Harp glissando and arpeggio playback in Sibelius

by Philip Rothman on July 22, 2016 · 5 comments

in Tips

zawalich3This blog post is written by Bob Zawalich, composer, guitarist, software designer, and creator of hundreds of useful plug-ins for Sibelius. In this post, Bob shows us how to get harp notation that is pleasant to both the eye and ear by using several convenient plug-ins.

Lines in Sibelius are defined for one staff only. You can drag a line to cover both staves, but playback will not work properly. I will first describe how to get the notation to look correct, and then how to get playback to match the notation.

Notation

Glissando lines

If you want a gliss. line to cover both staves, select the start and end notes and create the line. It will be drawn straight on the first staff, and the ends may be far from either notehead. Now click on the end(s) of the line that need to move to get a small handle, and drag the handle to the note – the up and down arrow keys will actually do a great job for this. You will usually find that you will not need to adjust the horizontal spacing at all.

The downloadable Line Between Notes plug-in (in category Lines) will make this easier. You can select two notes and run the plug-in and it positions the line as close to the notes as it can. The plug-in has to guess the distance between staves, so it will not always end at the right height, but the line will always require less adjustment than when you add the line by hand.

harp-ex-1

See Philip’s blog post for more information about this plug-in. Read the full article →

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Go wireless with the Xkey Air MIDI keyboard: a review

by Philip Rothman on July 19, 2016 · 6 comments

in News

Cord-cutters, rejoice: Wireless connection between your digital instrument and your computer, tablet or phone is a reality, thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) MIDI. We first saw Apple’s Yosemite OS and iOS 8 support BLE MIDI at the software level, and now Android devices are compatible as well, with Windows 10 expected to support it in a forthcoming update this summer.

CME announced plans last year to manufacture wireless versions of their Xkey line of keyboards to meet the BLE MIDI spec, and they’ve delivered. The Xkey Air, available in both 25-key and 37-key configurations for $199 and $299 respectively, are fully mobile iterations of the slim keyboard that I use as my main note-entry keyboard nearly every day.

Back in 2014, I reviewed the Xkey 25, and then in 2015 added an octave with the Xkey 37. The defining features of those keyboards — slim and sleek design, velocity-sensitivity, polyphonic aftertouch, and a handful of CC buttons — are all still present and work just as effectively in the Xkey Air just as they did in the USB versions of the keyboard, so while we won’t cover those in detail here, you can read about those features in our review of the original Xkey.

Using the XKey Air

I tested the Xkey Air 37 — the larger of the Air models — and its size and shape is nearly identical to that of the Xkey 37.

xkey-air-2

Kissing cousins — the Xkey 37 on top, and the Xkey Air 37 on bottom

The high C on the Air has a removable Bluetooth sticker, but other than that you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two. The right side of the keyboard has Xkey’s semi-proprietary micro USB (micro-B) port — the connector is a standard micro-B size, although the plug itself is a customized “slim” version, the cable for which comes included with the Xkey Air.

Yes, the Xkey Air is wireless, but you can also connect it to your device via this USB cable in the ordinary way for a wired connection. You’ll also need the cable to charge the keyboard. CME claims that the Air has more than 10 hours of play on a single charge, certainly enough for a full day of continuous playing. You can use the device in wireless mode even when charging (i.e., if you’re charging through your laptop but playing through your iPad, the latter of which doesn’t have a USB port).

Speaking of charging, one of the only other differences between the Xkey and the Xkey Air is the power switch and series of lights on the back of the unit. A solid blue light means that the Air is connected via Bluetooth, while a flashing blue light means that the Air is waiting for a Bluetooth connection. The green light is on while the device is charging and off when it is either fully charged or not charging. A solid red light means that the Air is connected via USB, while a flashing red light means that it is not connected via USB. Read the full article →

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Notation software has come, gone, and evolved over the years. But for many digital engravers, one program remains the gold standard by which all others are measured. That program is SCORE, the first commercially available music notation program, released in 1986. Although it continues to be used, its creator, Leland Smith, died several years ago, and it is unlikely to ever be updated.

Fortunately, Musegraph has produced a music font to suit typesetters and enthusiasts who enjoy the look of SCORE’s output. Its Vienna font, derived from SCORE, has been available for a while for Finale users, and now it has been ported for use in Sibelius.

That font family is called Wolfgang, and it is available now from Musegraph for 40 €. Wolfgang doesn’t replicate every symbol within the Opus family, but the most common ones are available through the three fonts that comprise the Wolfgang family: Wolfgang Std, Wolfgang Special Std, and Wolfgang Text Std. (For other, less common symbols, you can use one of the Sibelius default fonts such as Opus, or the free Bravura-derived Norfolk font.)

After you install the fonts on your computer, setting it up for use in Sibelius is very easy. Instructions are provided on Musegraph’s web site, and should you need it, more information is available in the Sibelius Reference in the Music fonts chapter. Once you have set up a document using the Wolfgang fonts, you can export a house style or manuscript paper that uses them.

I tried it and was very pleased with the results I achieved. Here is an excerpt of music created in SCORE:

pdf-from-score

An excerpt of music created in SCORE (click for PDF)

And here is the same excerpt, created in Sibelius with Wolfgang:

pdf-from-sibelius

An excerpt of music created in Sibelius, with the Wolfgang font (click for PDF)

Of course, achieving output in Sibelius or Finale that truly emulates that of SCORE is more than just a simple font substitution; note spacing, layout, engraving rules, and a host of other settings come into play. But if you’re already interested in changing your music font, chances are you’ll want to spend the time adjusting your house style and your document’s settings to achieve that distinctive look. Using Wolfgang will go a long way toward making it possible.

For more options, Musegraph also offers another font called Ludwig (the Finale version is called Stockholm), which it says “gives an older look to your scores. It has softly shaped accidentals and dynamics with a relaxing look.” Ludwig is priced at 35 €.

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Avid drops Sibelius 1-year upgrade price to $199

by Philip Rothman on July 12, 2016 · 7 comments

in News

So, after all the sturm und drang about subscription vs. perpetual licenses, revised price schemes, and deadline extensions, Avid has once again dropped the price of an upgrade for users of Sibelius 7.5 or earlier who have missed the 1-year window to upgrade. The price for those users is now $199 USD, available from Avid’s online store.

When the new license plan was announced last year, the price of a perpetual license for existing users upgrading or renewing after more than one year’s time was implied to be the same as for new users — originally set at $689 and then reduced to a still-hefty $599. More recently, Avid announced a reduction in that price to $299 and set a deadline of June 30, 2016 to upgrade, and then extended the deadline by a week to July 6.

Now, to get back on board with a perpetual license, it will only cost $199, quite a reasonable price, considering that it happens to be the same price as a crossgrade from a competing product such as Finale, Notion, Encore, or Mosaic. (Which, of course, is what we’ve been saying all along — but we’re happy to forego any credit here!)

The $199 price includes a perpetual license — that is, the right to use Sibelius in perpetuity, just as before — along with one year of upgrades and support. A deal for a perpetual license and three years of support is also available for $299. The price for users who renew their upgrade and support plan within one year is $89.

A screenshot from the Avid online store, today

A screenshot from the Avid online store, today

Avid has confirmed that the $199 price will be good through the end of this year. So then, here’s a summary of the pricing schemes for perpetual licenses:

  • You own a perpetual license to Sibelius 8 and renew your upgrade and support plan within one year of when you purchased it: $89 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support)
  • You own a perpetual license to Sibelius 8 and renew your upgrade and support plan after more than one year of when you purchased it: $199 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support); $299 (includes 3 years of upgrades and support)
  • You own Sibelius 1-7.5 and haven’t yet upgraded to Sibelius 8: $199 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support); $299 (includes 3 years of upgrades and support)
  • You own any version of Sibelius and qualify for educational pricing: $89 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support)
  • You own a competing product: $199 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support)
  • You are completely new to Sibelius: $599 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support)
  • You are completely new to Sibelius and qualify for educational pricing: $299 (includes 1 year of upgrades and support)

It’s summer, so no quizzes, we promise!

All prices quoted above are from the Avid store. You might find lower prices at resellers such as Amazon’s US store or Amazon’s UK store (these are affiliate links and purchases made through them will support this blog through a commission fee).

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Thumbnail image for Summer 2016 reading list from the Sibelius blog

Summer 2016 reading list from the Sibelius blog

July 5, 2016

Ah, summer. Time for long walks on the beach, cool refreshing drinks — and time to catch up on all your reading from the Sibelius blog from the first half of this year. From Sibelius updates, to industry news, products, tips and tutorials, there’s lots here to enjoy.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Avid extends upgrade deadline by one week to July 6 (updated)

Avid extends upgrade deadline by one week to July 6 (updated)

June 30, 2016

Today Avid announced that the deadline to upgrade to Sibelius 8 from Sibelius 7.5 or earlier at an introductory price is being extended by one week to July 6, 2016.

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Thumbnail image for Sibelius 8.4 released with more custom staff sizes; Scorch for iPad updated

Sibelius 8.4 released with more custom staff sizes; Scorch for iPad updated

June 27, 2016

Released today, Sibelius 8.4 includes the option of using more custom staff sizes in a Sibelius document. MusicXML import and export of the feature is supported. The Scorch iPad app has also been updated in tandem with the Sibelius 8.4 release.

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Thumbnail image for MakeMusic pulls PDF importing and scanning from Finale in response to concerns

MakeMusic pulls PDF importing and scanning from Finale in response to concerns

June 20, 2016

After a week where a PDF importing feature unexpectedly ignited a firestorm on social media, MakeMusic decided to pull the feature — and all scanning capabilities — from future versions of Finale.

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Thumbnail image for Finale’s new importing feature should be welcomed, not scorned

Finale’s new importing feature should be welcomed, not scorned

June 17, 2016

Finale’s recently announced PDF-importing feature does not spell doom for composers, despite what you may have otherwise heard.

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Thumbnail image for News in brief: Sibelius upgrade plans, new Finale features, Logic update — and e-ink for sheet music

News in brief: Sibelius upgrade plans, new Finale features, Logic update — and e-ink for sheet music

June 10, 2016

A take on the week’s news in music notation and technology, from Sibelius upgrade plans to new Finale features, Logic Pro X updates, and a dual-screen e-paper music reader that may be in our future.

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