musescore-logoOver the past year, this blog has featured discussions and interviews with representatives of several notation software producers. I had breakfast with MakeMusic’s Gear Fisher, Fred Flowerday and Mark Adler and spoke at length with Steinberg’s Daniel Spreadbury. We’ve had several discussions with Avid representatives, including software engineer Michael Ost; marketing manager Andrew Wild about Avid Everywhere; and recently with product staff Sam Butler and Joe Pearson about Sibelius Cloud Publishing.

In that spirit I invited MuseScore‘s co-founder and CEO Thomas Bonte for an interview to coincide with today’s release of MuseScore 2.0, a version five years in the making. I first met Thomas and his co-founder and CTO Nicolas Froment in 2011, when they visited New York for a Music Hack Day event. Their globe-trotting and development hasn’t stopped in the four years since then, and so I am grateful that Thomas was very generous with his time, answering these interview questions during a very busy period for MuseScore.


Nicolas Froment (MuseScore CTO), Werner Schweer (MuseScore lead developer), Thomas Bonte (MuseScore CEO)

Read on to learn more about Thomas, the history of MuseScore, what’s new in MuseScore 2.0, and what to expect for the future. Read the full article →


Route Sibelius or Finale MIDI to Logic via IAC bus

by Philip Rothman on March 18, 2015 · 1 comment

in Tutorials

Some seven years ago there was a post on this blog detailing the steps needed to use Logic Pro’s virtual instruments with Sibelius 6. Here’s an updated tutorial which makes things a little easier using the latest software: Sibelius 7.5 and Logic Pro X, and also includes steps for using Finale.

Needless to say, this tutorial only applies to Mac users.

Steps 1-4: Setting up the IAC bus

1. Open Audio MIDI Setup (found in your Applications/Utilities folder) and choose Window > Show MIDI Window.


2. Double-click the IAC Driver icon.

3. In the dialog that appears, check Device is online to turn on the driver. You can optionally specify more than one bus if you like, if you plan on using more than 16 instruments at one time (each bus can hold 16 channels).


4. Click Apply. Continue reading Steps 5-9 for Sibelius or Finale. Read the full article →

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Narrow Two Voices is one of the earliest plug-ins written for Sibelius, dating back more than 10 years. Developed by Hans-Christoph Wirth, it has proven its staying power and can automatically take care of numerous problems inherent in Sibelius’s default settings.

The plug-in offers three built-in modes:

  • A mode that is similar to Sibelius’s defaults, with certain adjustments made for collisions between dotted and undotted notes, and separating unison whole notes;
  • A “narrow” mode which positions interlocking voices note-to-note instead of stem to stem, allowing for a denser typesetting; and
  • An “arpeggio” mode where a pedal note in Voice 2 such as a half note will overlap the first note of an arpeggio in Voice 1

Some examples of each built-in mode:

SettingDefaultWith plug-in
Default, with certain problems fixeddefault-3default-4
Default, with certain problems fixeddefault-5default-6
Narrow Modedefault-7default-8
Arpeggio Modedefault-9default-10

In addition, the plug-in offers the user the option to create their own custom modes. The plug-in offers font metrics for Opus, Helsinki and Inkpen, but users can also create custom metrics for other fonts, like Norfolk.


Wondering how all this is accomplished? The plug-in is adjusting the X offset of the affected notes in the Inspector. You can summon the Inspector by typing Command-Shift-I (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+I (PC), or by going to Home > Edit > Inspector. The Inspector is contextual, which means that something must be selected in order for it to display values. Try selecting a note and moving the X value up or down for fine adjustments to the horizontal position of the note.


If you find you want to undo the results of Narrow Two Voices and start over, make a selection and go to Appearance > Design and Position > Reset Position.

Narrow Two Voices turns 10 years old this summer. Perhaps someone will compose a two-voice birthday tribute in its honor. Until then, you can download it directly through Sibelius 7 or 7.5 at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Layout. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 6, 7 or 7.5 by visiting the plug-in download page and following the usual manual installation procedure, or by using the Install New Plug-in plug-in.


New plug-in: Scale Notehead Sizes

by Philip Rothman on March 5, 2015 · 3 comments

in Tips

One month ago on this blog I wrote a tutorial with detailed instructions for how to create custom notehead styles of different sizes. There are several reasons why a user might want to do this, but by default Sibelius is limited to only a couple of options: either use the Small notehead style (Notations > Noteheads > Type > Small) or use cue notes, for which the scaling percentage is set document-wide in Appearance > Engraving Rules > Notes and Tremolos (and, it should be noted, it is not possible to apply cue note sizing to individual notes of a chord).

As demonstrated in the post, resizing noteheads is a relatively easy process in Finale. If you wanted to achieve the same results in Sibelius, you would have had to follow the steps in the tutorial — that is, until now.

Seeing an opportunity to benefit the Sibelius user community once again, Bob Zawalich created an ingenious solution to automate this multi-step process. As I mentioned at the end of last month’s tutorial, if you copy a passage that uses your custom noteheads and paste it into another document, all the attendant custom symbols and text styles from your source will transfer over into your destination document.

Bob “riffed” on this idea and within a couple of days had a working prototype. He then spent the next month refining and testing his plug-in, which became Scale Notehead Sizes. Read the full article →


Thumbnail image for There It Is!

There It Is!

February 27, 2015

A plug-in designed to aid blind and vision-impaired people in navigating Sibelius can be helpful to sighted users too.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for NotePerformer updated to 1.4.0

NotePerformer updated to 1.4.0

February 24, 2015

The NotePerformer 1.4.0 update offers significant additions and enhancements to its integrated Sibelius playback module.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Harp support in Sibelius

Harp support in Sibelius

February 20, 2015

Bob Zawalich gives us a helpful roundup of the variety of tips and plug-ins to help the notation and playback of harp passages in Sibelius.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for An interview with Daniel Spreadbury

An interview with Daniel Spreadbury

February 12, 2015

An extensive interview with Daniel Spreadbury about Steinberg’s scoring program, technology, music engraving, the state of the field, and more.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for oTranscribe: A simple web tool for transcribing recorded interviews

oTranscribe: A simple web tool for transcribing recorded interviews

February 10, 2015

Not necessarily music-related, but if you’re interested in my new favorite tool to transcribe speech — along with a sneak preview of an upcoming interview on the blog — read on.

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Make certain noteheads smaller or larger in Finale or Sibelius

Make certain noteheads smaller or larger in Finale or Sibelius

February 4, 2015

Reducing or enlarging noteheads to custom sizes in Finale is a cinch, but with some patience and determination, you can do it in Sibelius too.

Read the full article →