Duet turns your iPad into a second computer display

by Philip Rothman on May 26, 2015 · 7 comments

in News

dueticonReal estate can be a wise investment — screen real estate, in particular. Two or more displays means less time switching between apps and resizing windows, and more time being productive. My desktop setup includes two 30″ monitors, plus a third 21″ monitor in portrait mode.

So when I’m traveling with my laptop, working on even its relatively generous 15″ screen feels like I’ve been taken to Willy Wonka’s television room and hopelessly shrunken to an unacceptable size. I keep yearning for that second monitor to temporarily place a document so I don’t have to endlessly shuffle things around.

I was an early adopter of the Air Display app, which used to require a Wi-Fi connection (recent updates allow a USB connection). The latency and display quirks consigned it to the list of my orphaned apps.

So when my colleague Robert Puff alerted me to Duet Display, a new app developed by engineers who used to work at Apple, I decided to give the concept another try. Duet promises a lag-free connection to your Mac or PC via your iPad’s 30-pin or Lightning cable and USB.

I bought the $16 app from the iTunes store and downloaded the free desktop companion app from the developer’s site (all Macs running 10.9+ or PCs running Windows 7+ are supported). From there, it’s just a matter of opening the Duet app on the computer to install a graphics driver, restart, and connect the two devices.

As you’d expect from ex-Apple engineers, the implementation and execution was as simple as could be, and in no time, my “real estate investment” paid off handsomely.


You’ll want to uncheck Mirror Displays in the Displays section of System Preferences, and arrange the screens to your liking.


Duet installs itself as a menu bar icon on your desktop, and you have various options to set the resolution and frame rate, which have energy implications you may wish to consider if you’re low on battery power. For my purposes, the regular resolution at 30 fps worked just fine.


An extra bonus, as I demonstrate in the video below, is that you can use the touch feature of your iPad to control the mouse pointer. To be clear, it’s still not the same as running an app with native touchscreen support — the app is, after all, still actually running on the Mac — but I must admit it was fun to see Sibelius displayed on an iPad and simply touching the screen to move around.

Duet is available for $16 from the US iTunes store; UK users can have it for £12; EU and Australian pricing is €16 and 20 AUD, respectively.

YouTube Preview Image


An important part of printed music is the text that doesn’t appear within the staff lines at all. Let’s get down to business and go over headers, footers, and footnotes — three types of text you’re likely to encounter on the margins of the page.


Headers are a type of system text — the kind of text that appears in every part. But unlike tempo text or rehearsal marks, which appear at positions relative to the music, headers appear at fixed positions on the page.

You can see this for yourself by going to Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles, finding a style like Header or Header (after first page) in the list, and click Edit… . Click on the Vertical Posn tab. The Snap to top or bottom of page radio button is selected, meaning that the text will always appear at the position on the page you specify.


Next, click on the Horizontal Posn tab. This is where you tell Sibelius where on the page to place your header. In this case, the text will be aligned to the inside edge of the page.


Now, click on the Repeat tab. This is where you tell Sibelius to repeat the text on left pages, right pages, or all pages. If Repeat on were to be unchecked, the text would only appear on a single page (like titles, composer name, copyright notices, and the like). Hidden on first page will do just that: hide the text on the first page on which it is placed.


Why would you want to hide a header that you’ve just placed? The reason is a very important (and not entirely intuitive concept) in Sibelius: All text (except for blank page text) is attached to a bar. You will typically want to place all “page” text, such as titles, composer names, copyright notices — and headers — attached to the first bar of your score. The exception is usually subtitle text which might appear at the beginning of a movement a ways into your score.

So even though you might have header text using the Header (after first page) text style which doesn’t actually display until page 2, you’ll still want to place it on bar 1.

To do that, select the first bar of your score, go to Text > Styles, and choose your text style you wish to use. Here, you can see that I’ve made use of a number of text styles on the first page, and to illustrate I’ve added the name of the text style underneath.

The dashed line shows that they’re all attached to the first bar, and the lightened styles — Header (after first page) and Header (after first page, inside edge) — means that those styles won’t actually appear until the second page of music.


Now, when I go to the second page of music, I see those two styles which were hidden on page 1:


Note that the text style Header (after first page, inside edge) appears on the inside page of music — and since page two is a left-facing page, the text appears on the right. On page 3, the text would appear on the left.

In this particular example, I’ve made use of wildcards behind the scenes, so that I can re-use the same template and fill in the data in File > Info.


Footers are really nothing more than headers placed on the bottom of the page. The main difference is in Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles > Vertical Posn, where from bottom margin would be selected instead of from top margin.

Footers are excellent for placing revision or edition numbers at the bottom of a score, particularly if you’re “hot-swapping” certain pages of a piece. Here, we’ve tagged the file with the revision date on each and every page, using the Footer (outside edge) text style:



Footnotes may seem similar to footers, since Sibelius lumps them both into the Headers and Footers category in Text > Styles. But they’re different in two key ways:

  1. Footnotes won’t appear on every part. That’s because they’re not system text; they’re staff text, and thus only apply to the staff to which you’ve attached the footer.
  2. Footnotes can’t repeat on multiple pages; they only appear on the same page as the bar of music to which the footnote is attached appears.

If you’ve ever footnoted a term paper in a word processor like Microsoft Word, you’re familiar with the concept of footnotes. Footnotes in Sibelius aren’t quite as intelligent, but they can serve a useful purpose to explain a technique or add additional information about a passage in certain circumstances:


If you can see the faintly grey-colored dashed line, you’ll notice that the footnote is attached specifically to the clarinet staff at the particular bar where the footnote is to appear.

Page numbers

You might be wondering about page numbers, which seem like they would be another kind of header or footer. That’s an entirely reasonable assumption, but Sibelius treats page numbers quite differently and uniquely. Fortunately, there’s already another blog post about that!


Some Friday font fun: The Norfolk Text Std font, part of the Sibelius-compatible family of Bravura-derived Norfolk fonts, has been updated so that ligated dynamics automatically appear.

The newer, ligated version of the Norfolk Text dynamics is on the second staff

The newer, ligated version of the Norfolk Text dynamics is on the second staff

The change is most noticeable on dynamics such as “mp” and “ppp”, but subtle changes are visible on other dynamics as well. In the above example, the old version is on the first staff, and the newest version is on the second staff.

We’re accustomed to seeing ligatures in ordinary text, as shown in the lyrics in the example above. Sibelius supports automatic ligatures, including those in music text, as long as the ligatures are defined in the font.

The generous Sibelius expert Robin Walker identified the need for this in Norfolk Text and has spent a good deal of time over the last couple of weeks making sure that the font works well in Sibelius 6 and higher. Full credit for this update goes to him. Thanks, Robin!

We expect that when Steinberg’s scoring program is released, dynamics will appear this way by default, as they already do in programs that use the original SMuFL version of Bravura, like StaffPad and MuseScore 2.

In Finale‘s Maestro font, which shares a common ancestor with Bravura, the precomposed glyphs for dynamics such as “mp” use a ligated form as well.

We are optimistic that pre-sets for the Norfolk fonts (though not the fonts themselves) will be included in a future Sibelius update, which means that users will simply be able to select Norfolk from the list of music fonts in Text > Format > Edit All Fonts and not need to spend time first setting it up in File > Preferences > Music Fonts. Until then, though, it is necessary to do so, so be sure to carefully read the documentation included with the font suite to get going with it in Sibelius.

Various other small fixes are included in this update, so head on over to the NYC Music Services page to download the entire set for free, if you haven’t already. If you’ve downloaded the Norfolk fonts previously by registering your e-mail address, you have already been notified of the update with a link sent to you via e-mail.



Sibelius and Finale sessions at 2015 MOLA Conference

by Philip Rothman on May 12, 2015 · 4 comments

in News

The Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) is holding their 33rd annual conference from May 29 – June 1, 2015 in Montreal, hosted by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

La maison symphonique de Montréal, inaugurated in 2011

La maison symphonique de Montréal, inaugurated in 2011

The conference agenda features a healthy mix of business meetings, breakout sessions, and socializing for the MOLA membership, comprised of professional librarians from performing organizations around the world. Vendors, publishers, and other music organizations will also be represented.

I will be presenting four one-hour sessions at the conference this year, two each about Sibelius and Finale, tailored specifically to the practical tasks that librarians need to accomplish:

  1. Using Sibelius in the Library — We’ll explore how to use Sibelius to address common library situations including transpositions, inserts, corrections, and more. Basics of score of setup, formatting, and workflow will be addressed along with common pitfalls. A discussion of how to adjust Sibelius’s house styles to match existing print materials and how to use Dynamic Parts will be included.
  2. Using Finale in the Library — Like the Sibelius session above, but with Finale.

These one-hour sessions will surely go by quickly, so I am delighted to be offering a limited number of one-on-one consultations by appointment, for those delegates who have specific questions about Sibelius or Finale and need help with particular issues. To register in advance for a consultation, just visit the special page on the NYC Music Services web site.

Presenting a Sibelius training session

Presenting a Sibelius training session

I’m honored that MOLA has once again invited me to present at their annual conference. Last year’s conference in Miami was a whirlwind of activity, with presentations, meetings, and socializing, and I look forward to visiting with old colleagues and meeting new ones in Montreal. I won’t be giving my comparison of Sibelius and Finale again, since nothing much has changed from last year, but you can read it here if you like.

Hope to see you in May!


Thumbnail image for Roundup: StaffPad and MuseScore updates, Spreadbury on SoundNotion, Finale news, MusicXML at Musikmesse

Roundup: StaffPad and MuseScore updates, Spreadbury on SoundNotion, Finale news, MusicXML at Musikmesse

May 6, 2015

We quickly hop around the world of music notation news in this post, chock-full of the latest updates about StaffPad, MuseScore, Steinberg, Finale, and MusicXML.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for StaffPad live demo at Microsoft developers conference

StaffPad live demo at Microsoft developers conference

May 1, 2015

StaffPad founder David William Hearn shares the stage with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, demonstrating the new notation app for thousands watching in person and online.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Touch Notation by Kawai: A promising music handwriting app for iOS

Touch Notation by Kawai: A promising music handwriting app for iOS

April 23, 2015

Kawai has released the English-language version of Touch Notation, a modestly priced and remarkably full-featured music handwriting and gesture-based app for iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone.

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Thumbnail image for Stretching the limits of notehead styles and plug-ins in Sibelius

Stretching the limits of notehead styles and plug-ins in Sibelius

April 21, 2015

In this post geared towards Sibelius power users, Bob Zawalich describes the rather generous limitations of the numbers of notehead styles and plug-ins Sibelius can support at a given time, and how to get around those limitations, if needed.

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Thumbnail image for Writing more music with StaffPad

Writing more music with StaffPad

April 17, 2015

A longer real-time video showing StaffPad in use, including writing two-voice music, triplets, slurs, grace notes, duplicating music, using the eraser, and the expression layer.

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Thumbnail image for What’s with those strange-looking accidentals?

What’s with those strange-looking accidentals?

April 15, 2015

Here’s how to correct the occasional strange accidental symbol making mischief in your score.

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