Make a New Instrument or Text Style Available to All Your Scores in Sibelius

In Sibelius, new text styles, line styles, symbols, noteheads, and instruments are available only in the score in which they are first defined. This gives you the flexibility to make custom definitions without affecting existing scores.

You may, however, want to have a new style or instrument appear in another score, or even in all your new scores. Sibelius allows you to export a house style from the score containing the definitions you wish to share, and then import that house style into other scores. Those scores will now contain the new definitions.

You can also import a house style into manuscript paper files, which are used as templates for new scores, and any scores you create that use those manuscript papers will inherit the definitions from the house style.

This article explains how to import a house style into one or more manuscript paper files.

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Cue The Maelstrom

This is the story of a rescue operation undertaken by people who don’t commonly find opportunities for heroism in their professional lines of work. Nevertheless in this case, their joint actions saved money and reputations and kept a large project from unraveling after years of work. 

Cue 1 : Prelude — Adagio

Licensed video games, by definition, start off with a cache of existing material: the groundwork for plot and character already laid, the tone and style somewhat pre-determined. If the video game is based on a feature film, there may also be pre-existing music from the movie score. Comparing the full listing of cast and crew for a film and a related video game on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) might awaken in the uninitiated the idea that the video game is a comparatively simple enterprise.

But that is not the reality. A licensed video game can take much longer than a film to develop—as long as 3–5 years, have a great deal more music—as much as 4–5 hours, and may be less derivative than the typical description implies. It may adapt the characters and spirit of a movie and leap off from there, acquiring extra characters, extended plotlines, and new music as the game logistics are worked out. Or the game may be slated for completely new music from the start.

Sound is added after the corresponding game levels are complete, meaning composition can start about halfway through the cycle. And no matter how limited the number of new cues, if the music is orchestral, the coordination of a large number of people will be necessary to get those cues recorded.

The creation of a score with an orchestra is a process that has operational planning demands similar to those of any large-scale, extremely intricate, synchronized operation: a university graduation, the staging of a Broadway show, a plan to shut down the opponent’s defense in a pro football playoff game. Specifically, it requires meticulously prepared instructions in the form of a musical score that gives the conductor a detailed overview and tells each performer exactly which pitches to play for how long at what tempo and dynamic and with what technique and feeling for each split second of time. It also requires that this score be meticulously performed by dozens of people and captured by sound engineers in the shortest amount of time possible to avoid astronomical costs. The professional musicians who perform the score are expected to simultaneously provide an exacting rendition of what they see on the printed pages of music they have received only moments beforehand, as well as provide an often highly emotional and dramatic reflection of the video game’s plot, expressing markedly different moods and tones as they move from cue to cue.

What follows is the story of one video game score that almost didn’t get recorded and how it was saved in the end by the dedication and professionalism of people you may not typically think of as heroes: it was saved by music industry professionals.

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Engraving for a Publisher

Q: So, what is a music engraver?

A: What sets us apart from average Finale or Sibelius users is an extreme eye for detail and a head full of notation rules, conventions, and study. An engraver will keenly assess and finesse every slur, articulation, spacing, page turn. Engravers are the difference between the notation program’s default template look and the look and feel of quality published music.

In my years engraving for publishers, I’ve worked on everything from a massive multi-volume band and string method series to jazz bands, complex percussion books, the Suzuki Method, hymnals, school band/orchestra, and handbell music. Each genre and publisher brings its own set of styles and techniques. Even within the same publisher, house styles can vary between product lines so awareness of these details is a huge part of the job. I keep style books for every product line and publisher I work with.

Two brief examples of program default vs. engraved (Finale):



Default slurs crash into staff lines, the leftmost slur will be bleed almost completely into the staff line once it’s printed, and the second two slurs give the player no useful information on where the melody is going next.


Engraved slurs’ tips and arcs clear staff lines and their direction follows the direction of the music. I prefer substantial slurs so these have been customized significantly. Finale’s default settings produce wispy curves that tend to easily get lost in the staff lines.

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L.V. Symbols in Sibelius (Laissez vibrer) – Several Solutions

Laissez vibrer [Fr.] allow to sound, do not damp.


from Ned Rorem’s Flute Trio

Laissez vibrer, or L.V. indications such as the one pictured above, are common notation practice. Instead of writing out a series of notes or chords together for what might be a long duration, the player is simply instructed, via a tie and the abbreviated ‘l.v.’ text, to let the note(s) ring out for as long as they would sound.

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How to create an AMBITUS in Sibelius 7 (part 1)

An Ambitus (sometimes anglicized to ambit) is mostly found in vocal and some instrumental scores from the Medieval/Renaissance period and it is a notational representation placed just before the clef in the modern multiple-staves system, indicating the note range for a given voice or the pitch range that a musical instrument is capable of playing (See score extract below).

Ambitus 01-1

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