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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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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Important Security Notice from MakeMusic

MakeMusic has issued a security notice for all registered customers of SmartMusic, Finale or Garritan products. On April 23rd, an attempted intrusion to MakeMusic’s computer systems was detected.

At this time, there is no indication of unauthorized acquisition of computerized data that would compromise the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information maintained by MakeMusic.

However, as a precaution, MakeMusic is encouraging all of their customers to change their current password to a new secure, strong password for all MakeMusic related products and accounts.

MakeMusic is in the process of hiring a third party computer security firm to review their  systems to prevent future compromises of online security, and has pledged to communicate with their customers when additional information becomes available.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact MakeMusic’s Customer Support team.

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A Finale Tip When Working With Older Files

I recently received this helpful tip from Beth Varela, MakeMusic’s Digital Marketing Manager I thought was worth sharing:

“When I need to open files originally created in a much earlier version, I sometimes run into weird behaviors (usually only when I’m going really far back like revisiting a Finale 2005 score). I open the old file, export as MusicXML, then re-import the MusicXML file (before doing any other work). Finale will think that the file was created in the newer version.

For my purposes, I find this trick works well, and I used it all the time when I worked in the customer support department solving odd support cases.”


Finale TGTools 2.71 for Windows released

2/22/14 – Plugin Author Tobias Geisen today announced the release of version 2.71 of TGTools full / pro version for Windows.

The update is FREE and is recommended for all versions of Finale from 2010 thru 2014.

Concurrently, TGTools 2.71 for Mac has been released, which fixes the menu on German Finale versions and fixing smart shapes which could not be recognized in 2.70.

Like the Windows version, the Mac version is compatible with versions of Finale from 2010 thru 2014.

As a nice aside, Mac users may also note some cosmetic improvements in version 2.71.






TGTools for Mac now compatible with Finale 2014

If you are a Mac user with the full (pro) version of TGTools who recently upgraded to Finale 2014; there is now a Finale 2014 compatible version of TGTools for the Mac OS (2.70).

An update for Windows users is expected soon. While version 2.61 of TGTools for Windows is compatible with Finale 2014, manual installation of the plugin is required. (The Mac OS version was non-functional, so the Mac updater was released first.)

Tobias Geisen quietly announced the update in a recent thread on the Finale forum:

“TGTools for Finale 2014 on Mac are now available on my web site as well as via the easy installation from the about menu of one of the bundled TGTools plug-ins.

A paid upgrade may come a bit later with a more dedicated adaptation.

I am open to suggestions for further improvements (by email), and also whether further development should be for Finale 2014 only or also include Finale 2012.”

tobias at

If you plan to continue to work in Finale 2012 as well as Finale 2014 (one reason might be the version of the operating system you use), note that Tobias is asking for people to weigh in on whether he should make future versions of the plugin compatible with Finale 2012, or only with Finale 2014. So, if you would want the option of using new plugin improvements which also could be used in Finale 2012, you may wish to email Tobias and let him know. Now’s the time.


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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