Where is the Clavichord Sound in Sibelius?

Q: How do I get the Clavichord Sound to play back in Sibelius 7.5? I switch from the Piano to Clavichord Instrument in the middle of my score, but the sound stays on Piano.

(The amplified version of the Clavichord is called the Clavinet or Electric Clavichord).

A: It would appear that Avid / Sibelius has never assigned the Clavichord instrument to playback, at least since Sibelius 6. The good news is that it’s easy to assign an appropriate sound to this instrument:

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Finale Quick Tip : Chord Symbol Playback

Chord symbols in Finale can play back, should you want them to.

To turn on Chord Symbol playback, select the Chord tool, then make sure Enable Chord Playback is checked in the Chord menu.

Chord Symbol playback can be muted for an individual staff in Score Manager > Instrument List > Instrument > Chords in Finale 2012 and later, and in Window > Instrument List > Instrument > Chords in Finale 2011 and earlier.

Some chord libraries, such as the JazzCord suffix library from Finale 2010 and earlier are not defined to play back by default, which is a shame, since the JazzCord suffixes look really nice for handwritten charts. Or perhaps, you’ve created a custom chord suffix and would like it to play back.

Here’s how to define a non-playing chord suffix for playback:

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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

microtonal, microtone, quarter-tone, quarter tone

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Finale Quick Tip : Defining Articulation Playback

If you’ve ever opened Finale’s Articulation Designer (Opt.-Click or Alt.-Click on the Articulation tool to open the dialog), you have probably seen the “Playback Effect” settings:


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Concert Pitch, Transposing and Octave-Displaced Instruments : A Prelude

Music scores, whether orchestral, concert band, big band, or a pop chart etc. typically contain a variety of differently pitched instruments. Because factors like instrument length, size and acoustical properties affect each instrument’s range / tessitura, certain instruments need to be written transposed, in a different octave, or both to produce pitches in common with other instruments.

This system of written pitch notation allows the music to remain largely within the staff for each part as well as the transposing score. Instruments written in a different octave than where they sound are referred to as octave-displaced instruments.

Additionally, it is common practice in Concert Scores to show octave-displaced instruments at written (rather than concert) pitch. This allows these instruments to be notated largely within the staff. (For Finale users, more on this later.)


Regardless of whether a pitched instrument produces its sound by vibrating metal, membranes, strings or air, it falls into one of the following four transposition / octave displacement types:

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Transpose by Interval in Sibelius

Q: I play Alto Sax in a (small) big band. We’ve purchased Superstition by Stevie Wonder, arranged by Mike Tomaro. It’s a nifty piece of work and quite a challenge. I used Photoscore to enter my Alto Sax part into Sibelius 6, which appeared to go quite smoothly. But, Photoscore apparently didn’t spot the fact that it was a transposed part.

Is there a way that I can correct this in Sibelius and not lose all my sharps and flats? When I play it, I hear the correct notes but not at the right pitch. It would be nice to be able to change them, without having to alter each sharp or flat by hand. I’ve been trying to find an anwser but I have not been successful so far. Can you help me? Thanks very much.

A: Fortunately, this one is pretty easy to set right by (a) first making sure that the score in concert pitch is set to the correct key signature (in this case, your “score” can also be a single part) and (b) transposing the notes to the corresponding concert / transposed pitches. You can do both operations from within the Transpose dialog in Sibelius.

Let’s say you have a chart in three flats concert. The corresponding Alto Sax part is going to appear as C maj / A minor:

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The Convolutions of Hidden & Independent Key Signatures in Finale

UPDATE: If you have updated to Finale 2014, take a look at the new Keyless Scores feature which is related to the issues covered in this post.

Q: I’m formatting a Timpani part with key signatures hidden. The score contains a number of keys changes / signatures. The timpani part itself is fine with all accidentals in place.

However, I need cued notes from other parts to appear in the Timpani part. The source parts all show key signatures. I used the TG Tools Add Cue Notes… plugin to make the cues, but none of those accidentals appear in the timpani part. For example, the flute is in the key of G major, and has a passage with F-sharp in it. If I cue that passage in the timpani part, Finale doesn’t show the sharp to indicate F#.

I can’t believe this is an uncommon problem. How can I globally make these diatonic accidentals appear in a part without Key Signatures?

A: As you are already aware, historically, Classical scores displayed some instruments without Key Signatures. Timpani and French Horn are probably the most common of these “keyless” instruments, although you will find examples in the repertoire for Trumpet and even Clarinet.

For Timpani, since it is not a transposing instrument, one would think that all you’d need to do to hide the key signature is to uncheck Key Signatures in Items to Display of the Staff Attributes, and any diatonic accidentals would then automatically appear in the staff:


However, to see how this really works (and how it doesn’t), let’s (1) define a Key Signature, then (2) set our Timpani not to display the Key Signature as above:


(3) Now, enter some notes using your MIDI keyboard. If you enter a sequence of non-diatonic naturals, you get (redundant) naturals displaying on every note; if you enter notes that are diatonic to the hidden Key Signature, the accidentals aren’t displayed at all, neither of which is very useful:


So, as you can see, simply hiding the Key Signature isn’t really an ideal solution at all. If you’ve already entered music in the staff with “Items to Display>Key Signatures” unchecked, there is a partial solution for showing accidentals more correctly after the fact, which I will cover at the end of the blog post. But first…

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