Notation Express for Sibelius 2024 released

Meta

Over at NYC Music Services and Notation Central, we’re very happy to announce the immediate release of Notation Express and Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024. These are the custom-designed profiles for the Stream Deck consoleStream Deck XL console, and the Stream Deck Mobile Pro app for iPad that make powerful Sibelius Ultimate features easy and fun to use.

Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024

If you follow Scoring Notes regularly and are having a feeling of déjà vu, that’s because this update in many respects is similar to what we’ve done with Notation Express for Dorico — except that this update is like two major updates rolled into one, and thus a long time coming.

The first part of this update is a complete re-write of the entirety of Notation Express to take advantage of Sibelius Ultimate’s newly-introduced ability to receive commands directly from Stream Deck, instead of relying upon a custom keyboard shortcut profile as the intermediary.

That has made the second part of this update possible: more than 75 new buttons have been added to Notation Express XL for Sibelius and more than 40 new buttons to Notation Express (15-key) for Sibelius.

Unbelievably, that means it’s been more than four years since the last update to Notation Express for Sibelius. The payoff is worth it, I hope — this is the largest update to Notation Express ever.

 

Sibelius Ultimate 2024.3 required

This update wouldn’t have been possible without Avid’s support for their new remote control API, which they are calling Sibelius Connect. Kudos to them for recognizing the potential of this feature and special thanks to the entire Sibelius team for working hard to implement it for Sibelius Ultimate 2024.3, the first release of this year.

This does mean that if you want to use this new version of Notation Express, you need to update to Sibelius 2024.3 and be on the Ultimate tier; earlier versions or lower tiers of Sibelius are incompatible with this new system.

Rebuilding every button of Notation Express

You may have noticed that earlier versions of Notation Express installed a custom keyboard shortcut profile called Notation Express (user copy). In Sibelius 2024 it is no longer necessary to rely on these shortcuts.

This is a major change for the following reasons:

  • Reclaim your shortcuts – You can now reclaim all of the keyboard shortcuts for your own use, as you like, without them being reserved by Notation Express
  • Cross-platform support – One Notation Express profile works for both Mac and Windows, so you can use the same profile on both operating systems (no need to purchase separate versions)
  • Multi-language support – Notation Express is now supported in all languages, so you don’t need to switch to English to use it in Sibelius (the icon labels will still only be in English, for now)
  • Faster – The direct connection to Sibelius makes Notation Express significantly more responsive, because it passes commands directly to Sibelius instead of invoking a series of macros that may involve opening and typing into a text area, for example
  • Control Sibelius in the background – The direct connection to Sibelius means that you can use your Stream Deck to control Sibelius even when another application is running in the foreground

I’ve especially enjoyed this last benefit; it’s surprisingly convenient, for example, to use the playback and navigation controls on Stream Deck and have it automatically control Sibelius in the background, while working in another application (like Logic, Pro Tools, or a PDF reader like Acrobat or Preview) in the foreground.

And, if you have multiple Stream Decks, well, more power to you:

Don’t forget that you can run two profiles side-by-side, on an iPad, with Stream Deck Mobile — even one with the Sibelius profile and one with the Dorico profile:

These changes alone would have been worth an update, but because it’s been so long since we’ve added new features to Notation Express for Sibelius, we went right on ahead with more.

More buttons, more features, more fresh

In both profiles, there is a new folder dedicated to voices, both profiles see additional buttons in most areas, and the XL profile gains support for microtones, new noteheads, many more filters. modifying and selecting music, and playback, among other improvements.

Many icons have also been refreshed, and the profiles have been subtly re-organized in certain areas.

The Hiding and Formatting folder in Notation Express for Sibelius 2024

As you can see above, the main screen folders now have red borders (previously, only subfolders had red borders).

We know a lot of Notation Expressers (is that a term?) use both Sibelius and Dorico regularly, and rely on a relative similarity in the way Notation Express is organized for both products to help keep things straight. While the profiles differ in a number of ways, we did try to keep the Dorico setup in mind so that a user switching between both products feels at home regardless of which one is open.

There is one particular new feature unique to Sibelius, though:

Third-party tool support

These buttons are included in Notation Express (both the 15-key and XL profiles) and will work with third-party tools such as NotePerformer, Graphical MIDI Tools, and UltraMix, but the tools themselves must be purchased separately.

  • Graphical MIDI Tools (launches the GMT window; does not control GMT functions)
  • UltraMix
  • NotePerformer
    • Add NotePerformer a2, a3, … MIDI Message
    • Add NotePerformer Guitar Effects Message
    • Add NotePerformer Orchestral Tuning MIDI Message
    • Add NotePerformer Pipe Organ & Accordion Stops MIDI Message
    • Add NotePerformer Tenuto Always MIDI Message
    • Add NotePerformer Vibrato Amount MIDI Message
    • Add NotePerformer Vibrato Speed MIDI Message
    • Reset Mixer for NotePerformer

If you’ve used NotePerformer in Sibelius, you might not realize that you have eight plug-ins right now that can help you extend the performance capabilities of the NotePerformer playback system. Hopefully by having these buttons at the ready, it will make it a lot easier to access these powerful tools.

Give voice to voices

Voices in Sibelius are powerful. To help manage some of the most common situations, Notation Express and Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024 bring added support for voices.

Notation Express XL has a whole new Voices folder to consolidate working with voices. This is where you’ll find buttons for all four voices, plus literally All Voices — the “fifth” Sibelius voice.

In addition to Swap 1 & 2, which was previously on Notation Express XL, all of the other swaps are there: Swap 1 & 3, Swap 1 & 4, Swap 2 & 3, Swap 2 & 4, and Swap 3 & 4. Other voice-related buttons have been copied or moved here as well, including Delete and Filter buttons for each voice, Merge to Voice 1, Copy, and Paste into Voice., with room to add more voice-related features in the future.

The 15-key setup doesn’t quite have all of these new buttons, but there are the most common ones in the Voices folder:

Articulating the need for more

For as long as I can remember, Sibelius has shipped with a plug-in called Copy Articulations and Slurs, which lets you copy articulations and slurs from one musical phrase to others with the same or similar rhythm. But since it never appeared on the Keypad with the rest of the articulations, a lot of people never realize it’s there.

The new versions of Notation Express and Notation Express XL support this feature, along with a much newer feature: the ability to filter non-tied notes — helpful for applying articulations only to non-tied notes and notes that start a tie chain, and not to notes that continue or end a tie chain.

“More”over, the 15-key profile gains a subfolder — More Articulations — to accommodate these features, along with jazz and the three Custom articulations, which previously were only available on the XL profile.

The More Articulations subfolder in Notation Express for Sibelius 2024

A caesura also makes its debut, even though technically it’s a “symbol” in Sibelius.

Not just ornamental

Speaking of symbols, this is the first time we’re able to include symbols in Notation Express, thanks to Bob Zawalich’s help. In addition to the aforementioned caesura, which you’ll find in the Articulations folder, we’ve added ornaments to the Lines & Ornaments folder.

Here you’ll find some of the most commonly used ornaments: inverted mordent, mordent, inverted triple mordent, triple mordent, turn, reversed turn, and inverted turn, along with an Other symbol button that brings up the symbol gallery (not everyone can remember that Z stands for “Z”ymbols in Sibelius).

Lines and ornaments from Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024

On Notation Express XL, we now have vibrato, wide vibrato, arrow, and all the piano pedal lines, so you can apply them sequentially with the greatest of ease:

Make room for modify, select, and text

In order to make room for the Voices folder in the 15-key profile, the Techniques, Tempo and System Text, and Staff Text folders were consolidated into one Text folder, and some text features previously only available on XL round out this newly minted folder.

This also freed up space in the Modify and Arrange folder, now called Modify and Select, for the new buttons Select More, Split Bar, and Join Bars, as well as Slide left and Slide right, which were previously only available on the XL profile.

Fine filters

Notation Express XL gains loads more new filters, with the folders reorganized to accommodate even more in the future.

Even more to XLerate your workflow

Hiding in plain sight in Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024 are even more new goodies (starred items appear on the 15-key Notation Express as well):

  • Bars, Barlines, Brackets, Repeats
    • Fill Selection With Slashes*
  • New noteheads:
    • Slashed
    • Back slashed
    • Ping
    • Inverted triangle
  • Microtones:
    • Quarter sharp
    • Quarter flat
    • Three-quarter sharp
    • Three-quarter flat
  • Text
    • Position Rehearsal Marks*
    • Smarten Quotes
    • Gradual tempos:
      • accel.*
      • rit.*
      • rall.
    • Separate Music characters folders for Mac and Windows platforms*
  • Beaming and Tremolos
    • Z on Stem (Buzz)
  • Modify and Arrange renamed Modify and Select
    • Select More*
    • Extend selection up
    • Extend selection down
    • Extend selection left
    • Extend selection right
    • Select System Passage
    • Copy Double Note Values (use with Paste)
    • Copy Halve Note Values (use with Paste)
    • Split Bar*
    • Join Bars*
  • Hiding and Formatting
    • Make Into Score Subset
    • Make Into Part
    • Insert Graphic
  • Playback and Navigation
    • Loop
    • Next page
    • Previous page
    • Scrub backward
    • Scrub forward
    • Renotate
    • Playback line

Sibelius Ultimate 2024.3 required

Notation Express for Sibelius 2024 requires Sibelius Ultimate 2024.3 or later. Be sure to update Sibelius Ultimate to 2024.3 to use the most current version of Notation Express.

Update path

Notation Express / Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024 is a paid update for existing users of Notation Express / Notation Express XL for Sibelius, as follows:

If you purchased the NE/NEXL bundle for Sibelius, you are eligible for the same update pricing as above; there is no further discount, but you are not obligated to purchase both updated products (you may update separately if you like).

If you have Notation Express or Notation Express XL for Sibelius, and purchased it before December 12, 2022, there is no discount available for Notation Express / Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024; regular pricing applies, which is:

Get the update

  1. Simply go to the Notation Express for Sibelius or Notation Express XL for Sibelius product page, and add the product to your cart.
  2. If you previously bought the NE/NEXL bundle for Sibelius, you will need to purchase each update separately to receive the discount (i.e., do not purchase the bundle for Sibelius).
  3. Ensure that you are logged into your Notation Central account, so that the correct discounted pricing is applied. (Please be aware that when you add the product to your cart, the discount will not be immediately reflected, but will appear once you begin the checkout process.)
  4. Purchase Notation Express, read the documentation or watch the installation video for the quick and easy setup instructions.
  5. Enjoy Notation Express!

Please consult the documentation carefully for installation instructions, or watch this video.

More information can be found on this page at Notation Central.

Still on Sibelius Ultimate 2023.x or earlier?

Notation Express is built for the latest version of Sibelius Ultimate. If you still need to work with Sibelius 2023.x or earlier, you can still use the earlier version(s) of Notation Express for as long as you like.

Notation Express for those versions of Sibelius is no longer officially supported, so we can devote our efforts to making the best of Sibelius 2024 and later.

Notation Express for Sibelius 2024 will not work on versions of Sibelius prior to Sibelius Ultimate 2024.3.

All hail Bob Zawalich

This update truly would not have happened without the tireless effort of Bob Zawalich. I like to think I had a good grip on Bob’s abilities before, but through working on this project, I am even more in awe of his genius, his technical expertise, his stamina, and, above all, his generosity.

Our hero

Someday we will tell a larger story about this project, but in the course of developing this system, Bob first built an entirely different testing setup using experimental plug-ins he wrote, just to prove the concept. Then, once we acquired the ability to hook into Sibelius directly, he immediately went to work updating an entire suite of his published plug-ins to be compatible with it.

The project has its roots in Sibelius’s introduction of Command Search way back in 2021, which, as Avid’s Sam Butler told us at the time, “created a stable foundation for scriptable plug-ins and Command Search, onto which we can grow these features and workflows in the future.”

As if on cue, Bob created a tool called Execute Commands and a mega-library of routines called cmdutils, which, while still requiring a willingness to roll up one’s sleeves, at least brought the arcana of ManuScript code down to an understandable level.

Still, there is nothing quite like pushing a bright shiny button and watching something instantly happen on the virtual page, which is where Notation Express came into play.

Enjoy these updates!

Comments

  1. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for the excessively kind words, Philip! I would say the same things about you, plus you have a serious day job at the same time.

    I am really happy to have helped you make this update – the act that Notation Express is not using up all the keyboard shortcuts is, on its own, a really big deal in my opinion.

    It is always a pleasure to work with you.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Bob, the pleasure is mine! Thank you for your incredible support and contributions, to this and so many other projects!

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