Sibelius 8.7.2 update available; instrument changes improved


Avid today released Sibelius 8.7.2update-download, a maintenance update for the Sibelius 8.7 release that introduced Sibelius Cloud Sharing. For an innocuously-numbered update, Sibelius 8.7.2 is significant in that a long-standing issue involving instrument changes, key signatures and multirests has been improved. In order to facilitate this update, some aspects of Sibelius have been modified as a result. A number of other fixes are included in Sibelius 8.7.2 as well, as well as official qualification for macOS High Sierra (10.13), and we have updated our post on this blog accordingly. According to Sam Butler’s post today on the official Avid blog, Sibelius 8.7.2 includes over 70 improvements.

Instrument changes, key signatures and multirests

It’s never been possible to get a key signature associated with an instrument change to display correctly in the score and part, and not break a mulitrest in the process. But last year, with guidance from Jeremy Hughes, I illustrated an elaborate solution to finally get all of this to work correctly.

Essential to the solution was the application of a non-default “normal” barline in place of the barlines automatically placed by Sibelius. They look identical, but the non-default (or “special”) normal barlines have certain properties that interact properly with instrument changes and key signature changes.

Sibelius 8.7.2 essentially takes this multi-step workaround and makes it simple to apply in one step, in the ordinary course of creating an instrument change.

Behind the scenes, though, several things newly happen when applying an instrument change in Sibelius 8.7.2:

  • A special normal barline is inserted at the instrument change (and, if an instrument change is made on a passage selection, at the end of the selection for the restorative change as well);
  • If an instrument change is made that coincides with a key signature change, the key signature of the instrument change is hidden so that you no longer get the key signature for the old instrument as well as the key signature of the new instrument;
  • The special normal barlines no longer split a multirest in the parts.

This last point is actually doubly important, for in 8.7.2, the following special barlines will no longer split a multirest, solving a number of layout problems for many users:

  • Invisible
  • Normal
  • Tick
  • Short
  • Between Staves

If you actually relied on the splitting properties of these barlines in an existing file, when you open the file in 8.7.2, Sibelius will enter a split multirest in these locations so that the layout of your existing file is maintained.

If all of this is a bit confusing, the main thing to note is that, in nearly all cases, applying instrumentation changes in their default position now works so much better than before.

Default behavior in Sibelius 8.7.1 and earlier (score and part)
Default behavior in Sibelius 8.7.2 (score and part)

The caveat is that if you’re used to dragging instrument changes around, Sibelius isn’t smart enough to bring these improvements along for the ride. This shouldn’t be surprising; if you’ve ever tried dragging a key signature, you can do it, but it’s inadvisable because the double barline doesn’t come with it. Instrument changes are now much the same, and further, in some cases if moved into an area of rests it will disappear in the part completely. If you need to modify the position of an instrument change, from now on it’s probably safest to delete it entirely and create a new one.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the new special normal barline that is created upon the application of an instrument change stays in the score even if you’ve moved or deleted the instrument change. Although in practice this shouldn’t usually cause a problem (since these types of barlines no longer break multirests as of this update), they do have separate properties from default normal barlines. The plug-in What Is Where can help detect any of these special barlines if they are no longer needed.

There are a few edge cases where things don’t quite display correctly. The two most notable cases I found were 1) applying an instrument change at a key signature change where canceling naturals are involved, and 2) applying an instrument change from a unpitched staff of less than five lines (like one-line percussion staves) to a five-line pitched staff. For these instances, more extensive workarounds are still needed.

Sibelius 8.7.2 doesn’t quite get this right, canceling three naturals instead of two

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this fix is forwards- and backwards-compatible. If you ended up using the workaround before, your files will open in 8.7.2 just fine. Likewise, files created in 8.7.2 and exported to earlier versions of Sibelius will display correctly; in fact, no special exporting is needed to 8.6, because 8.7.2 retains the file format of 8.6. This is no small feat, so kudos to the Sibelius developers to make this happen.

High Sierra

Sibelius 8.7.2 is qualified on macOS High Sierra (10.13). Avid will only support Sibelius if you format your hard drive as case-insensitive, which is the default.

If you format your hard drive with case-sensitivity turned on, Sibelius may run well but Avid notes the following:

  • Sounds won’t load into the Sibelius Player, because it normalizes the case for the path and file names.
  • The New Score tab of the Quick Start dialog is empty of any manuscript papers.

Other fixes

Sibelius 8.7.2 includes quite a few other fixes:

MusicXML export

  • In response to any Tempo Scale effect in Play > Interpretation > Dictionary, Sibelius now removes the metronome metric modulation but keeps the text indications. The XML output from Sibelius is now valid.
  • Certain files that crashed Sibelius upon exporting them to MusicXML no longer do so.
  • The .musicxml extension is recognized.

Cloud Sharing

  • Accepting the Terms and Conditions for the first time now knows if you’ve just opened the Dashboard or clicked Share — if the latter, it no longer just opens the Dashboard but continues to share the score.
  • When sharing an unsaved score, the “Uploading Score” message only appears after you’ve saved the score.
  • When extracting parts, the files are now given their own FileID, allowing you to share these independently from the full score.
  • The Push button is now enabled and disabled more reliably.


  • Non-magnetic glissando and portamento lines are now red when they are selected. This is now consistent with the the color of non-magnetic slurs.
  • A long-standing issue, where title pages and other blank pages would be lost when changing time signature at the beginning of the score, has been fixed.
  • When pasting lyrics, the Undo/Redo queue no longer gets out of sync. Previously, it was possible to repeat a lyric rather than paste the next one in the clipboard.
  • Sibelius no longer crashes if you quit while still inputting text (Mac only).
  • In some cases, entering notes into a bar directly after an Instrument Change would add them in the next bar instead. This is now fixed.
  • Sibelius no longer starts up slowly when the Avid Application Manager Helper is not running.
  • Various other localization fixes.

The Sibelius 8.7.2 update is free for all Sibelius users with active subscriptions and upgrade plans. The updated installers are available from Avid Application Manager or through users’ Avid Accounts. A complete list of changes is published on the official Avid blog.


  1. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for the (as usual) nicely detailed review, Philip.

    There are some good fixes in this version. I addition to the slithery Instrument Change problems, I am particularly glad to see the change that Normal Special barlines will no longer break multirests, as this has been a hard to detect problem for many years. I like that they will stick in a split multirest break when opening earlier scores, so the original behavior is maintained, but it is now easier to tell why the multirest is broken, and there is an easy fix.

    The Sibelius guys have been putting in a fair bit of effort to address old nagging bugs, and the effect of fixes here and there are accumulating so that the overall experience really keeps getting better.

  2. Antonio Gervasoni

    Has anyone experienced a problem with this update? Any new bugs? Generally, fixing bugs in a software ends up producing new ones; Sibelius has not been the exception.
    Last time I updated without waiting a little bit, I ended up with that nasty bug that wouldn’t play slurs, so this time I prefer to be on the safe side. So, any issues with this update?

    1. Max

      I jumped from 7.2 to 8.7.2. With 8.7.2, I can no longer option+click to duplicate articulations. Some of my lines also won’t duplicate any longer. Instead, Sibelius deletes the note said object was connected to and replaces it with a rest. I read a support thread about this problem, and somehow, it seemed, many longtime users didn’t even know you could do this. Anyway, it was something I incorporated in my workflow. Another problem I am having is the dropdown menu won’t function properly. It just opens and closes really quickly. This only happens on my office computer. I have narrowed it down to being an issue with Sibelius and my external monitor. When I disconnect the monitor, the problem goes away. But then I can’t work on my large scores. But I do not have this problem on my older computer, so I don’t really know what is up with this bug/glitch. If I continue using Sibelius, I am going to have to completely retool my workflow. And this is likely what I’ll have to since I already have three big projects I am working on. But it is also likely that my next project will be a return to Finale or trying out Dorico.

  3. Des McLean

    I cannot get the lyrics feature to work on Sib 8.7.0. Is this a bug?

    Running Big Sur version 11.2.1

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