I’m delighted to be able to announce that Avid has today released Sibelius 7, a major new version of our flagship music notation software, and a labour of love for me and the incredibly talented people I work with for the past two years. There’s plenty of information about the new version on both the Avid web site and the Sibelius web site, but hit the jump for my own edited highlights.
These are the major new features in Sibelius 7:
- Completely redesigned and revamped user interface: We looked long and hard at Sibelius and its growing sophistication (and, yes, complexity) and tried to design an approach that would allow new users to get started with the program as quickly as possible, without driving existing users to distraction. At the same time, we have adopted a more modern approach to window management, using an SDI model rather than the old MDI model, adding document tabs, and making it possible to dock various windows around the edge of the screen to use screen real estate more efficiently. Not to mention the ribbon, the status bar, the Inspector, the redesigned Mixer, and on and on.
- Fully native 64-bit application. Sibelius 7 is the world’s first fully 64-bit notation software, which means that it’s future proof and ready for today and tomorrow’s most demanding applications. Sibelius can now access more than 4GB RAM directly, so you can run as many virtual instruments as your system can handle within Sibelius. Sibelius also includes a new multi-core-aware playback engine, so it can automatically balance the load of multiple virtual instruments between the available CPU cores.
- Exclusive, professional-quality 35GB sound library. We’ve been very fortunate over the years to have partnerships with great companies like Native Instruments, Garritan and Tapspace to provide sounds for Sibelius’s included sample libraries, but with this version we wanted something really special, and really unique, that you can’t get anywhere else. So we went out and, with the help of a top Hollywood sound designer, recorded a whole symphony orchestra, and the result – called Avid Orchestra – forms the basis of the new Sibelius 7 Sounds library, but there’s a heck of a lot more besides: great sounding jazz instruments; fantastic drums and percussion; a 20-stop pipe organ from Hauptwerk; and a selection of sounds from Sample Logic’s new marching brass and percussion libraries, Fanfare and Rumble. The result is something on a par with libraries that retail separately for hundreds of dollars, and it’s all included with Sibelius 7, seamlessly integrated with the built-in Sibelius Player.
- Full MusicXML interchange. Sibelius has had MusicXML import since version 4, but if you wanted to export a MusicXML file, you previously required the separate Dolet plug-in from Recordare, which carries a price tag of $200. With Sibelius 7, we’ve built MusicXML export directly into the program, so you can easily export files to send to colleagues running Finale or another music program. The export is faster than Dolet and includes features that Dolet can’t include, because Dolet can only access the information made available by Sibelius’s plug-in language, ManuScript, including detailed score formatting information such as bar widths and note spacing, improving the fidelity of the transfer between Sibelius and other programs.
- Text and typography improvements. Text has been given a complete overhaul in Sibelius 7. There’s far too much to go into here, but here’s a quick checklist: hierarchical text styles; character styles; DTP-style text frames with automatic word wrap and full justification; leading; tracking; character scaling; per-object rotation; OpenType font support on Windows; improved font substitution, including warnings about missing fonts when opening existing scores; and much more besides.
- Graphics import improvements. Previous versions of Sibelius allowed you to import TIFF files, but they were awkward to work with. Sibelius 7 allows you to import graphics in all standard formats (apart from EPS, though you can instead import SVG, which most programs that can save EPS files can also save), and manipulate them with a dramatically improved graphics frame. You can crop, scale (proportionally or not), rotate, flip and adjust the colour of any imported graphic with ease. You can link a graphic to an external file so that the graphic in the score updates automatically when the file changes. You can even use any graphic as a symbol, opening up all sorts of possibilities for special notations.
- Graphics export improvements. Sibelius 7 includes one-click PDF export, a particular boon on Windows, which previously required the installation of a separate PDF driver. Even on Mac, which has always included built-in PDF export provided by the operating system, there are benefits to Sibelius’s built-in export, as you can export the score and parts together in a single PDF, or just the parts in a single PDF, or batch export all the parts to separate PDFs, all with a single click. EPS export has also been improved, with better, more comprehensive font embedding, and you can also export graphics in SVG format if you like.
- Note input improvements. Sibelius 7 includes a whole new kind of step-time note input, similar to Finale’s popular Speedy Entry input method, in which you specify the pitch on your MIDI keyboard before you specify the duration, rather than the usual Sibelius approach where you specify the duration before the pitch. We’ve also added my own personal favourite new feature, sticky lines (which automatically extend during note input), and there are sticky tuplets too.
There’s so much more besides: print preview; a revamped dialog for adding instruments with a built-in find feature; the Quick Start window; updated PhotoScore and AudioScore; new plug-ins, including the fabulous Add Fingering to Notes, Rehearsal Recordings and a brand-new version of Renotate Performance; a feature to automate creating multiple parts for instruments in different transpositions; a super-fast way of creating time signatures; options to remember your working environment between sessions; full screen mode on Mac; the “find in Ribbon” feature… I could go on and on.
But all of that will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, check out the What’s New video, read the What’s New PDF (or even the full 780-page Sibelius 7 Reference Guide PDF), and visit the Sibelius web site for lots more information.
A free, no-obligation 30-day trial of Sibelius 7 is also available, containing every one of the features above apart from the Sibelius 7 Sounds library, and you can download and install it right now. If you already have an earlier version of Sibelius on your computer, it won’t interfere with it at all. So what are you waiting for?