Q: While I was reading your article about note spacing in Sibelius and Finale, an interesting idea came to mind: Do you think it is possible to recreate the exact note spacing of a certain publisher from a printed page or pdf file in Sibelius?
A: Great question! I assume you are referring to punctuation (the word used to describe the horizontal spacing between music characters).
Note spacing, or punctuation, works in tandem with the physical layout of measures on the systems / pages, which is historically referred to as “Casting Off”.
For starters, it’s worth noting that duplicating a publisher’s *exact* horizontal music spacing (punctuation) involves more than consistent numerical settings. This is partly because there have been so many different types of processes for engraving music over the years:
- Punched on plate
- Autographed (drawn)
- Music Typewriter
- Acetate and Rub-off sheets
…and partly because punctuation, as it turns out, isn’t necessarily an exact science, and can fall into three basic categories:
- Mathematically perfect
- Mathematically imperfect
In addition, other factors besides notes can affect note spacing. For instance, accidentals, note flags, articulations, material in other voices etc …
However, in spite of the variations which are inherent in all of the above processes and categories, it should be possible to closely approximate the punctuation (horizontal spacing) of a particular published piece in either Sibelius or Finale by taking some measurements and setting up your software to duplicate these.
Note that you can even apply different rules to different sections of a score to increase or decrease spacing widths, or approximate the “mathematically imperfect” and “lyrical” punctuation categories above, or address a specific concern where some circumstance requires a special consideration. More on that in a moment…
If you are a music educator teaching the fundamentals of rhythm, from time to time, you may find the need to count out beat numbers over the notation to help indicate various rhythms for your students.
Sibelius has a useful plugin called “Number Beats” (found in the plugins Text category) which does this automatically, but until recently, I wasn’t aware of a similar plugin for Finale.
- Select a region
- Choose JW Pattern
- Drop-down the Sequences category
- Choose the “Numbered Steps” task.
- For “Step Method”, choose Beats in measure”
Finally, you can choose one of Finale’s Text Categories from the Category drop down to control the text style and placement of the resulting text.
The JW Pattern plugin is available free of charge on Jari Williamsson’s Finaletips.nu website.
Thanks to my friend and colleague Gary Gibson for contributing this tip.
Say you have a B-flat in one bar, tied to another B-flat in the next bar. In Finale, it is possible to (ahem, accidentally) enter the second B-flat as either a B-natural or a B-flat and it will look the same:
Even thought there’s no visual indication that it’s wrong, it won’t play back correctly. And in a score with a number of staves, they are a nightmare to aurally locate for proofreading.
Laissez vibrer [Fr.] allow to sound, do not damp.
Laissez vibrer, or L.V. indications such as the one pictured above, are common notation practice. Instead of writing out a series of notes or chords together for what might be a long duration, the player is simply instructed, via a tie and the abbreviated ‘l.v.’ text, to let the note(s) ring out for as long as they would sound.
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:
Q: Is there a plug-in/tool that will convert MIDI CC64 on/off messages to Pedal on/off markings, respectively, in Finale? It almost seems like a no-brainer… I know it could potentially introduce positioning issues, but I think positioning could be quantized to hit the right beat… at the very least, once they’re in Finale, it’s much easier to move them around. Just wondering if you know of anything that will help.
A: Yes! As it happens, there are plugins available for both Finale and Sibelius that perform this task.
FINALE : JW PEDAL PLUGIN
Jari Williamssohn has written just such a plugin for Finale, called JW Pedal. The plugin adds pedal up/down markings as articulations wherever CC64 MIDI controller events are found.
One current limitation is that you must have the down and up definitions of the pedal markings (as Maestro) in the articulation list before you start – otherwise nothing will show up. But definitely a time saver.
Tip: In a new Document Without Libraries, you can create these 2 articulation characters and export / save them as a library for quick import into future documents rather than having to recreate them each time.
SIBELIUS : PEDAL LINES PLUGIN
Bob Zawalich has authored the useful (and free) Pedal Lines plugin for Sibelius, which converts CC64 MIDI controller events to Sibelius pedal lines.
Download the FREE Pedal Lines plugin for Mac | Windows here.
for Rolando Gori