1. Narrow Two Voices
Sibelius automatically aligns notes in two voices, and when they interlock, it positions them “stem-to-stem”. Some publishers and engravers prefer interlocking notes to be positioned “head-to-head.” You can see the difference between these two conventions below:
If you prefer the look of the example on the right, then Narrow Two Voices is the plug-in for you. It can automate the manual positioning of notes required to achieve “head-to-head” alignment, and also has a few other tricks up its sleeve: Sibelius doesn’t always get voice positioning right in all circumstances, particularly for unison whole notes (semibreves) in two voices, and for dotted versus non-dotted unison notes. Narrow Two Voices can fix these problems up automatically too.
2. Multirests and Empty Bars
One of the common problems people have when preparing instrumental parts in Sibelius is that the multirests (sometimes called multimeasure rests, or consolidated rests) unexpectedly break at a particular barline. There’s always a good reason for this — Sibelius only breaks multirests at things like double barlines, rehearsal marks, changes of time signature, key or tempo, etc. — but that reason may not always be obvious. For example, you may have a text object containing only spaces in that bar, or possibly you have created a whole note (semibreve) rest rather than a bar rest.
Sibelius comes with a great plug-in for spotting this kind of problem, and many others, which you’ll find at Plug-ins > Proof-reading > What is Where, but sometimes that can seem like a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Try downloading Multirests and Empty Bars instead: it’s a simpler plug-in that only sets out to tell you why a particular bar might not be consolidated into a multirest.
3. Lower & Raise Pitch Chromatically
The shortcuts for moving notes up and down in Sibelius are incredibly simple: up arrow moves a note up a diatonic step, and down arrow moves it down a diatonic step. But what if you want to move a note up or down by a chromatic step? In that case, you have to do it yourself: either add an accidental, or move the note up or down a diatonic step and then add an accidental. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do this in just one step?
Why, yes it would, and Lower & Raise Pitch Chromatically is just the ticket. This is one of those plug-ins to which it’s very useful to assign a keyboard shortcut: make sure you’re using Sibelius 5.2.5 or later, which makes assigning shortcuts to plug-ins much simpler than in earlier versions. See Menus and shortcuts in Help > Sibelius Reference for help with assigning a shortcut.
4. Fix PhotoScore Lyrics
PhotoScore is one of the marvels of the modern age. It takes printed sheet music and turns it into editable sheet music, by way of your scanner. But it is not without its flaws, and one of the more problematic ones is with lyrics. When you import a PhotoScore file with lyrics into Sibelius, you’ll find that lyric hyphens — used to separate syllables onto different notes — are glued to the end of the syllables that they should follow, rather than floating beautifully between one syllable and the next. To fix this up, you have to manually edit all of the lyrics, removing the hyphen from the end of the lyric and typing it back in yourself.
Or there’s another way: use the Fix PhotoScore Lyrics plug-in, and this whole process takes a couple of seconds. Make this part of your routine when you scan vocal or choral scores.
5. Go To
Sibelius has useful navigation features, including Go to Bar and Go to Page, but it doesn’t currently have some other things that might be useful, e.g. to go to a particular rehearsal mark, or bar number change, or dynamic.
Well, fret no more: the Go To plug-in makes these kinds of navigation effortless. Don’t forget to assign a keyboard shortcut to this new plug-in for maximum effectiveness!
There you have it: five useful plug-ins that will save you hours. Do you have any other favourite plug-ins? Let me know by leaving me a comment or dropping me an email.