Monday morning updates: Sibelius, Dolet, SmartMusic, MuseScore


To start off your week, here’s a roundup of recent and future updates to products in and around the world of music notation.

Sibelius 8.3

Updated April 12, 8:30 am with comments from Avid’s Joe Pearson.

The Musikmesse fair in Frankfurt concluded yesterday. At the fair, Avid gave a preview of what’s to come in the yet-to-be released Sibelius 8.3:

Sibelius has long had the ability to color notes, but if you applied a color to one note in a chord, the color would appear in all notes and articulations in that chord.

The ability to color individual notes in a chord has long been on many a user’s wish list, including Bob Zawalich, who, along with Kai Struck, wrote an elaborate plug-in using graphics as noteheads to work around the limitation.

In the upcoming Sibelius 8.3, you’ll be able to color notes and articulations individually without needing the plug-in workaround.


ManuScript will have access to this as well. Sibelius product designer Joe Pearson said, “In fact, this is the heart of the feature. We’ve been able to extend the existing ManuScript color APIs so that most plug-ins will naturally already be compatible with the new functionality. We’ll be updating those plug-ins which aren’t. Of course, users will also be able to individually color noteheads manually using the tools in the Ribbon.”

Sibelius 8.2 introduced a promising new sliding feature, which moves notes in time but also left unwanted rests behind. With Sibelius 8.3, it appears that the rests will be tidied up, making the feature much more useful.

A release date has not yet been given for Sibelius 8.3. It’s notable, though, that we are starting to see announcements of new features — and improvements upon existing ones — prior to release.

Dolet updates for Sibelius and Finale

Dolet, the free MusicXML plug-in for Sibelius and Finale, was updated last week.

MakeMusic’s Michael Good said that “Dolet 6.6 for Sibelius exports files much more quickly than previous versions. On Mac it can export 50% faster. On Windows, export can be 5 to 10 times faster, with more improvement for larger files.” This is an especially notable achievement for the plug-in, which, unlike Sibelius’s built-in MusicXML export, must run within the limitations of the ManuScript plug-in framework.

Dolet 6.7 for Finale is an even more significant update, adding a preferences menu when running in Finale 2014.5. You may set preferences for exporting different versions of MusicXML, exporting compressed or uncompressed files during batch export, and validating against the MusicXML DTD or XSD. This restores features that were dropped in Finale 2014.5 in version 6.6 while making them easier to access and use. There is also an option to silence error messages:


Version 6.7 also adds another 19 new features and fixes, including improvement to exporting Finale shape notes, laisser-vibrez ties, improved support for jazz articulations, better export of accidental text inserts, and more.

Full release notes are available for Sibelius and Finale. Dolet is available for free from MakeMusic (registration required).

The new SmartMusic

Of all of MakeMusic’s products, the interactive learning software SmartMusic is the most natural fit with it’s parent company Peaksware, whose mission is “to help guide people along their journey of improvement through a unique approach to deliberate practice.” Last year, MakeMusic invested in the future of SmartMusic by acquiring French company Weezic, “in order to focus the entire team’s efforts on a web-based solution of SmartMusic.”

Last week, MakeMusic unveiled the result of of those efforts in announcing the new Smartmusic. This, the company said in a blog post, is “completely new version of SmartMusic with unique benefits as well as many of the features found in the current SmartMusic. The new SmartMusic will be offered separately, alongside the current SmartMusic.” The new SmartMusic is entirely browser-based and can run on any computer, including Chromebooks and tablets.

Educators can visit the SmartMusic page to learn more about the feature comparison between the new and current SmartMusic and use an interactive calculator to estimate costs (which start at $399 for up to 3 teachers and up to 50 students).

The new SmartMusic is in beta testing and MakeMusic plans to make it available “in time for back-to-school 2016.”

MuseScore 2.0.3

musescore-logoRounding out the updates is MuseScore 2.0.3, the latest version of the free desktop software. Although MuseScore is calling this a “minor update,” there are still more than 200 changes according to the release notes.

The release focuses on bug fixes, but a healthy number of new features have made their way into the release as well:

  • Cresc. and dim. dashed lines (cresc.   _     _     _     _     _ )
  • Localized translations of “Getting Started” interactive tutorial score
  • Adding ties to notes already entered will be possible without leaving note input mode
  • Built-in “revert to factory settings” command
  • Reorder linked parts is now possible in Parts dialog
  • Copy lyrics to clipboard tool under Edit > Tools
  • New compressor effect in the Synthesizer
  • Keyboard shortcut for sforzato/accent (default Shift+V), matching shortcuts for staccato, tenuto, and marcato
  • New instruments supported: more trumpets and cornets, traverso (baroque flute), contra guitar
  • Twenty new default guitar fretboard diagrams in Advanced workspace and Master Palette
  • Option in Preferences > Canvas to show pages scrolling vertically or horizontally
  • Marching percussion sounds included by default

In addtion, Linux users can directly download MuseScore 2.0.3 for their systems, just like Windows and Mac users. MuseScore said that this is possible thanks to the AppImage packaging format.

Most notably, MuseScore announced that they have begun work on MuseScore 3.0, and have promised more news about their roadmap to come soon: “The changes lined up are every bit as significant as the changes that went into making MuseScore 2 from MuseScore 1.”

Visit the MuseScore web site to download the latest update for your operating system.


  1. Bob Ross

    8.3 and the color tweakage is great, but am I the only one who has a problem with the default blue for selected items…I really would like to tweak that default myself…if you can color specific items any color (even a modified/custom color) why can’t you set your own defaults.

    1. Steven Moore

      Yes! I totally agree. The dark blue note color when selecting looks way too close to the black color of all the other notes on my laptop. It’s extremely hard for me to differentiate the selected note from the others. It’s that whole minor male colorblind thing where dark navy colored clothes sometimes looks like black until you go go outside in the sunlight.

      1. Joe Pearson

        Bob, Steven,

        I’ll add this to our Sibelius wish list.


        1. Paolo

          At least on the Mac, there is a default system color for selection (System Preferences > General). It would seem savvy to rely on the system resources.


          1. Bob Ross

            Hi Paolo,

            Are you talking about something outside of Sibelius? A Mac operating system setting?

          2. Paolo

            Bob, it is a Mac operating system setting. If you open the System Preferences, then the General pane, you will see a Selection color parameter (I guess this is the name – I’m working on an Italian system). This is the color of selected text in all applications.


  2. Bob Zawalich

    Changing the default colors has been requested for a long time. I suspect it would be tricky to keep a consistent scheme if users were allowed to change all the colors, but I suppose that if you had a large control panel with all the items that had colors and users were allowed to mess with them as they wish, and it had a way to reset to defaults, it would work, and put the onus for consistency on the user, should the user care about that.

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