Today Avid released Sibelius 8.2. As with other 8.x releases, it is a free update for all 8.x users with an active license (virtually anyone with Sibelius 8.x other than those who may have had a month-to-month subscription).
About the new release, Sibelius senior product manager Sam Butler said, “[Sibelius product designer] Joe Pearson and I are really pleased with the features included in 8.2. Some of these came from direct conversations with Sibelius customers on the forums, beta testers, tweets and customer visits. The new feature to allow you to have independent spellings for your accidentals in score and parts came from our meetings with the engravers and orchestrators at Joann Kane Music Service and Patrick Kirst, Hollywood film score composer, in January this year while we were in Los Angeles for the annual NAMM show, who both had this feature at the top of their wish lists.”
As previewed late last week on several web sites including Avid’s own site, the main new features in Sibelius 8.2 are:
- Independent enharmonic spelling of notes in a part compared to the score
- Correct placement of time signatures placed before start repeats
- Ability to move notes and rests horizontally
There are a couple of other nice improvements, as well:
- More realistic handling of interpolated bar rests with the “magnetic” rest feature introduced in Sibelius 8.1
- Adding a final barline at the end of the score will no longer cause a new bar to be created (hooray!)
- Better localization of the Quick Start dialog (for non-English versions)
- Correcting an “Unhandled Error” crash report (Windows only)
Let’s dive in and check out the new features.
Independent enharmonic spelling in score and part
It’s hard to believe that dynamic parts — parts which retain their relationship to the score in the same file, while allowing for formatting and layout differences — have been around for more than ten years, since the release of Sibelius 4 in 2005.
Finale 2007 (released in 2006) followed with its similar linked parts feature, and the feature set between the two programs in this area has been generally comparable since that time. The two main advantages that Finale users had over Sibelius users in this area were voiced parts and the ability to spell a note independently in a part compared to the score.
With today’s update, Sibelius 8.2 brings parity to the latter of those two features. This is very welcome news if you work with concert scores where spelling can vary quite significantly in a transposed part:
This is achieved quite simply by selecting a note or a passage of notes and pressing Return on the main keyboard (or, the long way, by going to Note Input > Note Input > Respell in the Ribbon). This works as it did before, of course, but the difference now is that if you respell a note while in the part, the spelling changes only for that part, and not for the score — or, for that matter, other parts that may be using the the same staff.
The latter point is actually important. You might, for instance, have a band score that has a euphonium in concert pitch, and parts for both a euphonium and a baritone horn, which is transposed at the major 9th. It is possible now to respell a note in the baritone horn part while leaving both the score and the euphonium part unchanged.
As demonstrated in the example above, it is quite easy to tell which notes have been enharmonically adjusted. They are turned orange, like other differences between the part and the score, if View > Invisibles > Differences In Parts is checked.
Notice how even the courtesy accidentals are correct in the last bar in all three examples above.
Should you wish to reset the part to its original spelling, go to Appearance > Design and Position > Reset Design (shortcut Command-Shift-D on Mac or Ctrl+Shift+D on PC).
Note that, if you use a plug-in such as Respell Sharps as Flats or Respell Flats as Sharps, the plug-in will not have the same effect as this new feature, even if you run the plug-in while in a part. Also note that when a Sibelius 8.2 score is exported to an earlier version, any enharmonically modified notes in a part will revert to their default state.
For me, at least, this feature is the most useful engraving achievement in any of the Sibelius 8 releases so far, more so than even the magnetic rests feature. It’s not groundbreaking by any means — after all, it’s been around in Finale for nearly a decade — but it’s really the only improvement for which there has been no simple workaround (the only one I know of involves laboriously creating creative instrument changes in a part). It works as expected and is simple to use because it builds on how we already expect dynamic parts to work — kudos to the Sibelius team on introducing this feature.
Correct placement of time signatures placed before start repeats
It’s debatable whether this qualifies as a new feature or a bug fix, but no matter, it’s an improvement. It’s long been a pet peeve for many a Sibelius user that, when creating a start repeat barline that coincided with a time signature (like commonly at the beginning of a piece), the barline preceded the time signature instead of the other way around. Bob Zawalich even created a plug-in, Move Time Sig Repeat Barline, to deal with this annoyance.
Now, in Sibelius 8.2, the order of these items is correct by default.
Importantly (and not trivially), importing and exporting legacy scores preserves the score’s appearance in all cases. When importing legacy scores created in earlier versions of Sibelius, the original layout of time signatures and repeats is maintained so that those scores look the same as before. If you want to update the placement of time signatures and rests in a legacy score, simply delete and reinsert those repeats.
Likewise, you can export any scores with the new layout to an earlier version of Sibelius and it will maintain the updated repeat and time signature placement.
Ability to move notes and rests horizontally
Moving or “sliding” music horizontally (or vertically, for that matter) is a common workflow to those working with MIDI or audio in DAWs. In notation software, though, it’s not possible to do that. Sibelius 8.2 takes a first step towards making it easier, although the feature leaves much to be desired.
The shortcuts for moving a selection left or right are Command-Option-Left Arrow (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow (PC) and Command-Option-Right Arrow (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow (PC), respectively. These shortcuts are automatically added even if you have a custom feature set in File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.
The most basic example involves a single note or chord in a single staff.
Invoke the shortcut, and the note slides over to the right.
Keep sliding, though, and the note leaves a trail of quarter notes in its wake:
In the above example I think it would be better if Sibelius grouped rests back together and replaced the bar rest entirely. As it stands now there’s a fair amount of cleanup involved.
In what is probably the best use case for the new feature, you can quickly slide a note while the note input cursor is active:
The feature also works on a passage selection. In this example it works quite nicely within the bar:
But when moving to another bar, the half note becomes Humpty-Dumpty-like, unable to be put back together again, and leaving a trail of rests:
The duration that the note slides is controlled by the denominator of the time signature (i.e., in 4/4 time, notes will slide by a quarter note; in 6/8 time, the notes will slide by an eighth note). The exceptions to this are if the selected note or passage are of a shorter duration than that note value, or if there are intervening rests that are shorter; in either case the note(s) will slide by the smaller duration.
Items such as lyrics or dynamics won’t move by themselves, but they will be included in a move if contained within a passage selection, which may be useful in certain circumstances:
Finally — and this will come as no surprise to long-suffering Sibelius users — if you try to move either a selection involving a tuplet or one adjacent to it, Sibelius will give up:
About the tuplet limitation, Sibelius senior product manager Sam Butler said today that “We are hoping to improve this in a future release.”
The concept of sliding notes and passages in time is interesting and, even with its current limitations, may be useful in certain conditions. The good news is that, being a workflow enhancement and not something that fundamentally changes the appearance of a score, hopefully the Sibelius developers can refine this tool to make it more useful in the future.
Installation, upgrading, compatibility
Sibelius 8.2 will overwrite any 8.x version you have on your computer, but will leave other versions intact, unless you tell the installer to uninstall those versions. You also have the separate option of copying supporting files from Sibelius 7.5, if you’re upgrading from that version.
If you have Sibelius 8.1.1 or earlier, you should upgrade to 8.2, and will be prompted to do so by the Application Manager. It’s free for most users of 8.x unless you bought a monthly subscription plan that has already expired.
Sibelius 8.2 uses the same file format as Sibelius 8.1, which is welcome news.
Sibelius 8.2 will run on any 64-bit system running Windows 7 or later or Mac OS 10.9 or later. Various purchase options, including subscriptions, perpetual licenses, and upgrades are available from Avid’s online store and other resellers such as Amazon and Sweetwater.