Get smarter with smart quotes

by Philip Rothman on November 21, 2014 · 3 comments

in Tips

One of the ways in which computer keyboards are descendants of the manual typewriter is the agnostic straight apostrophe and quotation mark. Bending neither this way nor that, it has never looked quite right compared to its curly, or “smart” brethren, to which no keys are expressly dedicated.

Some computer programs, like Microsoft Word, have automatic ways to correct this as you type, but Sibelius does not. When you’re intent on composing music you may not care too much about such niceties, but with just a little bit of know-how you can spruce up your contractions and quotations.

After the fact

Whether it’s a score you created or one you’ve received from someone else, you may have a score that’s full of straight quotes. Easily beautify these with the shipping plug-in Smarten Quotes, found in Text > Plug-ins. You’ll first get a dialog asking whether you want to process the current score only, or a set of files within a folder.

Then, you’ll get a dialog with various options. Here are the ones I find most handy:

Smarten Quotes

There are various automatic options for ambiguous words as well as for angled quotes found in some languages. Running the plug-in will turn, for example, this:


into this:


Not very hard at all. If you’re looking for something similar in Finale, my friend Robert Puff has a solution over on his blog, Of Note.

As you type

If you would rather type your desired characters directly, you can do that. When typing in lyrics, Sibelius offers some built-in shortcuts:

To gettype (Mac)type (PC)

Note that these are not your computer operating system’s default keystrokes; the shortcuts included with Sibelius are pre-programmed via the Symbols word menu, which is used for the various lyric text styles. Curiously, these same shortcuts don’t extend to editing other types of text besides lyrics, at least not on Mac. If you want to, though, you could change that; see this recent blog post for instructions on how to go about editing Sibelius’s word menus.

You could, of course, use your OS’s keystrokes to enter these characters. Another option, suggested by my friend Doug LeBow, is to program shortcuts to your liking in a macro editor (like Keyboard Maestro or the mothballed but still functional QuicKeys).

However you enter these curly characters, you — and your scores — will be smarter for doing so.


Road report: Copland 3 in The Big Easy

by Philip Rothman on November 18, 2014 · 6 comments

in Meta

Over the past several years, I’ve had the good fortune to re-engrave several of Aaron Copland’s greatest works, in cooperation with The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and Boosey & Hawkes. One of the main purposes of these new engravings was to make a clear set of performance materials — score and parts — that improved upon what had been circulating for decades, both in the accuracy of the music and its presentation on the page:


Yet another purpose of these projects, in some cases, was to provide additional insight and performance options to interested musicians. It is well-known among clarinetists, but perhaps not to the general public, that Copland revised his initial draft of his Clarinet Concerto after reviewing it with Benny Goodman, who premiered the work in 1950. As the preface to the new engraving says:

The several changes made to suit Goodman in the fast movement have resulted in two versions of the Concerto—Copland’s original and the published score with Goodman’s requested changes. (Copland had made them somewhat grudgingly in deference to Goodman.) Clarinetists have taken sides on their preferences. The aim of this publication is to provide both versions in published form to be available for choice by performers and conductors: The published edition incorporating the changes requested by Goodman is presented along with the differences from the earlier 1948 manuscript version appearing as ossias.

In a similar vein, we’ve just about completed work on a new edition of Copland’s Third Symphony that will soon be available. From the preface: Read the full article →


You probably know that Cmd-E or Ctrl+E are, respectively, the Mac and PC shortcuts to apply Expression text in Sibelius, and that Cmd-T or Ctrl+T apply Technique text. If not, now you know!

Further, you may very well know that, after typing the command for Expression text, with the cursor blinking, holding down Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) and then typing f, m, n, p, r, or s get you the dynamics in the stylized music font (Cmd-Opt-Shift-Z on Mac or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Z on PC is for the z). If that’s news to you, check out this video on the subject.

You may even be quite aware that, also with the Expression text cursor blinking, typing Cmd-Shift-C (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+C (PC) is the shortcut to apply the text “cresc.” and that Cmd-Shift-D (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+D (PC) is the shortcut to apply the text “dim.”

Don’t believe me? Try this: with the cursor blinking, right-click (or Control-click on Mac) the screen to bring up the Expression contextual menu. There they are:


Note that you can, of course, click on any of these items to instantly apply them to the score.

Applying shortcuts to items in a word menu

That’s great, you say, but if only there were a way to really get on this shortcut bandwagon and use it for other text… well, there is! Read on… Read the full article →


20% off Mac productivity apps from our sponsor, Many Tricks

by Philip Rothman on November 11, 2014 · 2 comments

in News

Many Tricks is a company whose stated mission is to create useful tools that do their job efficiently, have a clear interface, and that are enjoyable to use.

They have nine such tools that they offer, including the very popular Butler launch manager, but the two I use nearly every day are Name Mangler and Moom. They’re a sponsor of the blog this month and so I wanted to highlight those two apps. Read on to learn more, and for a special discount code. Read the full article →


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Horizontal note spacing in Sibelius

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Thumbnail image for Transitioning from Sibelius 6 to Sibelius 7.5

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Thumbnail image for Understanding octave-transposing clefs in Sibelius

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Thumbnail image for Norfolk suite updated with Metronome font, other fixes

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Thumbnail image for Dolet 6.4 MusicXML software updated for Sibelius 7.5

Dolet 6.4 MusicXML software updated for Sibelius 7.5

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