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5 Workflow Tips for Sibelius
Tobias Escher on Fri, October 8th 1 comments
Sibelius without doubt is one of the best applications for notating music out there (if you ask me it's the best), but its wealth of features come at a price. Actually I don't mean that it is hard to

Sibelius without doubt is one of the best applications for notating music out there (if you ask me it's the best), but its wealth of features come at a price. Actually I don't mean that it is hard to use, on the contrary, but some features can be easily overlooked. This is why in this post, I want to show you five tips for optimising your workflow. You may already know some, but hopefully there will be new things for you here that will help to speed up your workflow and productivity.

01 - Insert intervals with the keyboard

Sibelius' note entry capabilities are indeed powerful. The developers have built in a number of handy features, one of the best, in my opinion, is the super easy entry of intervals: Select the note you want to add an interval to and press the number key on your keyboard corresponding to the interval. Say, if you want to enter a fourth, press "4". Sibelius will add a fourth above the selected note. If you want a fourth below, press "Shift + 4". This works with all intervals and is a real time saver!

02 - Copy rhythm and play notes again

This is one of the little features of Sibelius that totally amazes a lot of people when seeing it for the first time - even long-time users of the application. If an instrument should play the same rhythm as another instrument, but with different notes, there is no need to re-input everything. Just copy and paste a part with the same rhythm as the part you want to create, select the first note and choose Notes > Re-Input Pitches.

Sibelius will then switch to note input mode, but uses the note values of the current part as a reference. The keypad is deactivated in this mode, so you can just enter the new notes while preserving the rhythm! Even though this feature is located in a top-level menu of Sibelius, very seldom I see it used.

03 - Use Sibelius' Filter Feature

There are a lot of things going on inside a score. Notes, bar lines, articulations, dynamics, text and much, much more. Looking for specific things by hand is pretty hard, particularly on large scores where you have no way of seeing full pages. Fortunately, Sibelius comes with a powerful way way of finding specific things: The Filter menu allows you to select elements based on pre-defined criteria. When looking at it for the first time, the Filter menu looks daunting: It is just so big. But after a little time, you will find it a beacon of hope in times of despair. There are two items in the filter menu that are particularly useful: "Hidden Objects" lets you select all hidden objects. The great thing about this command is that by selecting hidden objects they become visible and coloured in the colour of the voice they belong to. This way you can see them much better than by just showing them via View > Hidden Objects because they are coloured and therefore easier to see!

With the Advanced Filter item you can create your own filters. Nearly all possible elements and functions of Sibelius are at your disposal there. Spend a bit of time with this screen, it is really helpful:

"Notes in Chords" selects a specific note in a chord, I.e. the topmost, or the fourth one. Sibelius also allows you to specifiy what should happen when there is only one note, as you can see in the screenshot of the Filter menu. Many people are confused as to what the options "For Deletion" and "For Copying" mean. The difference is small, but important: "For Copying" also copies tuplet numbers and their brackets, as you need to preserve these when copying. But when deleting certain notes from a passage (i.e. the second note of a chord) you will not want to delete the tuplet with it because the other notes still need it. This is why in the "For Deletion" options, the tuplet numbers and brackets are not selected. You can also use several commands from this menu one after another, i.e. select all hidden objects and then only those from voice 2.

04 - Do the Voices at the End!

When inputting complex passages where you require more than one voice, it saves time inputting everything in one voice and assigning voices later instead of constantly switching between different voices. This works particularly well if you are either notating from a written manuscript or just composing in which case it does not hinder the creative flow. Here's an example of a finished bar with three voices. To make it easier to see, the individual voices are coloured:

When inputting this bar, start with just one voice and play everything in as chords. For longer notes, only input the note length corresponding to the first voice:

Then note by note assign the notes to the correct voice via the buttons on the keypad. Do not worry about rests. I sometimes hide them for easier readability, but you can do this at the end when all durations are set:

Finally, correct the durations in all voices, like I have done it in the screenshot with the G on beat 1:

05 - Mass Articulations and Dynamics with Copy and Paste

A really quick tip: Instead of always creating a new expression text and typing the desired dynamic, you can just select one instance of the dynamic and paste it to a new note! The time you save this way quickly adds up. This works even better when copying multiple articulations because you can select a number of elements that you want to apply to different notes and copy and paste everything in one step.

I hope these quick tips help you to Master Sibelius - feedback is always appreciated and to learn more about Sibelius check out this tutorial!

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Comments (1)

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  • Joreg
    Hey Tobias, Nice tips! ; ) Cheers, Jorge
    • 10 years ago
    • By: Joreg
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