Sibelius 4 lets composers produce professional scores and instrumental parts, teachers create worksheets and exercises, guitarists write tablature and chord symbols, and songwriters write lyrics and music. Publishers can scan in music, and print it in a variety of styles and film composers can compose to video. In fact, it would be hard to think of a music-scoring task that Sibelius would not be able to help with.
Sibelius makes good use of the Web. The website has an excellent Help Centre and lets you download demos of its educational software. You can also download Scorch – the free plug-in that lets you view, play, customise and print Sibelius scores from the site.
Sibelius is used by major publishers around the world and is making serious inroads into music schools and colleges – areas where its rival, Finale, previously ruled the roost. On the new SibeliusEducation.com website you can post teaching materials and homework for your students to view, playback online, print out on paper, or download to use with Sibelius anywhere.
Music educators will particularly value the new Worksheet Creator. This provides a comprehensive range of ready-made teaching materials – over 1,700 worksheets, projects, exercises, instrumental pieces, reference material and other resources. Six categories of worksheet are available, ranging from Elements of Music to UK KS3 and GCSE Projects.
For composers, arrangers and music copyists, Sibelius 4's best new feature is probably its Dynamic Parts. Unlike Finale, which takes a while to extract parts from a score, parts are always available and selectable from a list on the toolbar. As you write your score, the parts are immediately updated and you can even write music directly into the parts if you like. This really takes the sweat out of creating parts and will be particularly appreciated by anyone working on large scores.
Sibelius 4 now lets you play video in a window so you can compose directly to picture with perfect synchronisation and its audio export feature lets you add your finished music to the video soundtrack. You can also add ‘hit points' to the score that automatically move when you tweak the tempo so you can make a hit point fall exactly on a beat.
What I would like to see for the future is support for AU plug-ins and the ability to play back a stereo audio mix to allow, say, brass and strings parts to be created for pop records. And if support for ReWire was added, so you could play the parts you have written in Sibelius through high-quality plug-ins and then run the audio from these straight into Pro Tools, this would be my ideal system.
Sibelius 4 has reached a new plateau as far as score-writing software is concerned. It's responsive, intuitive, technically capable, and a pleasure to use.