Let’s take a breath, shall we? A few weeks ago I demonstrated a better way to apply commas, or breath marks, in Finale by creating them as expressions rather than articulations.
Sibelius’s implementation of articulations and expressions is somewhat different than Finale’s. And, since in Sibelius commas are typically placed as symbols, the method described for Finale isn’t applicable. Because Sibelius’s symbols can attach to any rhythmic position in a bar, they don’t tend to get displaced horizontally in the same way that Finale’s articulations do, so improving this was never a top priority for me in same way it was in Finale.
Still, it’s one area that I was never totally satisfied with. It’s tough to place symbols such as commas consistently in Sibelius — even the Sibelius Reference says that “the disadvantage of symbols is that their IQ is not as high as that of other objects…The moral of this is: don’t use a symbol where a normal object will do equally well.”
Fortunately, a keen blog reader had a solution. (As I’ve said before, you can learn as much on Scoring Notes by reading the comments as you can by reading the article!) Composer/engineer Tom Lynn offered this suggestion: “In Sibelius I created a line with zero width (so invisible) and the comma symbol at the end. Then you can add it to the note you want and it will automatically adjust to the duration of the note. You can fine tune the placement in the appearance/position tab.”
Brilliant! Here’s how to do it.
Create a comma as a line
Go to Notations > Lines > Edit Lines. Select the line named Line and click New…, then Yes:
Name your new line something like “Comma”. Set the line to Horizontal and the Width to 0 spaces. For the End, click Symbol and select the Comma:
Your settings should look like this:
Next, head over to Appearance > Design and Position > Default Positions > Lines. Select your newly-created Comma line from the list. We’ll want to make some adjustments, as Tom suggests. I found that setting the Vertical position relative to staff to 2.5 spaces for both score and parts and setting the Horizontal position of right hand end to -1.75 spaces right of note worked well. I left the other settings alone:
Now it’s time to place your line. The trick to getting consistent placement here is to make a passage selection on the note after which the comma should appear. Do this by:
Selecting the note:
Shift-click the note to get a staff passage selection:
Type L for line and select your newly-created Comma line from the gallery:
For proper placement, it is important to refrain from selecting the entire bar, and also to not simply apply the line to the note selected without making a passage selection. This way, the end of the line will appear in the correct place and not break onto the next system.
Here’s that same passage of music with the commas placed in this manner, along with an additional example on the staff below (the lines of 0 width are greyed out and will not print; to prevent them from displaying on screen, uncheck View > Invisibles > Hidden Objects):
Everything looks good in the part, too:
What’s more, you can set these lines to have a playback effect by going to Play > Interpretation > Dictionary, selecting the Staff Lines tab and choosing your Comma line, and select Adjust durations of notes under line > Adjust last note by % of written duration. Try something in the 80% range.
Thanks, Tom, for this amazing tip!
Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Let us know, and perhaps we’ll write it up in a tutorial for the benefit of all of our readers!