New plug-in: Disguise Score


With the features in Sibelius being so deep and broad, sooner or later you’ll need to troubleshoot a problem in your score. Relying on the help of others can be invaluable to help get to the bottom of an issue, but if the music you’re working with is proprietary, you’re caught in a conundrum. Share the score and expose your genius (or that of your client’s) to the greater world, or be stuck with a potentially unsolvable bug.

As is so often the case, Bob Zawalich has invented an ingenious solution. His new plug-in, Disguise Score, makes a copy of a score, or of the music contained within a passage selection, deleting previous versions. It then optionally randomizes the pitches and text of the score and all the parts, effectively hiding the music while retaining its general structure.

Bob says:

This is a plugin you can use to make a copy of a score, or an excerpt of a score, and disguise the music and text so it will not be anything anyone would be interested in stealing. You can then post the score on this web site, for example, so someone could look at it and figure out why the bar numbers have disappeared.

It removes previous versions of the score, and scrambles the text and notes in all the parts, so someone would have to work pretty hard to identify the original score.

On the other hand, it tries not to be so disruptive that it would destroy the characteristics of the score that are causing it to have problems. If you use it to demonstrate a problem, be sure to check that the problem still exists in the generated score.

As an example, the first screenshot shows a page from a score before disguising, and the second screenshot shows it afterward.

A score, before running the Disguise Score plug-in
A score, before running Disguise Score
A score, after running the Disguise Score plug-in
A score, after running Disguise Score

Perhaps a side benefit will be coming up with new and interesting harmonies — or titles — you had never before imagined!

Disguise Score may be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 or 7.5 at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Composing Tools. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 6, 7 or 7.5 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. Laurent

    Is that an April 1rst joke ?
    It seems completely nonsense, would you do the same for written words, randomize letters ?
    I can’t figure out what the goal would be even after reading your article, better ask a child to draw on, or slice it, or burn it (!)

  2. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for acting as my publicist, Philip!

    The plugin has a very specific purpose for specific users of Sibelius, mostly those creating original work or working for clients who would not like to have their work posted on a public forum, like the Sibelius Tech Support forum. In such a forum, people who can help solve problems with a score often find it easier to look at the score itself.

    This plugin lets you provide a score that demonstrates the problem you want to solve while revealing a minimum about of information about the musical content.

    I suspect that most users will never use this plugin, but it will be helpful for some.

    1. Philip Rothman

      My pleasure, Bob!

      Laurent: To further explain — imagine you can’t figure out why, for instance, a file is not showing a staff, or breaking a multirest in the wrong place, or not showing bar numbers, or any one of hundreds of other issues that would be much easier to diagnose if someone else could inspect the actual file, like volunteers on a public forum. Now imagine the music that you are working on is protected by copyright. Scrambling the notes will allow others to inspect the file for its problems without the proprietary music being compromised.

  3. Laurent

    I understand that the sole purpose is to be able to provide the sibelius file in order to find a workaround with the help of some Sibelius samaritans, Philip and Bob, thank you for your explanations.

  4. Michaël Goldberg

    That’s great ! But what if the result of randomizing appears to be ultimate genius ? ;-)

    1. Philip Rothman

      Michael: In that case, you owe Bob a beer or two!

      1. Michaël Goldberg

        Philip : this is the least I would do ! Seriously I’m sure this plugin will prove to be really useful.

  5. Alexandru Cozaciuc

    Hello everybody!
    I want to ask two questions that I hope I will get an answer to.
    1. Is it possible to make this plug-in be compatible with Sibelius 5, or mister Bob: would you like to make a copy of this plug-in wich can be used in Sibelius 5?
    I’m asking this because I’m blind, so I use Sibelius 5 in conjunction with a set of scripts for the Jaws screen reader and manu-script plug-ins wich is called Sibelius Access.
    2. Could anybody make a plug-in wich resolves colisions in a score, of course, for Sibelius 5?
    I do believe that anybody using Sibelius 5, especialy blind or visualy impaired users would be very glad to have such a useful plug-in.

    Thank you in advance for your answers!

  6. Bob Zawalich

    I’m afraid that it would be very difficult to make a version of this plugin for Sibelius 5, because it calls the Shuffle Pitches plugin which ships with Sibelius 6 to randomize the pitches. That would really hard to reproduce in Sib 5.

    Resolving collisions is also very hard – Magnetic Layout in Sibelius 6 does that, but it is not available in Sib 5. It is really beyond what a plugin can do.

    Sorry. There were a lot of changes to the plugin programming language in Sibelius 6 that make writing plugins much easier, and so I very rarely write plugins that run in Sibelius 5 any more.

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