Sibelius 2022.9: Staff names in groups; more selection commands

News

Avid has released Sibelius 2022.9 for desktop and mobile. This update adds an additional way of labeling staff names that effectively allows groups of instruments and individual staves to be named separately, a long-requested feature.

This update also adds commands to select the next and previous similar objects in the score.

The ManuScript plug-in language has been updated to reflect these new features, the details of which are listed in Avid’s announcement of the update. There are also several bug fixes.

Staff names

One of Sibelius’s persistent deficiencies has been an inability to label the name of all the instruments in a family (a “group”) separately from the individual staves, as shown here by Elaine Gould in her music notation reference Behind Bars:

Indeed, when looking at section 5.4 of the Sibelius Reference, you’ll find this advice:

From section 5.4 of the Sibelius Reference

Anytime you get an instruction to type “1 Return Return Fl. space space Return Return 2” and then on top of that receive a warning that things might get mispositioned anyway, it’s a tacit acknowledgment that things could be better.

Various other workarounds have been attempted over the years, including using custom clefs with labels attached, and the addition of a hidden staff, the latter of which we documented back in 2015.

But support for this simple-seeming requested proved elusive until today’s Sibelius update, which adds a new text style called Staff names.

When you open up a Sibelius file in 2022.9, as long as Hidden Objects is checked in View > Invisibles, you’ll see a new area adjacent to the left side of every staff on every system:

These are Staff names. In existing Sibelius files, they will be blank by default. But if you double-click one of them (or select it and press Return, you’ll be able to enter text into it:

The existing text is the familiar Instrument names text style, and as you see, it automatically makes way for the new Staff names style.

Because this is an existing file, we need to do some additional cleanup to get this working fully as intended. So we press I, or go to Home > Instruments > Add or Remove, to delete the Flute 3 and Oboe 3 staves, and replace them with extra staves, one for each instrument family:

Then, it’s just a matter of tidying up:

By default, Staff names inherit all the style properties of Instrument names. But you can uncouple them to achieve different styles for each, or, more likely, different positioning, to achieve a result similar to the Gould example:

Instrument names stay centered between the staves, as you’d expect:

When you enter a staff name, the Short variant, which can be shown if you have it selected in Appearance > Engraving Rules > Instruments > Instruments and Staff Names, inherits the same value as what you entered for the Full variant — a likely desired outcome, since these will usually be numeric values. But, if you like, you can have different values for each.

This solution will please most of the people for most of the scenarios where this type of feature is needed. Among the nice touches is the logic that uses Magnetic Layout to pop the instrument name away from the staff name, but only where needed.

On the other hand, you would be well-advised to use caution when applying instrument changes to staves where staff names are also applied. Doing so will wipe out all subsequent staff names on the staff — perhaps your intention, but perhaps not. I’d like to see the ability to apply a staff name change independent of an instrument name change, but given that this feature is built as an add-on to the existing instrument change paradigm that was introduced many years ago, and not as a full-on replacement, that wish may need to wait longer to be fulfilled.

In any event, while this new feature pales in comparison to Finale’s limitless (if byzantine) way of customizing staves and groups, and lacks Dorico’s incredible sophistication in this area, as found in that program’s Engraving Options > Staff Labels, this update is sure to please Sibelius users looking for a way to apply this common staff labeling convention to their scores without the cumbersome workarounds of the past.

Of note: Sibelius 2022.9 uses the same file format as 2022.7, so you can open a file created in 2022.9 in 2022.7, However, such a file (or any 2022.9 file that is exported to an earlier version of Sibelius) will not display Staff names, and any such data will be lost upon a round-trip back to 2022.9. For that reason, if you begin making use of this feature, and collaborate with others, be certain that they update Sibelius to 2022.9.

Create separate parts from a group when using Staff Names

The method of showing a centered group name with individual staff names requires the user to create an instrument with an additional staff. This means that when you automatically create dynamic parts in your Sibelius document, by default Sibelius will only create one part with all of the staves in the grouped instrument, instead of individual parts for each staff, which is usually more desirable.

Until or unless Sibelius is improved in the future to perform this task automatically, read this separate post to learn how to create separate parts from an instrument with more than one staff.

New selection commands

Four new selection commands appear in Sibelius 2022.9, with keyboard shortcuts:

  • Select next matching object horizontally (Command/Ctrl+Shift+.)
  • Select previous matching object horizontally (Command/Ctrl+Shift+,)
  • Select next matching object vertically (Command/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+.)
  • Select previous matching object vertically (Command/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+,)

You may already be familiar with Home > Select > More (Command/Ctrl+Shift+A), which selects more of the current object: for it example, selects all the noteheads of a chord if one is currently selected, or selects all text objects of the same text style as the selected text object along the width of the system.

These new commands are similar, except instead of adding onto the current selection, they deselect the current selection and select the next one, horizontally (on the same staff) or vertically (on the staff above or below), as desired. In that respect, these are almost more like navigation commands, and they can be useful to quickly operate on several objects of the same type in quick succession, among other uses.

Bug fixes

Here are some of the bug fixes in Sibelius 2022.9. For more information, consult the release announcement on Avid’s site.

Dynamic Guitars

  • Lyrics no longer appear on both dynamic guitar staves
  • You can set independent staff names to dynamic guitar staves
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when trying to extract a dynamic guitar part

Sibelius Cloud Sharing

  • When sharing a new score, the Dashboard now closes after accepting the terms and conditions, if it wasn’t manually opened

Note Spacing/Auto-Optimize

  • Auto-optimize is now not triggered when changing the value of a rest Text
  • The Repeat (D.C./D.S./To Coda) text style is now in the Tempo category within the text gallery
  • Line breaks within text are now carried over from desktop to mobile

Command Search

  • On mobile, Filter Page Numbers is now correctly labeled Filter Page Number Changes in Command Search

Dynamic Parts

  • Dynamic Parts are printing with the correct page size, once more

Video

  • When closing a video in full screen, then removing it from the score no longer causes Sibelius to hang
  • With some video files, it was not possible to change the size of the video window
  • The Add Video dialog now shows all supported file formats (no changes have been made to the supported codecs at this time)

MIDI keyboards

  • If your MIDI keyboard has sliders, faders, and pan pots, these are now supported once more. Check in File > Preferences to see if your keyboard is listed in the Input Map dropdown in the Input Devices page. This will allow you to control Sibelius from your MIDI keyboard. If yours is not listed, choose “MIDI Keyboard” and it will work with limited support.

Navigation

  • Changing a passage selection on a 1-line staff when viewing vertical pages no longer causes Sibelius to jump back to page 1

Key signatures and barlines

  • Hidden key signatures no longer add a double barline when added on top of an existing special barline

Playback Dictionary

  • sfz is added to the Playback Dictionary. It triggers an increase in dynamic and attack by 200% for that one note.

New example score

  • There is a new example score: Lili Boulanger’s Vieille prière bouddhique. Avid says that this demonstrates Sibelius’s ability to lay out dense and complex large-format scores.

Stability

  • Sibelius should no longer crash when exporting to MP3
  • Fixed a bug where the “used” gallery in Sibelius First would get scrambled
  • The crash reporting system across Windows, Mac, and iOS has returned. If Sibelius crashes, you’ll be able to opt into sending the crash report into Avid, where they will collect and analyze the crashes as they happen.

Availability

The Sibelius 2022.9 desktop update is free for all Sibelius users with active subscriptions and upgrade plans. The updated installers for desktop are available through users’ Avid accounts and through Avid Link.

The Sibelius 2022.9 iOS/iPadOS update is available in the usual way, and will be delivered automatically, or, if you’ve disabled automatic updates, you can manually update the app on your device.

A reminder that if you’re an existing Sibelius customer with an active support plan or subscription, you get the mobile version at the same tier at no extra charge. If you have a subscription to Sibelius Artist (mid-tier) on your Mac or PC, that will carry over to Sibelius Artist for Mobile, and the same for Sibelius Ultimate — a Mac or PC subscription allows you full access to Sibelius Ultimate on iPhone and iPad.

Learn more

For the latest information about compatibility for Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, and MuseScore, as well as links to the latest news and reviews about product releases, please see the Scoring Notes Product Guide.

Avid also has a “What’s New in Sibelius” page highlighting the features in recent Sibelius updates.

Comments

  1. Santiago Barx

    A long-awaited addition. Excellent!.

  2. Hansjoerg Roemer

    I’m a disappointed with this innovation from Sibelius. Working in this way with different parts of the same instrument type is cumbersome. That’s just too many steps to get a decent result! Dorico just does it better. One more thought to switch to Dorico.

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