A modest proposal for a Sibelius app store

by Philip Rothman on July 7, 2015 · 10 comments

in Opinion

By now you have likely heard about Avid’s plan for Sibelius that includes the promise of more frequent updates alongside a variety of perpetual and subscription licenses. The general reception among users could be characterized as not especially welcoming.

Whatever the merits of the plan and the fairness of the reaction, it’s clear that Avid is seeking more regular revenue from Sibelius. That’s not a bad thing on the face of it; you need to make money in order to continue to develop a product: an authority no less than Sibelius co-founder Ben Finn told us that. But users don’t want money for something if there’s no perceived value for them — for example, why pay for the Annotations feature if you don’t own a Surface?

What if there was a way for users to pay for options they want, customize the software to their liking, make sure that it was updated regularly, and support the developers, besides?

There is, of course. It’s the fundamental way an app store works. I kicked around the idea in an interview I gave with SoundNotion recently, and it’s been rattling around in my brain ever since. Here’s how and why a Sibelius app store could work so that users could buy plug-ins, sound sets, and other add-ons to enrich their experience. Read the full article →

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Summer reading list, Sibelius blog style

by Philip Rothman on July 3, 2015 · 0 comments

in Meta

2015 is more than halfway over already. Can you believe it? What started out as a sleepy year turned into quite an active period in the world of music notation software and technology.

In case you missed all the news, just bring your favorite reading device to the beach, the porch or your backyard hammock to catch up on the most popular posts so far this year.

reading-at-the-beach

Sibelius 8 / The new Sibelius

annotationsSibelius 8 is here: The new Sibelius looks a lot like the old one. The “new” Sibelius is now available alongside new perpetual and subscription license plans. The version number is Sibelius 8.0, but how does it compare to major releases of years past, and should you upgrade?

Next Sibelius release to feature UI updates, new licensing options. A preview of the release from April, with some additional context on the license plans.

Sibelius 7.5 announced. This detailed review is actually from 2014 but it’s still one of the most often-read posts around here, explaining features in Sibelius 7.5 like the Timeline, playback improvements, sharing options and more. You’ll also want to know about the 7.5.1 update.

Music handwriting and recognition products

output_Guv6ojStaffPad is a music handwriting app that’s real — and it’s spectacular. 145 comments and not one about the Seinfeld reference! This review doesn’t yada-yada it; it covers in detail what was surely the most exciting new product in the field so far this year.

Touch Notation by Kawai: A promising music handwriting app for iOS. Shortly after StaffPad was announced for Windows-only devices, Kawai released a modestly priced and remarkably full-featured music handwriting and gesture-based app for iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone.

Neuratron releases PhotoScore 8, including NotateMe for desktops. See a pattern here? Music handwriting and recognition apps are having their moment. Alongside improvements to PhotoScore, NotateMe 3 came out with a desktop version for the first time.

Other product and technology news

musescore-wb@2xMuseScore 2.0 released. We interview MuseScore’s co-founder and CEO Thomas Bonte as the feature-packed MuseScore 2 becomes officially available. Also consider adding Mastering MuseScore, a helpful guide, to your summer reading list.

Duet turns your iPad into a second computer display. Use your iPad as a second display with Duet, an app designed by former Apple engineers.

Sam Butler and Joe Pearson on Sibelius Cloud Publishing. Avid’s key Sibelius point people speak about the upcoming Sibelius Cloud Publishing technology, its purpose, and future, with more information here.

Finale 2014.5 on the horizon. Included in a roundup of news is the nugget that the next update from MakeMusic to Finale will be a free update called Finale 2014.5 (more from the Finale blog).

NotePerformer 1.5. After a 1.4 update to the integrated Sibelius playback module left some users dissatisfied, NotePerformer 1.5 addressed user concerns with adjustments and enhancements.

Norfolk text font updated to support ligatures in dynamics. There’s an update to Norfolk, the Sibelius-compatible version of the Bravura font, which will now automatically support ligated dynamics.

Interviews

Ben020-2An interview with Ben Finn, co-founder of Sibelius, Part 1 and Part 2. Sibelius co-founder Ben Finn speaks to us in Part 1 about the early days of Sibelius, evolving the software, and growing the company into the market leader. In Part 2, he talks about selling Sibelius to Avid, events after the sale, marketplace developments, and the state of the field today.

An interview with Daniel Spreadbury. Well-known to blog readers, this extensive interview with Daniel Spreadbury covers Steinberg’s scoring program, technology, music engraving, the state of the field, and more.

An interview with David William Hearn, creator of StaffPad. Learn more about the inspiration behind StaffPad, in this interview with its creator, David William Hearn.

Finale 2014d and beyond: a discussion with MakeMusic. Coming late last year, we had a breakfast discussion with top MakeMusic employees about the future of their products and of the field.

Tips and tutorials

gaw@2xThree new plug-ins from Kenneth Gaw will make your life easier. With three new Sibelius plug-ins and an updated fourth, developer Kenneth Gaw has once again found solutions to save you time, keystrokes and mouse-clicks so that you can produce better results more quickly.

What’s with those strange-looking accidentals? Here’s how to correct the occasional strange accidental symbol making mischief in your score.

Correct voice positioning problems with Narrow Two Voices plug-in. If you work with music that uses two voices and have been stymied by Sibelius’s stubborn positioning defaults, you need this longtime plug-in staple in your toolbox.

Scale Notehead Sizes. Bob Zawalich creates a new plug-in to easily resize noteheads in Sibelius — making quick work of what was previously a time-consuming task.

Route Sibelius or Finale MIDI to Logic via IAC bus. Did you know that, with just a little bit of effort, you can route your MIDI from Sibelius or Finale through Logic Pro? This tutorial will walk you through the steps.

Harp support in Sibelius. Bob Zawalich gives us a helpful roundup of the variety of tips and plug-ins to help the notation and playback of harp passages in Sibelius.

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It’s been a busy time in the world of music notation software, and I’ve been keeping up as best I can, giving presentations here in New York at the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop and in Montreal at the 2015 conference of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association. Yesterday I was also interviewed by SoundNotion. Here’s a quick roundup.

Talking notation software and more with SoundNotion

The fellows over at SoundNotion have been covering the world of new music news, week in and week out, for more than four years. I was delighted to be their guest yesterday during which I spoke with hosts David MacDonald and Sam Merciers about recent updates to Sibelius, my part 1 and part 2 interviews with Sibelius co-founder Ben Finn, and lots of other news and goodies about notation softwear. We even cooked up an idea for a Sibelius plug-in app store and, in complete gear geek-out mode, I demonstrate my automatic folding machine.

If you watch this interview or listen to it online or through iTunes, you are hereby considered a bona fide music notation nerd like the rest of us. Congratulations! It was great fun — I’m sure we could have gone on for several more hours.

YouTube Preview Image

NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop

The NYU/ASCAP Foundation Film Scoring Workshop gives aspiring film composers a chance to record a cue with an orchestra comprised of some of New York’s top professional freelance musicians. It’s the culmination of more than a week of intensive study, collaboration, and seminars about the craft and business of film music.

It’s been a pleasure to lead one of those seminars for many years: a music prep class that covers scoring, orchestration, and as many tips and tricks as we can cram into a three-hour session. This year’s class took place earlier this month, and, as usual, I found the participants extremely inquisitive and talented. We seamlessly moved back and forth between Sibelius and Finale, like when we talked about how to make large time signatures — thanks in part to Tim Davies’s blog post about Finale tips, which he graciously allowed me to “translate” for Sibelius users.

    Giving a music prep clinic (Photo credit: Jon Schwarz; Courtesy of the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop)

Giving a music prep clinic (Photo credit: Jon Schwarz; Courtesy of the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop)

It will surely be exciting to see these composers continue to develop their skills, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing their music in “a theater near you” before too long.

MOLA Conference

For the second straight year I presented several sessions at the annual conference of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA). This year’s conference, held in May, was located in Montreal and hosted by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. The focus of the sessions was once again on using Sibelius and Finale in the library, with specific attention being given to the types of situations that librarians are likely to deal with, like urgently needed transpositions and inserts.

In addition to presenting my sessions and attending some others, I enjoyed connecting with colleagues, taking particular delight in spending time with many librarians that I have gotten to know over many years via phone and e-mail, but had never met in person until last month. All the technology in the world can’t substitute for a shared beverage after a day of meetings!

library

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Ben Finn and his brother Jonathan invented Sibelius and founded the company of the same name. Ben recently spoke with me via video chat from his home in London. Part 2 of 2 of our conversation appears below. Part 1 was published on June 23, 2015.

Ben059-2 Read the full article →

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Thumbnail image for An interview with Ben Finn, co-founder of Sibelius [Part 1 of 2]

An interview with Ben Finn, co-founder of Sibelius [Part 1 of 2]

June 23, 2015

In part 1 of a two-part interview, Sibelius co-founder Ben Finn speaks to us about the early days of Sibelius, evolving the software, and growing the company into the market leader.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Sibelius 8 is here: The new Sibelius looks a lot like the old one

Sibelius 8 is here: The new Sibelius looks a lot like the old one

June 18, 2015

The “new” Sibelius is now available alongside new perpetual and subscription license plans. The version number is Sibelius 8.0, but how does it compare to major releases of years past, and should you upgrade?

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Sibelius 8 appears in retail catalog and web site

Sibelius 8 appears in retail catalog and web site

June 15, 2015

Although Sibelius 8 hasn’t officially been released by Avid yet, the popular music retailer Sweetwater has begun to offer it in its music retail catalog and web store.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Neuratron releases PhotoScore 8, including NotateMe for desktops

Neuratron releases PhotoScore 8, including NotateMe for desktops

June 11, 2015

Neuratron has released PhotoScore & NotateMe Ultimate 8, an upgrade to its music scanning and recognition software that brings the NotateMe handwriting app to the desktop for the first time.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Roundup: NotePerformer 1.5, NotateMe 3; Klinger workshops

Roundup: NotePerformer 1.5, NotateMe 3; Klinger workshops

June 8, 2015

Start your day with news about the NotePerformer 1.5.0 update, learn about the new features in NotateMe 3, and check out some summer workshops from veteran music technology instructor Mike Klinger.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Mastering MuseScore, the user-friendly guide to MuseScore

Mastering MuseScore, the user-friendly guide to MuseScore

June 5, 2015

A new guidebook for MuseScore is a thorough and logically written reference for those using the notation software for the first time or for those seeking to expand their knowledge.

Read the full article →