Extend notes in a selection with Sibelius plug-in Fill With Tied Notes


The downloadable Sibelius plug-in Fill With Tied Notes fills the bars between the first selected note or chord in a staff and either a second selected note, or the end of the selection, with tied copies of the first selected note, using the pitches, voice, and notehead styles of the first notes.

While similar in many respects to the Extend to End of Selection feature introduced in Dorico 3, the origins of Fill With Tied Notes predate the release of Dorico 3. I was working on another Sibelius plug-in when I read about Extend to End of Selection in Dorico, and realized that I already had pretty much all the tools needed to produce the same effect in a Sibelius plug-in. I specifically did not look closely at how the Dorico feature works, as I did not wish to copy it. I just took the idea of getting the pitch from a selected note — an option I already had — and starting anywhere in a bar and ending anywhere in a bar, with all generated notes tied together.

What it does

When you make a selection and run Fill With Tied Notes, the added notes will have durations appropriate to the time signature of the enclosing bars. It can be especially useful when there are many time signature changes.

Here is an example of what it might do:

Before running Fill With Tied Notes (note the start and end of selection)
After running Fill With Tied Notes. The notes are extended throughout the selection

The plug-in will run without a dialog using the currently saved options if there is a valid selection. If the selection is not valid, the dialog will come up, to allow you to edit the settings, and explain what kind of selection you need to fill notes.

You can also fill notes between two notes in a single bar, as in this example:

Before running Fill With Tied Notes
After running Fill With Tied Notes

Valid selection

A valid selection is a passage selection of one or more staves that includes at least one note or chord. The initial note may not be in a tuplet. Only visible staves will be processed; a staff will be considered visible if the first and last bars are visible.

The last bar processed will be either the last bar in the selection, as in the first example above, or a bar that contains a second note, chord, or tuplet which is not adjacent to the first note/chord, as in the second example above. In the second example you could not select the first two notes because they are adjacent.

There is an option to trace the reason why any skipped staves were rejected.

Default options

You can choose among a number of options for how the tied notes are generated, but if you do not change anything these are the default options, which should often work just fine:

  • If a single note will fit in the available space of a bar, a single note will be written.
  • If tied notes are needed to fill a bar, the notes are grouped in sets of 3 or 2 notes (no custom groups are used by default).
  • Allowed note durations are limited to whole notes only (no double whole notes or longs).
  • Single dotted notes are used, but not double or triple dotted.
  • Voice, notehead, pitches, and number of notes to fill come from the first note. There are no options for this.

Options available in the dialog

When the dialog comes up due to an improper selection, you can change any of the settings available; these changes will be remembered.

Single note options

In most cases, if a single note can be used to fill a bar, a single note will be used. A 4/4 bar would be filled with a whole note, a 6/8 bar by a dotted half, and so on. Changing the options for Allowed durations for single notes and Allowed dotted state for notes can change which bars can be filled by a single note, and which must be tied notes.

In the second example below, changing from the default largest duration of a whole note and single dots to allow double whole notes and triple dots means that the 7/4, 12/4, and 15/4 bars which were previously filled with tied notes, can now be filled with single notes.

Some time signatures, like 5/4 and 13/4 will always be filled with multiple tied notes, because there is no allowable single note that will fill such a bar.

Default options
Allow up to double whole note durations and triple dots (the highlighted bars represent the differences between the two examples)

If you select Use custom tied note groups and select the option Override single note fill with custom group, you can specify that certain time signatures (such as 8/4) will be filled with tied notes rather than with a single note, as described below.

Tied note options

If a bar cannot be filled with a single note, the plugin will break the duration required into several tied notes. Unless custom tied groups are used, tied notes in a bar will be grouped in sets of 3 notes or 2 notes, similar to the groupings Sibelius uses in Appearance > Reset Notes > Reset Beam Groups.

The plug-in treats the top number of the time signature as the number of notes in a bar, and the bottom number to be the duration of a single note.

If the duration is divisible by 3, all the notes will have the duration of three “bottom notes”, and if divisible by 2, they will all be two notes long.

In 5/4, where 5 is not divisible by 3 or 2, the plug-in would use 5 quarter notes, grouped as either 3+2 or 2+3. The example below shows a dotted half note tied to a half note, or a half note tied to a dotted half.

Custom tied groups

The Customize Tied Note Groups dialog explains what the group descriptions mean and how to create your own custom groups.

In the settings used above, there are fixed presets for groups of 5, 7, 9, and 11 notes, and a list box for user-defined groups. The first number in 8:2,2,2,1,1 is the number of notes, and the other numbers are groups of notes. For 8/4, with the two custom group check boxes in the main dialog checked, the grouping above would look like this:

You can define many custom groups, though only one per time signature top number can be used at a time. They will only be used if Use custom tied note groups is checked.

Download Fill With Tied Notes

Fill With Tied Notes can be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 and higher at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Notes and Rests. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 6 or higher by visiting the plug-in download page and following the usual manual installation procedure, or by using the Install New Plug-in plug-in.


  1. Derek Williams

    Ingenious, Bob! So useful and well thought through. Thanks!

  2. Bernie Cossentino

    Fantastic, Bob! :)

  3. Tiago

    Very, very useful !
    Thank you Bob.

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