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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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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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MOTU announces MusicXML support in upcoming DP9 version upgrade

At Winter NAMM 2015, MOTU demonstrated MusicXML export capabilities in their demo of the upcoming version 9 release of Digital Performer. DP is MOTU’s flagship DAW application for Mac and Windows, popular with many composers for film, television and other media.

DP9 will allow users to export a sequence’s MIDI data as an industry-standard MusicXML file, for import into music notation software such as Finale or Sibelius.

MusicXML export should provide a big workflow improvement for DP-based composers and orchestrators who currently must use Standard MIDI files to exchange data with their notation software of choice. This existing method often requires creating a duplicate copy of the sequence MIDI tracks and applying hard quantization before exporting, so that the notation application will interpret the exported MIDI data in a musically useful way.

DP9’s Music XML export appears to build upon the already solid Quickscribe notation features included in DP. The exported MusicXML file will included the non-destructive quantization applied by the Quickscribe transcription engine, as well as any dynamics or other markings added in the Quickscribe editor window.

DP9 is just the latest of several major DAWs to support MusicXML. Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo both feature import and export of MusicXML, while Apple LogicPro X, Cakewalk SONAR and MAGIX Sequoia offer export-only support for the standard. Users of Avid Pro Tools can open and save Sibelius files, but not MusicXML.

You can view MOTU’s DP9 preview presentation at Winter NAMM in the following video (notation-related content starts around 6:35):

MOTU Product Specialist Dave Roberts, seen in the video above, says “we are projecting late Spring for the DP9 release”. Check back here after DP9 ships for a thorough review of its MusicXML feature.

Brian Monroney is a guitarist, composer and arranger based in Seattle. He has recorded  and/or toured with artists including Tom Jones, Gloria Estefan, Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole, and Nelson Rangell. Brian’s music has been heard on TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Ellen, TMZ and Modern Marvels.

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