Recording Key Switches & CC Data into Sibelius

Q: How do I record Key Switches and Continuous Controller data into Sibelius?

I built a “Frankenstein”; using a fixedIP address I hooked a PC (slave) to a Mac which works very nicely. I use VEPro 5 server but mainly using EW Symphonic Orchestra Gold.

I saw a video on YouTube where the composer added staves to play those key switch notes and hid them, but it was not very clear. Can you explain what was done?

itzhak Yaron

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Sibelius Quick Tip : Quarter-tone playback

In the Sibelius Keypad, there are preset symbols for microtonal accidentals (6th keypad). There are separate symbols for “Quarter sharp”, “Quarter flat” as well “Three quarter sharp” and “Three quarter flat”. While keypad entry allows you to graphically display the accidentals, they do not play back automatically.

Microtonal playback for these accidentals can be created using MIDI pitch bend.


If you are using the microtonal accidentals to visually create your quarter-tone notation, the most straightforward solution is to use the shipping Sibelius plugin called “Quarter-tone playback” which completely automates the process of creating playback for microtonal accidentals. If you want playback for the microtonal accidentals in the Sibelius Keypad, that’s all you need.

To see the hidden Technique Text that contains the MIDI commands the plugin generates, check Hidden Objects in View.

For those interested in “how it works”, the visible microtonal accidentals in Sibelius are set for playback to what might be considered the “closest” chromatic interval by default:

  1. A chromatic or diatonic sharp and a three quarter-sharp sound as the same pitch until the plugin is applied.
  2. A natural and a quarter-sharp sound the same pitch until the plugin is applied.
  3. A chromatic or diatonic flat and a quarter-flat sound the same pitch until the plugin is applied.
  4. A double flat and a three quarer-flat sound the same pitch until the plugin is applied.

The plugin works by sharpening occurrences of any microtonal accidental by a quarter-tone via MIDI pitch bend to get the correct playback pitch, halfway between two chromatic tones.

After running the plugin, you’ll see the following string of Technique Text: ~B0,80 for any microtonal accidental and ~B0,64 for any diatonic or chromatic pitch.

Only one MIDI pitch bend command per instrument is possible at a time, so, for instance, different notes in a chord cannot be tuned differently from each other in the same staff.


Sometimes you might want quarter-tone pitch bend on a diatonic or chromatic note (e.g. a note without a microtonal accidental). An example might be to create a “blue note” in a jazz line. For this type of application, the plugin won’t work.

Using Technique Text (which only affects one specific staff / instrument), select the note or beat where you want the tuning change to occur. The syntax is tilde, B (for Bend) zero, comma, then the value.

Make sure to use the text string ~B0,64 to return the affected staff to normal tuning.

Basically, add or subtract 16 from the “centered” value of 64 for each additional quarter tone, sharp or flat:

  • ~B0,64 = normal tuning
  • ~B0,80 = quarter-tone sharp
  • ~B0,96 = half-step (semitone) sharp
  • ~B0,112 = three quarter-tone sharp


  • ~B0,64 = normal tuning
  • ~B0,48 = quarter-tone flat
  • ~B0,32 = half-step (semitone) flat
  • ~B0,16 = three quarter-tone flat


Note that while the tuning will be correct with the internal Sibelius sound sets, the actual tuning result depends on the value of pitch bend range on your sound source, so you may need to adjust the pitch bend range on third party sound sets or devices.

related: West meets East – Notation & playback of Quarter tone music using Sibelius

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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NotePerformer: No-Hassle, Inexpensive Orchestral Playback for Sibelius

You may already be familiar with Wallander Instruments Virtual Instruments (WIVI), which are known for their very expressive sound modeling capabilities. Wallander Instruments has just released NotePerformer – no-hassle, realistic orchestral playback specifically designed for Sibelius 7 and Sibelius 6 at an affordable price point (retail is $129.00)

NotePerformer includes an extensive collection of virtual instruments – section strings and solo strings, a comprehensive range of marching band and orchestral woodwind and brass instruments, pitched and unpitched percussion, saxophones, piano, harpsichord and, well, you get the idea.

When working in Sibelius, NotePerformer works just like the built-in sounds. Instruments are assigned automatically from your score, and you control them from the Sibelius mixer. The setup simplicity of the sample library is one of it’s biggest selling points. There is really nothing new to learn – everything is done within Sibelius. The collection uses your existing House Styles, Dictionary and Instrument Definitions, and you can switch between the built-in sounds and NotePerformer with one-click in Playback Devices.

Finally, NotePerformer has a very low CPU footprint. All instruments in the library use either synthesis technology or samples powered by Wallander’s patented technology for changing the timbral brightness in real-time, or a combination of the two. Large or complex scores should always play back correctly, even if your computer isn’t the latest and greatest.

Listen to the NotePerformer demos on SoundCloud, and visit the NotePerformer and Wallander websites for more information.




SibeliusBlog posted a detailed review of NotePerformer which even includes some demos reviewer Philip Rothman created using the collection.

Convert MIDI CC64 on / off messages to Pedal markings in Finale & Sibelius

Q: Is there a plug-in/tool that will convert MIDI CC64 on/off messages to Pedal on/off markings, respectively, in Finale? It almost seems like a no-brainer… I know it could potentially introduce positioning issues, but I think positioning could be quantized to hit the right beat… at the very least, once they’re in Finale, it’s much easier to move them around. Just wondering if you know of anything that will help.

A: Yes! As it happens, there are plugins available for both Finale and Sibelius that perform this task.


Jari Williamssohn has written just such a plugin for Finale, called JW Pedal. The plugin adds pedal up/down markings as articulations wherever CC64 MIDI controller events are found.

One current limitation is that you must have the down and up definitions of the pedal markings (as Maestro) in the articulation list before you start – otherwise nothing will show up. But definitely a time saver.

Tip: In a new Document Without Libraries, you can create these 2 articulation characters and export / save them as a library for quick import into future documents rather than having to recreate them each time.

Download the FREE JW Pedal plugin (and other useful plugins) here: Mac | Windows


Bob Zawalich has authored the useful (and free) Pedal Lines plugin for Sibelius, which converts CC64 MIDI controller events to Sibelius pedal lines.

Download the FREE Pedal Lines plugin for Mac | Windows here.


for Rolando Gori

West meets East – Notation & playback of Quarter tone music using Sibelius

As a composer and teacher, I often have the chance to explore areas of music and musical notation with which I am unfamiliar. A few years ago one of my students expressed an interest in composing “outside” the traditional Western idea of the equal tempered 12-tone scale. We decided to start our exploration with the concept of quarter tones. As so often is the case, the resulting study benefitted me as much as my student. Along the way, I was delighted to find my notation software was up to the challenge of creating and playing our various compositional attempts.

A very brief history of quarter tone music

The simplest way to describe a quarter tone is a pitch falls halfway between what we think of as a half step (semitone) in the traditional western chromatic scale. A quarter tone scale contains twice as many notes (24) as its 12 note chromatic cousin. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the origins of quarter tone music:

Known as gadwal in Arabic, the quarter tone scale was developed in the Middle East in the eighteenth century and many of the first detailed writings in the nineteenth century Syria describe the scale as being of 24 equal tones. The invention of the scale is attributed to Mikhail Mishaqa whose work Essay on the Art of Music for the Emir Shihāb (al-Risāla al-shihābiyya fi ‘l-ṣinā ‘a al-mūsīqiyya) is devoted to the topic but also makes clear his teacher Sheikh Muhammad al-‘Attār’ (1764-1828) was one of many already familiar with the concept.

The quarter tone scale may be primarily considered a theoretical construct in Arabic music. The quarter tone gives musicians a “conceptual map” with which to discuss and compare intervals by number of quarter tones and this may be one of the reasons it accompanies a renewed interest in theory, with instruction in music theory being a mainstream requirement since that period.

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