Working correctly with slurs and ties

by Philip Rothman on April 14, 2014 · 10 comments

in Tips


Occasionally when reviewing someone else’s score in Sibelius or Finale, I’ll notice that the user has incorrectly entered ties as slurs. While the two items may look similar, they are in fact different, and behave differently in notation software:

  • Ties connect two or more notes of the same pitch, effectively lengthening the duration of the note
  • Slurs are notated on two or more notes, usually of different pitch, to make them legato, or to show phrase markings or bowings

If you enter in a tie as a slur, not only will it look and behave differently in notation software, but it will play back incorrectly. My colleague Tom Rudolph has an excellent basic guide to entering ties and slurs in both Sibelius and Finale. These topics are also covered in Lessons 1 and 3 in Avid’s Get Started Fast with Sibelius 7.5 video tutorials.

What if this information came too late, and you’ve already entered in all your ties as slurs? Or what if you’re a copyist who has received such a file from somebody else? You’ll want Roman Molino Dunn’s $13 plug-in Locate Ties Entered As Slurs, available from his store, The Music Transcriber. Once you’ve installed the plug-in via the usual manual installation procedure, or with Bob Zawalich’s free plug-in Install New Plug-in, you can take a passage like this:


Run the plug-in with these settings:


And get this result:


In Appearance > Engraving Rules > Ties 1 and Ties 2, under Ties Above/Below on Notehead Side, I’ve unchecked “Use on single notes”, which is why the difference is more noticeable than it otherwise might be. Notice how the plug-in is intelligent enough to account for slurs that occur between notes of the same pitch when articulations are present, and optionally leave them alone, like when a string player would play two separate notes of the same pitch with the same bow stroke.

Another of Roman’s handy plug-ins is Locate Slurs Ending On Ties, also $13. It is generally best practice in modern notation for a slur to encompass all ties notes until their last tied into note. If you’re working with a score in which the composer has entered the slur only up to the start of the tie, this plug-in will easily save you lots of work, like in this case:


Run the plug-in with these settings:


And get this result:


I recently used Locate Slurs Ending On Ties on a score with more than 700 such instances! Naturally, I used all that time I saved to more thoroughly enjoy life’s greater pleasures.



Avid-everywhere2This past Saturday at NAB 2014 in Las Vegas, Avid unveiled a highly publicized new strategic vision for helping content creators and media organizations connect with consumers. Called Avid Everywhere, it was introduced by president & CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. to an audience at the Avid Customer Association’s inaugural event, Avid Connect.

The Avid Everywhere event was less about specific product details and more about defining the direction of the company. The centerpiece of the vision is a common services platform called Avid MediaCentral. According to Avid, the platform “facilitates an open and extensible environment that integrates technology from Avid and other providers. Content creators and distributors can produce, manage, deliver, and monetize media that adheres to a common set of standards – regardless of the vendor and tools they choose to use at each step of the way.”

He's Everywhere: Louis Hernandez, Jr. announcing a new Avid vision

He’s Everywhere: Avid’s Louis Hernandez, Jr. announcing a new vision for his company

“We are taking all that is common across our entire product set and putting it under one common platform – so we can share these capabilities as common services you need to have regardless if it’s news, video, audio, etc.” Hernandez said at the event. “You can then have applications that solve unique business needs but don’t waste time on things that can be done by the platform – no different than your smartphone and applications. The platform will then accommodate applications that do everything from create content to consumption of the asset.”

Within this vision are various suites of products and tools to assist Avid’s customers in their work: an Artist Suite comprising various products including Sibelius; a Media Suite for managing, distributing and monetizing media; and a Storage Suite.


Accompanying the Avid Everywhere rollout were some re-branding of products using the vertical bar or pipe character, including the Sibelius product line. Sibelius First is now called Sibelius | First Edition; the Avid Scorch iPad app is now called Sibelius | Reader, although presumably it will take some time before these updates will be reflected in the various company-wide sites and materials.

I spoke with Andrew Wild, Avid’s segment marketing manager, to learn more about Avid Everywhere and what its implications are for the future of Sibelius. Read on to learn what we discussed. Read the full article →


Notation software sessions at 2014 MOLA Conference

by Philip Rothman on April 7, 2014 · 3 comments

in News

The Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) is holding their 32nd annual conference from May 2-5, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. Hosted by the New World Symphony, the conference can’t come a moment too soon for those of us afflicted by the extreme winter we’ve had in much of the US!

The New World Center in Miami Beach, Florida

The New World Center in Miami Beach, Florida

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 three one-hour sessions at the conference this year, all tailored specifically to the practical tasks that librarians need to accomplish:

  1. Finale and Sibelius: A Comparison — We’ll discuss when it may be advantageous to use one program or the other. The question “Where do I find this feature in the other program?” will be answered as well as an examination of when it would be beneficial to use MusicXML to convert one file format to other.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 invited me to present at their upcoming conference. After reading Daniel Spreadbury’s report from the 2011 London conference, I’m anticipating a similarly high level of eager and inquisitive participation this time in Miami. Now — I wonder if it is possible to hold the sessions outside in the nice weather and display the score images on that big wall in SoundScape Park?


Ah, the semicolon, the often misunderstood and maligned member of the punctuation family. Kurt Vonnegut once famously compared it to a “transvestite hermaphrodite”; Lynne Truss called semicolons “dangerously addictive”; and an opinion piece in the New York Times on the matter elicited more than 300 comments in response.

Yet the humble character persists; it is widely used in computer programming, for instance. And who hasn’t softened a stern-sounding text or e-mail message with a wink? ;-)

If you use Sibelius, you could be forgiven for thinking that the semicolon is useless; after all, in versions prior to Sibelius 7, typing it does nothing. Finale users are accustomed to its use; in Speedy Entry mode, typing it changes a note to a grace note.

Try doing that in Sibelius 7 or 7.5; you may well be surprised at the result!


To get the above sequence: I first selected my position for note entry; I then typed 2 on the Keypad to specify a sixteenth note; I typed F followed by the semicolon; I then repeated the a similar process for the other notes.

Switching back and forth between Keypad layouts in order to turn grace note entry on and off can be awkward; using the semicolon should save you quite a bit of time.

Kurt Vonnegut’s disciples may wish to avoid the semicolon at all costs; others may wish to reserve the character for other purposes. To change the shortcut to something else in Sibelius 7.5: Go to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts; select Note Input tab from the Tab or Category list; select Turn note into gracenote; choose your new shortcut. (Curiously, in Sibelius 7 this option appears in the Selection catgeory of the Tab or Category list.)

As far as I know, this shortcut is hardwired to work only for appoggiaturas; there’s not an obvious way to use it to turn notes into acciaccaturas using this method. However, Robert Enns and John Hinchey have pointed out another way to streamline grace note entry, which also works in all previous versions of Sibelius, and appears to be undocumented:

  • Select position
  • Type the note value on the Keypad (e.g, 2 for sixteenth note)
  • On your main computer keyboard — not the numeric keypad — type . (period) for an appoggiatura (unslashed grace note) or / (forward slash) for an acciaccatura (slashed grace note)
  • Enter your notes
  • Type the shortcut key — . (period) or / (forward slash) — to cancel grace note entry
  • You are now back to normal note entry

In effect, the shortcuts . (period) or / (forward slash) are shortcuts for items on the Keypad’s other layouts; you could program other shortcuts in a similar manner.

When used with Sibelius 7.5’s improved playback options for grace notes, the semicolon may well get the love it deserves.

Updated April 4, 2014 to further document where the shortcut appears in Preferences in Sibelius 7 and 7.5, and to more clearly describe the shortcuts for the Keypad.


Thumbnail image for Spring cleaning at the blog

Spring cleaning at the blog

March 31, 2014

It’s my hope that a spring cleaning, a few new coats of paint, and other recent changes to this blog result in a more satisfying experience for loyal and casual readers alike.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Sibelius online courses by Midnight Music scheduled for 2014

Sibelius online courses by Midnight Music scheduled for 2014

March 27, 2014

Registration is now open for four online Sibelius courses in 2014 headed by Katie Wardrobe of Midnight Music: Basics, Speedy Arranging, Advanced, and Projects for Students.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for 15 minutes could save you 15 percent on workflow

15 minutes could save you 15 percent on workflow

March 24, 2014

Spend a little time watching the new “Get Started Fast” series for Sibelius 7.5 and save a lot of time in your daily work.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for New plug-in: Add Turbo Comment

New plug-in: Add Turbo Comment

March 21, 2014

Turbo-charge your comments in Sibelius and collaborate in ways you never thought were possible with this new free plug-in.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Using the RollerMouse Red ergonomic device with notation software

Using the RollerMouse Red ergonomic device with notation software

March 18, 2014

Guest author Chris Hinkins takes us through a review of the Rollermouse Red and describes how he’s saved both pain and time using this unique pointing device with Sibelius.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Sibelius 7.5 complimentary upgrade e-mails arriving

Sibelius 7.5 complimentary upgrade e-mails arriving

March 15, 2014

Users eligible for complimentary upgrades to Sibelius 7.5 have begun to be notified that their upgrades are ready for download and registration.

Read the full article →