Anyone serious about music notation will be aware of Sibelius – one of the leading music-scoring packages for personal computers. Sibelius just got a whole lot better with the recent upgrade to version 2. It’s now carbonized for Mac OS X.
The keyboard commands have been greatly extended – so users can now create text, time signatures, and so on, as notes are input; Sibelius will automatically position them. The innovative Flexi-Time recording feature lets users employ a MIDI keyboard to play music into Sibelius, automatically changing the tempo of the guide click-track to reflect the musician’s. Flexi-Time now enables input into any voice, and lets users specify their own split-points.
Sibelius has impressive MIDI playback options. These include Espressivo, which provides various levels of expression; and Rubato, which can subtly alter the tempo, just as a human performer would.
The new automatic Arrange feature furnishes users with the ability to copy a page of music, either choosing particular instruments, or having Sibelius create the parts automatically. A particularly clement feature is the ability to pick a musical style, and let the program choose appropriate instruments, transposing the parts accordingly. Styles include Band; Choir; Impressionist Orchestra with Harp; Woodwind and Strings; Jazz Quintet; and Film Orchestration.
Sibelius can be set-up to pick the favoured string or flute sound from popular synthesizers – as chosen by the Sibelius programmers. For each different device, Sibelius ‘knows’ which program and bank number is the best, and even the best sound for a particular playing-technique, such as mute trumpet or pizzicato viola.
That isn’t to say that Sibelius has no room for improvement, however. For example, there are commands to Go To a bar or a page – but it would make sense to be able to jump directly to rehearsal marks.
Sibelius lets users publish scores on their own Web sites, or on www.sibeliusmusic.com – which sells music on the composer’s behalf. Sibelius pays composers 50 per cent of the sales; the best-selling scores could make several hundred pounds each quarter for the composer.
Sibelius isn’t an entry-level product – but you don’t have to be an expert to get started. The guitar notation, chord symbols, and tablature features are the best you’ll find, and the Arrange features make it easy to create basic arrangements. And using the PhotoScore software with a suitable scanner, users can get their favourite scores into Sibelius and quickly make their own adaptations. Highly recommended.