Find Plugins & Information about Finale and Sibelius QUICKLY

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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Create Parenthesized or Bracketed Hairpins in Finale

Finale has a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating Custom Smart Shapes. You can create a line shape of any thickness, make it solid, dotted, dashed or even invisible, control its start and end locations and add hooks, arrows or text to either end of the line and / or to the center.

Hairpin crescendo and decrescendo are sometimes bracketed (parenthesized) by publishers to show that they were added later by the editor – e.g. not in the original composer’s manuscript:


These types of brackets can also be used for other reasons; for instance to show that the marking is optional or implied.

In Finale, crescendo and decrescendo smart shapes have controls for line thickness and opening width, found in Smart Shapes > Smart Shape Options, but unlike the shapes available in the Smart Line Selection dialog, there is no obvious way to add a parenthesis to the start and end of these defined hairpin Smart Shapes.

So, how would we create this type of Smart Shape in Finale?

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Sibelius Rhythmic & Slash Notation tweaks

Q: IMO, Sibelius’ slash noteheads (type 4, ‘beat with stem’) are too long (2 spaces high vs.1 space in Finale’s), and too thick, making rhythms difficult to read. Hard to believe that Sibelius lacks something as simple as a short slash notehead. Do these smaller noteheads exist in Sibelius, or is there a way to create them? And if so, how?

A: Excellent question. Slashes and Rhythmic Notation are commonly used for comping guitar, bass and drums in jazz charts.

  • Stemless slashes are frequently used to indicate improvised chording or comping where no specificity is required. These slashes simply indicate “time” in the current meter (In 4/4 time, 4 slashes in a measure, for example).
  • Rhythmic Notation is used to indicate a specific rhythmic figure. Regular pitches are replaced with slash note heads attached to note stems in the center of the staff

There are several ways you can change the look of the default slash and rhythmic notation in Sibelius. Let’s take a look:

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Sibelius MIDI File Import / Export (Braced Grand Staff)

Q: I am trying to convert my piano vocal score to an original musical from Logic Pro 9.1 to Sibelius 7.5. Having a monstrously diffucult time exporting and importing as MIDI files. Would you be able to help with this?

A: I’m not a Logic user, so I wouldn’t be able to help with that side, but hopefully I can offer some help on the Sibelius side. (These are very general tips which can work with Finale or any notation program)

As I’m sure you are aware from your experience, accurate transcription of piano music is a difficult assignment for notation programs such as Sibelius or Finale because of the general complexity of the music, multiple voices / layers, and other factors.  In addition to the usual requirement for your recorded performance to be metronomic with the click, with piano music, you need to take into account inside and outside voices for each hand which aren’t necessarily homophonic.

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If 6 was 9 : Measured Tremolo & Tuplet Rhythms in Sibelius

Measured tremolo is a specific repetition of notes per beat measured exactly in a given tempo. It’s a type of notation shorthand which takes up less space than writing all the notes out, commonly found in published classical works.

It’s common practice to write out the full notation of the first beat or bar of a measured tremolo passage to avoid confusion:


In her book “Behind Bars”, Elaine Gould also recommends adding the label “non trem.” to the first note value of the abbreviation.

You can apply these in either duple or triple meter, with the added benefit that Sibelius plays these back as if they were written out in long form, (which will help you to check your work).

One case where the “how to” is not quite as obvious, however, are tuplets that are represented by measured tremolo. For instance, in 2/4 time, how would you create:


Let’s take a look…

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Controlling Grouped Magnetic Layout in Sibelius

Q: I’m trying to move bar numbers on a score in Sib 7 (mac) independently. I’ve got them centered on every measure below the last staff (bass)and below the winds so they show up sort of in the middle of the score as well.

I’ve assigned them a distance that works for the most part, but there are a few that need to be wiggled to avoid collisions. When I move them on one staff, they of course move on the other thus causing a collision on that staff. Is there a way to assign a row differently on a score so they can be controlled independently?

A: In addition to being able keep individual objects from colliding with each other, the Magnetic Layout of Sibelius has the ability to group, or “lock” similar types of objects together, so that they avoid collisions as a group.

Generally, when preparing music, it is desirable to keep similar types of text, such as Tempo Marks, Rehearsal Marks or Bar Numbers in the same vertical and horizontal location relative to the staff for every occurrence wherever possible. In addition, lines such as piano pedal lines are typically grouped along a common baseline, as are dynamics or chord symbols, if the music is inside the staff without ledger lines. Placing these objects at a consistent location relative to the staff or note allows the musicians and the conductor to focus on reading the music without distraction.

The Magnetic Layout Feature of Sibelius automatically groups a number of similar Text and  Line objects together:


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Sibelius Mass Edit Filtering – Change Triplets into Sextuplets

I frequently receive scores where tuplets are subdivided more than necessary for the time signature, like this passage in 2/4 time:


It would be great if there was a way to convert the full bars of triplets into sextuplets. There is a plugin in Sibelius called “Split or Join Tuplets” but this plugin is designed to split or join a single tuplet, not a whole passage of them.

However, I recently learned a cool edit filtering trick from Sibelius power user Wim Hoogewerf that allows you to convert an extended passage of triplets to sextuplets. I thought I would share it with you. Check this out:

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Scoring software and sample libraries; a survey

If you are composing, arranging or orchestrating in Finale or Sibelius and have ever tried to incorporate any of the available high end third party sample libraries with the goal of achieving realistic, expressive playback from your notation program, you might be interested in a recent survey posted by Steinberg titled “Scoring software and sample libraries“.

The survey is here:

As you may already be aware, Steinberg is currently developing a professional level scoring program.

There are already several professional level scoring (music notation) programs available. Some, like Finale and Sibelius offer decent playback using bundled sound sets, but while playback quality is adequate, it is nowhere close to the level of realism offered by sample libraries from VSL, EastWest, Project SAM, Wallander, Cinesamples, and others when triggered via a DAW.

Finale and Sibelius both allow the user to control (and save for later recall) parameters to control Instrument Techniques (in sample library parlance “Articulations”), Dynamics and Special Effects optimally configured for playback of a specific sample library. Finale calls these parameters Human Playback Preferences, while Sibelius calls them Sound Sets.

However, many composers, arrangers and orchestrators working in Finale or Sibelius have simply given up trying to achieve realistic playback from within their scoring program. The result is that their primary use of playback from the scoring software becomes checking for wrong notes and other mistakes.

For those professionals who need to produce high quality audio mockups for clients, the most intuitive and least labor intensive option remains a DAW sequencer (Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase etc), which offers much greater flexibility and ease of use to get realistic playback results.

Sibelius users should check out The Sound Set Project, which provides Sound Sets for a number of 3rd party sample libraries designed to facilitate realistic playback from Sibelius. If you are aware of any other resources of this type for either Sibelius or Finale, please share them in the comments. 

I encourage you to take the survey, even if you plan to continue to work in Finale and / or Sibelius in the future. In a small niche market like notation software, competition raises the bar – if Steinberg develops a scoring program with amazing playback of third party sample libraries, there is a greater chance that playback will improve in your scoring program of choice, too.

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