With the recent release of Apple’s newest operating system Mac OS X Yosemite came the news that Sibelius 6 is not officially supported on that operating system. While most users have reported their ability to run Sibelius 6 just fine on Yosemite, as operating systems continue to evolve, it’s possible that Sibelius 6 will suffer the same fate as it predecessors by being unusable to some degree.
Although Sibelius 7 was released more than three years ago, and Sibelius 7.5 is fast approaching its one-year mark, many users still rely on Sibelius 6 for their daily work. It should be said that I’m not one of them; nearly all my Sibelius work today is in 7.5, and happily so. That being said, though, I’ve not yet upgraded to Yosemite on my production computer. I don’t want to risk any issues with Sibelius 6, which I still use occasionally, nor do I wish to cause problems with Finale 2011 or Finale 2012, with which I work quite often, and, like Sibelius 6, are not supported on Yosemite.
With all that in mind, I thought it would be useful to assemble some helpful resources that I’ve created for Sibelius 6 users that need to transition to Sibelius 7.5. The arguments for and against the changes are long and well-known, and with respect I don’t wish to re-hash them here.
Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that, sooner or later, technology marches on. Not everyone needs to move in lockstep, of course. But if you’ve been wary of Sibelius 7 (or 7.5) but find yourself needing to upgrade, whether it’s because of your OS, computer, or compatibility with other collaborators, here are a few ways to make it a little easier. (A note that unless otherwise stated, all remarks about Sibelius 7 apply to Sibelius 7.5 as well.)
Get Started Fast tutorial videos
This is a series of five tutorial videos that I created for Avid earlier this year in conjunction with the release of Sibelius 7.5. You’ll actually find that most of the “basics” of note entry, selecting music, and editing haven’t changed a bit from previous versions. But look closer and you’ll notice that setting up and navigating around your score is different — particularly the instrument dialog boxes and, of course, the Ribbon menu.
Lesson 2 covers many of those differences, and I’ve embedded it here:
While you’re at it, though, it’s worth watching all five videos. It will take less than two hours of your time from start to finish. You may find yourself learning a few things you didn’t know before, and you’ll be more accustomed to the look of Sibelius 7.5 as well.
Some more tutorial videos
Prior to making the Get Started Fast series for Avid, I created a handful of other tutorial videos that go more in depth about specific features new to Sibelius 7. Each video is between 8 and 14 minutes long. (Note: several of the videos include a short notice about local training sessions that have come and gone; feel free to scroll past those.)
Text styles and typography is an overview of these features new to Sibelius 7, such as using the Ribbon, text frames, angled and vertical text, and hierarchical text styles. If you work a lot with text in your documents, you may well be impressed at the many ways that Sibelius 7 improved upon Sibelius 6 in this regard:
Using the Inspector shows how to finely control note and text positions, lines, properties of bars, tuplets, and playback. Looking for the Properties window of Sibelius 6 and earlier? Most of those items are now in the Inspector, with some (like individual text adjustments, as shown in the previous video) are now hanging out in the Ribbon.
Installing and using plug-ins demonstrates a huge leap from Sibelius 6: the ability to install plug-ins from directly within Sibelius. If you’ve always been interested in extending your work with plug-ins but are frightened by the thought of getting into your Library folder, you’ll be pleased to know about this feature. The video also demonstrates a handful of useful plug-ins including Open Selected Parts, which makes transitioning from Sibelius 6’s Parts window easier.
10 Ribbon features is much like the Lesson 2 video in the Get Started Fast series, but if you have 8 minutes to spare, why not take a look?
Helpful blog posts
Sibelius 7 is here is actually a post from blog founder and former Sibelius senior product manager Daniel Spreadbury, now of Steinberg. It’s from July 2011, but if you’re still using Sibelius 6, it’s a good overview of Sibelius 7’s most evident new features, like the interface overhaul, 64-bit support, new sound library, full MusicXML support, text and typography, graphics importing and exporting, and note input improvements.
Sibelius 7.5 announced is my review of the new features of Sibelius 7.5, including the Timeline, playback and performance enhancements, sharing, and localization. Also see this post about 7.5.1 which details the many fixes to made to 7.5 in July of this year.
Access the Create menu demonstrates that the friendly Create menu is not totally gone in Sibelius 7. You just have to know to right-click on the score to access it.
Creating PDFs in Sibelius 7 is as easy as going to File > Export > PDF, but there are many more helpful options, and this post covers them all, including using tokens to make custom filenames.
However, Sibelius 7 took away a useful feature: the ability to make 2-up PDF directly from Sibelius by using the Print dialog. Making 2-up PDFs walks you through a workaround using a free app.
Sibelius 7 added the ability to use graphics as symbols, and define them as custom articulations. Learn how to do that here.
Stick to it with sticky tuplets, slurs and lines focuses on Sibelius 7’s new ability to enter many repeated tuplets consecutively, as well as its “sticky” lines and slurs.
No need to click thorough to read the post about moving notes up or down chromatically; just use the shortcuts Shift-Page Up and Shift-Page Down, respectively — newly introduced in Sibelius 7.
Likewise, if you use the semicolon to input grace notes in Sibelius 7, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The post is worth a read for some other useful tips.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Sibelius Reference manual is a good read. No need to print out all 800+ pages or sit in front of your desktop computer screen; instead, learn how to use the Reference Guide and other help documents outside of Sibelius, and curl up by the fire with your favorite tablet PC and a cup of tea as you become a Sibelius master.
Some other notes
Like all Sibelius versions, Sibelius 7.5 allows you to export a version of your file to be compatible with Sibelius releases as far back as Sibelius 2, and this includes Sibelius 6 or 7. You’ll lose information that previous versions aren’t equipped to handle, of course, but in my experience the notation and layout elements export just fine from Sibelius 7 or 7.5 to Sibelius 6. Likewise, opening a 6 file in 7.5 should be mostly painless; the main thing to look for in either direction is how text is handled, especially if your Sibelius 7/7.5 file takes advantage of the new advanced typography features and hierarchical text styles.
Sibelius 7 included a new sound library and mixer display. The mixer is just fine and works more like mixers in other music programs or a good old-fashioned studio console. For the money — that is, included with Sibelius — the sound library is OK, but its 35 GB size means it loads slowly on all but the fastest computers with flash storage or SSDs. Some of the sounds are better than others, but the overall impression is underwhelming. The good news is that you can still use any third-party library that supports VST or AU.
Sibelius 7 is 64-bit, which is excellent news if you do need to access lots of those virtual instruments, as you’ll be able to exceed 4 GB RAM, something that wasn’t possible with Sibelius 6.
If you’re upgrading from Sibelius 6 to Sibelius 7.5, be sure to order the “Legacy Upgrade” or “Upgrade from pre-Sib 7” version. It’s identical to the ordinary version of Sibelius 7.5, except for the license which authorizes use only for registered owners of Sibelius 6 or earlier. Avid has both a shippable box and a download version on its store for $150. You might also try other authorized retailers, like Amazon or Sweetwater, as sometimes they run sales or specials that can discount the price.