Changing font name and size for harp diagrams and tuning text in Sibelius


Harp notation, especially for pedal harp, uses text to indicate the current tuning of the strings. This includes pedal diagrams, full and partial tuning text in various format, and for level harps, lever changes.

In Sibelius, these text objects are created in a variety of text styles and often contain a mixture of fonts. I will discuss how they are created, how to filter them, and how to change their appearance without messing them up completely.

Pedal diagrams use characters found in a special Music Text font (such as Opus Text, Inkpen2 Text, Reprise Text, or Helsinki Text) to create a graphical representation of the setting of each of the seven pedals on a pedal harp. The diagram displays the settings of the pedals in the order DCB EFGA as a sequence of short vertical lines along a longer horizontal line. The vertical position indicates whether a pitch is flat (high), natural (centered), or sharp (low).

If you know which characters you want, you can create a piece of Technique text and type Ctrl -Alt-7/8/9/+ (on keypad) for Windows, or Command-Option-7/8/9/+ (on keypad) for Mac, or you can use a plug-in to create diagrams.

Tuning text consists of the letters A-G and accidental characters. The accidentals are usually created from characters in the Music Text font. You can create tuning text by hand by creating a piece of Technique text, then typing the letters A – G and right-clicking (Control-clicking on Mac) to find accidentals in the Word Menu. Since the accidentals are in a different font, the best way to create a string or more than one pitch is to type the pitch names first (such as CDEFGAB), and then insert the accidentals in a second pass; otherwise you will have to reset the font to enter more pitch names.

Here are some examples of tuning text as produced by the plug-in Harp Diagram from Tuning:

For the purpose of this article, I will assume that you have some pedal diagrams or tuning text in a score and want to change the size or the appearance of the text. I will also assume that the text has been generated by one or more of the Sibelius plugins for the harp, such as Add Harp Pedal Diagrams or Harp Diagram from Tuning.

Why we can’t just change the text styles used by the plug-ins

It would be simplest to change the text style used by the plug-ins the create the text, but unfortunately none of the plug-ins are set up to do that. The text style settings are buried deep in the code and are not set up to be modified.

Also, unfortunately, the text styles used are common styles like Expression or Technique or Boxed text, and text styles for the same kinds of objects vary from one plug-in to another.

Filtering diagrams and tuning text

Since the text style will often be Technique or Expression, it is difficult to filter by text style without picking up a lot of text we don’t want. There are two downloadable plugins that can filter for text by content rather than text style. Use Filter Harp Pedal Diagrams to filter the diagrams, and Filter Harp Pedal Changes to filter tuning text, including partial tuning text and lever changes.

Changing font size or font name

Since the objects are selected, you can just go to the text pane and adjust the text size as desired. This will only affect the selected objects, and if you add more such text you will need to make this adjustment again.

If you change the font be sure the font you change to contains the characters you need. Check the appearance of the pedal diagrams and the accidentals in the tuning text while you still have a chance to use Undo.

You can also use the Change Text Accidental Size plug-in to change the size of the accidental characters in tuning text without changing the pitch names.

Changing the text style of diagrams and tuning text

Once the text is selected you could change the text style to a completely different style and change the appearance that way. This will only work for pedal diagrams if the new style uses the Music Text font, but it can work for tuning text or as a means to change the font size. You will probably not want to alter the original text style because that would change any other text that uses that style.

Translating pedal diagrams into pitches

If you have trouble sight reading pedal diagrams, Label Harp Diagrams can write out the pitches to the plugin Trace Window, add hidden translation text next to selected pedal diagrams, or convert tuning text to pedal diagrams.

Harp plug-ins for pedal diagrams and tuning text

These plug-ins can create harp diagrams or tuning text:

These plug-ins can process existing harp diagrams or tuning text:

I think that the trickiest part of this process is figuring out how to select the desired text objects so you can change them. If you only have a few, select them manually, otherwise the filtering plug-ins can be very useful.

You can find more information about notating music for harp in my PDF document Notating Music for Harp in Sibelius, available for free from my web site.

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