On Location : Finale & Sibelius Rehearsal Marks

“From the top ?” . . .

Image source : “The Art of Music Engraving and Processing” by Ted Ross


“Thanks for the great rehearsal marks!” isn’t the type of compliment you’ll hear from musicians at a rehearsal. But even if they don’t always tell you, musicians really appreciate it when you make their job easier by providing clear location info in their parts.

Location info helps the musicians stay in sync. Entrance cues in parts are a good example. Different barline types help to define sections. Multi-measure rests that break logically with phrases can be a location aid. Bar numbers are particularly helpful when navigating linear scores. Key changes or tempo changes can also provide location info.


REHEARSAL MARKS


Rehearsal Marks allow the members of a band or orchestra of any size to quickly navigate to a specific point in the score together, in order to master more difficult passages in rehearsal.  (It’s also easier for the conductor or bandleader to say “Take it from Letter M” than “Take it from bar 167”). Even after the piece has been mastered, Rehearsal Marks continue to provide location signposts for the players, helping them to stay oriented during performances or additional rehearsals.

Finale and Sibelius allow you to easily change the appearance of Rehearsal Marks to make them stand out in your score and parts.

Font, size and attributes can all be customized.

Both programs dynamically update rehearsal marks if you insert, move or delete them, automating the sequence of Rehearsal Marks correctly regardless of the order in which you enter them.

You can restart the Rehearsal Mark sequence at any point in the score. In Finale, choose Edit Rehearsal Mark Sequence from the Expressions menu. In Sibelius 7, choose the drop down menu for Rehearsal Mark in the Text Tab. In Sibelius 6, choose Rehearsal Mark from the Create Menu.

In both Finale and Sibelius, you can choose whether Rehearsal Marks are displayed as Rehearsal Letters, Rehearsal Numbers, or Bar Numbers.

Rehearsal marks are assigned to key shortcuts, which can be customized. Default shortcuts are “M” in Finale or “CNTRL-R” (windows) or “CMND-R” (mac) in Sibelius.

Both programs allow to you insert a non-sequential rehearsal mark if needed, and to hide measure numbers at the locations of the Rehearsal Marks.


LINE SHAPE ENCLOSURES


In most contemporary music, Rehearsal Marks appear inside an enclosure. When you create a rehearsal mark in either Finale and Sibelius, it will be automatically surrounded by a boxed border.  Both programs use a line shape to create these enclosures. You can modify this border to be either a circle or box (rectangle) enclosure.

Finale provides a number of additional esoteric line enclosure shapes such as Diamond, Hexagon and Octagon.

You can specify the height and width of the enclosure in both programs, as well as the “centering” or x,y placement of the actual text within the border (useful if the font has a peculiar offset, for instance).

Both programs also allow you to change the thickness of the line shape.

Finale : To change the size of the enclosure, click the Edit… button next to the Enclosure Shape popup in the Expression Designer. The Enclosure Designer dialog will open. The size of the enclosure can be adjusted here. Note that the enclosure can either be a fixed size or a minimum size relative to the text.

While in the Enclosure Designer, you can also adjust the Line Thickness.

Sibelius : Border size is controlled within each Text Style. Locate the Rehearsal Marks Text Style to Edit it, then navigate to the Border tab. In Sibelius 7, locate the “Size” parameters. In Sibelius 6, look for “Position” (percentage of height). In Sibelius 7, there is also an option for creating a fixed size border.

Text borders are global in Sibelius. To change their width, locate “Text Borders” in the Text page of Engraving Rules.

Both programs allow you to create an opaque background for Rehearsal Marks (useful if they appear between instrument choirs in a score, where it would intersect a barline, for instance). While in the dialogs above, check “Erase Background” in Sibelius, or “Opaque” in Finale.

Sibelius 7 allows you to specify a custom background fill color for the border shape.


USING SPECIALTY FONTS FOR REHEARSAL MARKS


If you’ve ever looked closely at a professionally copied hand written score, you probably noticed that the Rehearsal Marks in these charts aren’t enclosed by a simple square or a circle, but by an enclosure shape that stands out a bit more. Finale and Sibelius allow you to create more eye-catching rehearsal marks for your score using specialty fonts designed for this purpose:

The process is basically the same for both programs. You choose how you want the Rehearsal Marks to display (letters, numbers or bar numbers), and then specify a static prefix and suffix character that always displays before and after the automated number or letter.

The examples above show a few currently available choices. The Broadway Copyist Text and Jazz Text ship with Finale. Reprise Rehearsal is included with Sibelius. The Rehearsal Font (since relabeled “FPRehearsal” and “FPRehearsalSans”) are 3rd party fonts originally created by Bill Duncan, currently sold as part of the “Finale Productivity Set“.

Since these fonts all work in a (somewhat) similar way, you can use rehearsal fonts you have access to in either program. This exploded view shows the fixed prefix and suffix (open and closed bracket) characters for the FPRehearsalSans font. Note that the all of the characters in this font have a top and bottom border:

Here are some other alternative Rehearsal Mark fonts for you to check out:

The fonts by Jari Williamsson are unique in that they allow you to specify very different starting and ending bracket shapes, which can be used to good effect:

Long time users of FInale may recall that the Jazz Text font includes fixed boxed rehearsal letters, (e.g. individual A, B, C, etc. in enclosures.) However, since Finale 2010, you no longer need these – instead, use auto-sequencing Rehearsal Marks along with fixed prefix and suffix brackets, much like creating boxed text instructions using Jazz Text. They’ll look just like the old school static Rehearsal Marks, with the advantage that they auto-update.


LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION


Let’s take a look at how to create this type of Rehearsal Mark in both programs.

In Finale, select the Expression tool and then double click at the first Rehearsal Mark location or type Shift M. Go to the Rehearsal Marks category, and Edit the Style of Rehearsal Mark you would like. Set your font to either Jazz Text or Broadway Copyist Text etc, and set the Enclosure Shape to None. (Note that you can have the Jazz Text font for Rehearsal Marks when using the Broadway Copyist font for your music and visa versa).

Now, add the appropriate bracket characters for the start and end. Note that these are slightly different for these two handwritten fonts.

FINALE JAZZ TEXT

Open Bracket = the “~” (tilde) character (short open bracket)
Closed Bracket = the “]” character (closing bracket)

Tip : If you are using Measure Number style Rehearsal Marks and are working in a very long piece using Jazz Text, enter the RM for your first 99 bars using the above prefix and suffix characters, then make a duplicate of this Rehearsal Mark text. In your new Rehearsal Mark Expression, replace the prefix “~” tilde character with the “[” open bracket character.  Enter the remaining Rehearsal Marks using this second expression (you can change the shortcut temporarily). The longer opening bracket created with the “[” prefix will allow you to enter enclosed bar numbers up to 999 without seeing a “split” in the center of the enclosure.

FINALE BROADWAY COPYIST TEXT

The procedure is almost identical for Broadway Copyist Text Rehearsal Marks. Here, you can use the regular open bracket and closed bracket as the fixed start and end. If you are using Rehearsal Letters and you don’t have any Rehearsal Marks after “Z”, Broadway Copyist Text also has a single character enclosure shape that you can use as an alternate. Insert the “~” tilde character *before* the auto-sequence letters, but don’t put a fixed character after it:

Tip : while in the Expression Designer, if you can’t remember the keystroke for the start or end of the bracket, no problem. Put the cursor at the start or end of the auto-sequence text, then Chose Inserts > Symbol from the Main Text Menu.  This will also allow you to chose something less standard if you so choose (assuming the font provides alternatives):

SIBELIUS REPRISE REHEARSAL

In Sibelius 7, open Rehearsal Marks in the Text Tab. Choose the appearance (letters, numbers, bar numbers etc). Now, in the entry fields which say Prefix and Suffix, type an open and closed bracket respectively. Click the Edit Text Style… button and select the Reprise Rehearsal Std font from the popup menu (Reprise Rehearsal is an older version of the same font). Locate the Border tab, and uncheck any checked Border shapes in this pane. OK the dialogs and you are ready to go.

In Sibelius 6, go to House Style > Engraving Rules > Rehearsal Marks. Choose the appearance (letters, numbers, bar numbers etc). Now, in the entry fields which say Prefix and Suffix, type an open and closed bracket respectively. Click the Edit Text Style… button and select the Reprise Rehearsal Std font from the popup menu (Reprise Rehearsal is an older version of the same font). Locate the Border tab, and uncheck any checked Border shapes in this pane. OK the dialogs and you are ready to go.

If you want to use the Jazz Text Font, the Broadway Copyist Fonts, JW Rehearsal or any other Rehearsal Mark font in Sibelius, substitute the prefix and suffix characters for those appropriate to the particular font in the Rehearsal Marks pane of Engraving Rules and you should be good to go. 

~robert

Are you aware of a different Rehearsal Marks font that works with prefix and suffix characters not listed here? Please share in the comments!

5 Replies to “On Location : Finale & Sibelius Rehearsal Marks”

    1. Thanks, John! FWIW, I just posted a link to your excellent tutorial on drum notation in Sibelius as a related article to my recent tutorial on numbered repeated measures here.

      ~robert

  1. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for this very informative post…

    You wrote: “If you want to use the Jazz Text Font, the Broadway Copyist Fonts, JW Rehearsal or any other Rehearsal Mark font in Sibelius, substitute the prefix and suffix characters for those appropriate to the particular font in the Rehearsal Marks pane of Engraving Rules and you should be good to go. ”

    I wasn’t aware that you could use the Finale Jazz Text Font and the Broadway Copyist Fonts in Sibelius… are those fonts available for purchase anywhere?

    Thanks,

    Max

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