Quick tip: Move notes up or down chromatically


Let’s get right to it: If you need to move a note up or down chromatically, use the shortcuts Shift-Page Up and Shift-Page Down, respectively. These shortcuts were newly introduced in Sibelius 7, but somehow never made their way into the main Reference.

Take this passage:


If you want to quickly change this passage from C major to C minor:

  • Select the passage (i.e., by clicking in the bar)
  • Filter the second note by going to Home > Select > Filters > 2nd Note or Single Notes (or, since we’re all about speed and shortcuts today, use Ctrl+Alt+2 (PC) or Opt-Cmd-2 (Mac)
  • Move the second note down chromatically by using the shortcut Shift-Page Down
  • Get outside this weekend and enjoy all of the time you saved


One more tip: hit Return to respell the note(s) if needed — useful if you wanted to use the Shift-Page Down shortcut to change the entire chord to C flat major, as Sibelius would first spell it as B major.


  1. John Hinchey

    What a great hidden tip! One note to power users. If you have a custom keyboard shortcut set that is not based on the Sibelius 7 default (perhaps imported from Sib 6), you may not have this shortcut by default. Go to File>Preferences> Keyboard Shortcuts>Note Input tab>Move Up Chromatically & Move Down Chromatically and set up your keyboard shortcut. I know I did!

    1. Philip Rothman

      John: Great tip — thanks!

  2. Dave P-B

    Thanks Phillip for the great tip.

  3. Mehrab Zandi


  4. Bob Zawalich

    This is cool stuff, Philip – thanks for exposing it to the open air!

    I have done a lot of related things with plugins, and here are some notes about things that relate to this post.

    In the bleak days before Move Up Chromatically & Move Down Chromatically were available, the downloadable plugins Raise Chromatic Pitches and Lower Chromatic Pitches could be used to accomplish the same task, and these could be assigned to keyboard shortcuts using File > Preferences > Menus and Shortcuts >Plug-ins.
    These plugins were introduced in Sibelius 4, but they did not really come into their own until Sibelius 5.2, due to various Sibelius bugs and ManuScript limitations. Here is some of the description of the plugins, from the plugin download page:

    “Raise Chromatic Pitches raises the pitch of any selected notes by 1 half-step (semitone). Lower Chromatic Pitches lowers the pitch of any selected notes by 1 half-step. The note spelling (such as C# vs. Db) is determined by Sibelius. It should be comparable to what you would get if you entered the same pitch on a MIDI keyboard.
    These are intended as a chromatic replacement for Up and Down Arrow, which move pitches diatonically. Typically, one would assign each plug-in to a shortcut key so it could be run with a single keystroke. Please be aware that if you assign shortcuts to plug-ins and download more plug-ins, the shortcuts will shift to different plug-ins and you will need to reset them. (Edit – this has been fixed in the most recent update when run in Sibelius 5.2)
    Warning: unlike Up and Down Arrow, these plug-ins cannot move individual notes within chords. If you select any notes within a chord, all the notes in the chord will be moved! (Edit – this has been fixed in the most recent update when run in Sibelius 5.2)…
    Articulations and Live Playback data are retained in the moved notes.”

    Sibelius 4 was the first version of Sibelius where a plugin could modify articulations. It was not until Sibelius 5.2 that a plugin could tell which notes in a chord were selected; before that it knew only that one or more notes in a chord were selected, so it would change all of them!

    If you are using Return to respell accidentals, be aware that if you are in a key that includes double accidentals (such as some harmonic minor or ascending melodic minor scales), Return will never produce a double accidental. To get around that, you can run the plugin Respell Accidentals Allow Doubles, which will toggle through the acceptable spellings of a note, including double accidentals. This is another plugin that calls out for a keyboard shortcut.

    Finally, if you are interested in changing, for example, a piece in a major key to a minor key, the plugin Transform Scale (which has shipped with Sibelius since version 5) can do all sorts of interesting things, let you change from the original scale to a different mode, or a blues scale, a whole tone scale, and a bunch of other things. You can find it in the Transformations plugin menu, and here is the description of the plugin from the Sibelius Reference:

    “Transform Scale

    Changes pitches in the current score from their current scale to a new scale, e.g. to change the modality of a melody from major to minor, or change a pentatonic melody to use the whole-tone scale, and so on.

    To use the plug-in, select the passage you want to transform, and choose Note Input > Transformations > More > Transform Scale. A dialog appears in which you specify the current scale of the music and the new scale into which you want to transform it. Snap non-scale tones to scale tones determines whether the plug-in should “snap” a note that is not in the scale to the nearest note that is in the scale (e.g. Eb is not in the scale of G major, so you can choose whether the plug-in should leave this pitch unchanged, or “snap” it to the nearest note that is in the scale, e.g. D). Make your choice, and click OK.

    The plug-in has many further options, which you can see by clicking Show Options in the dialog that appears:

    * Define additional types of scales by clicking Add/Edit Scales
    * Save and retrieve transformations you use often by clicking Save/Restore Map
    * Determine the direction in which Sibelius should transpose the notes when transforming the scale by clicking New Pitch Higher?

    Each of these dialogs contain detailed information on its use, and the plug-in also has a Help button that displays further details.”

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Bob – Thanks for the history, and also for the additional resources related to this.

  5. Tom Curran

    Thanks for this additional info. I tend to use ctrl + up/down arrow which seems to achieve the same result. However, there are two behaviours to do with raising/lowering notes chromatically that I don’t understand – why is it that

    A) when you have a chord, and chromatically step a higher note down to a lower one, that it gets stuck when it hits the unison, and can’t go either up or down?

    B) when you have a chord and chromatically step a lower note up to a higher one, that it skips the unison completely?

    This obviously doesn’t happen when stepping pitches diatonically, so is this a quirky chromatic bug?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Very interesting, Tom. I had not noticed that before, but I can reproduce it. It does seem odd.

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