Learning to Code in JW Lua | Part 2: Changing Notehead Characters

Welcome to the second article on learning to code with JW Lua.

In the first article, we learned some of the basics of the lua language, including datatypes and for loops. Today, we’re going to take that knowledge and apply it with creating an actual script that changes every notehead in a selected region.

Sure will beat using the Special Tools!

So let’s dive right in. more >> “Learning to Code in JW Lua | Part 2: Changing Notehead Characters”

Beyond Defaults : Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Finale

There are a couple of common approaches for indicating trills with specific trill-to pitches in your music score. One way is to indicate the trill-to pitch as a stemless, cue sized note in a parenthesis.


This is an extremely clear and elegant way to present the trill-to information. However, for “commercial” scores, this method is somewhat labor-intensive to create in the current software, and furthermore, isn’t completely bulletproof in terms of the trill-to pitch maintaining its horizontal positioning after music spacing .

Trills containing an intervalic jump larger than a whole step are commonly referred to as “fingered tremolo”, and displayed as pairs of notes with tremolo slashes.

Another method of displaying trills, which is very common in popular and commercial orchestral music as well as film and video game scores, largely because it is so efficient for entry, is to include a flat, natural or sharp symbol above, or just to the right of the “tr” symbol. For commercial scores, you also frequently see the trill-to note indicated as an intervalic distance, like a ½ step or a whole-tone (wt).

more >> “Beyond Defaults : Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Finale”

Faking special stems in Sibelius

While working on a recent project I was faced with the challenge of recreating two varieties of custom stems. While Sibelius does offer a set of custom stems as symbols, the fact that these can not be attached to notes makes it difficult to work with them in practice. If there a lot of them in use, each one needs to be manually placed and, should anything change in the formatting, they easily slide around and need to constantly be checked. Plus the particular symbols I needed for this piece were not available.


The first type of stem basically has an “s” through it to signify a kind of exaggerated pitch fluctuation/vibrato. Here is a sample from the original manuscript:


more >> “Faking special stems in Sibelius”

Sibelius : Notehead Types & Playback

Hi Robert,

I’m working on a composition of a 17 year old student for their final exams at the end of high school. He has written a drum part which requires samples as well as drum kit.

These samples are notated as diamond noteheads on his score:


However, when I export the midi file to to Logic, I lose all these diamond headed notes.

So, I created a second version of his score (Liam Comp 2.sib), where I managed to copy these diamond noteheads into a new staff. However, when I try to play these back – nothing (whether the new instrument is drum set or piano).

Are you able to see why these notes on the score do not appear to be registering as midi messages on playback and export?

Please help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.

Thanks very much,

more >> “Sibelius : Notehead Types & Playback”

Sibelius : Add Ancillary Staves to a Braced Grand Staff Instrument

Hello everybody, Michele Galvagno here with a rather interesting notational matter. I’m currently working on a piece by a living composer scored for 2 percussionists, with harp and piano.

The composer’s original manuscript is set as a system with four piano grand staves, the first two of which are labelled “Vibraphone & percussion” and “Marimba & percussion”:


Upon looking at the original manuscript more closely, I noticed that the composer had notated all the unpitched percussion onto extra 1-line staves positioned in the middle of each player’s respective braced grand staff:



more >> “Sibelius : Add Ancillary Staves to a Braced Grand Staff Instrument”

Create Parenthesized or Bracketed Hairpins in Finale

Finale has a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating Custom Smart Shapes. You can create a line shape of any thickness, make it solid, dotted, dashed or even invisible, control its start and end locations and add hooks, arrows or text to either end of the line and / or to the center.

Hairpin crescendo and decrescendo are sometimes bracketed (parenthesized) by publishers to show that they were added later by the editor – e.g. not in the original composer’s manuscript:


These types of brackets can also be used for other reasons; for instance to show that the marking is optional or implied.

In Finale, crescendo and decrescendo smart shapes have controls for line thickness and opening width, found in Smart Shapes > Smart Shape Options, but unlike the shapes available in the Smart Line Selection dialog, there is no obvious way to add a parenthesis to the start and end of these defined hairpin Smart Shapes.

So, how would we create this type of Smart Shape in Finale?

more >> “Create Parenthesized or Bracketed Hairpins in Finale”

Sibelius Rhythmic & Slash Notation tweaks

Q: IMO, Sibelius’ slash noteheads (type 4, ‘beat with stem’) are too long (2 spaces high vs.1 space in Finale’s), and too thick, making rhythms difficult to read. Hard to believe that Sibelius lacks something as simple as a short slash notehead. Do these smaller noteheads exist in Sibelius, or is there a way to create them? And if so, how?

A: Excellent question. Slashes and Rhythmic Notation are commonly used for comping guitar, bass and drums in jazz charts.

  • Stemless slashes are frequently used to indicate improvised chording or comping where no specificity is required. These slashes simply indicate “time” in the current meter (In 4/4 time, 4 slashes in a measure, for example).
  • Rhythmic Notation is used to indicate a specific rhythmic figure. Regular pitches are replaced with slash note heads attached to note stems in the center of the staff

There are several ways you can change the look of the default slash and rhythmic notation in Sibelius. Let’s take a look:

more >> “Sibelius Rhythmic & Slash Notation tweaks”