Just when you may have thought that the extent of Sibelius plug-in wizardry had been reached, along comes Bob Zawalich to wow us again with a new plug-in: Dot Undot Rhythm. It instantly turns pairs of notes of equal duration into a pair of notes where the first one is dotted and the duration of the second note is divided in half — the “Dot” part of the plug-in. If the notes are a dotted pair already, it will make the notes the same duration — the “Undot” part.
Sound like a mouthful? Plainly put, it instantly converts straight rhythms to dotted ones, and vice versa. Let’s visualize it. Select the following passage:
Run Dot Undot Rhythm to get this result:
Realize that you didn’t want to dot the half notes? Simply select only that portion:
And run the plug-in again:
There is no dialog. Just make a selection and run the plug-in. It will skip any bars that contain tuplets, grace notes, quarter-tones or double tremolos. As is the case with any plug-in, it will not work on cross-staff beamed notes, because plug-ins can neither detect nor create cross-staff beamed notes.
In a recent post on the Sibelius chat page announcing the plug-in, Bob said that he “saw an amazing demo from Daniel Spreadbury for his new notation program from Steinberg.” Daniel recently tweeted a preview of the capability of the in-development product to “easily take a a straight rhythm and make it dotted: just select the notes, hit dot. Done!”
Sneak preview… Easily take a straight rhythm and make it dotted: just select the notes, hit dot. Done! pic.twitter.com/o01z1ecHVs
— Daniel Spreadbury (@dspreadbury) April 4, 2016
Of course, if you tried that in Sibelius, you’d probably be unhappy with the results. Bob said that “doing such a transformation [manually] in Sibelius is a royal pain.”
I had previously considered writing a plugin to make it easier to make dotted rhythms but it would be very hard to write, and I figured you would have to select the pair of notes to change and it would not be all that much better than doing what you had to do by hand to make a dotted pair (turn the 2nd note into half its duration, type R, dot the first note). But here he was just selecting a bunch of notes and hitting one key, and boom everything was dotted.
For a notation geek, this sort of thing is stunning.
So I figured that if he can do that, there must be a way that it can be done, so I set out to see how to do that. I discovered a way to determine if a given note was a possible first note for a dotted pair, and then everything became possible, sort of. ManuScript, the plug-in language, has no mechanism for changing the duration of a note. You have to rather intricately gather properties of both the chord and all its notes, then delete the original notes and add in new ones. I realized that my Divide Durations plug-in did something like that, and I was able to tweak it a bit so it would do what I needed it to do.
Bob later included the relevant code from Divide Durations (which ships with Sibelius 7 and higher) into Dot Undot Rhythm in order to make the new plug-in self-contained.
Bob further said:
Tell me this is not poetry. Tell me you could do the same thing in Lilypond with 4 obscure lines of code. I don’t care. This is a beautiful thing. Consider doing this by hand.
I asked Daniel for permission to publish this plug-in, since it was totally his idea. As was the Bravura font that Finale and MuseScore now use, and which we in Sibelius can access through Philip Rothman’s Norfolk fonts. He agreed that once he makes an idea public it is fair game and he would not hate me if I published it. So here it is.
Go ahead and select a bunch of notes in a passage (box) selection and let it rip. Within its limitations it is a thing of beauty.
And oh, yeah, you should check out Daniel’s Making Notes blog that discusses the new Steinberg project. It will be incredible. This plug-in is dedicated to Daniel. Great idea, Daniel! Thanks!
Indeed, thanks, Daniel, and Bob! It is poetry. Perhaps someone will set the text of the ManuScript code to music one day…
Until then, Dot Undot Rhythm may 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.