Lines between notes in Sibelius

Tips

Drawing lines (like glissandi or portamenti) between notes in Sibelius can be tedious. Perhaps one of these days lines will behave more intelligently, with automatic collision avoidance for accidentals and staying attached to the notes they connect. (Finale’s glissando lines do the latter; StaffPad’s do both.)

Using the Line Between Notes plug-in

Until, then, thank goodness for Bob Zawalich’s powerful plug-in, Line Between Notes. It automates much of the tedious task of adding such lines, and offers many line options and customization.

line-between-notes

The main thing to keep in mind is that, if possible, you’ll want to run this plug-in nearer to the end of your formatting process; if you change the pitches of your notes, the lines won’t automatically update. Likewise, if you are drawing a line between pitches on a grand staff, you’ll still need to drag the right end of the line to its destination, and if you move the relative position of the staves, you’ll need to re-adjust your line.

Still, its options greatly simplify what is often a painfully tedious task. A number of lines are available:

line-between-notes-2The appearance of these lines can be changed in Notations > Lines > Edit Lines (the downwards right-pointing arrow).

And if you click Adjust line positioning… in the plug-in dialog, you can customize the settings to your liking, which are remembered across Sibelius sessions:

line-between-notes-3

Running the plug-in makes quick work of drawing a passage such as this:

line-between-notes-4

Line Between Notes may be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 and higher at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Lines. You can download the plug-in and install it manually in Sibelius 6 and higher, or by using the Install New Plug-in plug-in.

Using the tab slide

More than once I’ve used the tab slide, found on the second keypad layout, as a quick way to draw a line between notes:

tab-slide

Their options are rather limited; for while they do automatically move with the notes if you move the notes up or down, you can’t adjust the angle of a tab slide. They are, however, more customizable than they first appear:

  • To move a tab slide up or down, click either end of the slide, then drag it up or down using the mouse or by using Up or Down arrows on the keyboard (hold down Command on Mac or Ctrl on PC for larger increments);
  • To move an end of a tab slide left or right (for instance, to move it out of the way of an accidental), click either end of the slide, then drag it left or right using the mouse, or by using Alt-Shift-Left or –Right arrows on the keyboard (hold down Command on Mac or Ctrl on PC for larger increments);
  • To adjust the global thickness of tab slides, go to Notations > Lines > Edit Lines and edit the Line in Staff lines by clicking Edit…, then adjusting the value in the Width box. This is an all-or-nothing proposition; you can’t edit the thickness of an individual tab slide.

Hopefully these tips will, ahem, align with your goals of making Sibelius a little easier when it comes to placing lines in your score.

Comments

  1. Gareth

    The Sibelius Blog is an excellent resource. I’ve been using Sibelius professionally since v2, and I learn something new practically at each edition of the blog. Thanks, authors!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Gareth!

  2. sousperregui

    ET POUR MOI…all the same…e.

  3. Miguel

    What an amazing article! I didn’t know about the plugin. This is gonna save lots of time in workflow. Thanks!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Happy to hear it, Miguel!

  4. Bob Zawalich

    I do note that if notes are very close together, the lines the plugin puts between them will probably not be aligned very well, and will be very hard to fix by hand. This is just the nature of lines in Sibelius.

    Sometimes for a straight line you can use the slide in such cases, but the playback of slides is often problematic, and I know no way to turn that off without silencing the note that initiates it (a slide is a variant of a tie, and is a property of a note, rather than being a separate object as a Line would be).

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks for the additional info, Bob!

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