Reviewing the reviews, part 3


Continuing my occasional series of looking at the things people are saying about Sibelius 6, today I came across a blog post from composer Jennifer Jolley on her wonderfully-titled blog, Why compose when you can blog?, called 3-way Sibelius 6, in which she outlines three quick reasons why she loves the new version. The title, by the way, is an allusion to 3-way Cincinatti chili, a dish that, being a Brit who has never had the good fortune to visit Cincinatti, Ohio, I can only speculate can not be good for you.

I first came across Jenn a week or so back via Twitter, where she can be found as @JennJolley. She was having problems installing Sibelius 6 on her “steam-powered laptop”, but I was able to help.

Now she’s up and running, and she seems to be enjoying the new features!

Reason #1: Sibelius does super-sweet Schenker slurs

Jenn makes Schenker graphs for fun using Sibelius. I haven’t had to deal with Schenker since my university days, but if you’re interested to find out more about this branch of music analysis, a good place to start is Tom Pankhurst’s site, SchenkerGUIDE.

The improvements to slurs in Sibelius 6 really make it simple to create very graceful slurs in all manner of shapes, including S-shaped ones, which are often required in Schenker graphs, which typically condense the analysis of a work onto one or two staves. Said S-shaped slurs are also common in keyboard and harp music, and they’re much more predictable and controllable in Sibelius 6 than in previous versions.

Reason #2: Feathered beaming = so much easier

Feathered beaming (sometimes called “fanned beaming” or “splayed beaming”) is a way of representing a short accel. or rit. over the course of a few notes. In previous versions, creating feathered beams was pretty laborious, but it’s an absolute snap in Sibelius 6.

Reason #3: Stemlets rock

Stemlets, or half-stems, are used to help disambiguate groupings in rhythmically complex passages. They appear on rests under a beam, and show that the rest is part of the rhythmic group. This can be particularly useful for showing the overall beat structure of a bar and how a complex rhythm fits within.

It was, as with feathered beams, pretty laborious to create stemlets in previous versions of Sibelius (involving creating fake noteheads using rest symbols, and all sorts of machinations for stem-up and stem-down notes), and only the most dedicated would have pursued that all the way to the end. In Sibelius 6, it’s the work of checking a single checkbox in the Engraving Rules dialog (and you can, of course, adjust the length and appearance of all stemlets globally and any individual stemlet, too).

Jenn does a great job of drawing attention to three simple things we added in Sibelius 6 that simplify or speed up previously time-intensive and laborious tasks. We love adding things like this — Paste as Cue and instrument changes, both added in Sibelius 5, are other excellent examples — and Sibelius 6 is absolutely chock full of improvements like this to make working with the program faster and easier than before.

What’s your favourite small improvement in Sibelius 6?

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