Change the appearance of octave lines in Finale and Sibelius

by Philip Rothman on February 17, 2017 · 1 comment

in Tips

Both Finale and Sibelius use the “8va” and “15ma” symbols in their octave lines to represent playing a passage one or two octaves above the staff, respectively. For octave lines below the staff, Finale uses “8va” and “15ma” by default as well, although this is a change that was made in Finale 2012; Finale 2011 and earlier versions use the “8vb” and “15mb” symbols for octave lines below the staff, as does Sibelius.

There’s a whole debate about the grammatical legitimacy of those latter symbols, which I’ll leave for another day. For me, I’ve become increasingly fond of the simple “8” and “15” octave lines both above and below the staff, as appears to be the primary preference in Elaine Gould’s music engraving reference Behind Bars:

Fortunately, changing these defaults is easy to do in both Finale and Sibelius. Here’s how. Read the full article →

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On this blog we usually cover the high-tech side of things: software, hardware, apps, accessories, etc. Today, though, here’s a bit about the low-tech part of what we do.

Once the music is (hopefully) beautifully formatted with your favorite scoring program, it comes time to print and assemble the music. When it comes to the parts, the music is often printed in a booklet, double-sided and formatted so that page 1 is the first (right-hand, or recto) page, then you open the booklet up to get 2 pages at a time, with 2 on the left (verso), 3 on the right, and so on, with the whole thing saddle stitched — stapled in the middle along the spine. Most concert music is printed this way.

Music printed as a booklet

But another way of assembling the pages for parts is by printing the music single-sided and taping it together so that it folds like an accordion. Music bound by this method is often used in recording sessions so that three full pages can be viewed at once. Page turns aren’t an issue, making it easier to deal with particularly busy charts and also to quickly pick up from any point in the music. Jazz charts are often printed this way as well, making it easier to follow music with frequent repeats, dal segno markings, and codas.

It’s a bit hard to tell in this photo, but all this music was printed accordion-style (see the video for how to do it)

It’s fairly easy to assemble a booklet; you fold the music in half and staple it, if needed, with a saddle-stapler (a manual stapler is fine for infrequent use, but we have an electric one which I would never want to be without!).

But the question often arises: How does one tape and assemble accordion-style parts?

It’s asked frequently enough that I figured I would demonstrate my technique and the tools I use to achieve the task in this 5-minute video. I’m sure others have different methods; if you do, I encourage you to share them in the comments!

The tools I used are inexpensive and can easily be purchased at your local art supplies store, or you can find them on Amazon — here are the links:

Art Advantage 23-Inch by 26-Inch Artist Sketch Board
Martha Stewart Crafts Bone Folder
Pro Art 3/4-Inch by 60-Yards White Artist Tape

Of course, even after watching the video, if you don’t have a printer that can print large-format paper, and/or just want to leave the task of making your music look great to the professionals, please feel free to get in touch — we’ll be happy to print your music for you.


OpenScore: Open-sourcing sheet music

by Philip Rothman on February 10, 2017 · 2 comments

in News

Editor’s note: This post is written by Peter Jonas, software developer and OpenScore project manager for MuseScore, the free music composition and notation software. In this guest post, Peter describes the OpenScore project, which he recently announced and presented at FOSDEM 2017, a gathering for developers of free and open source software.

It is my great pleasure to introduce OpenScore, a collaborative sheet music digitization project by MuseScore and IMSLP. Readers of this blog will be familiar with the many advantages digital sheet music has over its paper counterpart, yet PDF remains the most common format for sheet music distribution. This is something that OpenScore means to address.

OpenScore was announced last weekend at FOSDEM, Europe’s largest open source conference, which takes place every year in Brussels, Belgium. By transcribing the whole of the IMSLP archive into MusicXML format, OpenScore will unlock the great classical works by the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach to be enjoyed by music lovers everywhere, whether they happen to use MuseScore, Finale, Sibelius, or any other notation program which supports MusicXML import.

In addition to MusicXML, the scores will also be available in a range of other formats, including PDF, MIDI, and MuseScore’s native MSCZ format. This enables convenient sharing, editing and playback across a range of devices, including computers, phones and tablets.  Finally, OpenScore is partnering with Music21, an open source music parser, and RNIB, the UK’s leading charity for people who are blind or visually impaired, to make the scores available in accessible formats like Braille and Modified Stave Notation.

Best of all, the scores will be released under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY), meaning there are no copyright restrictions, so everyone will be free to use them for any purpose. This will be of huge benefit to orchestras, choirs and individuals looking for materials from which to practice music. It will also facilitate a number of uses in research, academia, and education, and help to inspire composers and arrangers in producing new content.

To make it happen, MuseScore is joining forces with IMSLP and a number of partners across the music and tech industries. MuseScore and IMSLP represent the two largest online communities actively creating and sharing sheet music. We want to harness this potential to create the largest, and most accurate, digital collection of public domain scores available anywhere. However, for OpenScore to be a success we will need the help of the entire digital music community.

In the coming months we will launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to fund the liberation effort. You can get sign-up notified about the launch via There are other ways to get involved too. If you would like to help with the transcription effort then look out for more information appearing on the MuseScore website soon!


Elaine Gould’s music notation reference Behind Bars has the following to say about dotted rests:

“Beats are more compact and thus easier to read when rests within a beat are combined.”

She recommends that dotted rests are used at the beginning but not at the end of the beat in simple time, but “it is acceptable to use dotted rests at both the beginning and the end of a beat,” though she says that the “visual difference between the types of rest is lost.”

“The longest permitted dotted rest,” Gould says, “is one value smaller than the beat. In crotchet [quarter note] metres, the longest dotted rest is a dotted quaver [eighth].”

Recently I had a passage in Finale in 3/4 time with a great many eighths and sixteenth rests (and vice versa) which I wanted to automatically combine into a dotted eighth rest. Of course, I only wished to combine those rest pairs which didn’t cross a beat, as indicated here:

The solution is far from obvious, but it can be done.

Read the full article →


Thumbnail image for Quick fix: Clean up the list of recent documents in Sibelius

Quick fix: Clean up the list of recent documents in Sibelius

February 3, 2017

In Sibelius, if you expect recently opened documents to appear in the Quick Start dialog or in the list of recent documents in the Ribbon, but they’re not appearing correctly, you may need to reset a setting.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Fake it ’til you make it: New Sibelius plug-in for per-staff barline

Fake it ’til you make it: New Sibelius plug-in for per-staff barline

January 31, 2017

A new plug-in automates the tedious process of creating special barlines and manually adding in fake “barlines” in certain instances where you don’t want the barline to appear to be joined between staves.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Monthly live Dorico sessions begin today, January 26

Monthly live Dorico sessions begin today, January 26

January 26, 2017

Steinberg today launches a series of monthly live video tutorials for those wanting to learn more about how to use Dorico. The first of the Discover Dorico sessions begins today, January 26, at 11:00 am EST (US).

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for NAMM 2017: Talking Sibelius with Sam Butler

NAMM 2017: Talking Sibelius with Sam Butler

January 22, 2017

Our NAMM 2017 coverage continues as we talk with Sam Butler, Avid’s senior product manager for Avid‘s music notation and learning products, about the road ahead for Sibelius.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for NAMM 2017: Talking MusicXML and more with Michael Good

NAMM 2017: Talking MusicXML and more with Michael Good

January 21, 2017

Our NAMM 2017 coverage continues as we talk about MusicXML and more with Michael Good, MakeMusic’s vice president of MusicXML technologies.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for NAMM 2017: Soundslice, a web-based music education tool and player

NAMM 2017: Soundslice, a web-based music education tool and player

January 20, 2017

Our NAMM 2017 coverage continues with Soundslice, the web-based music-learning software with an innovative music player that syncs notation with real audio or video.

Read the full article →