Today Avid released Sibelius 8.3. 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).
Sibelius 8.3 introduces the ability to individually color notes, improves upon 8.2’s sliding feature by more intelligently grouping rests, and improves the independent enharmonic spelling feature introduced in 8.2.
Individual note colors
As reported last month, the new feature in Sibelius 8.3 is the individual coloring of notes.
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.
Individually coloring 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 Sibelius 8.3, you’re able to color notes and articulations individually without needing the plug-in workaround.
ManuScript has 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.”
You can see the results instantly by running the shipping plug-in Note Input > Plug-ins > Notes and Rests > Boomwhacker Note Colors:
The shipping plug-in Note Input > Plug-ins > Notes and Rests > Color Pitches has been updated so that coloring individual notes is possible with that tool.
Bob Zawalich has already updated the following downloadable plug-ins to work with Sibelius 8.3, adapting them to process individual colors:
- Apply Named Color
- Color Enharmonic Pitches
- Color Harp Strings
- Color Notes on String
- Color Picker
- Filter Colored Objects
- Filter Other
- Mark Enharmonic Pitches
- Remove All Coloring
- Remove Coloring
- Replace Color
- Trace Colored Objects
If you’re interested in the details of the ManuScript language and using it to manipulate note colors, go to the Quick Start dialog within Sibelius, and click on Learn > Documentation > What’s New.
Improved rest consolidation when sliding notes
Sibelius 8.2 introduced a promising new feature with which a note a or passage could be moved left or right by the use of the new shortcuts Command-Option-Left Arrow (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow (PC) and Command-Option-Right Arrow (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow (PC), respectively.
Slide too far, though, and you left a trail of unconsolidated rests behind:
This has been significantly improved in Sibelius 8.3. Rests will now intelligently group back together when you slide notes:
This improvement certainly makes this new feature a whole lot more useful. Note, however, that if you slide a note across a barline that causes it to split into two or more tied notes, (e.g., a half note in 4/4), the notes remain split and tied forevermore. Perhaps this could be further improved upon in the future; last year in an interview with this blog, Daniel Spreadbury indicated that the designers of the Steinberg program are taking these types of adjustments into account (see “Composing and representing the music”).
Improvements and fixes to enharmonic spelling in parts
The independent enharmonic spelling feature introduced in Sibelius 8.2 was a very welcome addition. Sibelius 8.3 improves upon this feature with updates to the shipping plug-ins Respell Sharps as Flats and Respell Flats as Sharps, which now work when run from within a part, re-spelling notes in only the viewed part while leaving the score and any other parts unchanged.
Sibelius designers sought the opinion of users on the intended behavior of this plug-in when viewing a part in a poll on the chat page, with most users preferring the behavior implemented in 8.3. Sibelius product designer Joe Pearson said, “Once we’ve released, do let me know how you get on with it. I’m very open to the idea of expanding the plug-in (or perhaps creating a complimentary Advanced Respell plug-in with extra options) in the future.”
The chat page also brought a bug to the designers’ attention. When invoking Appearance > Design and Position > Reset Design in Sibelius 8.2, any accidentals that were re-spelled from the Sibelius default were reset to the default spelling. This was clearly a bug and has been fixed in Sibelius 8.3. If you use Reset Design often and think you may have done so in Sibelius 8.2, you may have been affected, so you’ll want to go back and check your scores carefully.
Other items, installation
Some more fixes of note:
- Multi-touch scrolling and zooming of the score using Mac trackpads continues to be improved in Sibelius 8.3. There have been many reports of inconsistent results since the feature was added in 8.0. The Sibelius team told me that they are hoping that Sibelius 8.3 solves all these problems and are eager to hear how users find the latest improvements to be working.
- Several rare crashes have been identified and fixed in 8.3, and the documentation has been updated.
- The Sibelius License Server is now supported on Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
- Start and end repeat barlines would sometimes appear too thick when written together. These are now lined up correctly as before.
- Some users reported a problem where note input would stop working when switching scores. This has been fixed.
It’s encouraging to see the Sibelius team hitting a stride with regular updates and new features. A cautionary note, though: the more rapid development cycle brings with it the increased possibility of new bugs, the like the one affecting Reset Design as noted above. It’s good to see these items fixed in the subsequent release, but if you rely on Sibelius for critical work, you might consider a conservative approach and wait for public feedback before deciding whether to download the latest update.
Sibelius 8.3 uses the same file format as Sibelius 8.1 and 8.2.
Sibelius 8.3 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 8.2 or earlier, you will be prompted to update 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 8.3 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.