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Have you noticed that a typical internet search doesn’t always produce relevant results for music notation? For instance, if you do a Yahoo, Bing or Google search for  “articulation”, you’ll get dozens of results, with none of them related to Finale or Sibelius, and only a handful related to music . . .

‘NET SEARCH (see sidebar) is a useful resource that can help.

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Sibelius score playback (notes switching off)

Seattle composer Bill Panks posted this question about missing notes during Sibelius score playback on the Seattle Composer’s Alliance Discussion email list, which I thought I would share here:

Hi All!

When playing back scores in Sibelius 7.5, I frequently have notes cut off suddenly throughout a score. This is especially a problem with larger scores (30+ instruments).

My guess has been that given the number of midi channels available, multiple instruments are placed on each channel, and instruments on the same channel occasionally play the same note – and the note-off signal from one instrument is cutting off both/all of those unison notes. (For example, a harp arpeggio might cut off a sustained choral note on the same channel).

My question is whether there is a quick work around for this, or do people generally custom-route their instruments to channels in a way that avoids conflicting notes (i.e., pair bass instruments with treble – but then might you encounter key-switch conflicts when you export to a DAW for mockup? – so perhaps pair instruments that share similar rhythms and would therefore have similar note-off times if they do happen to cross)? (To date, I’ve been using the channels that Sibelius automatically assigns to each instrument – maybe that’s my mistake).

Or, do others not experience this? Is there something else happening that’s causing the notes to cut off?

I appreciate any thoughts or feedback.

Thank you,
Bill Panks

Hi Bill,

Regardless of whether you are using the Sibelius 7 Sounds, Sibelius 7 sounds (light) or Sibelius 6 sounds, only one iteration of the Sibelius Player can be included as a sound set. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, since the Sibelius Player supports up to 128 channels. Check Preferences > Playback > Sibelius Player Options to make sure this hasn’t been inadvertently changed to a lower value:


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Score Layout : Vertical Spacing of Staves

I received this email on the topic of the ideal vertical spacing between staves in scores and staff visibility from my friend and colleague John Hinchey, and thought I would share our exchange. John is a sought-after arranger and trombonist in Nashville who is currently on tour with Martina McBride, and also authors the Notes on Notes blog.

Hey Robert,

Here is a score formatting question.  If I have an orchestra score with staves hidden when instruments are not playing, does one set the staves to justify across the entire page or leave them towards the top with extra blank space at the bottom?


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Breaking Bad : Multi-Rests in Sibelius, part 5

I received this email on the topic of multi-rests being split incorrectly by text from UK musician and composer Kit Marsden, and thought I would share our exchange.


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Sibelius Tip: Reason #4 Multi Measure Rests Break Incorrectly in Parts

Q: I know you’ve seen this one before! Multi Rests are breaking incorrectly in the parts. Normally, the solution to this problem is to delete the bar line to restore proper multi rest break points, but it is not working in this case…

Measure 4 will not join the multi rests in the parts. Attached is the SIB file. Thanks for your time!

A: In this case, the rests in the parts break incorrectly at bar 4 because you (perhaps inadvertently) manually changed the bar number for that bar. It’s a hard one to spot in this case because bar 4 is still bar 4.

Note that in a standard case, where the starting bar number of a section was changed to be different than sequential, this break in multirests is desirable; allowing you to clearly identify a cut or insert. Normally, a double or thick bar line might also be used to accentuate this transition, which coincidentally, also breaks the multirest.

Note that when I do a system selection, Sibelius highlights the bars that have been manually changed in purple, allowing me to see the point where the manual bar number was added:



In the score, select the offending bar number, then press delete to clear the manual renumbering. That will clear the manual bar number and allow the multirests to display correctly.

That’s all there is to it.

see also: Controlling Layout with Auto & Manual Breaks in Sibelius


for Bobby Brader

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Where is the Clavichord Sound in Sibelius?

Q: How do I get the Clavichord Sound to play back in Sibelius 7.5? I switch from the Piano to Clavichord Instrument in the middle of my score, but the sound stays on Piano.

(The amplified version of the Clavichord is called the Clavinet or Electric Clavichord).

A: It would appear that Avid / Sibelius has never assigned the Clavichord instrument to playback, at least since Sibelius 6. The good news is that it’s easy to assign an appropriate sound to this instrument:

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Attaching Phrase Marks (Slurs) Properly to Voices in Sibelius

Q: In Sibelius, when I put slurs in on voice 1 on a divisi part (e.g. Clarinet 1 and 2), the slur appears like normal. However, if I grab a passage of voice 2 its a hassle – the slur doesn’t connect properly, and I have to drag it out… Am I missing something?

A: Sometimes, in order to get phrase marks to line up appropriately with notes in voice 2, you’ll need to convert the lower phrase destination note to voice 2 in the next bar, or wherever the phrase mark ends. Select the appropriate destination note and type Option 2 (Alt 2 on Windows):


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Some thoughts on Default Lines and Symbols in Sibelius

Since early versions of Sibelius, there have been Default Symbols and Lines. In the case of both Symbols and Lines, some of these are hard wired to specific functions in the program, and in the case of Lines in particular, these attributes are inherited by any “New” version you might create of that Default line.

For instance, the Default 8va line has an effect on playback. If you make a copy of this line by selecting it and clicking the “New” button, the New copy will inherit the same playback attributes. In the same way, if you change the visible attributes of the default 8va line, say, to different preceding text or change the line thickness, it will still maintain those playback characteristics.

But the ability to edit the defaults directly has some ramifications.

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