Jazz Charts with 4 Bars Per System in Sibelius

Q: I’m writing a lead sheet, and I want to show 4 measures per system. This is really common in jazz charts such as the RealBook – the bars are symmetrical. Many  jazz players are familiar with this type of look and layout, but Sibelius automatically spaces the music very differently than this. How does one lay out the music like this in Sibelius 6 or 7?

In Sibelius 7, go to the Layout Tab, and select Auto Breaks from the Breaks Group. Check “Use auto system breaks” and select the radio button for Every X bars (Type in “4” or change the number of bars per system if you want more.)

In Sibelius 6, choose “Auto Breaks” from the Layout Menu. Check “Use auto system breaks” and select the radio button for Every X bars (Type in “4” or change the number of bars per system if you want more.)

Now, respace the music as normal (select the music and type CMND-SHIFT-N (CNTRL-SHIFT-N), and Sibelius will apply its spacing rules across the four evenly spaced bars per system, without changing the number of measures per system.

Note that you can “mix and match” note spacing system to system. Suppose you have 4 systems that you want 4 measures per system, but then you need a different number of measures per line, for multirests, or whatever reason. Set up the document for four bars per system, then lock the layout to that point. (select the bars and type CMND-SHIFT-L / CNTRL-SHIFT-L)

Now, you can go back into the Auto Breaks dialog and change the settings. Starting at the point where the music is unlocked, your new system breaks rule will apply, until you lock this group of measures. You can do this as many times as you need to within the same chart.


Show Bar Rests for Score and Parts Differently in Sibelius

Q: The conductor I am working with does not want bar rests in the conductor’s orchestral score, so I have Show Bar Rests turned off. However, when I go into the parts, the whole rests are hidden there as well. This makes little sense in the parts, where the player needs them. In Sibelius, how do I make these independent: “Show Bar Rests in Parts” and “Show Bar Rests in Score”?

A:  Simply turn off rests in Engraving Rules of the score before you print, then toggle them back on for the parts.

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Creating lyric elision slurs more easily in Finale 2012 and earlier


Elision is defined as the omission of a vowel, consonant, or syllable while pronouncing or writing something, sometimes as a natural shortening, as in “he’s,” sometimes for literary or poetic effect, as in “’tis”.

In vocal music, elision slurs are the curvy ligatures used to connect two lyric syllables under one note. This type of markup is quite common in vocal music in a language other than English:


In Finale, the process to show two elided syllables on the same note should be very straightforward. One could ideally type a specific keystroke to produce the elision (it’s a underscore in Sibelius) and you could type these in on the fly.

In Finale, you use a single keystroke to create the elision character; SHIFT-I. But even in Finale 2012, the process described in the User Manual requires several steps:

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Losing the Parts Window in Sibelius 7

One of the most powerful features in Sibelius 6 was the Parts Window. The Sibelius 6 Parts Window acted as a central hub for everything to do with part creation. From one location within the program, you could perform a comprehensive list of tasks related to parts:

  1. Set the page size, margins, staff size, page breaks and other layout rules for all parts, one part, or any subset of parts (Multi Part Appearance).
  2. Import a house style to quickly change the look of one part, all parts, or any subset of parts.
  3. Print one part, all parts, or any subset of parts
  4. Save a PDF file of one part, all parts, or any subset of parts.

While Sibelius 7 hasn’t lost any of these capabilities, Multi-Part Appearance, Import House Style, PDF creation and printing have all been moved away from the v6 centralized Parts Hub design onto separate operations in the Ribbon UI. Even though these operations are clearly labeled in the various tabs on the Ribbon, the above parts editing / printing processes are no longer consolidated into one location, which by definition means that workflow for Parts preparation isn’t as efficient. This was obviously a conscious decision by Sibelius – a tradeoff in workflow efficiency for clarity in the UI.

For professional level users, the new design has a further subtle, but extremely important limitation. Sibelius 7 requires that in order to make any house style changes to any Part, it must first be OPEN. For instance, instead of simply selecting individual part names from the Parts Window list to make house style edits, you must now select either “Current Part”, “All Parts” and “All Open Parts”.  This means that to perform a House Style related edit for a specific group of parts without affecting all the parts, you must first close any parts you don’t want affected, then open the parts you *do* want affected before you can actually apply Multi Part Appearance or House Style edits to just the string parts.

By comparison, in Sibelius 6, this was only two steps, done right in the Parts Window: (1) CNTRL-Click (CMND-Click) the individual Parts you want to edit. (2) use Multi Part Appearance or Import House Style to change formatting for the selected parts only, in many cases, without even having the parts  open.

That said, the casual Sibelius user will probably never get deep enough into Sibelius to experience the drop in efficiency here. If you’ve never done anything to change the “look” of the built-in Manuscript Papers, you have nothing to worry about.


In summary, while the Ribbon UI design makes it easier for new users to understand Sibelius while encouraging experimentation and  exploration, some users, particularly professional music copyists working under tight deadlines, may find the less centralized workflow for parts inefficient compared to the Parts Window in Sibelius 6. Consider it a tradeoff for all the improvements.

More Advanced Alternate Notation Techniques in Finale

Typically, a score and its parts show identical information. Sometimes, however,  it is necessary for the score and parts to show the same notation in different ways. A transposing part is a good example of this. Enharmonic pitches in the part is another.

Finale has a great Enharmonic feature which allows you to create an enharmonic unison for specific notes. The same pitches are enharmonically spelled differently in the part to allow the part to be read more easily.

In the Part, enter the Speedy Edit frame, select the pitch you want to change, and type 9 on the keypad to change the pitch to its enharmonic equivalent without changing it in the score.

Occasionally, it is necessary for significantly different notation to represent identical passages between the score and parts.

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