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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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Create a Tuplet of Any Ratio in Sibelius

Q: How can I get Sibelius to create 16th septuplets in a bar of  6/8 without the duration dots?


A: It’s a great question. By default, if you select a 16th note or rest on the downbeat in 6/8 time and create a default septuplet (CNTRL-7 Windows or CMND-7 Mac), you end up with an extra 8th rest:


This is because Sibelius is interpreting the default septuplet request as 7 sixteenths in the space of 4 sixteenths (2 eighths). However, for the above case, it should actually be 7 sixteenths in the space of 6 sixteenths.

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Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius

Q: Is it possible to make title text appear more “expanded” (as I might do in a Word doc?) My client has a specific font request, but his letter spacing looks wider than the same font on my computer, which is more “tight”:

A: This difference is due to letter-spacing, referred to as “Tracking” in typography. Tracking refers to a consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect density in a line or block of text.

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An afternoon with the students of the Pacific NW Film Scoring Program

A few days ago, I was asked to visit the students of Seattle’s Pacific NW Film Scoring Program to speak about my role as music copyist, orchestrator and music librarian for feature films and video games.

The students asked some great questions, so I thought I would post a few of them along with my answers here.

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Is There A Way to Create A Single Thick Barline in Sibelius?

Q: I would like to use a special bar line that looks just like a double bar filled in completely black to notate the ends of phrases.

I found a way to edit Symbols to do this, but the placement is messy and doesn’t snap in place as the regular bar lines do. Is there a way to edit bar line appearances
so they will still snap in place like regular bar lines?

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Understanding & Controlling Staff Height (Size) in Finale

I thought it might be good to devote some time to reviewing Finale’s Staff Height (Size) controls, since this seems to be a misunderstood area of the program.

There is a reason for the seemingly unrelated numerical values which have remained in Finale’s Page Format Dialog > System Scaling since very early versions. A bit of an historical perspective may be a good place to start.

Prior to the era of computer note-setting, plate engravers (music engravers) used a system of universally accepted staff sizes. There were 8 standard staff sizes, of which 5 were in common use:

from "The Art of Music & Engraving" by Ted Ross

from “The Art of Music & Engraving” by Ted Ross

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Finale : Vertical Placement of Bar Numbers, part 2

Q: When preparing a musical theater orchestration, one of the “parts” I want to extract is actually a Piano/Vocal score, which has the piano staff and all the vocal staves. Copying standards in the musical theater world generally call for bar numbers to be on the top staff for these Piano/Vocal scores, but on the bottom of the staff for orchestra parts. Any thoughts on how you’d approach that particular conundrum in Finale?

A: In Sibelius, because Bar Numbers are individual Text Styles, this is easily achieved by simply making a copy of the Bar Numbers for Parts Text Style and then assigning it a different vertical location than the original (see Bar Number Flexibility for Score & Parts in Finale & Sibelius), where Finale’s design only offers one global position for all parts.

You are absolutely right – for master piano / conductor parts for musical theater, the bar numbers are frequently located above the staff; a different location from the other single line and braced grand staff parts, where the bar numbers are typically below.

Here is an example from the musical “Rent”:


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House Style : Show A “1” Above Single Bar Rests in Finale & Sibelius

In some published works, you may have seen single bar rests with a number “1” above them:


This house style choice can also provide a nice touch for jazz and big band charts which favor more of a “hand written” look:


This house style choice is very easy to set this up in both Finale and Sibelius.

In Sibelius, go to (Appearance) House Style > Engraving Rules> Bar Rests and select “Show ‘1’ above bar rests”:


…and done.

In Finale, go to Document Options > Multimeasure Rests, and set the “Start Number At:” to 1 Measures. Then, check “Use Symbols for Rests Less Than”:


For modern charts, you will probably want 2 or more bar multi rests to display as an H-Bar rather than the old style rest symbols, which is the reason to set the value in Finale’s Symbols field to less than “2”; e.g. to only apply to one bar rests. Now, you can globally apply multi measure rests to the part or score and the number 1 will appear above all single bar rests.

That’s all there is to it.


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