1

Composer Anne-Kathrin Dern talks Sibelius 2019.4

A film composer is engaged in a series of collaborations, from the initial discussions with the director or showrunner, to the back and forth with an orchestrator that brings a score to life, to the interplay that occurs on stage with a full orchestra ready to record or perform. We caught up with our good friend Anne-Kathrin Dern (Leap!, The Jade Pendant, Sprite SistersGalavantHALO V: Guardians) to learn more about this process and also get her initial impressions on Sibelius 2019.4. 

 

How do you get started when working on a movie, TV show, or video game? 

As a composer you are working in service of the project at hand. That means you are learning as much as you can from the director or showrunner in order to fulfill their creative vision. In the very beginning, you sit down with theand discuss what they’re going for musically and what matters to the story.  

You start to pick apart the movie, scene by scene, in a ‘spotting session.’ At this point, the footage may have no music in it or maybe has temp music in itThis is an early opportunity to identify what music the movie will need, for scenes, characters, transitions, and other crucial points in the story.  

After the spotting session, I go back to my studio and get to work. I do research and mock ups and create the rudiments of the eventual score, putting my own spin on it, before presenting my dramatic ideas. Once the winning musical ideas are selected, I bring the project to my team of writers and assistants to score the movie. 

 

Talk a bit about how you interact with your team. 

By the time I bring a project to the team, the music is basically written and there is very little new music that needs to be written. I give the team my initial audio and MIDI files that they can reference, and reuse and their job is to rearrange it to fit the pacing, mood, and storytelling of their assigned scene. All of this is based on my notes from the spotting sessions. Having a team is enormously helpful and allows me to focus on the bigger ticket moments in the film. 

At what point do you incorporate Sibelius into the process 

Sibelius comes in at various stages. Sometimes I use it to sketch an idea at the very beginning. Speed is the key to capturing an inspiration when it strikes, and I am very comfortable working quickly in Sibelius.   

The most crucial application of Sibelius, however, happens when we get the orchestrator into the process. The orchestrator takes my final MIDI files, which have been cleaned and reorganized so that each instrument is in scoreorder, and imports them into Sibelius. One of the inevitable pitfalls at this stage is misinterpretation of notes and/or articulations from the MIDI file imported into Sibelius. There is almost always a back and forth between me and the orchestrator in order to iron out the kinks. 

 

How will Sibelius’ new enhanced Review mode help the orchestration process?  

The new Review mode functionality is going to come in really handy. I never want to inadvertently alter any of the orchestrator’s work. His notation should be locked, and he should be the only one making changesAs it is now, we have to type up notes in emails and, as you can imagine, this does not fully alleviate the danger of misinterpretation. It is going make our lines of communication way clearer to be able to input comments and highlight sections while the score is locked. All the orchestrator will have to do is see my notes and unlock the score to apply them.

What other challenges does Sibelius help you address? 

We always have the challenge of time. It’s common, for example, that I need to write 60 minutes of music but have only 4 weeks to compose and orchestrate. Then once you’re on the stage, because recording sessions are so expensive for film scores (sometimes in the vicinity of $100,000 per day), you often have only two or three takes to get it right. It’s, therefore, so important that the music is properly laid out and notated, that it’s easy to read. Mistakes equal time, which equals money. 

I rely on Sibelius’ ability to ensure print-perfect scores in these high-pressure situations. The batch functionality, the loads of extra functions that plugins can do, and other automated processes like Magnetic Layout that makes everything look perfect without any extra work on my part, all save time and prevent mistakes from happening. 

What excites you most in Sibelius 2019.4? 

I am especially excited to use Loop playback to help me practice conducting. often need to rehearse on the road, in my hotel or even on an airplane—people stare at me waving my hands around, but that’s ok—and I use Sibelius to playback my score and practice along with it. am looking forward to being able to rehearse difficult passages, for example tempo or meter changes, without needing to stop and start the playback each time.   

AlsoI often need to combine multiple cues into a longer score suite for an orchestra to perform. It takes a lot of trying things out to create the smoothest transitions between ideas. Loop playback will really help in addressing these trouble areas and I can just make corrections on the fly. 

What else excites you about the release? 

To add to my comments about Review modeI think it’s going to have a huge educational value as well. For example, I also give orchestration lectures at conservatories and as part of those programs I have students do some work in Sibelius. The ability to add comments in Review mode will allow me to more easily give feedback to students.  

I’m also excited for the fact you guys are casting a spotlight on plugins. The batch functions I do with plugins—to make specialized notation or simply to do proofreading—are hugely helpful and save a ton of time.  

But most of all I’m just excited to see what else the Sibelius team comes up with. Every time download an update I think, “What else could it do?” But each time I’m delighted by the new features—both big and small. It feels like a program made for musicians by musicians.  

Visit our What’s New page to learn more about Sibelius 2019. 

Express yourself with Sibelius

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




Anne-Kathrin Dern’s Essential Sibelius Plugins

Plugins are a powerful way to extend the functionality of Sibelius. They help you perform tasks more efficiently. For example, you can reduce mundane tasks with batch operations or add very specific notation and expression text to a score. Sibelius 2019.4 makes it easier than ever to find new plugins to install, so you can add them to your quiver of go-to operations that speed up your workflow.   

We caught up with composer Anne-Kathrin Dern—a Sibelius plugins power user—who shared with us three of her favorites and how to use them. 

 

Add Harp Pedaling

This is one of my favorite plugins. Harp pedaling is a very unique and instrument specific thing that can get complicated very quickly if one doesn’t play the harp. This feature is a great way for composers and orchestrators alike to bypass a lot of difficulty and possible mistakes. Its batch function also saves a ton of time because all one has to do is proofread the automatically added pedals and maybe shift them around a little. 

 

Explode

This plugin is probably the most useful among orchestrators. It allows you to sketch out ideas regarding chord voicings on one line (for example a piano staff or one horn staff) and to then “explode” it to multiple lines, either existing instruments or new instruments of your choice. This is helpful anytime a composer wants to quickly arrange their piano sketch into orchestra parts but also when you have an instrument group that plays chords together but need separate parts for each instrument. 

 

Proofreading – Parallel 5th / 8th

As a student, I loved the proofreading plugins. The “Find parallel 5th / 8th” has saved me quite a few times while doing my counterpoint homework at conservatory.  

Visit our What’s New page to learn more about Sibelius 2019, including the ability to find and install plugins faster. 

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 2019.4

We’re really excited to bring you our second feature release of 2019, delivering on our promise of regular feature releases to enhance, improve and develop the Sibelius product line even further.

Fresh off our January release, we to bring you a suite of enhancements to compliment those recently introduced to Sibelius. We’ve also thrown in a good handful of bug fixes too.

This upgrade is available to all those with an activate subscription or upgrade plan, and can be downloaded and installed through Avid Link. If you need to download the installer yourself, you can find it in your My Avid account.

 

Mark up your score in Review mode

In Sibelius 2019.1, we introduced the ability to lock the score, allowing you to navigate around the score with the freedom knowing you won’t make any unintended changes. In Sibelius 2019.4, we’re allowing you to Annotate, Comment and Highlight whilst in Review mode, making marking up your score easier and faster than ever before.

When entering Review mode, you’ll notice the Annotate, New Comment and Highlight buttons in the Review Tab remain active.

Simply click or tap on the feature’s icon, as normal, to start marking up your score. Even while in Review mode, you can move or delete them as normal.

To help prevent changes to the musical objects in your score, the regular Undo queue for all previous score edits, is locked. This then allows you to only undo changes you do while in Review mode. When exiting Review mode, the whole undo queue is available to you once more.

This feature is available all three tiers of Sibelius:

Feature

Sibelius | First

Sibelius

 Sibelius | Ultimate

Review mode

Yes

Yes

Yes

Review mode is aimed at all tiers of Sibelius, allowing someone to open any sized score in Sibelius | First and Sibelius, and review and mark up a score with comments, annotations and highlights etc. In fact, anyone can review a score, even if they’re not a Sibelius user – all they have to do is download Sibelius | First and they’ll be able to open the score, add comments and so on, then send it back. This feature works incredibly well on the Microsoft Surface devices and others with a stylus, where you can annotate with the pen and navigate the score with your finger, knowing everything in the score is safe from being accidentally moved.

We’re looking forward to seeing this used both in education, for teachers reviewing assignments, and for composers and orchestrators collaborating on a scoring project.

 

Loop

New icons in the Ribbon and Transport windows, which has been lengthened to accommodate the new button

To engage Loop mode, select the passage in the score you’d like to play back, and go to Play > Transport > Play > Loop. During playback, you’ll see the Playback line in the score and the Timeline will loop around as the music does too. As you would expect, it’ll continue to loop ad infinitum until you press stop.

The way it works is pretty simple and fits right into the same playback workflows we already have in Sibelius:

  • Make a selection and press P to play – Sibelius will play from the beginning of the selection and loop when it gets to the end of the selection
  • Press Spacebar, and Sibelius will start playback from where the playback line is in the score. If it’s before the selection, it’ll play back and pick up the loop on the way through. If it’s after the selection, playback will start as normal and not loop (since it never gets to the loop selection)
  • The selected staves are respected too, so you only hear the instruments that are selected.

Loops even pick up playing articulation changes that occur mid-selection, allowing your Trumpet, say, to start off with a mute and then switch to open a few bars later. When Sibelius loops back, the mute is restored.

We’ve added special logic for loops that contain repeats:

  • Selection contains no repeats: simply loop from beginning to end
  • Selection contains a complete repeat (including multiple endings): fully respect the repeat structure, and loop the whole selection, including repeats
  • Selection contains the end of a repeat, but not the beginning, and selection continues past the end repeat sign, then play the second iteration of the repeat (i.e. the one that transitions onward after the repeat)
  • Selection contains the end of a repeat, but not the beginning, and the selection does not continue past the end repeat, then play the first iteration of the repeat (as this most closely resembles the visual selection)

There are some edge cases that we’ve had to make decisions on as well. For example, if you have part of a 1st-time repeat structure and the 2nd-time bar selected, Sibelius will only play the notes in the selected 2nd-time bars.

This feature is only available in Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate:

Feature

Sibelius | First

Sibelius

Sibelius | Ultimate

Loop playback

No

Yes

Yes

Scrub

Introducing Scrub, a new way to audition notes and chords in your score. This feature is available via the square brackets [ and ] keyboard shortcuts, and you’ll hear Sibelius briefly play back the notes under the playback line.

Using Y (as before) you can move the playback line to any place in the score, or using the Go to Bar and Go to Page operations (from 2019.1 move the playback line as well of course). You can then use [ and ] to hear the notes being played as the playback line moves past them.

When you Scrub, Sibelius will play the notes for the duration that they are written. It will continue to move to the next note as you press the square brackets, and will skip rests and whole empty passages. As with Loop, scrubbing takes the passage selection into account as well, so you can scrub over only some of the instruments as needed, useful for auditioning just those you’re working on.

We’ve made sure new playing articulations are picked up as well. In previous versions, Sibelius would only reassign sounds when you triggered playback. This was evident in the Mixer showing unallocated on every instrument fader. Now though, you can scrub over a note, add a playing articulation that may trigger a change in patch (e.g. mute, staccato etc.) and Sibelius will pick it up when you scrub.

When scrubbing, the playback velocities are ignored, allowing you to hear a clear interpretation of the notes being played. All playing articulations and techniques are taken into account as well, of course.

When moving from one note or chord to another, Sibelius will cancel the sounding notes as you scrub to the next or previous note. It does this so you don’t end up with a mush of sound, however Sibelius takes ties into account too, so you get a true impression of what’s in the score.

Since we’re re-purposing the Fast-forward and Rewind shortcuts, you’ll need to manually reassign these if you use a custom set of keyboard shortcuts in Sibelius. The new Scrub Forwards and Scrub Backwards commands are found in the Play tab section of the Keyboard Shortcuts preferences. To Fast Forward and Rewind as before, the shortcuts are now Alt+] and Alt+[.

This feature is only available in Sibelius | Ultimate:

Feature

Sibelius | First

Sibelius

Sibelius | Ultimate

Scrub playback

No

No

Yes

Join barlines at end of systems

Sibelius 2019.4 now comes with a new option in Engraving Rules to join barlines at the end of each system. This is particularly useful for dense orchestral music with more than one system per page. The new feature is found in Engraving Rules > Barlines, and tick Join barlines at end of systems.

As this feature is in Engraving Rules, this is only available in Sibelius Ultimate.

Further improvements to Sibelius

All the following improvements are available across all three tiers of Sibelius, where the feature exists already.

Slash noteheads

Copying passages of music that contain slash notes has always been tricky in Sibelius, in particular when it involves a clef change. From this release, you can now copy these between staves that use different clefs, and move them up and down with the mouse (since it’s important to be able to position them above the stave where needed). As before, these noteheads will not move though when you transpose the score or change the key.

In addition to this, all non-sounding noteheads (such as slashes, ‘silent’ and so on), now don’t display dark-red or red when they are out of range for the instrument.

 

Flexi-time with NotePerformer

It’s now possible to use Flexi-time (realtime recording with your MIDI keyboard) with NotePerformer. Previously, Flexi-time suffered from a 1-second delay, which prohibited it from being any use at all to record from your MIDI keyboard. Now though, the 1-second delay has been eliminated so you can record directly into Sibelius and hear the great NotePerformer sounds as you play notes in.

In the background, we set a kVstMidiEventIsRealTime flag during flexi-time input. NotePerformer then doesn’t switch on the 1-second delay so the notes are played back straight away. This is actually set regardless of the playback device, however it’s unlikely there will be any noticeable difference for any other virtual instrument.

To find out more about NotePerformer, visit www.avid.com/plugins/noteperformer-for-sibelius.

 

Playback support for a2, a4, an converts into n players

Up until now, adding “a” numbers to a score, to denote the number of players needed for a passage of music, wouldn’t do anything in any sound library since Sibelius didn’t have a way to convert these to numbers of players. NotePerformer, as you may know, comes with a plugin to interpret these instructions on the fly, but the plugin would have to be re-run if the user changed their mind. The Sibelius 7 Sounds sound set also includes 4 players for the Violins, 3 players for the Violas, Celli and Basses.

In 2019.4, Sibelius can interpret the number of players needed by reading “a2”, “a4, “a8” etc. into “+n players” soundID changes that any sound library, including NotePerformer and Sibelius Sounds, can interpret into changes in sound. For example, writing “a1” or “a 1” (with a space) or “à 1” into a score, will change the sound playing back to a solo instrument. In the same way, writing “a 8” will change the sound so you hear 8 players, and so on. Of course, the limitations will be in the sound library, so don’t expect this to work with everything. Also, at the time of writing, Arne Wallander hasn’t implemented this in NotePerformer, but do be on the look out for an update in due course.

For those interested, you can see how this works in the Playback Dictionary. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see this:

^[aAàÀ][ ]?([0-9]+)

Those familiar with regular expressions will know exactly what this means, but those who aren’t, it essentially allows Sibelius to interpret any piece of staff text that starts with a, A, à or À that could have a space after it and then any number after that. It then triggers a sound ID change of +$1 players, where it takes the number entered in the staff text and forms the sound ID change to trigger the right number of players. Another change we’ve made is to reorder the sound IDs so the numbers of players have the same priority as .ensemble.

All in all, this has allowed us to support the following, which shows the sound ID changes that Sibelius goes through when playing this example. As always, these changes in sound will only be audible if your sound library supports them. If not, it’ll fall back on the best next sound.

Loading sounds in Sibelius Player

We’ve streamlined the sound-loading process that the Sibelius Player uses to improve performance. Under the hood, Sibelius now uses far fewer file handles, which allows Sibelius to load many more sounds. When writing huge scores in the past, you may have noticed a playing articulation doesn’t sound, or even in some cases a whole instrument.

An up-side to this improvement is that loading sounds is a lot faster – up to 50% faster in some cases!

 

Hot-swapping Audio Devices on Mac

Sibelius will now pick up new audio devices when going to Audio Engine Options on Mac. You can now run Sibelius, plug in a USB Audio interface or pair bluetooth headphones, say, and then choose them in Audio Engine Options. This now saves you the step of having to restart Sibelius before being able to use the new device.

Those with spangly new Macs will find this particularly useful since they treat built-in headphones and speaker outputs as separate devices. The new improvement now prevents the need to restart Sibelius in order to use headphones on these machines, although you will still need to manually switch to the headphone output from Play > Playback devices > Audio Engine Options after having plugged your headphones in.

 

Documentation

In an effort to reduce the download size of the Sibelius installers across all languages of all three tiers of Sibelius, all non-English documentation PDFs have beed posted online in the Avid.com Knowledge Base. When running Sibelius in any other language than English, you’ll be given an option to be redirected to the Knowledge Base. If you are offline, the English version will continue to be available locally.

As well as reducing the download size by about 300MB, this also allows us to update the documentation outside of the regular releases of

Sibelius, and also start work on modernising and improving the accessibility of the documentation. More on this in the future.

 

Licensing and copy protection

Further changes have been made to refine the licensing experience. By improving the way Sibelius is activated, it now detects the activation or deactivation on the fly. For example, if Sibelius is running and you manually deactivate your license, Sibelius will enter Review mode, allowing you to add a comment, say, and still save your score. Sibelius will then switch out of Review mode when you reactivate the license. This will dramatically improve the experience for those customers whose subscription lapses when they are running Sibelius and will help them get back up and running without having to restart Sibelius and potentially lose work.

 

Bug fixes

As always, we like to throw in a number of bug fixes. In summary, they are:

  • Percussion trills are now played back correctly, and now don’t alternate between two different pitches
  • We’ve fixed a long-standing problem where Sibelius would crash if you quit while editing text on Mac
  • The X icon to close score tab is back on Mac! No more guessing where the hidden button is.
  • On Windows, we used to set thread priority to lowest before playback. We now no longer do this.
  • Sibelius no longer requires high-performance GPU (like previous Qt4 builds) on Mac. This should save on battery consumption.
  • The right-click Create menu now correctly re-enables after playing back and toggling Review mode
  • If you start playing an MP3 from inside Avid Link and then close the window then it now correctly stops playing the MP3
  • After adding a text object to your score and hitting escape, that text no longer becomes deselected. This now allows you to edit the properties of the text from the Inspector or the Text tab of the Ribbon.
  • All function keys, up to F19 on Mac now work once more
  • Ribbon buttons that have drop-down lists no longer remain highlighted after deselecting them on Mac
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when quitting if you had 2 scores opened in full screen mode on Mac
  • Word menus on Windows now display the correct font for keyboard shortcuts

We’ve tidied up a number of legacy issues surrounding the handling of videos in Sibelius. They are:

  • In some cases it was hard to exit the video when in full screen. This is much more reliable now.
  • Spacebar now starts and stops playback when video is in full screen
  • QuickTime videos can now be played back on the second monitor in full screen mode (codec dependent)
  • Video window no longer disappears after exiting from full screen

… and just one more thing:

 

Searching for instruments and plugins

Ever wanted to add a cello to your score but couldn’t find it immediately, remembering you had to search for Violoncello? Ever wanted to find a new plugin but didn’t have the time to wade through the hundreds of available plugins?

The wait is over! You can now you can search for instruments in the Add or Remove Instruments, and Instrument Change dialogs with ease. Simply type part of the instrument’s name, and all those matching will appear underneath it. Good examples to try are Guitar, Tuba, Trombone and so on.

The Install Plug-ins window now has its very own search bar too. It searches for exact matches only though, so “Copy notes” works, but “Notes copy” does not, however simply searching for “notes” will cycle through all plugins with the word “notes” in the title.

We hope you enjoy these long awaited additions!

And that’s it for now – hope you enjoy these new features and improvements. Please keep telling us how we’re doing. You can tweet us at @avidsibelius or me directly at @avid_sam – we always like to hear how you’re getting on with Sibelius.

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 2019

We’re really excited to announce the immediate release of our first upgrade for 2019. At the NAMM show in Anaheim, California, we’re introducing a new Review Mode, and building on the existing playback features to allow you to navigate and play back your score quickly. In addition to this, we’ve fixed a good number of outstanding bugs.

If you’re lucky enough to be at the NAMM show in the coming days, drop by booth Booth 15502 in the North Hall and we’ll be very happy to show you round the new features and improvements.

 

Review Mode

Review mode is a brand new way to navigate your score without making any unintended changes to text, staff spacing or any other part of the musical notation. You can scroll around the score, free of worry that you may unintentionally move something you didn’t mean to.

You can toggle this mode in a few ways. Go to Review > Restrictions > Review Mode:

You can also assign it a keyboard shortcut, from File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > Review Tab > Toggle Review Mode.

When it’s engaged, you’ll see a small padlock icon light up in the Status bar, at the bottom of the score. You can click this to toggle Review Mode as well:

To make sure no unintended changes are made to the score or part info, we’ve added a Review Mode tick box to File > Score Info as well.

Scores will remember their locked state when you save them, allowing you to send the score to someone for reviewing, however if you send a locked score to someone with an earlier version of Sibelius (back to 8.6), they’ll be able to open the score and will of course find the score to be editable.

 

ManuScript support

We have added support for enabling and disabling Review Mode using Sibelius’ plugin programming language, ManuScript. Here’s a snippet that toggles review mode on and off:

activeScore = Sibelius.ActiveScore;
locked = activeScore.EditingLocked;
activeScore.EditingLocked = not locked;

Although there are no new shipping plugins in this release, be on the lookout for new plugins that integrate Review Mode in the future.

Play and Replay

To help you navigate your score and play back more easily, we’ve added a number of improvements to ‘Go to Page’, ‘Go to Bar’ as well as introduce a new Replay Line. Both ‘Go to Page’ and ‘Go to Bar’ functions, found in Home > Edit > Go To, now move the playback line to the start of the page or bar you go to. This saves several steps afterwards to play back the score from that point. Simply use the shortcuts Cmd+Alt+G/Ctrl+Alt+G to Go to Bar, and Cmd+Shift+G/Ctrl+Shift+G to Go to Page and press Space to start playback.

We’ve added a new Replay Line that shows the location in the score you can replay the music from (when using Ctrl+Space on Win or Alt+Space on Mac). This appears as a dashed green line and can be turned on from View > Invisibles > Replay Line:

In addition to this, we’ve made a small change to turn OFF the preference to Use different zoom during play and Flexi-time by default (it should stay on if you already have this set). This preference has its uses, but is better suited for new users in its new default state. To toggle this, go to File > Preferences > Score Position.

 

Half Speed playback

In this release, we’re introducing the ability to play the score back at half-speed. You can find this in the Play button’s dropdown:

Play at Half-Speed triggers playback from the position of the playback line at, you guessed it, half the tempo. This will be particularly useful for composing, arranging and teaching with Sibelius.

 

Working with playback lines in the Timeline

The Timeline (found in View > Panels > Timeline) has had a number of small tweaks to help with playback too. This now closely matches the score, so you can see the Playback Line and Replay Line. The Replay Line is part of the default Timeline preset and on by default. The Presets are found in File > Preferences > Timeline.

Clicking anywhere in the Score View or Rulers in the Timeline will move the playback line, and let you immediately play back from that place using the Space bar, as usual.

Related to these changes, the Show Repeats preference is now on by default too. This writes out the repeat structures in the Timeline, meaning you can now play back from anywhere within the repeat structure and start playback from there – something that was previously really tricky to do using the slider in the Transport panel.

The Replay Line and Playback Line, with Repeats shown, in the Timeline

Keen observers will also note the Bar Numbers and Timecode markers are now left aligned, so you can now have more confidence in knowing where these are.

 

Avid Link Integration

As you may already know, we are also introducing Avid Link manage your Avid account, licensing and subscription, as well as integrate a number of our other services. This replaces Avid Application Manager that has been included with Sibelius for the last few years.

Our part of the roll-out includes integrating several of the Link pages within Sibelius, allowing you to check out the latest news, manage your profile, find and chat with others with direct messages or within the Lounges. You can also head over to the Marketplace to add NotePerformer, PhotoScore Ultimate or AudioScore Ultimate to your toolkit.

This is all found in the File tab in Sibelius:

Your account login from Application Manager or the Avid Link application will be picked up by Sibelius when you start up, much like the Cloud Sharing Dashboard. However, if you aren’t logged in, you will be asked to log into those pages you visit.

To find out more, head over to the Avid Link blog: “Getting Started with Avid Link—Your new creative home“.

 

General bug fixes

As with every release of Sibelius we do, we fix a number of critical and legacy bugs. This release is no different so you will find Sibelius to be more reliable than ever. In summary, they are:

  • All dialog pop-up messages now respond on letter input from keyboard to choose Yes, No, Cancel and so on. This fix was only on Windows.
  • When Sibelius is running in a narrow window, the Text Style menu is now correctly layered in front of the sub-ribbon.
  • The correct font variant is being used once more on Mac (e.g. Myriad Semibold became Regular) etc.
  • EPS and PICT options have been removed from the ‘Convert Folder of Scores to Graphics’ plugin since they are no longer relevant.
  • Sibelius could, in some cases, crash when using the batch processing plugins. This now no longer happens.
  • TIF images are now the correct size when imported into a score.
  • Font substitution is working correctly with fonts with extra styles e.g. Optima > ExtraBlack
  • Part extraction works well once more. There was a problem when extracting a single part, the extracted part was opened in another window that couldn’t be edited until main window was closed.
  • The dimensions of a video no longer reset after starting playback on Mac
  • The video dimension are also now correct when reopening the Video window on Mac
  • In rare cases, Sibelius could crash when the Quick Start was disabled and opening a new score. This now no longer happens.
  • Sibelius now more reliably responds to keyboard shortcuts after having created a score from the Quick Start on Mac
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when exporting scores with special final barlines to MusicXML

 

We hope you enjoy our January release of Sibelius. If you’re at the NAMM show in California, please do drop by the show and we’ll be happy to show you round the new features and improvements.

Express yourself with Sibelius

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




Best of Sibelius 2018

Now that 2019 is here, let’s review some of the highlights of Sibelius 2018. We started off 2018 with some ground breaking new multi-edit workflows, then had a complete overhaul of our automatic note spacing algorithms to yet another overhaul of Sibelius’ underlying infrastructure that gave us great support for Retina and High-DPI displays, and vastly improved accessibility for visually impaired users. Along the way, we fixed a raft of legacy bugs so Sibelius has never been healthier or in a better shape as we move into 2019, where we’ll bring you more exciting new features, workflows and improvements.

Oh, and we also released a free version of Sibelius – yes, completely FREE!

Let’s dive in!

 

Supercharge your workflows

The premise of the spec for this release of Sibelius was to do many functions with one action, rather than having to do many actions many times on several objects. Sibelius has always had this in some form, for adding and removing playing articulations, but it was lines and text that sorely needed improving.

Marking up your score with slurs, ties and other lines in Sibelius has always been a repetitive task, until now.

This even works across multiple passages separated by rests, and across multiple voices too:

…and it was for this work we were awarded the Editor’s Choice Award in Music Inc. Magazine.

 

Text

In the past, changing dynamics and playing instructions across multiple instruments was really manual. Each item needed to have been edited independently, until now. In our 2018.4 release we added ability to add text to multiple notes or passages at once. Editing multiple pieces of text is simple too. Here’s a sample of what’s now possible:

Combining the new multi-edit features and lines features, means marking up a score has never been faster:

(This GIF is slowed down to allow you to follow along. In reality, it’s possible to go much faster than is illustrated here.)

 

Find in Ribbon

Along the same theme of speeding up your workflow, we have made several improvements to the “Find in Ribbon” search box. Searching and executing—these are now one and the same thing. We’ve refined the layout of the search results to make it easier to see what you’re looking for, as well as made it faster to execute the commands you need.

The keyboard shortcut to access this is now “,” (comma) so you can touch-type your way round every feature in Sibelius, making this the fastest way to use the application, by far (at least 50% faster than reaching for your mouse each time…)

 

Intelligent note spacing

Sibelius 2018 introduced a complete overhaul in the way music is spaced. Sibelius is now musically aware of how music should be spaced, and not only automatically adds space when needed, but also gets the spacing right every time, but also gives you the flexibility to tweak it as you need to. This, when combined with Magnetic Layout, provides the very best looking scores, right first time.

 

In Summary

  • Unisons in two voices with different rhythms no longer collide
  • Rhythm dot spacing and placement is improved, esp. in cases involving rests
  • Dotted minims and semi-breves in voice 1 no longer collide with simultaneous notes in voice 2
  • Leger lines of voices at the same rhythmic position no longer touch
  • Semi-breves in two voices, same pitch, now go side by side and are not super-imposed
  • Crossing voices are now laid out head-to-head, rather than stem-to-stem as they were in previous versions
  • Unison dotted notes of the same value now always share a rhythm dot
  • Music is now correctly respaced when lyrics and guitar frames are deleted
  • Spacing is now correct before a start repeat barline
  • Sibelius now also takes articulations and stem direction into account when spacing notes
  • When dotted notes in multiple voices share the same pitch, Sibelius now correctly (and consistently) only shows a single dot. Previously, Sibelius would only do this for notes that were in a space and not when on a line
  • The correct number of dots are now displayed on dotted chords with two or three notes.

For a complete rundown, see my previous post.

 

Grace note spacing improvements in multiple voices

Later in the year, we did a lot of work getting the default spacing of grace notes correct. In previous versions, it was always a huge chore to get the correct spacing, especially when using gracenotes in multiple voices.

Opening older scores will continue to look exactly the same. To take advantage of the new spacing, simply select the passage of music and do Reset Note Spacing from the Appearance tab.

 

Experience better performance

In November, we introduced a far-reaching upgrade to the underlying infrastructure of Sibelius, with over 400 changes/improvements/bug fixes. As a result, Sibelius is faster and more responsive, delivering an improved user experience – including support for high-resolution displays, better accessibility support for screen readers, and a host of smaller enhancements that make the score writing experience smoother and more fluid.

Accessibility

In this release, we’ve paid a lot of attention to improving the way Sibelius works with screen readers. Screen readers, for those who may not know, are applications that can read and describe what is happening on the computer screen to help users who can’t see the screen well, or even at all.

The screen readers themselves don’t know anything about music notation, so it has been our job to generate descriptions of the score elements on the screen. As such, we have vastly improved the way screen readers read and describe what’s happening on the screen.

 

Examples:

Pressing Tab will select the first staff object in the score and describe what the object is and where it is

“Select, quarter note, pitch C#5 ,bar 1, beat 1” When selecting a slur, Sibelius will say:

“Select, start of slur on bar 1, beat 3 line ending at bar 1, beat 4”

Sibelius will announce the action you do too, such as “Move” note, or “Edit” note. The description that follows is the same as when selecting objects.

At this time, we only recommend using screen readers on Windows, as there’s so much further to go on Mac.

Read more about this release, along with a comparison table for our Accessibility support, here.

Goodbye EPS, hello true black PDFs

Exporting to PDF has been improved to support greyscale, which converts to only the K color channel in CMYK.

To use this, go to File > Export > Graphics, choose PDF and untick “include colored objects”. Alternatively, go to File > Export > PDF and, again, untick “Include colored objects”.

Due to limitations in Qt5, we aren’t able to continue to support Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) file export. As such, Sibelius 2018.7 was the last version to support this feature.

Sibelius | First

In the middle of the year, we introduced a new free tier for Sibelius that makes it completely free! Beginners can now start out using the same tools as the professional composers, arrangers, orchestrators, engravers and publishers.

Sibelius | First is built from the same codebase as Sibelius | Ultimate, so is upgraded just as often, and includes (where appropriate for the feature-set) all the same improvements.

Built with simplicity in mind, but also with the power of Sibelius | Ultimate, with Sibelius | First, you’re able to start writing music straight away using alphabetic input or with Flexi-time™ using a MIDI keyboard. You can even mark up your score with dynamics, hairpins and phrasing with our new multi-edit workflows, allowing you to enter and edit multiple objects at once.

For a deep-dive in this revolutionary version of Sibelius, please see avidblogs.com/sibelius-first-now-available.

Legacy bug fixes and other improvements

In addition to all these great features and advancements in Sibelius, we spent a huge amount of time under the hood making Sibelius faster, intuitive and more reliable.

  • Drum roll please… it’s now possible to delete the first bar of a score without losing the System text that’s attached to it e.g Title, Composer text, and so on
  • You can now change many types of barline at the same time
  • File > Print: The page orientation is now only changed by changes in Document Setup if printing Normal pages. This no longer happens with Spreads, Booklet or 2 Pages Per Sheet and avoids the problems where these would get reset to portrait paper rather than remain landscape, as is correct for these printing arrangements.
  • The space after a Key Signature and Start Repeat barline is now slightly wider and won’t collide with each other.
  • It’s now possible to add a Dashed slur to a grace-note.
  • The “Combine Tied Notes and Rests” plugin is nice and fast when processing music in large scores.
  • The space after a cautionary Key Signature change is now not too wide. If you find it is, add a System Break at that point and reset note spacing. This will snap things into line again.
  • When selecting a coinciding double barline and rehearsal mark, alt-clicking elsewhere in the score no longer creates a new rehearsal mark and double barline in the wrong place
  • When copying and pasting from one slurred phrase to another, slurs are no longer duplicated
  • On Windows, the Help button (question mark in the right top corner) in the Print Spooler window was unnecessary so has been removed
  • In very rare cases, Sibelius would crash when opening a score with a different playback configuration from the Quick Start
  • Plug-ins > Simplify Notation > Remove Overlapping Notes no longer says its effect cannot be undone
  • Comments containing em dashes (–) now display correctly once more
  • It’s now possible again too to add lines to passages of bars that only contain rests
  • A low level issue in our undo queue that would occasionally cause Sibelius to unexpectedly quit is now resolved
  • Empty text boxes no longer remain after removing multiple items of text with undo
  • Keyboard focus is now brought back to a text object after changing the size of it in Text > Format > Size
  • As well as several improvements to grace notes, Sibelius will now retain the spacing correctly when copy and pasting passages. This saves the extra step to reset the note spacing.
  • Several rare problems entering lyrics and chord symbols have all been resolved. This even included a crash and issues with the Undo queue
  • A lyrics extender line now no longer reappears after saving and reopening a score. This would only happen if there were empty bars between two lines of music that contained lyrics.
  • You can now enter multiple pieces of text or lines using a very short lasso selection
  • When entering multiple hairpins onto a minim followed by a minim rest, it no longer results in a hairpin under the rest
  • All the “Name” fields in the Edit Instrument dialog are retained when saving and reopening a score. As such, you can now use the “Instrument change name” and “Instrument change warning name” fields independently.
  • Engraving Rules > Chord Symbols: Characters are now displayed correctly in the Language drop-down list on Mac.
  • In the Timecode and Duration dialog, the “Start video from” field now works correctly.
  • Note input, and dragging text objects are no longer sluggish when the Inspector is open.
  • The Edit Lines and Edit Symbols dialogs are now much more stable under the hood. Before, it was even possible to invoke multiple cursors on Windows and cause incorrect navigation behavior on both Windows and Mac.
  • Split Bar plug-in no longer overwrites the right hand side barline with a Normal barline.
  • Join Bars plug-in works properly once more when creating special barlines.
  • Kontakt 6 is now recognised as a “Kontakt” device rather than a standard AU or VST plugin

 

This completes the run-down of Sibelius in 2018 – if you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed, and thank you! We’ve got an exciting roadmap for 2019, and we can’t wait to tell you what we’re up to – so watch this space!

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 2018.11

We’re really excited to introduce you to the November’s release for Sibelius | Ultimate, Sibelius and Sibelius | First. All three tiers are benefiting from this far-reaching update.

This release has mainly focused on modernizing the Sibelius codebase and many of the improvements are under the hood. These manifest themselves in the way Sibelius appears on your screen and draws the score, and is now even able to make use native OS features like Full Screen on Mac, DPI scaling on Windows, and so on.

In short, Sibelius has never been faster at redrawing the score as you drag individual objects or the page around; Sibelius has also never looked so good on high-DPI screens on Windows and Retina screens on Mac. We’ve thrown in some note spacing improvements and fixes to a slew of legacy bugs too.

If you can’t wait to get stuck in, open Application Manager on your computer to download and install the update. You can also get the update from your Avid account at my.avid.com/products. This update is available to all Sibelius | First users for free as well as all those subscribing to Sibelius or Sibelius I Ultimate, and to those with a license of Sibelius with a current Software Update and Support plan. If you need to renew, head over to your account.

If you’re on an older version of Sibelius, you can upgrade from one of our resellers or on our webstore.

 

Upgrading the Sibelius infrastructure

The improvements in this release touch nearly every bit of the program. This is largely due to a complete upgrade of Sibelius’s underlying infrastructure, Qt. Qt is a cross-platform development framework that enables Sibelius to run on various platforms and devices. We’ve been using this since Sibelius 7, released in 2011, so it’s high time we upgraded this to take advantage of the new capabilities. The development team have been chipping away at this herculean effort for more than 2 years, so it’s a relief to get this out into the real world . This sets us up to provide more exciting features using the very latest cutting technology.

 

The UI

I’ll start with the user interface (UI), since it’s the most obvious change. Overall, it now generally looks cleaner. Although Sibelius showed nice high-resolution images and icons in previous versions, Sibelius itself didn’t natively support high-DPI and Retina screens so very little of the UI was able to take advantage of these modern displays. Now though, you’ll notice some very subtle, and some more obvious, improvements in the way Sibelius displays the text and icons in the Ribbon.

Not all items in Sibelius have been upgraded to support the sharper icons – we still have some work to do in the Mixer, Ideas panel and so on, however the ground work has all been done now to make this much easier to implement and maintain in the future.

Sibelius is now able to take advantage of native OS features, and we’re able to make some other subtle changes such as:

  • You’ll see the scroll bars on Mac are now defined by the OS, so will show automatically based on your mouse or trackpad, as you set this up in System Preferences.
  • The pop-up messages now animate when they appear, and have the default color based on your System
  • On Windows, docked panels now have a narrower title bar so they take up less vertical space
  • Tick boxes in the Preferences used to be white-on-white, making it hard to know if they were ticked or not. These are now blue with a white tick, as you’d expect. This particularly affected the Input Devices and Timeline preferences.
  • Across all dialogs, the headings of each section would collide with the box below This was more noticeable in the Preferences and Engraving Rules dialogs.

 

On macOS

The Keypad and Transport panels

All the panels in Sibelius now have the nice rounded corners. These have always been there under the hood, but were prevented from appearing by the older implementation of Qt4.

Both the Keypad and Transport panels now support the lovely higher resolution graphics, giving a nice sharp look. Here’s a comparison of the old and new Keypad on a Retina display:

The Ribbon

You’ll notice the text seems sharper, and this is because Sibelius is now able to be more pixel accurate with the way it displays text. You’ll see this in all the dialogs and pop-up messages as well.

Here’s a comparison of the Layout tab with Sibelius 2018.7 above, and the newer 2018.11release below

Many of the icons throughout the Ribbon have been upgraded to support higher resolution images as well.

The Quick Access Toolbar that was once only available on Windows, has made it to our Mac version as well. You’ll find this in the top right hand corner of the screen and is useful to quickly accessing Save, Undo and Redo.

On Windows

Sibelius now respects any DPI scaling, and the evidence is apparent when you start Sibelius up. Everything from the splash screen to the Mixer are now scaled and no longer blurry or disproportionate. Since we can support any DPI scaling upwards of 125%, you’ll now see sharper icons as well as a well-proportioned Ribbon, utilizing the full horizontal space to display the features.

This also works when you have multiple monitors, allowing you to have your Panels on a different screen, or even your score and parts on different screens. Sibelius will now respect per-monitor DPI scaling, allowing the windows and panels to look great on a regular monitor or even a nice 4K monitor.

 

The Ribbon

In previous versions of Sibelius, the Ribbon would get pretty crowded when using high DPI scaling, from 200%+, say. Now Sibelius will lay this out and better use the whole width of the screen. Here’s a comparison of Sibelius 2018.7 above, with 2018.11 below:

Accessibility

In this release, we’ve paid a lot of attention to improving the way Sibelius works with screen readers. Screen readers, for those who may not know, are applications that can read and describe what is happening on the computer screen to help users who can’t see the screen well, or even at all. Both Windows and macOS come with their own built-in solutions called Narrator and VoiceOver. There are popular 3rd party solutions such as NVDA that is an open-source screen reader for Windows.

The screen readers themselves don’t know anything about music notation, so it has been our job to generate descriptions of the score elements on the screen. As such, we have vastly improved the way screen readers read and describe what’s happening on the screen.

Sibelius will read the names of Manuscript Papers when tabbing through scores in the Quick Start, as well as read the dialog as you set up a new score. Once in the score, Sibelius will read the contents of the Ribbon as you access this with the keyboard. Since nearly all of Sibelius is keyboard accessible, it’s possible to navigate the program using keyboard shortcuts and hear what’s happening. For example:

Pressing Tab will select the first staff object in the score and describe what the object is and where it is

“Select, quarter note, pitch C#5 ,bar 1, beat 1”

When selecting a slur, Sibelius will say:

“Select, start of slur on bar 1, beat 3 line ending at bar 1, beat 4”

Sibelius will announce the action you do too, such as “Move” note, or “Edit” note. The description that follows is the same as when selecting objects.

Searching Sibelius with “Find in Ribbon” will speak the results too. The keyboard shortcut to access the Find in Ribbon box is simply comma “,”. When it has keyboard focus, you’ll hear Sibelius say: “Find in Ribbon, Editing text”.

You can then start typing to find and perform any action you need, for example: To reset the position of an object, for example, you type “reset” and Sibelius will provide a list of all features that have Reset in their name or in their description. Use the arrow keys to cycle through the results to hear them, i.e.:

“Reset Position, moves the selected objects back to their default position”

Pressing Return will then apply that change – even when not using a screen reader, using ‘comma’ to access Find In Ribbon is by far the fastest way to use Sibelius!

Each screen reader is different, and it’ll take more work on our side to gain parity with them all. To help you decide which is right for your workflow, we’ve put the following table together:

 

 

Menus, Dialogs and Ribbon etc.

NVDA Windows
Narrator
macOS
VoiceOver
Splash Screen, Version & Build Number X X
Quick Start X
Ribbon X X X
Find in Ribbon X X
File tab X X X
Pop-up messages X X
Ribbon galleries (Lines, Text, Symbols) X X
Edit Symbols and Edit Lines dialogs X X

 

 

Objects in the score

NVDA Windows
Narrator
macOS
VoiceOver
Bar Rests X X
Clef changes X X
Key Signatures X X
Dynamics X X
Staff text X X

 

 

Objects in the score

NVDA Windows
Narrator
macOS
VoiceOver
Lyrics X X
Guitar frames X X
Instrument Changes X X
Staff lines X X
Staff symbols X X
Notes and rests X X
Notes on a transposing instrument X X
Start and end of System and Passage selections X X

 

There’s clearly more work for us to do, so we’ll continue to chip away at this very important area of the program. As the table shows above, we don’t recommend using VoiceOver on macOS yet.

During the development of these improvements, we’ve also fixed the following legacy bugs we had with screen readers:

  • Sibelius no longer crashes when closing Audio Options or Playback Devices when using NVDA
  • The bar number is no longer spoken followed immediately by the succeeding bar number

 

Goodbye EPS, hello true black PDFs

Due to limitations in Qt5, we aren’t able to continue to support Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) file export. As such, Sibelius 2018.7 was the last version to support this feature. However, exporting to PDF has been improved to support greyscale, which converts to only the K color channel in CMYK.

To use this, go to File > Export > Graphics, choose PDF and untick “include colored objects”. Alternatively, go to File > Export > PDF and, again, untick “Include colored objects”.

Note Spacing

To improve on the note spacing features we’ve been introducing this year, we’ve fine tuned the following:

  • Reset Note Spacing in the score or part no longer affects the This only affected scores using Version 3 spacing though.
  • Sibelius now only respaces multi-voice bars when adding or removing notes when the “Respace multi-voice passages during note input and editing” preference is set. In recent releases, Sibelius would perform a ‘Reset Note Spacing’ under the hood during articulation and accidental editing, which was found to be too heavy handed.

 

Video playback

We’ve changed the engines used in Sibelius to sync a video (or audio file) to a score. On Windows, we now use DirectShow for QMultimedia and on Mac we’ve replaced the old 32-bit QuickTime player with AVFoundation. This change may require you to re-encode your videos to one Sibelius now supports, or install the necessary codecs to play the video.

 

Switching between feature-sets

Since our release in June this year, your installation of Sibelius has had three tiers inside the single installation, so Sibelius will run the feature-set you are eligible for. This has been useful for those starting with Sibelius | First, trying out the Sibelius features then subscribing or buying the full feature of Sibelius | Ultimate. Since then, we’ve had several requests to allow you to check out the Sibelius | First features, say, to see if they are suitable for your beginner students who are starting out with their music studies. In today’s release, we’ve introduced this feature for Sibelius | Ultimate users only: simply hold down the ‘Alt’ key when Sibelius starts up and you’ll see the following dialog asking you which variant of Sibelius you’d like you run:

Clicking the version you need will run Sibelius with just those features enabled. Restarting Sibelius, without holding down ‘Alt’, will revert to running the full Sibelius | Ultimate feature set. Windows users should be aware that you need to hold down ‘Alt’ just after running Sibelius. If you hold ‘Alt’ at the same time as running the application, you will see a Properties window appear.

 

Overall stability and bug fixes

As with every release of Sibelius, we fix a number of bugs, both old and new. Here’s a summary of what’s included in this release:

Rhythm Dots

When dotted notes in multiple voices share the same pitch, Sibelius now correctly (and consistently) only shows a single dot. Previously, Sibelius would only do this for notes that were in a space and not when on a line.

The correct number of dots are now displayed on dotted chords with two or three notes.

Kontakt 6 Support

Kontakt 6 is now recognised as a “Kontakt” device rather than a standard AU or VST plugin. This means Sibelius will now be able to automatically load sounds as it has been able to do with Kontakt 5 and earlier. So, if you have a Kontakt library, such as Virtual Drumline, old or older version of GPO/JABB, Sample Logic’s Fanfare or Rumble etc. you can now use these in the latest version of Kontakt. It’s worth noting that Kontakt 6 appears simply as “Kontakt” in your Playback Configuration.

Bug fixes

  • All the “Name” fields in the Edit Instrument dialog are retained when saving and reopening a score. As such, you can now use the “Instrument change name” and “Instrument change warning name” fields independently.
  • Engraving Rules > Chord Symbols: Characters are now displayed correctly in the Language drop-down list on Mac.
  • In the Timecode and Duration dialog, the “Start video from” field now works correctly.
  • Note input, and dragging text objects are no longer sluggish when the Inspector is open.
  • The Edit Lines and Edit Symbols dialogs are now much more stable under the hood. Before, it was even possible to invoke multiple cursors on Windows and cause incorrect navigation behavior on both Windows and Mac.

 

Plugins

  • Split Bar plug-in no longer overwrites the right hand side barline with a Normal barline.
  • Join Bars plug-in works properly once more when creating special barlines.

 

Compatibility

It’s important to be aware of the latest system requirements for the Sibelius products and this release contains the following changes:

  • Full support for macOS 10.14 Mojave
  • Sibelius will no longer run on Mac OS X Mavericks

There are no changes to Windows. For a full run-down, please see our System Requirements for Avid Sibelius Products .

 

Performance

On the whole, Sibelius is now faster than ever before. You should notice this when dragging around the score, performing edits to multiple text objects, adding slurs and articulations across several systems, and making changes at the end of large scores – all of which are vastly improved.

If you’ve made it this far down the list of improvements in this build, I’m impressed – thanks for sticking with it! This release has been a long time coming, and we’re really proud of how much has been achieved. Upgrading architecture is no mean feat, and much of the original implementation of Qt has been refactored or rewritten to bring the improved support for accessibility, high-DPI screens and so on.

We’re now in a really great place to bring some exciting features and new workflows to Sibelius in 2019, so watch this space.

Express yourself with Sibelius

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




Note Spacing Improvements in Sibelius 2018.6

Today, we’re pleased to announce and release improvements to Sibelius that reach as far as installer and licensing, note spacing, workflow and a host of bug fixes.

This is a free update to all Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate customers with a current subscription or software update plan. To download the new installer, head to your Avid Master Account.

In conjunction, we’re also releasing our first ever free version of Sibelius: Sibelius | First. This completes our suite of “First” products alongside Pro Tools | First and Media Composer | First, perfect if you’re entering the world of music recording, production and video editing.

Sibelius 2018.6 not only delivers on improvements to long standing issues, but also simplifies our approach to developing and producing several applications and solutions to a huge variety of musicians. With the release of Sibelius | First today, we now have a complete desktop range of music software, an iOS app, an iOS SDK, and a whole ecosystem that lives on the Avid MediaCentral Platform in the cloud for running music publishing solutions that are delivering millions of scores around the world each month. Whether you’re a beginner, student, educator, professional musician, engraver or publisher, we now have something geared towards your musical need.

Read on to find out what’s new in June’s release of Sibelius.

Sibelius – A New Single Installer

We now have a single application called “Sibelius” that will run with the features based on the license you have activated. In the past, we’ve had separate applications for all the different flavours of Sibelius that would run with different features based on the version you had installed.  The three tiers are:

 

• Sibelius | First – will run when you have no license of either Sibelius or Sibelius Ultimate

• Sibelius – will run only when you have a Sibelius license activated

• Sibelius | Ultimate – will run when you have an Ultimate license activated

 

This allows a new customer to come in, try Sibelius | First, unlock more features by subscribing to Sibelius, then need the Ultimate features as their music and career develops etc.. On the practical side, it also allows us to reduce the number of installers we have to maintain, and simplify the activation process by consolidating the separate activation processes into one.

On a new computer, Sibelius will now only install a single application. On a computer that already has either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, or even Sibelius | First 2018.1 or earlier, these will get replaced by the new application, called “Sibelius”.

When you run Sibelius, it now checks the licenses and entitlements it can run with:

• Is there a Network License Server running on the network, only used for Schools (Sibelius has always done this)

• Is there a license of Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate on this computer

• Is there an on-going trial of either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate

• Is there entitlement to run Sibelius | First

If any of the above is true, it’ll run in that mode. If not, we’ll pop up a new redesigned welcome dialog:

This gives options to start a new trial of either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, or activate your own license, or continue with Sibelius | First. There’s a “Don’t say this again” tick box so you can run the trial or Sibelius | First straight away without having to choose it each time. If you have a license of Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, click Activate, which will launch Avid Application Manager. The simplest thing to do is to log in and Sibelius will auto-activate. If you need to manually activate, click the Licensing page and paste in your System ID and Activation ID, which you can find in your Avid Master Account.

Once the activation is complete, restart Sibelius and you’ll find the activation is picked up and Sibelius will run with either the Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate features.

“Sibelius is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive and deeply flexible orchestration tool available. If I can conceive it, Sibelius can put it on paper in a very intuitive way that most mirrors my original thought. Every dynamic and articulation is readily available and easily inserted and edited at a whim.”

—Mark Yaeger, film composer

Notation improvements in Sibelius 2018.6

Note spacing

Grace notes in multiple voices

Writing grace notes across multiple voices in Sibelius has been historically hard to do. It has usually required a plugin and then some manual changes in the Inspector to align correctly – but a simple Reset Note Spacing would revert all your careful placement. From now on though, Sibelius will always get this right. Here’s a typical example of the old spacing verses the new:

Under the hood, Sibelius is aligning the grace notes in voices 1 and 2 together. When there’s no corresponding note in the other voice, Sibelius will insert a hidden rest that is used to ensure the correct spacing is preserved.

Opening older scores will continue to look exactly the same. To take advantage of the new spacing, simply select the passage of music and do Reset Note Spacing from the Appearance tab.

 

Note spacing of chords in multiple voices

Thank you to those who reported cases where chords with back-to-back stems started to collide with the new Version 3 spacing, introduced in April, when compared to version 2. In some cases, stems would touch ledger lines as well.  We’ve fixed many of these now so you should find things are generally cleaner:

Sibelius 2018.1 and earlier

Sibelius 2018.4/5

Sibelius 2018.6

We’ve also tackled some of the more gnarly issues with chords that were left over from our release in April too. The below comparison shows how things have come on. The improvements are in the following areas:

• When chords in two voices are a semitone apart, they are now slightly offset when they are written in the stave.

• Notes no longer collide when there are unisons in either chord. This was particularly tricky when there were unisons in both voices. In these cases, the chords will appear side-by-side, as required by the new note spacing algorithm.

• Sibelius now treats the note spacing offsets differently when the notes are within the 5-line stave compared to when they are outside the staff on ledger lines

General improvements

Changing notes by semitone across tied passages

In Sibelius 2018.4, we introduced the ability for all tied notes to be changed when the first note is changed. We omitted support for the Shift+Page Up/Down shortcut, which moves a note up or down by a semitone. Now, in 2018.6, you can select the first note of a tied note and move all tied notes by a semitone:

General bug fixes

We’ve been hard at work improving the overall stability of Sibelius, as well as chipping away at problems that have been reported via our forum, Twitter feed and new Facebook group (thank you again to all those who submitted them!). In summary, they are:

• Deleting the first bar of a score no longer deletes the time signature

Continuing the improvements from April’s release, where we added the ability to delete the first bar of the score without losing your Title page and other blank pages, title, composer and other text etc.. In today’s release, the Time Signature is no longer lost. This works in such a way that it retains the Time Signature that was in the first bar of the score, as you would expect, however Sibelius will now check to see if the next bar contains a Time Signature change, and places that in the new ‘bar 1’ after the deletion. For example, if you’re deleting bars 1 to 5, and there’s a Time Signature Change in Bar 6, Sibelius will now display the Time Signature that was in bar 6, rather than retaining the initial Time Signature that was in bar 1. If you’re used to being cautious of deleting bar 1, try it now – it’s really quite liberating!

In addition to this:

• Empty text boxes no longer remain after removing multiple items of text with undo

• Multiple cursors are now displayed when entering expression and technique text across multiple staves

• Keyboard focus is now brought back to a text object after changing the size of it in Text > Format > Size

• As well as several improvements to grace notes, Sibelius will now retain the spacing correctly when copy and pasting passages. This saves the extra step to reset the note spacing.

• When the Quick Start is disabled, the blank score that is automatically created used Version 2 voice spacing instead of Version 3

• Several rare problems entering lyrics and chord symbols have all been resolved. This even included a crash and issues with the Undo queue

• A lyrics extender line now no longer reappears after saving and reopening a score. This would only happen if there were empty bars between two lines of music that contained lyrics.

• In rare cases, Sibelius would crash when working with text

• You can now enter multiple pieces of text or lines using a very short lasso selection

• When entering multiple hairpins onto a minim followed by a minim rest, it no longer results in a hairpin under the rest

 

This completes the improvements in this release. The development team are already working hard on the next release, which we can’t wait to deliver to you.

If you’re new to Sibelius, head over to avid.com/sibelius-ultimate for a complete overview. If you already have Sibelius but haven’t yet upgraded to Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate, please take a look at avid.com/music-writing-software for a comparison of the two. To upgrade today, visit the Avid.com webstore or choose from one of our resellers.

Express yourself with Sibelius

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




Sibelius | First — Avid’s Free Music Notation Software is Now Available

Introducing Sibelius | First

Today, we are really proud to release our first ever free version of Sibelius. We’ve taken the power and the time-saving workflows from Sibelius | Ultimate and created a streamlined application for creating music that makes it fun and easy for beginners, hobbyists, and students to compose and share simple, professional-looking scores.

If you’re new to Sibelius and can’t wait to get started, head to my.avid.com/get/sibelius-first. This will take you through a simple sign-up form and will deliver the new Sibelius installers to your inbox.

Start your first score with a template or from scratch

Input notation with your mouse, MIDI controller, or keyboard

Add instruments to your score to build up your orchestration

Sibelius | First is built with simplicity in mind, but also with the power of Sibelius | Ultimate. With Sibelius | First, you’re able to start writing music straight away using alphabetic input or with Flexi-time ™ using a MIDI keyboard. You can even mark up your score with dynamics, hairpins and phrasing with our new multi-edit workflows, allowing you to enter and edit multiple objects at once.

Need to find a feature? Simply type in what you need into the “Find in Ribbon” search box in the upper right corner and Sibelius will find it for you immediately. Here’s a quick overview showing how quick it is to mark up your score with slurs, dynamics and a trill:

You can even share scores online to collaborate, get discovered, and be heard.

“This is a brilliant way to introduce new composers, songwriters, arrangers and musicians to music notation. Sibelius | First will help to make it easier and less daunting to turn musical ideas into written music, whether you’re starting with just a thought or a midi sequence.”

—Booker White, orchestrator, Disney

Unlocking more features and Upgrading

When you reach the limits of Sibelius | First’s features, there are two paths to upgrade to either Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate. Here’s a simple table of how the features compare:

Sibelius | First

Sibelius

Sibelius | Ultimate

Ideal for…

Composing simple scores with up to 4 instrument parts (staves)

Composing simple/moderate music with up to 16 staves

Composing, arranging, and publishing scores and parts of any size and complexity; creating notation worksheets and exercises for education

Availability

Available for free for anyone to download and use

Subscribe monthly or annually, or purchase and own a perpetual license

Subscribe monthly or annually, purchase and own a perpetual license (educational discount available), trade-up from other notation software, or get network licensing

Number of computers you can install a single copy on

N/A

2, for use by same person (e.g., desktop + laptop)

Software updates and support

Download the latest update as it becomes available

Access all new releases and Standard support through a subscription or renewable 1-Year Software Updates + Support Plan (included with new perpetual licenses)

Cloud Sharing

10 scores

20 scores

Unlimited

Number of voices per staff

2

4

4

Sync video

No

Yes

Yes

Sibelius Sounds sample library

No

10GB

32GB

Timeline view

No

No

Yes

Layout Control

Basic

Some

Complete

Thanks to the new single installer for Sibelius, unlocking more features and upgrading to Sibelius Ultimate is really simple. To get started visit this page that provides an overview of the two: avid.com/music-writing-software.

After starting your new subscription or license, open Avid Application Manager to check the new licensing has been picked up (re-sync the account if not) and simply run Sibelius again to get access to the new features.

Sibelius | First workflows for teachers and professionals

Sibelius | First can open any Sibelius file going back to version 1.0 to 2018.6. It can also open files that have more than 4 staves, however these will open up in a read-only mode. This is perfect for sharing scores with people who don’t have Sibelius (yet) and need to review, play back and even print scores. It’ll also be a useful workflow for teachers to send scores to students as reference material.

 

PhotoScore and AudioScore First

 Simply scan music in or transcribe music with PhotoScore First and AudioScore First

 

• Free editions of the popular PhotoScore Ultimate and AudioScore Ultimate are included for all Sibelius| First users. You’ll find these in your Avid Master Account.

• Upgrade to either Sibelius or Sibelius Ultimate and you’ll’ received PhotoScore Lite and AudioScore Lite that will unlock the number of staves and pages of music you can scan, and expand the number of music of audio you can transcribe at once.

• If you need the full power from these applications, upgrade to PhotoScore Ultimate and AudioScore Ultimate.

 

Here’s a quick overview of how the different versions compare:

PhotoScore First

PhotoScore Lite

PhotoScore Ultimate

Max Staves per System

2

12

64

Max Pages per Score

1

20

400

AudioScore First

AudioScore Lite

AudioScore Ultimate

Max Audio Length

1 min

6 min

6 min

Shortest Note Value

8th

16th

32nd

Max Instruments per Score

2

4

32

Sibelius | First is the perfect introduction to music notation software. Whether you’re a student just starting out, or someone who is coming to music later in life, there is no better place to start than Sibelius First.

Create beautiful, captivating scores—for free

Sibelius | First* is a new streamlined version of Sibelius that makes it easy for beginners and hobbyists to create simple, professional-looking scores.




Join the Avid Sibelius User Group on Facebook

Share music, notation workflows, scoring ideas, and network with other community members — Join the Avid Sibelius User Group on Facebook.

 

JOIN THE AVID SIBELIUS USERS ON FACEBOOK

Express yourself with Sibelius

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




NotePerformer 3 for Sibelius

Today, Arne Wallander, of Wallander Instruments, releases NotePerformer 3. This new version includes several improvements and subtle tweaks to the already impressive playback and sample engine that can only be used to its full potential in Sibelius.

If you haven’t come across NotePerformer yet, you’re in for a treat. I was first introduced to the sounds from Wallander Instruments in the early days of the WIVI instruments. They were impressive little libraries that played tiny samples but used sample modulation to affect its playback. There was even a mini stage that you could drag the instruments around in to change the pan and reverb to suit the ensemble you’re writing for.

Fast forward to today and Noteperformer is a completely automated performance engine in the form of a single virtual instrument that intelligently reads the music and gives a unique performance every time.

Setting up NotePerformer couldn’t be easier in Sibelius:

 

  • Simply run the NotePerfomer installer
  • Run Sibelius and open your score
  • Choose the NotePerformer Playback Configuration
  • Hit Play

 

NotePerformer automatically triggers the correct samples for each instrument and playing articulation, allowing you to simply compose or orchestrate your music without any distractions. There’s hardly ever a need to touch the Mixer in Sibelius even, as NotePerformer will adjust the performance of each instrument based on the other instruments that are playing at the same time. From the NotePerfomer 3 documentation, Arne writes:

“In NotePerformer 3, all instruments pay attention to the other instruments, and perfectly synchronises their performance each other’s beat. Even between instruments that would normally be difficult to synchronise, such as brass and percussion. And by intelligently time-warping the performance of musical phrases, NotePerformer compensates for differences in sound between notes of different expression and articulation, like a well-rehearsed musician.

In summary, this produces a tightness of sound that you normally only hear in live music. With an ordinary sampled orchestra, stacking of sounds tend to sound muddy or diffuse, or with unwanted syncopation, because there’s no cross-correlation in performance between different instruments and articulations.”

New to NotePerformer 3 are a range of plug-ins for Sibelius to simplify the use of power features. Such as resetting the mixer volumes, pipe organ registration, vibrato amount or section-building. For full information, please see the online support guide for Sibelius on the NotePerformer website.

If you’re upgrading from NotePerformer 2 to 3, you’ll be very pleased with the results. Here’s a quick comparison I made earlier, where you can clearly hear the difference in balance and mix, giving a such clearer performance of the score:

If you are new to NotePerformer, we strongly recommend you check it out today. We’re announcing the availability to buy NotePerformer from the Avid.com Marketplace. Head over there now to add NotePerformer to your copy of Sibelius or Sibelius | Ultimate today.

NotePerformer for Sibelius

Perform your music with realistic human phrasing for all instruments

Express yourself with Sibelius

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