Sibelius 2022.5 brings multi-section headers, other workflow boosts

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Avid has released Sibelius 2022.5 for desktop and mobile. This update makes it much easier to apply a header or footer on a per-section basis, such as a song or movement — a boon to any user regularly working with these types of projects.

Headers often contain wildcards, and so a somewhat related improvement in Sibelius 2022.5 is the ability to define or change the content of a wildcard directly in the score, without needing to visit File > Info. This improvement is targeted at mobile users, but benefits Sibelius on the desktop as well.

There are a number of other improvements in this update. Not to be overlooked is the long-overdue naming of the middle tier of Sibelius to “Sibelius Artist”, which will hopefully help avoid confusion about which tier of Sibelius a user is running. As of today, “Sibelius” on its own refers to the product line; the three tiers from basic to most advanced are Sibelius First, Sibelius Artist, and Sibelius Ultimate.

Headers and footers on multiple sections

Headers and footers are important elements of well-prepared scores and parts. Especially for fast-moving projects where one can easily be managing multiple pieces of music, I always advocate for the score and part to include the title of the work; and including the name of the part is an absolute “must”. This way, you can easily get your bearings when opening any PDF or printed copy of a piece of music, especially if there are loose pages strewn about.

This worked fine for single-section compositions. But in songbooks, musical theater pieces, certain multi-movement works and other projects with multiple sections, it’s often helpful to have these contained in one file to minimize the effort expended in maintaining multiple files. Within each of these works, it’s customary to display the song or section title as a header on the top of each page, per song or section.

Until today’s update, this was a real chore in Sibelius with a complicated series of steps involving text with opaque backgrounds, the drawing order, text frames, and other esoteria that needed to strung together in precisely the right way. The underlying problem was that, while you could start a header from any bar in the score, Sibelius would then display that header forevermore until the very last page of the file.

Now, in Sibelius 2022.5, there is a new option to terminate the header at the end of a section. To access this option, go to Text > Edit Text Styles and select a text style such as header, footer, or any other type of text that might repeat on multiple pages. Click Edit… and click the Repeat tab.

You’ll see a new option Repeat until next section end. If this is checked, any repeating text that uses the specified text style will stop displaying at the last bar of a section.

It’s worth a reminder how you actually tell Sibelius where a section ends, because this needs to be set up correctly in your score in order for the new feature to work correctly. Select the bar where you want the section to end — most likely, the last bar of a song or movement, and open the Inspector. In Bars, check Section end.

New in Sibelius 2022.5, you don’t need to visit the Inspector to do this; you can apply it via Command Search, or assign a shortcut to it in Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > Other.

If you have View > Layout Marks set to show in your score, you’ll see an icon displaying on the bar that looks like a final barline (although strictly speaking, having a final barline and a section end are mutually exclusive):

You may already have set up sections in Sibelius in this way; until now, their chief purpose was to make it possible to re-state the full name of an instrument at a beginning of a movement (Appearance > Engraving Rules > Instruments > Instrument Names).

In this example, both “1. Pavan” and “2. Saraband” are using the same text style Header (after first page, inside edge), yet because I have enabled Repeat until next section end, the text object that contains “1. Pavan” stops at the section end, and I can place a new one on the first bar of the new movement.

This works smartly in parts, too. You might be wondering, what if you have a situation where there are multiple section end/starts on the same page?

Sibelius 2022.5 handles this well. If there is already a text style of the same type being drawn between the first bar of the page and the current text item, Sibelius skips drawing the latter object on the current page.

In this example, from the live performance of the score to David Newman’s Matilda, there are new sections beginning at each cue number, and I have applied new headers at each section start using the same text style. Sibelius correctly displays only one header per page — whichever header is prevailing at the beginning of each page.

Sibelius correctly only applies one header of the same “repeating” type per page (click for a larger view)

For example, “2M2” continues at the top of page 3, having started on the previous page. There is a header at the beginning of “2M4”, but Sibelius has skipped it for this part, because the “2M2” header is already there. On page 4, the “2M5 / 2M6” section start is concurrent with the beginning of the page, so that’s what gets displayed; headers for “3M3” and “3M4” are skipped.

The skip logic only applies to text styles of the same type.

To get you up and running even faster with this feature, all Sibelius documents, either newly created or one created in a previous version will sport five new text styles:

  • Section footer (inside edge)
  • Section footer (outside edge)
  • Section header
  • Section header (after first page)
  • Section header (after first page, inside edge)

Wisely, these make use of Sibelius’s hierarchical text styles and inherit all the properties of their parent style, except for the Repeat function. For example, “Section header (after first page, inside edge)” is based on “Header (after first page, inside edge)”, so in order to take advantage of this new feature, you need merely to select the existing text object, switch your text style in Text > Format > ¶, and get on with your business.

Wildcards and other improvements

Wildcards

One related new feature in Sibelius 2022.5 is the ability to define a wildcard “in situ”, or, if your Latin is ferrugineo, in the original place in the score.

If you double-click on a text object that contains a wildcard, you are prompted to go to the File > Info area, which is known as Backstage, to enter in your metadata from which the wildcard derives its definitions like Title, Composer, etc.

This still happens in Sibelius 2022.5, but now, if you click No to expose the wildcard,  you’ll also see the definition that appears in File > Info.

In other words, instead of seeing something like

\$TITLE\

you’ll see

\$TITLE=Take Off\

From here, you can redefine the wildcard directly in the score, and it will apply to the File > Info area, and anywhere else in the score where the wildcard appears.

This improvement was aimed at mobile users, since there is no equivalent “Backstage” area in Sibelius for Mobile. Yet desktop users will surely appreciate many fewer trips away from the score. I only wish that the dialog would have an option to dismiss it forever, since now that I’ve already become accustomed to the feature, I don’t need to be reminded each time.

New filter to help add articulations to tied notes

When I first started using Sibelius in 2005, one Finale feature I missed was the ability to mass-apply an articulation only to notes that start a “tie chain” and not the ones that continue the tie.

17 years is a long time to wait, but there’s now a filter for that, in Home > Filters > Non-tied Notes:

You can also access it via Command Search, but, for the fastest implementation, assign a custom keyboard shortcut to it. (Yes, it’s a no-brainer for us to add to an update to Notation Express in the future.)

Better pedal lines

Pedal lines are improved; this was already addressed in the mobile version but has now made its way to desktop. The lines that terminate with a “pedal up” end in the correct place instead of carrying on longer than needed. (The “pedal lift” lines remain as before, so that you can string two or more pedal lines together.)

Selection shortcuts

Sibelius 2022.5 includes two new commands in the Selection category within Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts. These are found in Command Search, and can be triggered with two new shortcuts:

Extend selection to start of score

  • Mac: Cmd+Shift+Home
  • Windows: Ctrl+Shift+Home

Extend selection to end of score

  • Mac: Cmd+Shift+End
  • Windows: Ctrl+Shift+End

Other fixes and improvements

For more on what’s new in Sibelius 2022.5 on both mobile and desktop, please see the announcement on Avid’s web site.

“Sibelius” is now “Sibelius Artist”; Avid Link no longer needed for Sibelius First

In 2018, Avid restructured Sibelius’s product tiers. The pro-level version, which was previously called “Sibelius”, was renamed “Sibelius Ultimate” and “Sibelius” was re-purposed for the middle, feature-limited tier, causing confusion among many users who thought that they bought “Sibelius”.

That’s all thankfully behind us now. The middle tier is now called “Sibelius Artist” and “Sibelius” simply refers to the overall product line. Henceforth, the tiers are:

  • Sibelius First
  • Sibelius Artist
  • Sibelius Ultimate

What’s more, Sibelius First will now run without needing to be logged into Avid Link, making it easier to share Sibelius scores for anyone to read, print, and play back.

Swing for the fences, or one base at a time?

The new feature for repeated text is really welcome news. Anytime we can make an entire Scoring Notes “workaround” obsolete, I am very pleased! The rest of the features in Sibelius 2022.5 round out a very nice update (and renaming the middle tier something sensible to avoid mixups is gratefully accepted).

As mentioned, I’ve used Sibelius since 2005 (and Finale 1993). For an old-timer like me, even though cumulatively Sibelius has added an remarkable bevy of new features in recent years, it’s sometimes still hard to get used to the fact that Sibelius and Finale don’t often release the types of “major” upgrades that we once saw — and we have seen more recently the past few years with Dorico as, by necessity, they pile on ever more features to quickly scale up from starting anew.

I’ll happily take the new feature that ends repeated text at a section end. But I wonder if it means that the Sibelius team has checked that box and is done with it, or, as I would hope, it’s just the start of something much more to come. I don’t know the answer, but I hope it’s the latter.

What is needed in modern Sibelius is a comprehensive way to deal with multi-section works in the same file. When I started using Finale in 1993 and Sibelius in 2005, such a request would have exceeded the computing capabilities of the time. But even though we’ve come a long way in the past couple of decades in terms of processor and memory heft, stitching together multiple songs or movements in these programs still leaves much to be desired.

Dorico addresses this problem with “flows” — a way to manage movements, songs, cues, and sections. Each flow can have its own set of wildcards (“tokens” in Dorico) which can be easily assigned with one string. Moreover, flows in Dorico can be reordered, and instruments omitted on a per-flow basis.

It would be great to see similar capabilities take hold in Sibelius, but this is not to say that Sibelius needs to work exactly like Dorico. It’s not hard to imagine (conceptually, at least), a more holistic approach to sections that include the following:

  • Extending the Score Info area of Sibelius to a Section Info area, where the Title, Subtitle, etc., can be defined separately for each section. Wildcards could take the form, e.g., \$SECTIONTITLE\ and \$SECTIONSUBTITLE\, etc., requiring the user only to apply a single running header in an entire project.
  • “Section” text styles that make use of the above approach — think “Section title”, “Section composer”, etc — that have an option to Display on the first bar of every section, so that you’d only need to add, for example, one single text object to display the song title for an entire show, and you use the aforementioned Section Info to control the title of your song in each section so that it displays correctly.
  • The section end could be the trigger for lots of other automatic actions that, right now, need to be done individually, in disparate areas of the program: hiding cautionary clefs and time signature changes; applying instrument changes; applying a final barline; restarting bar numbers, and so on.

Moreover, the Sibelius update to Focus on Staves from 2020.9 could be a springboard for use in multiple sections, so we could turn instruments on and off on a per-section basis the way we can for the entire score.

Dorico Setup mode on the left, Sibelius Focus on Staves on the right. They’re not the same, but they’re not entirely different, either

As I “pitch” these ideas, here’s hoping that Sibelius will “score” more improvements in this area and “base” future updates on this one — whether it’s via a home run or a series of smaller hits.

Availability and compatibility

Availability

The Sibelius 2022.5 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 2022.5 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.

Compatibility, and getting current

Files saved in Sibelius 2022.5 will open in previous Sibelius versions all the way back to 2020.3 without needing to be exported via File > Export > Previous Version. This is good news; however, do take note that if you make use of the new repeating text feature, or indeed any of the features introduced in the past couple of years, anyone opening these files in earlier versions could find themselves with a bit of a mess.

Thankfully, Avid has recently reintroduced the ability for Sibelius customers with a perpetual license to get current with the latest updates and support, by bringing back a discounted option for those customers. A subscription is no longer your only option if you have a lapsed perpetual license.

For just $79 for a Sibelius Artist license, or $149 for a Sibelius Ultimate license, you can get current using your existing perpetual license. This includes one year of upgrades, support, Sibelius Cloud Sharing, and all the features of Sibelius for Mobile to which your tier is entitled, depending on whether it is Sibelius Artist or Sibelius Ultimate.

After that year, to stay current, the renewal fee is $49/year for Sibelius Artist licenses or $99/year for Sibelius Ultimate.

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.

Comments

  1. Bob Zawalich

    One small note about “in-situ” wildcard editing. Some wildcards are “Read-only”, and if you try to do something like \$NumPages = 10\ the attempted change is ignored.

    Read only wildcards: HeaderPartName, HeaderInstrumentChanges, DateShort, DateLong, Time, User, FilePath, FileName, FileDate, PageNum, NumPages

    Be careful with things like PartName and InstrumentChanges, as well. You can change them here and it the Score Info area, but it is really not advised.
    Finally, if you are editing “in situ”, be sure there are no spaced before or after the = sign, or it will not be recognized as a definition.

  2. Jarrell Irvin

    I remember reading (I believe here) that there was a problem with 2022 Sibelius releases when displaying the Norfolk and Pori angled slash chords. The problem was that collision avoidance no longer took into account the root (below the slash and baseline) and so these slash chords could collide with other symbols like notes . Does this 2022.5 release fix that issue (or did 2022.3 – if so, I saw no mention of it)? I have stayed on 21.12 waiting for a fix as I don’t want to have to fix scores chord by chord. Thanks!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Jarrell. Thanks for this. Unfortunately, this issue has not been resolved in 2022.5; however, we’re told that Avid is aware of the issue and is planning to fix it.

  3. Jarrell Irvin

    Thanks for the quick response Philip! I guess I’ll stay on 2021.12 until I hear this is resolved. BTW I searched for the article that first mentioned this, and could not find it – can you point me to it? Thanks!

  4. Philip Rothman

    Hi Jarrell, I don’t think I mentioned it on Scoring Notes. Over at Notation Central I think we issued an advisory via email to all registered users of Scoring Express for Sibelius.

    1. Jarrell Irvin

      Philip, you are correct and I found the email – thanks again!

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