Sibelius 2022.12 is “part”way to more layout independence with score subsets


Avid has released Sibelius 2022.12 for desktop and mobile. New in this release are “score subsets” which, as the name suggests, are subsets of the full score. Score subsets are different from dynamic parts; the purpose of score subsets as of this release is to have the ability to “focus” on staves more permanently in various configurations, such as a rehearsal score. The music, text, lines and symbols are all dynamically linked between the full score and each subset, so any changes you make in one will be reflected in the others.

Elsewhere in the 2022.12 release, you’ll find three new barlines: thick, triple, and dotted; new engraving improvements to barlines give finer control to barlines in general, and it’s now possible to show repeat dots on all spaces. The MusicXML schema is now updated from 3.1 to 4.0, in tandem with the addition of MusicXML import to last month’s Sibelius for Mobile release.

Finally, Sibelius 2022.12 is the first version of Sibelius to be officially supported on macOS 13 Ventura.

Score subsets

Score subsets are the latest in a series of incremental changes to Sibelius over the second half of 2022 that have something to do with staves and parts in one way or another. 2022.7 brought dynamic guitar staves; in 2022.9 we saw the introduction of staff names in groups; and 2022.10 included a command for making a part from a selection of instruments in the score, or one instrument that’s part of a group.

Looking further back to Sibelius 2020.9, that update improved the Focus on Staves feature in a way that made it possible to use it more reliably and easily, and in some ways laid the groundwork for today’s update. That update made it possible to freely use both Focus on Staves and Hide Empty Staves, and included the use of a drop-down menu to select and de-select the focused staves.

That update proved how useful it was to control Sibelius scores in this way, but it also showed how ephemeral a focused set could be; if you relied upon it to generate the final layout of your score, one slipped click at the last moment could alter your score unintentionally, and there was no way to recover the memory of a “focus group”, if you’ll pardon the pun.

To remedy this and to set the course for the future, the Sibelius 2022.12 update adds the new concept of Score Subsets. Now, in Sibelius, you are no longer limited to just one “score” — you still have the full score, just as before, but you now can have multiple subsets of the score.

Why would you want such a thing? Actually, there are a number of very valid reasons. Here are few:

  • You might have an opera for which you have a large orchestra layout, say, with double winds and brass, and a reduced orchestra layout for single winds and no brass, but with the same percussion, vocal, and string parts in each layout. With score subsets, you can have one project file that contains all the parts for both layouts, with each score subset displaying only the applicable parts for the particular layout.
  • If you are importing a MIDI sketch or piano part into a full orchestra template, you can have a project file that permanently retains your sketch along with any working scratch staves for easy reference, and create a score subset that displays only the staves required for the published score.
  • If you create a piano reduction from a full score, you can have a score subset that omits the piano reduction.

Savvy Sibelius users have found ways to achieve the above scenarios before, mostly through a combination of hiding and showing music and deft use of Focus on Staves and Hide Empty Staves. Those tools still have their rightful place, but score subsets make it easier — with a few caveats, which we’ll address shortly.

Creating a score subset

Regarding the last example of a score subset that omits the piano reduction, here’s how you would achieve this in Sibelius 2022.12:

First, select the staves which you would like to make into a score subset. You can select just one bar; it is not necessary to select the entire score.

Then, from Parts > Create, click Score Subset. Or, you can type Make into Score Subset from the Command Search bar.

Alternatively, without selecting anything in the score, go to Parts > Parts & Score Subsets > New. You’ll notice the familiar New Part dialog has been updated to be New Part / Score Subset. Select the staves which you would like to make into a score subset, click the Create New Score Subset button and click Add Staves to add them to your new score subset.

Regardless of the method used above, you’ll have a new score subset in your project.

You’ll most likely want to rename the score subset something different from your full score. To do that, go to File > Info and change the name of the score subset.

You can switch among the full score, score subsets, and parts by clicking the + menu at the right-hand end of the document tab bar, or by simply right-clicking anywhere along the tab bar, as before.

How score subsets are the same, and how they can differ from the full score

You might be wondering how score subsets are any different than a dynamic part. Here are the takeaways:

  • Score subsets will share most of the same house style properties of the full score.
  • Positioning and design of items in the full score and all score subsets will also be the same, and if you change the position or design of an object in a score subset, it will change in the full score and all other score subsets — unlike changing something in part, where only the part is affected.
  • The Hide/Show properties in a score subset will take that of the score (such as cues); likewise, any text style settings in a score subset will be those defined for the full score.

Where score subsets are unique — in addition to the aforementioned ability to define a specific set of staves for a score subset — is the ability to have different Document Setup settings for each score subset. This includes things like page size, margins, page orientation, and staff size. So it’s entirely possible to have a full score in tabloid size landscape orientation, like this:

And a score subset in letter size portrait orientation, like this:

One caveat: Breaks

This would almost be perfect, but there is one drawback in the current implementation that prevents score subsets from being useful in many circumstances. Any casting off (breaks and formatting) settings, whether they are applied manually — such as system breaks, page breaks, keeping bars together, and so on — or whether they are applied automatically, through the Auto Breaks settings, are shared among the full score and all score subsets.

So, if you would like your tabloid landscape score to be eight bars per page…

…but your letter portrait score to be four bars per page…

…you’re out of luck for the moment.

Avid is aware of this limitation, and we hope that it will be addressed in a future update to this feature.

Level set with score subsets

Other than the aforementioned caveat, there is some refinement needed in the PDF exporting process: score subsets are not available through File > Export > PDF, but can be printed to PDF in File > Print.

Dorico users will notice a number of similarities with Sibelius’s score subsets and Dorico’s score layouts. Indeed, they essentially serve the same purposes, albeit implemented with different user interfaces. Ideally, Sibelius’s implementation would make it easier to define settings on a per-layout (per-score subset) basis, and consolidate the options into a more comprehensive interface, like Dorico’s Layout Options dialog already does. With that said, the Sibelius team has still done a fine job adding this new feature into its existing paradigm without disorienting current users.

Score subsets fulfill a long-awaited need to retain several score layouts within the same project, especially if the deficiencies noted above are addressed in a subsequent update.

New barlines and barline options

Have you ever needed to use a triple barline in your score? Now you can, thanks to the three new barlines available in Sibelius 2022.12: Thick, Triple, and Dotted.

Of the three additions, the one most often seen is the dotted barline, which is sometimes preferred to the dashed barline to denote internal subdivisions of the bar. It would be super if such an update were accompanied by more refinement in the way complex time signatures are applied so that Sibelius would apply such a barline automatically; alas, the usual methods still apply here.

If you convert a file using one of the new barline options to an older version of Sibelius, they will convert as follows:

  • Thick → Double
  • Triple → Double
  • Dotted → Dashed

Perhaps of more general interest is some degree of finer control over the appearance of barlines. You’ll find this in Appearance > Engraving Rules > Barlines.

Among the additions are new options to draw “old-fashioned” coincident repeats, where the thick line is restated, as shown here by Elaine Gould on page 234 in her music notation reference Behind Bars:

The second example is now possible in Sibelius 2022.12, with the “Double thick lines for coincident repeats” option checked

There’s also a new option to draw the repeat dots in all staff spaces.

Bug fixes, etc.

Rounding out the 2022.12 update:

  • The MusicXML schema is now updated from 3.1 to 4.0, although Avid says that “No other changes were made to the way these files are imported”
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when importing a score via File > Import that uses various playing techniques
  • On Mac, an accessibility bug where the navigation commands would loop one word endlessly when using a screen reader is fixed
  • Avid Link is updated

It’s important to mention that Sibelius 2022.12 introduces yet another file format change; if you need for someone to open your 2022.12 file in an earlier version of Sibelius, you must export it first in File > Export > Previous Version.

If you find yourself in this area regularly, you’ll notice it’s been tidied up, with much older versions squirreled away in a drop-down menu.

Support on macOS 13 Ventura

Sibelius 2022.12 is the first version of Sibelius to be officially supported on macOS 13 Ventura. However, it is not a Universal application, and thus is still required to run under Rosetta 2 on Macs with Apple Silicon hardware, such as the M1.


The Sibelius 2022.12 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 2022.12 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.


  1. Matthew Hindson

    A couple of questions: why did they put this in Parts, rather than part of the Focus on Staves section?

    The Export to PDF function – so if one has a score focus eg “conductor score” selected, is that the one that will be exported? Or the original, unfocused one? I sincerely hope it’s the former.

    Sorry, one more. Currently if using shift-click to select multiple stages/notes, and then (for example) Cmd-E to add expressions to multiple simultaneous notes, it also adds them to any “unfocused” staves. This can be desirable: and so I wonder if this still works in the new regime?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Matthew. Here is what I have observed:

      • Score subsets are available in the Print area
      • Score subsets are not available on their own in Export > PDF, however:
      • If you Export > PDF > Score and all parts (one file) or Export > PDF > All parts only (one file), the score subsets are included
      • If you Export > PDF > Score and all parts (separate files) or Export > PDF > All parts only (separate files), the score subsets are NOT included

      As I mentioned in the review, this needs to be refined.

      Regarding Shift-clicking discontiguous staves in a score subset, it as if you Command/Ctrl-clicked, so that staves not in the score subset are bypassed. I believe this is intentional and what a user would expect; you would not want to unintentionally operate on staves that aren’t in the subset.

      1. Philip Rothman

        Oh, and in answer to your question about putting it in Parts, instead of Focus on Staves, score subsets are a more permanent state and I think rightly belongs here. This is effectively Sibelius’s answer to Dorico’s way of working with “layouts”.

  2. Claus

    How about transposition? Is it possible to create now a score in C and then a transposing score?

    1. Claus

      I might add that I meant transposing score with different clefs

      1. Philip Rothman

        Hi Claus. Good question. The transposing state is shared among the full score and score subsets.

  3. Maxximuss

    I don’t find it so helpful for my workflow. The upgrades from Avid are of little use. Sibelius has stagnated while Dorico is moving forward at an alarming rate.

    1. Justin Tokke

      On the contrary, the Sibelius team has been releasing very frequently this year. What do you want to see next?

    2. Paul Harrison

      Quite. Seeing that this is awkwardly and somewhat confusingly implemented this is makes me glad I jumped ship to Dorico. It’s also obviously a reaction to Dorico’s much better implementation of the same idea.

  4. Shiki Suen

    Apple has been deprecated Lucida Grande as UI font for 9 years, and AVID Sibelius still didn’t change the UI font to SF Pro Display.

    1. Justin Tokke

      All in good time. We have plans.

  5. Jarod Leslie

    This update is not even close to as good as MuseScore’s.

  6. John Day

    What is difference between Score subset and New Version please?

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