Sibelius 3

Sibelius 3 is now the scorewriter of choice for professional composers and musicians. Whether scoring for classical, orchestral, pop or jazz, Sibelius 3 now has everything you need – including slash notation for piano and guitar parts, percussion notation, and open and closed mute articulations.

It now incorporates Native Instruments’ Kontakt sampler software. Kontakt Player Silver is included free with 20 instruments – brass, woodwind, strings, percussion, voices and Bosendorfer piano. You can play any eight of these instruments back at a time, but you can’t change Kontakt’s sounds during playback.

This is OK to get you started, but you’ll probably want to upgrade to Kontakt Gold if you intend to use Kontakt as your main sound source. Gold includes 64 instruments and lets you play up to 32 of these at once, so you can work with more ambitious scores.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the Kontakt Player built into Sibelius to play back through my Digidesign HD card at the same time that the Kontakt Player supplied with the new Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) was playing back through this card. Sibelius ought to sort out issues like this by implementing full VST or AU plug-in compatibility as soon as possible.
You can save an audio version of a score using the sounds from Kontakt (or GPO) to create an AIFF audio file that you can burn to CD or convert to MP3 – although this works only for staves playing back via Kontakt (or GPO). You can publish music online by saving the score as a Scorch Web page that can be viewed, played and printed using a browser with Sibelius’s Scorch plug-in. You can publish and sell scores at

Sibelius 3 also includes PhotoScore Lite 3. This lets you scan music from books or printed sheets, and has been upgraded to scan guitar tab. I recommend upgrading to PhotoScore Professional if you are serious about scanning. This handles pickup and irregular bar lengths correctly, reads guitar frames and four-string tab, and is much better at reading text, chord symbols, tuplets and so forth.


Sibelius supports more formats than Finale – and can open Finale files. The guitar notation, chord symbols and tab features are the best you will find. However, Kontakt Silver is too limited, and GPO is better than Kontakt Gold. Overall, it gets my vote as the best scorewriter there is.

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