Sibelius 8.5 introduces staff sizes on a per-system basis

by Philip Rothman on December 1, 2016 · 9 comments

in News

update-downloadToday Avid released Sibelius 8.5, a free update for all 8.x users with an active subscription or support plan. Sibelius 8.5’s new engraving feature is one that many users have requested for years: the ability to have different staff sizes for any instrument on a per-system basis.

This new feature is controlled in the Inspector, and so the Inspector has received a bit of a makeover as well — it is the other updated item in 8.5, along with some other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Happily, and quite remarkably, the file format has not changed; Sibelius 8.5 uses the same file format in use since 8.1. Read the full article →


Dorico 30-day trial now available

by Philip Rothman on November 30, 2016 · 13 comments

in News

As promised last week, today Steinberg has made available a 30-day trial version of Dorico.

The trial is fully functional with no restrictions. An e-mail address is required.


To learn more, read our coverage:


First Dorico maintenance update released

by Philip Rothman on November 25, 2016 · 13 comments

in News

As promised, today Steinberg released the first maintenance update to Dorico. Don’t let the deceptively incremental version number (1.0.10) fool you; it includes a robust helping of new features and plenty of bug fixes to the initial 1.0 version, which itself is barely a month old.

Accordingly, some of the deficiencies raised in our initial review of Dorico are now happily rectified, so we’ll start with those and then move on to some of the other improvements in 1.0.10.

You’ll also want to read product marketing manager Daniel Spreadbury’s detailed blog post which describes the update’s new features, and in which he said that Steinberg expects to “release a further small update before the end of 2016.”

Additionally, Daniel announced today that the 30-day trial version of Dorico will become available for download on November 30.

Performance improvements

Many operations are much faster in this latest update, in particular the speed of changing the pitch of a selection of notes using Alt+Up/Down Arrow. Before, you could see each note move in sequence; now the operation is instantaneous.


Other performance improvements:

  • Note input
  • Adding and removing players in Setup mode
  • Eliminating unnecessary screen redraws during editing
  • Creating a new project from a template
  • Working in Print mode

You can also now hear notes auditioned as you input them or edit them. This is optionally enabled or disabled in Dorico > Preferences > General > Play notes during note input and selection.

Read the full article →


2016 holiday shopping guide

by Philip Rothman on November 22, 2016 · 1 comment

in Opinion

When the pop-up Christmas tree stores take hold in my home of New York City each year, it’s a reminder that the clock is ticking to buy goodies to be lovingly wrapped and placed under the tree — once the tree makes its way from the street to its rightful place in the home, of course.

While most trees might be adorned with boxes of sweaters, toy trucks or jewelry, on this blog the ideal gifts — whether for yourself or for your favorite music notation aficionado — are more likely to take the form of books, apps, or gear. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite selections.

Note: I purchase a lot of products from Amazon, and apps from Apple’s App Store, so I’ve linked to those products directly. Those are affiliated links, which constitute advertising; if you’d like to learn more about what that means, please see our privacy policy, sections 4(b) and 4(c). Prices were accurate at the time this article was written, but are, of course, subject to fluctuation. All prices in USD.


percussion2The second edition of Samuel Z. Solomon’s incredible How to Write for Percussion was published in April 2016, and it’s worth every penny — even if you already own the first edition from 2004. There are even more excerpts to pore over, and Sam interviews percussionists and composers to get their individual takes on the challenge of writing effectively for the seemingly limitless variety of instruments that a percussionist might find himself or herself playing at any time. In addition, there are a whopping nine hours of online videos to complement the book — perfect for binge-watching by the fire.
Price: $30 in paperback.

behindbars2Every year I recommend Elaine Gould’s Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation, and there’s even more reason to do so this year. First published in 2011 to great acclaim, the 704-page master reference quickly became indispensible for professional engravers, copyists and publishers. This year, consumers were treated to a wonderful surprise: the imposing hardcover format has been joined by nimble e-book versions, for Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks. Whether or not the original hardcover graces your bookshelf already, having the option to take this resource anywhere is worth the purchase price.
Price: $66 in hardcover; $36 in e-book format.

notationIf the Gould is the heavyweight tome on the subject of music notation, then the Alfred Essential Dictionary of Music Notation is its ideal counterpart. Small and lightweight but chock-full of goodies, it’s the perfect quick reference on a surprisingly wide range of notation topics. With clear illustrations and practical descriptions, it’s the ideal gift for the budding composer who is looking to improve upon the beauty of their score. It’s presented alphabetically, so it’s not necessarily meant to be read in sequence. But that’s the nature of a dictionary, after all, isn’t it? Also in the “Essential” series are dictionaries of orchestration, and terminology — together, they are the three kings of pocket music references.
Price: $7 in paperback; $6 in Kindle format. Read the full article →

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Thumbnail image for Next Dorico update previewed in New York

Next Dorico update previewed in New York

November 17, 2016

Steinberg’s Daniel Spreadbury delivered a 90-minute presentation of Dorico to attendees last evening at the Yamaha Artist Services Piano Salon in New York, covering the software’s existing features and previewing those to come in the next update.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Latest StaffPad update adds useful features and Surface Dial support

Latest StaffPad update adds useful features and Surface Dial support

November 15, 2016

The latest StaffPad update brings support for the new Surface Dial along with useful improvements to writing recognition, working with selections and symbols, tuplet processing, and more.

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Thumbnail image for Keep tempo text aligned to time signatures in Sibelius

Keep tempo text aligned to time signatures in Sibelius

November 3, 2016

Engraver Jeremy Hughes discovered a better-than-usual way to keep tempo text aligned to time signatures in both the score and parts in Sibelius, and we’ll show you how to do it.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for New version of Sibelius First is available

New version of Sibelius First is available

October 28, 2016

Avid has released a new version of Sibelius First, its entry-level edition of its Sibelius music composition software geared towards students, beginners, and other users who may not need the more advanced features found in Sibelius.

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Thumbnail image for Finale v.25.1 maintenance update is released

Finale v.25.1 maintenance update is released

October 25, 2016

MakeMusic has released the first update to version 25 of Finale, officially known as v.25.1. This maintenance update mostly fixes bugs, but also adds several interface improvements and modest feature enhancements.

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Thumbnail image for Dorico is here: A review

Dorico is here: A review

October 19, 2016

At long last, Steinberg has released Dorico, its new music notation and scoring software. Alexander Plötz takes a detailed look into the new software’s philosophy, its features, and its feature. Andrew Noah Cap and Philip Rothman contribute additional content to this thorough review.

Read the full article →