Halving or doubling rhythmic values in Sibelius & Finale

Q: A student of mine has created a .MID file and imported it into Finale 2011. However,  all the note values are twice the length she desires. How can she make the notation appear correctly?

A: The musical terms for lengthening and shortening the durations of notes in a musical passage so that the length of the phrase is increased or decreased are “augmentation” and diminution”.

dim·i·nu·tion Noun /ˌdiməˈn(y)o͞oSHən/
The shortening of the time values of notes in a melodic part.

aug·men·ta·tion Noun /ˌôgmenˈtāSHən/
The lengthening of the time values of notes in a melodic part.

With that bit of technical jargon out of the way, let’s take a look at how to do this in Finale and Sibelius:

To halve the rhythmic values in a passage in Finale 2011:

Click the Selection Tool and select the region of music you want to affect:

From the Utilities menu, choose Change, then Note Durations. The Change Note Durations dialog box appears:

  1. Choose 50% from the “Change All Note Durations By” pop-up menu.
  2. Check the Rebar Music checkbox. This insures that Finale will re-bar the selected measures so that there are twice as many notes per measure.
  3. OK the dialog:

The durations of each note have been changed to half of their original lengths, so the music now fits into half the number of bars. When changing the note durations by percent, the popup menu includes some common options: 25%, 50%, 100%, 200% and 400%.

Note that if you do *not* check Rebar Music, you will end up with music in the first part of each bar, with rests in the remainder of each bar. If you are using “Change All Note Durations By” to change all the music in a passage, you want to make sure that Rebar Music is checked so the music expands or contracts together.

Additional Options: This example setting changes all the whole notes in the same example region to quarter notes on the downbeats of the that bar, *without* rebarring the music:

This setting converts the note value in “From” into the note value chosen in “To”, without rebarring the music:

Note that the *new* rests may not show up automatically depending on your settings – you can always use Speedy Note’s “check for extra notes” function if the rests don’t show automatically.

Check this out: You can even double the values of the notes only in one Layer, while leaving the note durations alone in the other Layers. To do this, just make sure Show Only Current Layer is selected in the Edit menu.

One other thing – note that this command does not affect empty measures. (A measure in which you’ve entered a “real” whole rest doesn’t count as empty in this context.) That is, it will double the values of all notes and rests you’ve entered, but it won’t create a second completely empty measure.

Sibelius users don’t have Finale’s multiple options here, but the most common requirements, halving and doubling durations are readily available:

In Sibelius 6, there are two plugins found in Plugins>Transformations: “Double Note Values” and “Halve Note Values”.

In Sibelius 7, these plugin operations have been integrated into the Ribbon and are located in the Transformations Group of the Note Input tab:

In both Sibelius 6 and Sibelius 7, selected notes are processed, and the result is copied into a new score. You can then paste the music back into your original Sibelius score.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it. 


9 Replies to “Halving or doubling rhythmic values in Sibelius & Finale”

  1. In Sibelius 6 and 7, there are also the downloadable plugins Copy Double Note Values and Copy Halve Note Values, which do the same thing as “Double Note Values” and “Halve Note Values”, except that instead of creating a new score to hold the diminished notes, it puts them in the clipboard, and the can be pasted from there into a score. I find it to be fewer steps that copying from a score, pasting, and then disposing of the temporary score.

  2. Thanks, Bob! Great information! Sibelius users – download the “Copy Double Note Values” and “Copy Halve Note Values” plugins here.


  3. Hi Bob –
    The solutions in this post (for Sibelius, at least) change not only the duration (length) but also the start point. E.g., for a 4/4 bar with two half notes, the “Halve” plugin in Sibelius creates two quarter notes in a 2/4 bar. What I’m trying to achieve is a 4/4 bar with a quarter note, quarter rest, quarter note, quarter rest. I.e., to adjust only the note length. Any way to do that?

    1. I was looking after the same function : I need to change the duration of notes in a region holding their original position. This should convert the halves in a region in quarters, inserting the corresponding rests between them.
      This could be very useful to copy a whole passage from an instrument to another which should play a different articulation of the same melody (shorter notes for instance)

  4. Hmmm. I’ve discovered that in the example I used — a string of notes with equal time value — I can simply make the change with the keypad.
    But is there a way to do this in a passage with notes of mixed values, e.g., “find all the half notes in this passage and convert them to quarters”?

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