Use Slurs to Create Straight, Note-attached Lines in Sibelius

One of the features lacking even in the latest version of Sibelius are straight lines which snap-to notes. All of the straight lines, including the gliss lines, attach to the staff, and actually don’t snap to noteheads. The gliss lines and other straight lines do play back in Sibelius, but they are fussy to position correctly between notes.

Bob Zawalich’s excellent and highly recommendedLines Between Notes” plugin for Sibelius takes a great deal of the work out of positioning lines between notes accurately; indispensable if you write a lot of music with gliss lines, for instance.

The “Lines Between Notes” plugin is an amazing productivity tool, but it’s not a “dynamic” solution. If you apply the plugin in a concert score you’ll most likely have to make a second adjustment in the part if it transposes. If you change the start or ending note pitch after the fact, you’ll have the run the plugin again. A way to create a real, honest-to-goodness straight, note-attached lines would be a useful feature.

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Draw the Line : Slur length

A slur, sometimes called a phrase mark, is a curved line used in musical notation which indicates that the notes are to be played smoothly together. String players will typically play the notes in one stroke of the bow, wind players or singers will take the notes in one breath.

Slurs are also used in vocal music to indicate that one syllable is to be sung across several notes, called a “melisma“.

When writing music, it is important that the extent of a phrase be immediately clear to the musicians.

When a phrase ends with a tied note, it’s perhaps natural to want to attach the phrase mark to the start of the tied series, but, except in one specific case we will cover in a moment, this is actually incorrect.

One slur should completely cover the entire phrase, with the end of the slur attached to the final tied note in the series. The following is correct:

slur-attachment-correct

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Attaching Phrase Marks (Slurs) Properly to Voices in Sibelius

Q: In Sibelius, when I put slurs in on voice 1 on a divisi part (e.g. Clarinet 1 and 2), the slur appears like normal. However, if I grab a passage of voice 2 its a hassle – the slur doesn’t connect properly, and I have to drag it out… Am I missing something?

A: Sometimes, in order to get phrase marks to line up appropriately with notes in voice 2, you’ll need to convert the lower phrase destination note to voice 2 in the next bar, or wherever the phrase mark ends. Select the appropriate destination note and type Option 2 (Alt 2 on Windows):

sib-layers

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Some thoughts on Default Lines and Symbols in Sibelius

Since early versions of Sibelius, there have been Default Symbols and Lines. In the case of both Symbols and Lines, some of these are hard wired to specific functions in the program, and in the case of Lines in particular, these attributes are inherited by any “New” version you might create of that Default line.

For instance, the Default 8va line has an effect on playback. If you make a copy of this line by selecting it and clicking the “New” button, the New copy will inherit the same playback attributes. In the same way, if you change the visible attributes of the default 8va line, say, to different preceding text or change the line thickness, it will still maintain those playback characteristics.

But the ability to edit the defaults directly has some ramifications.

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Is There A Way to Create A Single Thick Barline in Sibelius?

Q: I would like to use a special bar line that looks just like a double bar filled in completely black to notate the ends of phrases.

I found a way to edit Symbols to do this, but the placement is messy and doesn’t snap in place as the regular bar lines do. Is there a way to edit bar line appearances
so they will still snap in place like regular bar lines?

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Finale : Create Dashed & Dotted Cresc. / Dim. Hairpins Via Graphic Overlay

In previous posts, (1) (2), I’ve discussed Finale’s ability to create an opaque mask for text using its Enclosure Designer in order to bring text prominently to the foreground in front of a line such as a hairpin.

An imported graphic can also be used as a background mask. Note how the graphic completely masks the dotted line across its surface area in this example:

fin-graphic-overlay-ex-no-transparency

An imported TIFF graphic in Finale has an important additional ability: to display a mix of opacity and transparency. In this example, the same overlay graphic is transparent in its “white” area. Note how the solid line in the background now appears to be woven between the vertical lines of the graphic:

fin-graphic-overlay-ex-w-transparency

We can use this same ability to create a kind of “picket fence” graphic overlay for crescendo and diminuendo hairpin smart shapes that allows them to show through the graphic at regular intervals, like this:

fin-dashed-hairpin-examples01

Here’s how:

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Finale Quick Tip : Align Hairpins and Other Smart Lines

The Contextual Menu for Smart Shapes makes quick work of aligning hairpins, trills and other measure – attached smart lines in your score. For instance, to align trills so their line start and end points match down the score, click and drag-lasso them so their selection boxes are all highlighted, then right – click one of the highlighted selection boxes, and select “Align Vertically” from the Contextual menu.

This tip applies to all measure-attached Smart Lines in Finale, so it can be used with hairpins, trill extensions, ottava lines, bracket lines or custom measure attached smart lines you create.

If you have the full version of TG Tools, be sure to also check out the Align-Move plugin which automates this functionality over a larger selection area.