Here at NYC Music Services, we’re very excited to announce the immediate availability of some new Scoring Express templates. We’re introducing the Chamber, Jazz, and Theatre & Studio packages for Dorico, along with an attractive bundle that includes all three at a significant discount; on the Finale side, we’ve got the Chamber and Theatre & Studio packages ready for you to enjoy.
Sibelius users are seeing updates across the board, too, with some new features and fixes along with some fine-tuning to make them more closely complement the Scoring Express suites on Dorico and Sibelius. Like with Dorico, the Chamber, Jazz, and Theatre & Studio packages are available; all three appear in a discounted bundle.
All Scoring Express packages are on sale through July 1; prices will rise to their regular price at that time. If you’re an existing Scoring Express for Sibelius customer already, the updates are free for you!
Have a look at our promo video to get a taste of what we’ve been up to recently, and then we’ll get into the details.
What, and why Scoring Express is
Scoring Express is a collection of professional templates for Sibelius, Dorico, and Finale, based on the same templates we use at NYC Music Services, an industry-leading music preparer.
Each Scoring Express package is much more than just the templates, though; it contains high-quality music and text fonts, manuscript papers and house styles embedded within the templates or as separate libraries. The Sibelius package also includes some of the most useful plug-ins. Everything is installed in one go, so you can get started right away.
Back when I introduced the Scoring Express templates in late 2020, I talked about why I created them. No doubt you know that we’ve shared hundreds of tips here on Scoring Notes — the “how” to tweak settings and make your scores look as good as possible, and no doubt you know we’ve explored the “why” — the better your music looks, the better it is for everyone. What if we shared the “what” as well — the materials themselves?
That’s what Scoring Express is. It’s an easy way to install a complete package so you don’t have to grab fonts from one place, Sibelius files from another, plug-ins from somewhere else, and figure out where the heck it goes in some library folder on your computer. We’ve done all that for you.
The Sibelius 2020.12 update made it possible to import one Sibelius file into another; for me, that was the final push I needed to get the templates out. I started with Chamber and Jazz templates and soon enlisted my terrific colleague Joseph Trefler to create a super-spiffy version for Theatre & Studio settings.
More than just the templates
The Scoring Express templates for Sibelius are great by themselves.
We’ve really thought through the myriad engraving rules, text styles, and all the other settings to help make these scores look as good as possible. That’s not all — each file comes packed with lots of extra goodies, like lines and symbols that aren’t included with default Sibelius files and can otherwise be time-consuming to set up:
Each Scoring Express package comes with the complete set of the Norfolk and Pori fonts — no separate installation required — along with other beautiful music and text fonts like the Figurato figured bass font, Steinberg’s Academico and Petaluma Script text fonts, and other quality text fonts like Tinos and Arimo. These fonts are what give these scores a distinctive look from the stock “Sibelius” appearance.
The need for Dorico and Finale versions
Having created Scoring Express for Sibelius, the next challenge was to create comparable versions for Dorico and Finale. This has really been a decades-long project for me to continually refine a set of house styles that could be used in any software platform.
Oh man, is that easier said than done! Despite our best efforts to make sense of it all here, these programs are very different in many ways. Still, it’s what passes for fun around here.
Scoring Express for Dorico
I knew I needed expert assistance, and I knew who to turn to on the Dorico side: my good friend Leo Nicholson, Dorico expert extraordinaire and creator of the 29-part(!) video series Dorico Basics: Notation Tools and Techniques, without whom Notation Express for Dorico (the Stream Deck and Stream XL profiles) would still be a pipe dream if he hadn’t made those happen.
Leo said, “Just as the original Sibelius Scoring Express templates grew out of NYC Music Services’s house style, the Dorico package builds on many tweaks I’ve made to my own defaults, in some cases so long ago that I’ve forgotten they’re tweaks. I’m really excited to share templates that bake in solutions to a few common community questions: some simple, like accents always going outside the staff, and others more complex, such as a G.P. workaround, and diamond whole notes that look the way you expect them to!”
Leo’s work got a huge assist from another long-time collaborator: Bernie Cossentino, who developed a custom set of fonts designed to improve the appearance of chord symbols in Dorico. When you open a Scoring Express file, you’ll notice the difference:
Leo said that “the overwhelming majority of customizations in these templates are subject to opinion, and though this package is the product of a collaborative effort over quite some months, your opinion may differ. If you disagree with the tuplet line width or the way that lyrics take slightly less space than the factory settings, go ahead and tweak, and let us know if you find something better! The Library Manager is a great tool for both transferring settings in and out of projects, and also for seeing what’s different between the factory settings, your own user defaults, any project you may have and our templates.”
Indeed, the appearance of the Library menu in Dorico 4, and the further improvements in Dorico 4.1, made it possible to easily bring in a Scoring Express style to an existing project — as much or as little as you like of it, as Leo says.
Any Scoring Express for Dorico template can be dragged into an existing file in the Drop .dorico project file here area, where it effectively becomes a library, or house style, from which you can select all or some settings to import into your score.
I expect that while many users will find the Scoring Express styles a welcome soup-to-nuts solution, power users will enjoy the granularity provided by the Library Manager as a way to take Scoring Express defaults and hone them further to taste. The choice is yours!
Leo concluded, “I recommend taking a good look at the example projects, particularly in the Theatre & Studio package. And top tip: if you copy (e.g.) a V.S. instruction from the Theatre demo into a new Scoring Express Theatre project, it’ll remain hidden in the score but show in the relevant part.”
Scoring Express for Finale
Why support two software platforms when you can support three? Onto Finale, where it was time once again to turn to Joseph Trefler. For many years, Finale has been the preferred notation platform for professionals in the musical theatre and studio world, and Joseph knew we had to get Scoring Express onto Finale for demanding professionals like himself and his colleagues who need the music to have a unified look, no matter what program is being used.
“I use Scoring Express religiously in my own work,” Joseph said, “whether I’m engraving a musical, a piece of concert music, or anything else. In addition to simply looking fantastic, Scoring Express is crucial in allowing me to work quickly and produce consistent results. Nothing slows me down more than when the file I’m working on doesn’t have all the lines, text styles, or engraving rules settings (in Finale-speak: smart shapes, expressions, or document options) I need. Any time I need to copy, say, a custom line from one file to another or add the correct headers to a document, is time I could have spent elsewhere. Over the course of a large project like engraving a musical, that can add up to many hours of extra work! That’s why we’ve baked all those elements into each Scoring Express template — so that everything you need is already there and ready to go.
You may be wondering why we don’t have a Jazz version of Scoring Express ready at launch. The main reason is the need to support three styles of chord symbols: the “engraved” serif (Academico/Norfolk) look; the sans-serif look; and the handwritten look. Right now, we’ve got the sans-serif look complete, but the others will take more time, and we want to get it right.
“The Finale Scoring Express Theatre and Studio chord suffix library was a labor of love,” Joseph said. I based the design on the beautiful Norfolk Chords Sans font for Sibelius and I think the end result is a nice, clean look that’s highly legible. (A big shoutout to Michael McClennan’s Chord Kerner for massively speeding up the process.) The formatting of chord symbols can be a contentious subject — in the music engraving community, at least! — and while the formatting choices we made might not satisfy everyone, we feel the suffix library included in the Scoring Express templates covers what most users will need without being too large and unwieldy. The suffixes are also formatted in a way that mimics the chord symbol settings in the Sibelius templates, which allows users to get consistent results between programs.
One last tip about the Finale Scoring Express Theatre and Studio templates from Joseph: “If users are planning on using the linked piano/vocal or keyboard/conductor parts that are already set up in the Pit orchestra, Rock band, and Expanded rock band + strings templates, I highly recommend picking up the Patterson Copyist’s Helper plug-in, which will make dealing with bar number positioning so much easier! This is necessitated by the fact that Finale only allows one default bar number position for all parts.”
Joseph also forged full steam ahead with the Chamber music templates, which, like the Theatre & Studio templates, use Steinberg’s Bravura as the main music font, and we’ve bundled it in the Scoring Express installer (along with the .json file, if you know what that is) so you can use it right away. Scoring Express for Finale makes full use of Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL), so it only work in Finale v27 or higher. The Chamber music templates use the Academico text font, and the result speaks for itself.
With the Scoring Express for Finale installations, the templates are also dropped straight into Finale’s default folders for manuscript papers and document styles, so you can use them when starting a new score, either from the Document Setup Wizard:
Or from New > Document from Template.
We’ve also exported the libraries, so you can selectively import any of the Scoring Express settings directly into your existing Finale scores, using File > Load Library…
This should make it easier to use, say, just the expressions we’ve included in the Scoring Express package in a file you’ve already started, even if you don’t want to use all of the Scoring Express settings:
Scoring Express for Sibelius updates
Sibelius users see plenty of updates today, too — and if you already have Scoring Express for Sibelius, the updates are free to you.
Once thing to mention right away: Previously, the stand-alone Sibelius templates were installed on your computer in Documents/Scores/Scoring Express. Now, so that they reflect consistency with Dorico and Finale, the new installation path for the Sibelius templates is: Documents/Scores/Scoring Express Sibelius. Unless you wish to keep the older version of the templates, you can safely delete the folder Documents/Scores/Scoring Express and all of its contents, either before or after installation of today’s update.
(Documents/Scores is where Sibelius installs its default scores; if you use Dorico or Finale and don’t use Sibelius, the Scoring Express installer will create that folder for you.)
All of the Scoring Express for Sibelius templates, house styles, and manuscript papers are updated for Sibelius Ultimate 2022.5, although they should work back to Sibelius 2020.3, with certain features not fully available the further back you go. A number of small bugs and tweaks have been made; those are reflected in the version history.
The main change that eagle-eyed users will spot will be in the text fonts used in the Jazz and Theatre & Studio templates: the replacement of the P052 Palatino clone with Tinos, and the replacement of Gothic A1 in most places with Arimo.
We liked the look of P052 and Gothic A1, but as we started to develop the Finale and Dorico versions, we found varying degrees of differences with how these fonts displayed on Mac versus Windows. After testing dozens of fonts, we settled on Tinos and Arimo for several reasons: they look great; they’re easily available from high-quality sources like Google Fonts and Adobe and can be legally used in all projects and distributed to anyone for free under the Apache 2.0 license; and, an extra bonus: they’re metrically compatible with (but are more legible than) the common commercial fonts Times New Roman and Arial — which means that you can replace a score that uses Times New Roman with Tinos, or one that uses Arial with Arimo, and the position of all of your text will stay the same.
So even if you have older scores that use Times New Roman that you’ve totally set and don’t want to risk any “objects shifting during flight” by bringing in the entirety of Scoring Express settings, but still want some basic level uniformity, you can swap out the fonts and everything will stay exactly in place.
The difference is subtle, but so are many elements of music notation; when observed in the aggregate, it adds up. One tell-tale glyph: the lower-case e, which is much easier to read and distinguish at smaller point sizes in Tinos and Arimo, compared to Times New Roman and Arial.
P052 and Gothic A1 are still installed with Scoring Express to ensure compatibility with older projects, and you may use them if you like; your existing files created with earlier versions of Scoring Express will not change unless you import the new Scoring Express house styles into them.
All of the plug-ins included with Scoring Express, created by our great friend Bob Zawalich, have been updated to their latest version. We’ve been so busy here, we haven’t even properly covered his two latest creations, which you’ll find in today’s Scoring Express update:
Current Instrument Name Each Page adds a text object containing the name of the instrument used in the first visible bar on each page of the score or part. It will adjust for Instrument Changes. If you ever work with parts for doubling players — especially common in the theatre & studio settings — it will change your life!
The Scoring Express packages for Sibelius, Dorico, and Finale are all available now at Notation Central. Pricing is as follows; sale prices are in effect through July 1:
Scoring Express for Sibelius
- Scoring Express for Sibelius – Chamber: $59.99 (reg. $64.99)
- Scoring Express for Sibelius – Jazz: $59.99 (reg. $64.99)
- Scoring Express for Sibelius – Theatre & Studio: $69.99 (reg. $74.99)
- Scoring Express for Sibelius – Bundle (Chamber, Jazz, and Theatre & Studio): $149.99 (reg. $159.99) — a $40 savings!
Scoring Express for Dorico
- Scoring Express for Dorico – Chamber: $59.99 (reg. $64.99)
- Scoring Express for Dorico – Jazz: $59.99 (reg. $64.99)
- Scoring Express for Dorico – Theatre & Studio: $69.99 (reg. $74.99)
- Scoring Express for Dorico – Bundle (Chamber, Jazz, and Theatre & Studio): $149.99 (reg. $159.99) — a $40 savings!
Scoring Express for Finale
- Scoring Express for Finale – Chamber: $59.99 (reg. $64.99)
- Scoring Express for Finale – Theatre & Studio: $69.99 (reg. $74.99)
If you already have Scoring Express for Sibelius, simply log into your account at Notation Central and download the latest update for your product(s).
This has been quite a journey and we’re so excited to see how you can make your music look as good as it sounds with Scoring Express. There’s always more to do, but for now, we hope you enjoy these new releases and updates!