Add a2, a3, a4 playback for NotePerformer in Sibelius

The Sibelius Sounds library which ships with Sibelius 7 and later does not have support for reduced player configurations such as a2, a3, a4 etc., but if you are a NotePerformer user, you are in luck.

NotePerformer 3 installs a plugin in Sibelius called “NotePerformer a2, a3 … MIDI message” which appears in the Plug-ins page of the home tab.

This plugin adds a MIDI controller message to a beat, or the start of a selected region for playback when using NotePerformer.

In other words, you can apply this plugin to add hidden MIDI controller info at the same location as the “a2” text, so that NotePerformer produces correct playback of a2 etc.

You can use the plugin to add this MIDI Controller data each time, or you can also add this controller info directly in your score either manually or automatically with NotePerformer.

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Mapping Pitches in Sibelius

Sometimes you want to change the pitches in a score without doing a normal transposition. There are a number of Sibelius plugins that can change a pitch to any other pitch.

Pitch Mapping

This shipping plugin (Note Input > Transformations > More>Pitch Mapping) was one of the very early plugins in Sibelius.

The default dialog lets you map all the spellings of a given pitch to a single spelling. In this example, C, B#, and Dbb will be respelled as C (or any other name you choose from the list). This mapping will apply to all selected notes with the same pitch name, in any octave.

For respelling, you can choose natural notes, single or double sharps or flats, or leave some notes unchanged, so you can respell some but not all the selected notes.  The plugin will ignore quartertones, and it cannot respell to quartertones. Even now, in 2020, plugins are unable to create notes with quartertone accidentals.

New Pitch Higher… gives some options for determining whether the replaced pitches will be higher or lower than the original pitch. The details are explained in the dialog that comes up.

Not only can you respell notes this way, you can also change a note to any other valid pitch. C can be mapped to G# or Fbb if you so desire. As before, all notes with the same pitch name in any octave are mapped to the same new note name, in an appropriate octave.

If you choose More Options…, you get a dialog that lets you map each spelling or a given pitch separately, so you can spell C, B#, and Dbb to different notes if you like.

Transform Scale

The downloadable plugin Transform Scale is a “front end” for the Pitch Mapping plugin. It lets you transform the selected notes to a different scale or mode, and/or change the root of a scale. Changing the root without changing the scale type is the same as transposing.

There are 22 built-in scales, plus you can edit the existing scales or add your own. Scales are all chromatic (12-tones) scales. You can specify fewer than 12 notes, and the plugin will choose pitches for any you leave out. Details are in the Add/Edit scales dialog.

The Percussion Pitch Map plugin

I wrote Percussion Pitch Map to help deal with pitch and notehead mapping for percussion instruments, but it was pointed out to me that you can use it to map any pitches, and, unlike the other plugins, it allows you to choose the octave for both the source and destination notes.

To use it this way, you need to create your own pitch map, which is a simple text file. You can create it in a text editor, and move it to the appropriate folder location, or create and edit a pitch map in the plugin.

There is a lot of detail to deal with, so I suggest you look at this Of Note blog post, and read the PDF file that will be downloaded with the plugin, and which can also be found here.

One detail to note: if you are using Percussion Pitch Map strictly as a pitch map, the first line in your custom pitch map file should be:

// Strict pitch, C4

Thanks to Robert Puff, who came up with the concept of the Percussion Pitch Map plugin and wrote the built-in percussion pitch maps, and to James Batty, who came up with the idea of using it as an octave-changing pitch mapper (and pointed out a nasty bug, which has been fixed).

Map away!

Create your own keyboard shortcuts in Sibelius

Keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity in Sibelius. Shortcuts allow you to quickly invoke Plugins or other functions with a single keystroke. Keyboard Shortcuts are totally customizable in Sibelius.

Keyboard Shortcuts are located in Sibelius Preferences.  Choose Preferences… from the Sibelius menu

or navigate to the File Tab and choose Preferences in the left pane:

You can also open the Preferences dialog directly using the pre-defined keyboard shortcut CMND-Comma (Mac) or CNTRL-Comma (Windows).

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Curated Plug-in sets: Installing the first plug-in

A Curated Plug-in Set is a collection of Sibelius plug-ins that can be installed at one time and run from a single location. These sets are described in the Of Note post Working sets, My Plugins, and Curated plug-ins in Sibelius.

In order to install a curated plug-in set, you will first need to install the downloadable plug-in Install New Plugin, which will be used to install other plugins.

Here are step-by-step instructions for installing Install New Plugin. There are different instructions for Sibelius 6 and for Sibelius 7 or later.

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Working sets, My Plugins, and Curated plug-ins in Sibelius

There are about 650 published Sibelius plug-ins, of which 150 ship with Sibelius. A lot of people never use plug-ins. They can’t find them, or can’t install downloadable plug-ins, or can’t figure out which plug-in does what. This is unfortunate, because plug-ins could save them a lot of work.

A Working Set of Plug-ins

In Sibelius, plug-ins are organized by category and you run them by finding their names on a menu or by using a keyboard shortcut.

As an alternative, you can create a set of favorite plug-ins that you identify by name and find in the same place. I call this a working set. The plug-ins in the working set should be ones you use often and will be easily available when you need them.

A curated plug-in set is a working set of plug-ins chosen for certain groups of users. It can be based on instruments, such as harp or guitar, or it can be created for a specific project or a school class. A set consists of a zip file containing a text file of plug-in names that make up the set and a folder of downloaded plug-in files which will be installed on your machine.

The files needed to create a curated plugin set can be provided by a plug-in curator, who is an experienced Sibelius user who selects a set of plug-ins that would be useful. This could be a teacher, or a co-worker, or anyone else you trust who is comfortable choosing plug-ins.

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