With last week’s twin blockbusters of the Dorico Pro/Elements 2 release and the NotePerformer 3 update, it might be easy to overlook some of the other news of note in the music notation software and technology world. Here’s a quick take on a few developments of late regarding the upcoming free Sibelius First software, and two keypad apps for iOS that offer notation software support: Sibelius KeyPad for Mac and NumPad.
Sibelius First is coming
No, not that Sibelius First, which is now called “Sibelius” — we’re talking about a free version of Sibelius that Avid plans on releasing soon. No specific date has been announced, but they have published a web site through which to sign up if you’re interested in being notified when it’s released. Of course, if you’re reading this site you may very well be a paying customer of Sibelius already, so feel free to move right along.
Specifics have not yet been announced, but the site says that Sibelius First will allow you to “compose and share simple, professional-looking scores easily,” by being able to:
- Arrange with up to four instrument parts
- Share up to 10 scores online using Sibelius Cloud Sharing
- Review and annotation features allow collaboration with other Sibelius users
No word yet on whether Sibelius First will allow non-editable read and print access to Sibelius files created in a full version of the software, even if they exceed the limitations of Sibelius First — i.e., a “Sibelius Reader”. It’s possible Avid wants you to use Sibelius Cloud Sharing for that instead. But such a reader would indeed be a useful way for non-Sibelius users to be in the loop when collaborating on projects. We’ll see.
Sibelius KeyPad for Mac
Developer Evgeny Cherpak has created an iOS app that turns your iPhone or iPad into a keypad that controls Sibelius’s Keypad, with corresponding icons. Called Sibelius KeyPad for Mac, the $8 app relies on a free helper application that you must install on your Mac. Once installed, your iOS device and Mac must be on the same network in order for the app to communicate with your Mac.
In my brief testing, it was a breeze to install on my Mac and seemed to work well. There are several color themes and other customizable options. The app currently only works with Macs, which will prevent its adoption by the broad universe of iOS users who use Sibelius on a PC. Hopefully a PC helper application will be forthcoming.
NumPad for Mac returns to Edovia
Sibelius KeyPad for Mac isn’t the first iOS keypad app to feature notation software support; Edovia’s NumPad has been around for nearly a decade, and none other than Daniel Spreadbury blogged about it here. However in 2013, Edovia sold the app and it bounced around to a couple of developers, changing the business model to a steep $20 in-app upgrade if you wanted the Sibelius and Finale notation layouts.
A couple of months ago, though, NumPad (and its sister app, TouchPad, which turns your iPhone into a remote keypad and trackpad for your computer) were re-acquired by Edovia. With this change, the old business model of including the Sibelius and Finale layouts for free with the very reasonable $5 app purchase is back — very good news. Edovia said, “This doesn’t mean that we won’t add new In-App purchases in the future, but for now we want to see how things will go and move from there.”
NumPad offers three color themes: silver, white, and dark. It works with Mac and PC, but PC users should be aware that a VNC server is required. For Macs, the setup requires a WiFi connection and works by applying settings in Remote Management in System Preferences.
The latest NumPad update brings with it improved iPhone X support, a connection indicator, interface bug fixes, and stability improvements.