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.


Export is usually very straightforward regards of software. In Sibelius, you may want to turn OFF Espressivo playback in the Interpretation group of the Play tab (maybe not, but this is what I do, since I most typically want the option of transforming performance in the destination software).

You might also try unchecking Live Playback start times and durations so that everything lines up to the quantize grid, although again, this may not be necessary.

Finally, if you are planning to open the MIDI file in Logic or DP, note that they both default to 480ppq resolution (or at least both used to), so you may want to use that resolution for export (see Tick Resolution in the MIDI export pane). If you are exporting to another notation program such as Finale, I would categorically recommend using Music XML over midi.

Import – Here are a couple of suggestions that may help:

Depending on how complex your music is, I might suggest separating out the left and right hand in Logic into two tracks so that they come in as separate staves in Sibelius without relying on the auto split on input. Sibelius has a nice auto-detect feature on import to split left and right hand, but it doesn’t always do very well if the voices are close, or in some other cases.

Furthermore, If you have very definite inside / outside voices, you can even split the treble and bass clef staves up into two additional staves in Logic. Then, once in Sibelius, convert the inside voices to voice 2 before you copy and merge them with the treble and bass master staves.

Another import issue notation programs can have is with rhythms. If your input is at all rubato relative to the click you won’t necessarily get very good results. If you do have a piece that is all over the map in terms of being really metronomic to the click, read up in the Logic (or DP) manual on how to tap tempo to adjust the click to your music – this will create a quite a few incremental tempo changes (you’ll likely end up with a tempo change on every beat of every bar) which you can later clear from Sibelius, but the result on import will be that the beats line up where they are supposed to relative to the bars and beats of the meter.

If  your playing is already close to the metronome click, then one trick you can try is to import several versions of the midi file with different quantization values. You might have one version quantized to 16ths and one quantized to 8ths for instance. That way, if the piece is largely halves, quarters and eighths, these will transcribe accurately, and when you have a few bars of 16ths (or 32nds or whatever) you can copy and paste material from the second transcription into your master file.

~ robert

3 Replies to “Sibelius MIDI File Import / Export (Braced Grand Staff)”

  1. Hi Robert
    your comments often relate to my challenges. This time I need some additional clarifications:
    I use Pro Tools 2018.10 as my DAW the idea that it is easy to play into the daw then quantize and export to Sibelius 7.1 was appealing but very challenging:
    I face the same issue with a clearly quantize piano part in Pro Tools but I think I checked only one stave per instrument…and got what I asked for right and left hand both on one stave when imported into Sibelius.
    Can you clarify /comment suggest workflow on how to transfer piano between Pro Tools to Sibelius I also get an error that Sibelius 7.1 is not corresponding well with my Pro Tools 2018.10
    when quantizing in Pro Tools I first used the playing to mock a real orchestra with lots of expression etc. all come over into sibelius as a smear how do I quantize effectively pro tools midi to come to sibelius clean?

    1. I wish I could provide more help to you in this area, but unfortunately, I’m not a pro tools user. I think Sam Butler’s email response referring you to the forum was the proper one. There are lots of people knowledgeable specifically about protools (and protools export for Sibelius) on that forum. Good luck!

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