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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Sibelius Quick Tip : Adjusting the Bottom Staff of Score or Part

Q: Sometimes in Sibelius the bottom staff on a part page is too low; where there are ledger lines, the dynamics or a low pitch go below the page margins. I have tried the obvious reset above and below and dragging and optimize. When I drag the bottom stave it won’t budge, it just affects the stave above it. What is the solution?

A: You can use Option-Shift-Up Arrow (presumably Alt-Shift-Up Arrow on PC) with the staff selected to move it up and then reset space above staff to reset the distances of the staves above.

You can also create a Special Page Break at the end of the previous page and create a new margin definition for the bottom margin for one page only. Select the last barline on previous page and type CMND-SHIFT-P (presumably CNTRL-SHIFT-P on PC):


That’s all there is to it.


Finale Quick Tip : Smart Word Extensions @ Double Barlines

In vocal music, single syllables of text which span several different notes in succession are shown with horizontal lines, called Word Extensions, or Lyric Extensions. The technical name for these vocal phrases is “melisma” or the plural, “melismata”:


Finale has a great productivity feature which automates the drawing of these lyric extensions called Smart Word Extensions.

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Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius

Q: Is it possible to make title text appear more “expanded” (as I might do in a Word doc?) My client has a specific font request, but his letter spacing looks wider than the same font on my computer, which is more “tight”: title-text-w-tracking A: This difference is due to letter-spacing, referred to as “Tracking” in typography. Tracking refers to a consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect density in a line or block of text. more >>

An afternoon with the students of the Pacific NW Film Scoring Program

A few days ago, I was asked to visit the students of Seattle’s Pacific NW Film Scoring Program to speak about my role as music copyist, orchestrator and music librarian for feature films and video games.

The students asked some great questions, so I thought I would post a few of them along with my answers here.

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Music Spacing Between Layers in Finale

Q: In this screenshot, you’ll notice that the G natural accidental in the third bar is colliding with the previous F sixteenth note between the two layers:


I have tried all sorts of ways to fix it, using the Document Options’ minimum spacing, space between, etc. I have tried Note/Beat/Time Sig. Spacing, all the JW note spacing alternatives and nothing fixes this issue automatically. Is it only fixable manually?

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Finale & Sibelius Quick Tip : Grouping Barlines in Your Score

Q: I am dealing with bar lines that go through multiple parts in a score. I would like to group the instrument choirs rather than having bar lines running down the entire score. Is there an easy fix for this in Sibelius and / or  Finale?


A: Yes, absolutely.

In Sibelius, click at the bottom of the staff right at the point where the bar line joins the bottom staff line. A box will show up. Click and drag the box down and the staves will become joined or separated.

In Finale, in Staff Attributes there is an attribute called “Break Barlines between staves” which controls whether the bar lines join with the staff above that particular instrument.

That’s all there is to it.