > Preferences. The first page of preferences is now the Accessibility page, making it easy to find. Tabbing through this dialog allows you to choose from several options to set a ‘High’ or ‘Low’ verbosity, or to choose a ‘Custom’ set of options to control the pitch and duration information, as well as to choose whether you want to hear the bar number, instrument range warnings and notehead styles.

Accessibility improvements don’t have to simply benefit those who are blind using screen readers. As part of our partnership with Berklee College of Music, we are aiming to help a wide range of sight-loss, including helping to prevent eye strain for fully sighted users.

With this in mind, we have changed the default colours for the Paper and Desk ‘Textures’ from the old bitmaps of paper, to colors to reduce glare and strain on the eyes (esp. for those night owls who work late into the small hours).

Score : Part : Idea : Version

Navigating System Objects with the Keyboard

In Sibelius, you’ve always been able to select staff objects using the Tab key (i.e. the music, text, symbols and lines attached to a single instrumental stave), however it’s never been possible, until now, to select system objects (Title, Composer, Clefs, Key Signatures, Barlines etc.) with the keyboard.

To select system objects with the keyboard, firstly press Tab, which will select the first thing on the page, then you can start navigating the system objects using these two new keyboard Shortcuts:

  • Select next system object: Cmd+Shift+= // Ctrl+Shift+=
  • Select previous system object: Cmd+Shift+- // Ctrl+Shift+-

These are customisable too, so if you’d like to change these shortcuts to better suit your workflow, head to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts


General bug fixes and improvements

A Sibelius release wouldn’t be complete without a number of smaller improvements, and this one is no different. In summary:

  • Jazz articulations and grace notes are no longer lost when changing the voice of a note
  • Another fresh round of profiling revealed that Sibelius updates the Navigator window even when not in view. It turned out to be quite expensive so Sibelius should be nippier now when the Navigator window is closed.
  • Sibelius now respects the same DPI scaling rules on Windows as it did in 2019.9
  • The Sibelius Cloud Sharing Dashboard no longer opens up in each new Sibelius session after sharing a score
  • Visually impaired users using screen readers now hear the state and location of the selection in Find in Ribbon
  • Many of the Ukulele chord diagrams have been incorrect for many many years. We’ve painstakingly been through them all so they are now correct.


And that’s it!

We’re incredibly proud of this release. Since our last feature releases don’t seem that long ago, the development team have really pulled this one out of the bag. If you’ve made it down this far, thank you, and we hope you enjoy the new features.

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

Avid to Showcase Latest Accessibility Advances in Three Events at NAMM 2020

Avid continues its commitment to bring visually impaired users to the audio and music creation party. We plan to share our latest developments in three separate presentations at the 2020 NAMM Show. Two of these will take place on the Avid Mainstage at stand #15502 in the North Hall and we will also reprise our action-packed panel as part of the TEC Tracks presentations. The events and locations are as follows:


  • Accessible Pro Tools and Sibelius on the Mainstage: (Stand #15502 North Hall.  Saturday January 18that 5:00 PM and Sunday, January 19th at 3:30 PM.
  • NAMM Pro Accessibility Panel:  Hall A6, Hilton Anaheim, 4th Floor.  Sunday, January 19th from 11:00 AM to 12:50 PM as part of the TEC Tracks presentations.

On the Avid Stage, you will see what a pair of our leading customers can do with Pro Tools and Sibelius without eyesight. Both Slau Halatyn and Chi Kim, long-time visually impaired advisors and testers of Pro Tools and Sibelius, are creating music everyday using these tools, and without sighted assistance. They are not just skimming the surfaces of Pro Tools and Sibelius; they are working with Pro Tools | HDX systems in professional studios and teaching at leading universities. Both have been instrumental in driving accessible functionality into Avid products.

Ed Gray and Slau Halatyn, Owner, BeSharp Studio

Timothy Adnitt, Director, Music Production, Native Instruments

The mainstage events will be 45-minute panel discussions that provide a look at the excitement that is going on in accessible development for Sibelius and Pro Tools. The usability of Sibelius by visually impaired users has improved dramatically in the past year thanks to a close collaboration with Berklee College of Music. We’ll hear from Sam Butler, Head of Product Management for Sibelius and Chi Kim, Associate Professor of Music at Berklee, about our recent collaboration and plans for the future. Then both will dive into some real-time score creation showing off the latest ways that visually impaired users can take full advantage of this award-winning music composition and notation solution from Avid. Next up will be Slau Halatyn, owner of BeSharp Studios in New York City and a renowned thought leader on usability of Pro Tools by the visually impaired. Slau, together with a team of beta testers and advisors, work year-round to help Avid prioritize our accessibility fixes and improvements and Slau is one of the most enthusiastic and engaging presenters of the latest advances. We’re grateful for the contributions that Chi and Slau continue to make to our ongoing efforts and the best is yet to come.

Sam Butler, Head of Product Management for Sibelius has worked with Berklee College of music to turbocharge its accessibility

Rob Arbittier is a musician, producer and Grammy-recognized engineer. He is also a coder and has been a pioneer in the world of non-visual technology for several decades, dedicating much of his life and career to making music and audio technology accessible for artists including Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and many others.

Along with the Avid main stage presentations comes the third annual NAMM Pro Accessibility Panel, where Avid joins forces with Native Instruments and with accessibility leaders  from Berklee College of Music,  I See Music (a leading provider of audio technology training for the blind and adaptive technology services), and other presenters in an informal panel discussion with demonstrations of the latest in accessibility for music creation. This nearly two-hour event promises to move quickly and will cover the following:


  • Why developers and manufacturers should pursue accessibility and how to tackle it (Timothy Adnitt, Director, Music Production, Native Instruments)
  • Expert demonstrations of leading accessible music creation tools including Avid Pro Tools and Sibelius, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol, Flo Tools and more (Slau Halatyn, Owner, BeSharp Studios and Chi Kim, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music)
  • Training and education for visually impaired musicians (Byron Harden, Owner, I See Music)
  • Teaching music creation in academic settings (Chi Kim)
  • Resources for developers and companies beginning the accessibility journey (Ed Gray, Director, Partnering Programs, Avid)
  • New for 2020:  How I worked with Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to bring music creation to their worlds (Rob Arbittier, Owner, Noisy Neighbors Productions)

Chi Kim, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music

Byron Harden, Head of I See Music

We look forward to welcoming you to these events and hope you share our enthusiasm for the good that accessible development accomplishes and the new opportunities that it can offer your business.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

What’s New in Sibelius — December 2019

We’re really pleased to announce the release and immediate availability of our December ‘19 release of Sibelius. This new version is available to all those with current subscriptions and active Update and Support plans. If you can’t wait, you can get the update via Avid Link or download the latest installer from your account.

If you’re running an older version and looking to upgrade, you can grab the upgrade with a discount up to 50% regular price, available until the end of 2019. Options, including a 60% off crossgrade to a subscription, can be found on the Avid.com website.

If you’re new to Sibelius, you can download the 30-day trial to try out all these amazing new improvements.

This upgrade spans several areas of the program, so let’s jump in:


Avid and Berklee College of Music are proud to be working together to bring improvements across the Sibelius product line for visually impaired users. The bulk of the work so far has been to bring parity between the various common screen readers NVDA, Narrator, VoiceOver and JAWS. Our releases in November ’18, and in September ’19 covered much of the staff objects in the score, and this December release focuses on a good collection of improvements to make much of the UI (user interface) accessible to these popular screen readers. This is no mean feat since Sibelius is such a large application with several different interfaces, so kudos to the development team for tackling such a large undertaking.

I had the pleasure of attending the Accessibility Panel at the Audio Development Conference in November where we discussed many of the challenges and new solutions to developing applications across a wide range of devices. If you have time, I thoroughly recommend you watch the recording:

The premise of these improvements has not just been to read what’s on the screen, but to add contextual detail too. It’s these details that make the difference to any implementation of accessibility – much like a sighted person helping a blind person down a flight of stairs; it’s not much help telling them that there are some stairs there… Where do the stairs begin? How many stairs are there? Which direction do they go? Is there a hand rail? Context is just as important to help navigation. The next time you’re at a road crossing (in the UK, at least) look down and you’ll notice tactile paving on the pavement. These have been specifically designed to tell visually impaired pedestrians that there’s a crossing there and where the road is. Oh, and don’t forget about “The Secret button” at pedestrian crossings too!

Augmentations have been made to household items and public services all over the world to help those with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and blindness and there’s so much more to be done. We’re doing our small bit in Sibelius to help blind musicians become more independent and composer and produce music without the need for sighted assistance.

When Sibelius starts up, you’ll now hear your screen reader announce the version of Sibelius (which our beta testers have found incredibly useful). The Quick Start is the first window to appear, with a list of Manuscript Papers to choose from. Using the Tab and Shift+Tab keys, you can navigate around the dialog to choose which template to start with. If you’re itching to write music, press Return and you’re ready to go. If, however, you need to choose the paper size, add or remove instruments, set the initial Time Signature and Key, press Space and this will open up a separate pane to start customising the score. Tabbing through this dialog will announce the items as you choose them, for example:

“Document Setup” → “A4, Combo box, Down” and as you press down, it’ll say the new page size, as well as how many other options there are in the list. Continuing to tab through this dialog will help you set the score up just how you need it, with the Title, Composer and so on. Tab a few more times and you’ll get to the Create button. Press Return and you’re in the score.

Selecting Staff objects and inputting notes has not changed in this release, however navigating around the Ribbon toolbar and features has.

In summary:


  • Renewed support for Narrator, NVDA, VoiceOver and JAWS – those hanging onto Sibelius 5 can now upgrade!
  • The Lines, Symbols and Notehead galleries are spoken once more. The main improvements to the galleries are on Windows, however you should find the Ribbon is easier to navigate on macOS now too as the names of each Ribbon tab should now be announced.
  • Sibelius now announces any notehead type to screen readers (keyboard accessible via: ALT + SHIFT + [0-22] )
    • Note: for shortcut numbers greater than 9, quickly enter the digits in order. For example, for small noteheads (ALT + SHIFT + 10), simply hold ALT and SHIFT and quickly type ‘1’ followed by ‘0’.
  • The Quick Access and Status Bar buttons are now accessible
  • The Quick Start and creating a new score is much improved. The Time Signatures and Key Signatures lists are accessible.
  • It’s now possible to navigate the Preferences window with VoiceOver
  • VoiceOver now announces the Ribbon buttons for drop-down menus
  • Manuscript Paper names are now read when navigating the Quick Start with arrow keys


As mentioned, we aren’t done with the accessibility improvements in Sibelius and have another 6 months of work with Berklee to bring you improvements that span the whole range of sight loss. If you’re at the NAMM Show in Anaheim in January, we’ll be running our annual Accessibility Panel and have plenty more to show you on the Avid booth too. If you’re around, please stop by and say Hi!


Further improvements in Sibelius

This release isn’t all about accessibility, so we’re pleased to be able to knuckle down on some other improvements and bug fixes. We performed a further update to the underlying infrastructure (Qt) too, which brings several improvements across the whole application.


In general

  • Pauses (fermatas) are no longer lost when changing a note to a rest
  • We’ve done a fresh round of profiling, so Sibelius should be slightly quicker when the Inspector is open
  • Sibelius no longer quits but leaves the Quick Start open after applying Close All command (Win only)
  • The check-boxes in the Multiple Part Appearance dialog are more reliable now
  • The Subscript/Superscript buttons in the Inspector are now more reliable too
  • In the Timecode and Duration dialog, “Start video at” now works once more
  • The Missing Fonts window no longer loses focus after opening the score from Recent Documents (Win only)


UI and UX

  • Keyboard shortcuts within the Word Menus are no longer truncated
  • The border around the File path in the MIDI Import page is no longer transparent
  • Text is no longer cut off in some dialogs (Mac only)
  • Fixed a problem with decimal places in dialogs when running Sibelius in any other language than English
  • The “Save changes” dialog no longer pops up behind the Sibelius window when closing multiple scores at once (Win)
  • Double tapping with the Surface Pro Pen now works once more in the Quick Start window
  • Video no longer plays back only in ‘full size’, no matter what size the video window was (Mac only)
  • The unnecessary padding around our floating tool windows (Keypad, Transport etc.) has been removed. This only affected computers with multiple monitors using different DPI settings.
  • The full list of Playback Configurations are now displayed in the dropdown when going to Play > Setup > Configuration
  • The score preview in the Quick Start dialog are now nice and sharp when using 150+% scaling on Windows or Retina on Mac


Printing and PDF Export

  • Printing now works well with all Windows Forms other than “built-in”.
  • It’s possible once more to set page layout in Document Setup and have the Print Preview correctly reflect this.
  • Changing the paper orientation in File > Print now also immediately updates the Print Preview and subsequently allows Sibelius to print correctly.
  • On macOS, it’s now possible to open the “OS dialog” in File > Print when there is no printer driver installed. Useful for saving a PDF to Preview, say.
  • Sibelius now better supports simplex (one-sided) and duplex (double-sided) printing. We had reports of some Cannon and Epsom printers always choosing duplex.
  • PDF Export is more accurate when using the Tahoma font on Mac
  • The Portrait/Landscape printing synchronization is no longer broken after you click OK in the Page Setup dialogue.
  • The problems with “Executive” paper size are fixed
  • Landscape / Portrait issues now work too for B4 and B5 paper sizes
  • 2 more scaling ratios have been added to Fit to paper: 141% and 71% (for A4 to A3 scaling, and vice-versa)


We’ve also made changes to the PDF Export functionality in the OS print dialog on Mac. The restriction we’ve had to work around is that it can only process one score or part, and Sibelius would get inundated with errors popping up (in 2018.11 and later). In this release, we have suppressed the error popups, and limited the dialog to only print or save the first score or part. This is a limitation in the way this dialog has been implemented by Qt, and not Sibelius. We’ll continue to work on improving this in the future. To export a PDF of the score and parts, the File > Export > PDF options are there, of course.



As with every release, we collect all the crash logs that are sent to us and do our best to fix them all. This release is no different:

  • Sibelius no longer crashes when automatically respacing music that’s in multiple voices.
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when creating a new composite Symbol
  • Export Audio/Video now ends if Loop mode is on and there is selection in the score
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when quitting from within the new MIDI Import page if the score was not saved
  • The QtWebEngine process no longer consumes a lot of CPU
  • We have enabled whole-program optimizations on Windows so you should find Sibelius is a little snappier than before


MIDI Import

Many thanks for all the great feedback on our recent Import MIDI features. If you missed them, you can read all about the MIDI Import feature here.

  • Sibelius now imports all tracks of a MIDI file more reliably. We now check the first chunk of the MIDI file, to know whether or not to consider it as meta data or musical data. Many thanks to Christoph Suesser for making us aware of the problem.
  • The behaviour of the Browse button within the MIDI Import Tab is now consistent with the File > Open workflow.
  • There’s a new shortcut to go straight to File > Import so that users can directly access the Import tab. You’ll find it in Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > File tab, called “Import”.
  • Track names are now displayed more reliable in the new Import MIDI tab (compared with old Import MIDI process)
  • The score preview with Import > MIDI are no longer linked to the preview in File > Print
  • When allocating instruments to incoming MIDI tracks, the dropdown menu will no longer close after each mapping. This makes one-to-many mappings quicker and easier to do.
  • The Auto assign button now catches more obvious instrument matches
  • Switching between Import MIDI and other File tabs, no longer shows a warning message



A number of our shipping plug-ins were not up to date with changes made to those available to download on Sibelius.com. We’ve been through and updated the following (in all localizations):

  • Nashville Chord Numbers
  • Split Bar
  • Export Folder As PDF Subfolder
  • Divide Durations
  • Combine Tied Notes And Rests
  • Add Capo Chord Symbols
  • Merge Bars


Important information: System Requirements

The good news is the latest versions of Sibelius run very well on the latest operating systems from both Windows and Apple.

macOS Catalina: Sibelius 2019.9 and 2019.12 are both fully supported. Sidecar also works well too, so feel free to give it a go if you have a compatible iPad. Sibelius 2018.11 – 2019.7 may work on Catalina, although haven’t been qualified. Anything earlier than that very likely won’t work due to the technology requirements Apple changed in Catalina. We encourage you to upgrade if you’re planning on using Sibelius on Catalina.

Windows 10: Sibelius, from v 8.0, runs well on Windows 10, so you’ll find Sibelius 2019.9 will also run really well.

However, there are some changes coming for older operating systems:

Sibelius 2019.9 was the last version of Sibelius to support Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. If you are on these older versions, we recommend you upgrade to at least macOS 10.12 Sierra to continue to stay current with Sibelius.

On the Windows side, Microsoft will be dropping support for Windows 7 soon. Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in January 2015, and extended support will end on January 14, 2020. This means we won’t be able to support any version of Sibelius on Windows 7 from then. To find out more about migrating to Windows 10, visit this page.

If you are using an older version of Sibelius and are looking to upgrade to macOS Catalina or Windows 10, we recommend to upgrade and stay current with the latest version Sibelius as well.


And that’s it! With over 80 changes in this release, we hope it’ll streamline your music creating workflows and we look forward to showing what else we’ve been working in the New Year.

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

Learn to Use Sibelius 2019 Like a Pro!

Groove3.com has been educating people about Avid products since 2003, and with the release of Sibelius 2019, they have created one of the most in-depth video tutorial collections available.

In this Groove3 video tutorial collection, Doug delivers videos applicable to all versions of Sibelius including First, Standard and Ultimate, allowing you to Learn Sibelius 2019 inside and out, as well as how create your first score and arrangement.

Doug starts the series by welcoming you and then sets the stage for what you’ll learn throughout the video tutorials, starting with the important Sibelius basics needed to get up and running, and creating your first Sibelius project.

Next, you’ll explore all of Sibelius’ preferences and how to set them correctly, and then all of the Ribbon Tabs, where you can control, view and customize your scores and arrangements. Note Input Methods are then revealed, and you’ll see how to use both the keypad and mouse for note entry, as well as adjust pitches, record MIDI, and create articulations and dynamics.

Throughout the rest of this Sibelius tutorial video series, Doug shows you the finer points of using the Sibelius Transport controls, the Mixer section to fine tune the volume of your different instruments, writing for Percussion, making your Lead Sheet, printing it out for your musicians, and many more Sibelius tips and tricks.

If you’re new to Sibelius, or just want to get the most from it, this series of Groove3 tutorial videos will help you understand how to use Sibelius and get the most from this extensive notation software tool… Get going with Sibelius 2019 Explained today!



Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

Sibelius 2019: Intelligent MIDI Import

We’re really pleased to announce the September 2019 release of our latest version of Sibelius – our 6th release in 2019. The release is mainly centered around a brand new way of importing MIDI files, crucial for composing and orchestrating workflows. We’ve also made huge headway in improving the accessibility in Sibelius for blind and visually impaired users. On top of this, we’ve included a good bunch of smaller improvements to the overall quality and stability of Sibelius.

If you can’t wait to get the update, head to Avid Link, or your My Avid account to download and install v2019.9. If you’re on an earlier version of Sibelius Ultimate, upgrading is now up to half price.

So, let’s jump in:


Vastly Improved MIDI Import

The process of taking a MIDI file and opening it in Sibelius has, until now, been fraught with time-consuming decisions and processes. This is sometimes even done by different people too, or in fact an entirely different team based on the other side of the world, and up until now has been a huge task for each score.

The legacy method is still in the application, by going to File > Open and choosing a MIDI file. Once that score is open though, you’ll have to manually clean up the House Style or copy/paste into another score or use Tom Curran’s excellent Impose Sketch onto Template plugin, before you can actually start working on the music.

Now though, the process is much simpler, and the feature comes with a number of featurettes too that really make this new workflow incredibly nifty.

The workflow now goes like this:

• Open your template or Manuscript Paper

• File > Import and choose a MIDI file

• Click Auto-assign

• Click Import

Sibelius will have automatically assigned the incoming MIDI tracks to the instruments in your score, merged the playing techniques onto a single instrument and added Pizzicato techniques and other articulations – all into your template using the House Style for this score.

“It’s the best thing that has come to Sibelius in five years for me. It’s huge.”

—Simon Franglen, composer

To try this yourself, download these two files:

Orchestral _template.sib

Open this file first


then go to File > Import and choose this file


• Firstly open the Orchestral_template.sib file

• Go to File > Import and choose the MIDI file

• Click Auto-assign

• Click Import

You’ll see the music is imported into the correct staves, along with the tempo marking, time signature changes and other musical elements, making the following clean-up process a breeze.

We’ll now go through this in detail, as there’s so much more to the feature that meets the eye:


Importing into an existing score

The premise now is that you don’t ‘open a MIDI file’ but import it into an existing score. Either start off with a completely new score based on your favorite Manuscript paper, or open one of your own templates. It doesn’t matter how many bars are in the score, and it can simply include one bar with no other text. It’s important though to include all the instruments you’ll need in the score (although you can always add them later).

The new Import page is found by going to File and choosing the new Import section. To import a MIDI file, click Browse and choose the MIDI file you wish to import (you can now choose .mid, .midi and .smf files). Once the MIDI file has been loaded, the new pane looks like this:

Instruments table

This is where you assign the incoming track to the destination stave in the score. When opening a new MIDI file, you’ll see the MIDI track names on the left, with three columns to the right for assigning the Instrument and adding Articulations and Techniques. The Instruments list will be set to “Don’t import” by default, ready for you to assign the MIDI tracks to the instruments that are in the score. Using this method, it’s now possible to import only some of the MIDI tracks as you need them, useful for getting a revised set of String parts for a partially completed score, for example.

To assign a MIDI track to an instrument, click the arrows within the Instrument column and choose an instrument. As you go through this, you’ll notice both the MIDI track name and Instrument name go Bold, so you can see which ones you’ve done – really useful for larger scores.

The assignments can be made in several ways:

• 1-to-1 mapping: An incoming MIDI track is mapped directly to a single instrument in the score. This is the most basic type of import.

• 1-to-many mapping: You can map a single MIDI track across several instruments. This is really useful if you have a MIDI track that contains the whole strings section, say. You can map these to several instruments in the score (there’s no limit) and Sibelius will spread the notes across the staves evenly based on the range of the instrument. Under the hood, it utilizes an updated version of the Arrange feature to spread the notes across the staves. Another good use for this is to spread a single Guitar track across both notation and tab staves. There’s an option at the bottom of the Import page that will toggle between copying the music to all staves, or to explode them. It’s called “Explode music when arranging to multiple instruments”.

Here’s another example to try:

Solo guitar with tab template.sib

Open this file first

Solo guitar.mid

Then go to File > Import and choose this file


When importing the MIDI file, you can assign the incoming Acoustic Guitar MIDI track to both the notation and tab staves:

This then copies the guitar across both the notation and tab staves:

Many-to-1 mapping: this really helps saves time in the music preparation stage, and is where the new Intelligent MIDI Import feature comes into its own. When writing music in Pro Tools (or other DAWs), it’s common to have the playing articulations spread across several MIDI tracks, for example Vln arco, Vln trem, Vln Pizz etc.. Previously, when transferring the MIDI file from your DAW to Sibelius, you’d have to manually copy the music and merge the music together, which generally came with plenty of room for error. The following picture shows you what the old File > Open method could give you:

Sibelius now takes care of all this for you:

The MIDI tracks, how they appear in Pro Tools

The result in Sibelius

The Auto Assign button

Using artificial intelligence pattern matching, the Auto Assign button in Sibelius will read the incoming track names and decide which instruments to map them to. Of course, this feature scales to any number of tracks with several playing techniques and articulations, so you can throw huge MIDI files at it, and Sibelius will methodically go through each track to find the best match.

Matching is done in several ways:

• Where there’s one incoming MIDI track, and a single instrument in the score, clicking Auto Assign will always match these up.

• Exact name match: if the incoming MIDI track name contains the same name as an instrument in the score, it’ll get matched up. Useful if you have “Bob on Trumpet” in your DAW and “Bob on Trumpet” in your score too.

• Instrument names in the score: Sibelius will match MIDI tracks to instruments based on their full instrument name as well as their short names (as defined in Edit Instruments). For example, Vln will match the Violin staves in the score

• Common abbreviations and alternatives: A MIDI track with an abbreviated instrument name, that isn’t covered by the short name in the instrument definition, won’t be matched up, however we’ve included a number of the common ones, for example: Cello will match Violoncello, Double Bass will match Contrabass (and visa versa), and we’ve added support for Violins 1 or Violin 1 to match Violin I etc..

• In most cases, composers will use their own shorthand to abbreviate instruments. We’ve included a tagging system so those with a template in their DAW can tag the MIDI tracks and instruments in their template they use in Sibelius. Simply adding a #hashtag name to their tracks and instruments will be enough to allow Sibelius to match these up. For example:

This score simply has a French Horn and a Trumpet. In Pro Tools, the MIDI Tracks were named by the composer to remind them which sample had been loaded. This is common, so in this case there’s SF H (for Spitfire Horns) and SF Al Tr (for the Spitfire Albion Trumpet). Each track also has the playing articulation or technique in the name, as well as a hashtag.

Then, in the score, the same hastags have been added to the instrument names. Since they are proceeded by a tilde ~ character, the text is not shown in the score.

This example shows just two instruments, but you can easily see this scales up to any score at any size. All this combined can enable a full orchestral score to be imported into Sibelius with a single click:


When the template you’re using has no title, composer or copyright, Sibelius will use the information from the MIDI file to populate the fields in the Score Info (see File > Score Info). Wildcards are then placed in your score and display the correct information. This is an improvement over the old Open MIDI workflow where you could sometime get duplicates of text, and it wouldn’t be dynamically linked to the Score Info.


Score Preview

On the right, there’s a handy score preview. This shows changes in real-time as you make the instrument assignments.

MIDI Import Score Preview

Similar to the regular Print preview, you can navigate the pages and zoom in using the controls underneath the score preview.


‘Include’ and ‘Notation’ sections

Those familiar with the old Open MIDI file dialog will know what most of these do. On the whole, the options that existed before still do the same as they always did, for example, “Minimum duration”, “Allow these Tuplets” etc. There are new options though, which are particularly useful:

• “Respace after import” – when ticked, this option will respace the score when importing the new MIDI data. This is on by default and is useful for getting a nice clean score. However, if you’re importing MIDI data into a score that already has music in and you’ve made some manual spacing adjustments, you can untick this to preserve the spacing.

• “Filter Keyswitches” – this allows you to filter out the very high or very low keyswitches that have been used to switch sounds in your DAW.


Re-importing MIDI into the same score

It’s common to receive a second draft, or updated music from the composer. It’s often then a toss up between starting again with a completely fresh score, or replacing just those mew instruments. Now, it’s very easy to import just the music you need and incorporate it into your existing score.

Simply go to File > Import and choose your MIDI file. It’s common that your MIDI files are in the same location as your score or template, so clicking Browse always opens up in the same folder.

Now, you can only choose the instruments you’d like to import. It’ll overwrite the music on those staves in the score, but won’t overwrite the Time Signatures and so on.

Sibelius | First


Sibelius | Ultimate

The Intelligent MIDI Import feature is not available in the free Sibelius | First.

Most of the feature is available in Sibelius, although the Auto Assign button is not available.
This means the mapping of MIDI tracks to Instruments in the score will need to be done by hand.

Everything, including the Auto Assign artificial intelligence, is in Sibelius | Ultimate.


Avid and Berklee College of Music have teamed up to collaborate on a year-long project to enhance the accessibility of Sibelius for blind and visually impaired musicians. This is the first release of many that will bring improvements across the whole application, from navigating the
musical objects in the score, to getting around the menus – all without sighted assistance.

We have hired a developer who is solely dedicated to improving the accessibility features in Sibelius. We’re excited to see how far she can go!

Today’s release of Sibelius introduces the following improvements in this area:

Initial JAWS support – the last version of Sibelius that could be used with JAWS was Sibelius 5(!) so it’s great to be able to include JAWS support. Due to the way JAWS works, it’s likely scripts will need to be written to enhance the experience with Sibelius. More on this in due course.

Mac and Windows parity has been reached, so you can expect the same experience across the two operating systems with VoiceOver (Mac) and Narrator (Win) and the third party application NVDA (also on Windows). On macOS, it’s advised you go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and turn on “Use keyboard navigation to move focus between controls”. This will allow you to tab through more items in Sibelius’s UI and other applications too.

When Joe Pearson and Joe Plazak designed the MIDI Import feature, they made sure accessibility was in the forefront of the UI. In fact, it was a primary design choice as the Joes designed the layout. The Instruments table is keyboard accessible, so you can tab from cell to cell, using Spacebar to open the list of available instruments, and again to choose the desired instrument(s), then Return to close the list. The Arrow keys will further move the focus forward and backwards through the list. (At the time of writing, best results are achieved with NVDA)

Sibelius will now read out more note attributes when a note is selected, such as rhythm dots, tremolos and buzz rolls and all articulations, bowing instructions etc.

You’ll now hear an indication of whether a note is out of the comfortable or professional range (which are also coloured red on the screen) – useful as a guide to help keep music in the playable range for the instrument.

Bar numbers are now read correctly where there’s a pickup/upbeat bar in the score.

We certainly aren’t done, and we’ll be reporting back on this project to keep you up to date. If you’re interested in taking part in the project, and would like to become a beta tester, please get in touch.


Overall stability and improvements in Sibelius

There’s more, you ask? Of course there is! Here’s a list of what we’ve been fixing up since our last release:

Sibelius is now, on the whole, more stable. We often run automated code hardening that finds defects in the C++ code. It automatically generates a report and we get to work improving the underlying codebase. In some cases, it’s barely noticeable, but Sibelius will be less likely to get memory corruptions that cause a crash, for example.

Both Spotlight and Quick Look plugins are back and working well on macOS. This allows you to search for Sibelius files using metadata inside the files, as well as preview them in Finder. Alt+Space works nicely too to bring up a full-screen preview of the score.

In addition to this, we’ve been beavering away fixing the bugs too:

• Sibelius no longer hangs on startup “Initializing playback system” when using “Super Audio CD Decoder”, which can also show up as “DSD Transcoder”. Sibelius now simply blacklists the ASIO driver so it’s no longer initialised. Form our research, it isn’t a playback device that would be useful in Sibelius anyway, so this is a safe change.

• Sibelius can now accept UNC paths in File > Preferences > Saving and Exporting

• It’s now possible to step through a video frame-by-frame once more using the [ and ] shortcuts (Mac only)

• The splash screen is now quicker to appear (compared to 2019.7) when running the application

• Slurs and ties now appear at their correct thickness when zooming out

Sibelius is now much less likely to crash. Many thanks to all those who sent in their crash reports (and for the comments too), so we’ve been able to identify and fix the following:

• Sibelius no longer crashes when using the Add or Remove Instruments, or Change Instruments dialogs on Windows.

• Exporting a MIDI file when the score is empty no longer causes a crash

• The Tie Extended Stable plug-in, is more stable and no longer crashes

• Sibelius no longer crashes when deleting staves while inputting notes

Some of you have been asking about support for the upcoming macOS Catalina. Of course, until Catalina is formerly released, it’s still in the beta phase, so we don’t recommend you upgrade unless you really know what you’re doing. Having said that, we expect this Sibelius 2019.9 release to run well on macOS Catalina when the new operating system is released in due course. Earlier versions of Sibelius will not be supported.

We’re really proud of the hard work that has gone into this release. We’d like to thank the many beta testers, composers and orchestrators (sighted and non-sighted!) who have leant us their ear while we strive towards making their daily lives better.

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.

What’s New in Sibelius — May 2019

We’re pleased to announce the immediate availability of our May 2019 release of Sibelius, building on the recent releases in January and April This release improves stability, playback and audio engine performance, printing and PDF export accuracy, and more; all done in direct response to user feedback.

Although the development team is fully underway with the next feature releases for our Sibelius desktop and cloud products, we’ve been able to promote up several changes to give you a worthwhile release with a good number of improvements to the current feature set.

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of our recent releases:

January 2018

Automatically add lines across multiple staves and voices, add and change different barlines at once, enhanced Find in Ribbon


April 2018

Add and edit multiple text, Complete overhaul of note spacing, Sibelius is now FAST esp. when handling large scores!


June 2018

New Gracenote spacing and further refinement of note spacing



November 2018

Upgrade, modernization and re-engineering under-the-hood. Full Retina and High-DPI UI. Renewed support for Accessibility


January 2019

Review Mode, Half-speed playback, quick score navigation and Timeline features


April 2019

New Loop Mode, musical Scrub, Mark up your score in Review mode, FlexiTime with NotePerformer


For those who can’t wait to get up and running with the latest version, you can automatically download and install the update via Avid Link. If you need the full installers to download, you can do so from your Avid account at my.avid.com/products. The update is available to all those with a current upgrade plan or subscription and applies to all three flavours of Sibelius | First, Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate.

We would like to express our gratitude to all those who have been in touch recently to help provide the valuable feedback we needed to make so many improvements in the last month or so.

Playback & Loop

Following on from the introduction of the new Loop mode in April, there are several small improvements in the way music is Looped:

  • Looping extremely large sections is nice and snappy
  • For playback devices that have large latency, Sibelius now uses the built-in latency compensation to correctly position the playback line during loops. This is really noticeable when using NotePerformer.
  • Sibelius is now no longer really slow to display the Playback Devices dialog when using a Playback Configuration that contains very large sound sets (such as NotePerformer).
  • Sibelius used to only play a single MIDI note when two notes are on the same pitch in different voices. Sibelius now plays the correct complement of notes in this case.
  • A selection that contains an incomplete nth time repeat now always plays the loop as though it’s the last-time repeat. Previously, it would loop more than what was selected.
  • In some cases, the first note of a loop could sound louder or sound like a grace note after starting playback within a looped section.

PDF Export and Printing

Exporting to PDF (via File > Export > PDF, File > Export > Graphics > PDF and through the OS print dialog) and Printing are now much more consistent with each other, and better precisely represent what’s in the score. All fonts, especially those which don’t have dedicated styles for Italic and Bold so are synthesised, now print and export to PDF correctly. In addition to this, we’ve fixed a problem where the metadata inside the PDFs now correctly reports the operating system.

The Norfolk and Pori fonts benefit from these improvements too. If you haven’t tried these out, we thoroughly recommend them by heading over to the NYC Music Services website where you can download these fonts for free (donations welcomed). They come with a full set of instructions and use Styles for Sibelius, making it really easy to fit to your existing scores and be part of your new scores too. We are grateful to Bernie Cossentino and Jeff Kellem for putting these fonts together.

Angled Slash Chords

Angle Slash Chords from the Pori Chords, Norfolk Chords, and Norfolk Chords Sans fonts now print correctly. Image courtesy of Scoring Notes.

Stability and more

On the whole, you should find Sibelius much less likely to crash. As you may have seen, a crash reporting window pops up in the unfortunate event crash with a section to write comments to describe what was happening just before the crash. With the information that’s provided here, it has allowed us to fix many of the top problems in each update we release, and today’s release is no different. In summary, the fixes are:

Sibelius no longer crashes:

  • on exit in rare cases when the replay marker is shown in the timeline
  • when playing the score back after exporting audio
  • when the metronome click is enabled in Loop mode

Since April’s release, we’ve been seeing an increase in audio related problems. These could range from not being able to select your preferred output for devices with several outputs, to ‘Audio Engine Error’ errors on startup, to crashes on exit. The good news is that we’ve tightened this all up these problems are now very unlikely to happen. Related to this, Sibelius is no longer really slow when opening the Audio Engine Options dialog when using the MBox ASIO drivers on Windows.

Windows only: If not already on your computer, Sibelius now installs the latest Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017. If you don’t have this installed, Windows will restart your computer to complete the installation.


Other Improvements in this Update

As well as the changes mentioned above, we’ve thrown in another handful of nice fixes too:

  • Non-transposable notes do now correctly truncate when using the ‘R’ key (depending on the Preference set in File > Preferences > Note Input). Related to this, if you have the preference to “Truncate notes at end of bars when using repeat”, you’ll now be pleased to know this happens when you repeat multiple notes at once.
  • For a long while now, having 2 consecutive repeat signs used to cause problems with playback, bar numbers wouldn’t display and the Timeline would display the infinite loop that would happen when you played the score back. Now, all these problems have been fixed.
  • When working in parts, the colouring notes operation is now correctly added to the undo queue.
  • When opening a MIDI file, the ‘Show metronome marks’ option now works as it should when clicking OK from the MIDI File tab.

And that’s it for now. We hope you enjoy these new improvements and we look forward to letting you know about the next major feature release of Sibelius in due course.

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.