Welcome to the second installment of my Lightning Sibelius blog series. My name is ilkay Bora Oder, and I'm a composer, orchestrator, and copyist. As I outlined in my first blog, many Sibelius users have never used plugins, and most don't properly understand how to, anyway. Sibelius | Ultimate comes with more than 150, and there are more than 500 third party downloadable plugins provided by the Sibelius user community—many of which have been created by plugin guru (and my friend), Bob Zawalich.
Did you know that you can write your own plugins and automate almost any command flow you wish inside Sibelius? Thanks to the recent Sibelius 2021.2 software update and Bob Zawalich's Execute Commands family of plugins (I consider these to be his 9th Symphony), you will not need to learn any coding or confusing parameters. Creating your own plugin will be as easy as eating a piece of a cake. But this will be the subject of a future blog entry.
The subject of the today's blog: Three Lightning-Fast Plugins:
- Decrease and Increase Dynamics
- Flip Selected Notes
- Fill with Tied Notes
Decrease and Increase Dynamics
It's very easy to access the plugins inside Sibelius, thanks to a very intuitive and user-friendly service for this very purpose. Go to File > Plugins > Install Plugins, and from the menu at the upper part choose All Plugins. You will notice a huge list on the left, divided into sections. For example, text-related plugins are under the Text section, etc. For the first plugin that we'll discuss, enter "Decrease and Increase Dynamics" in the search option, and once you find it, click Install. That's it! Follow this video (below) to see a visual reference.
Before we start to use our freshly downloaded plugin, I will need to assign it a shortcut so that I don't need to Command Search each time I need to run it. It's very easy to assign shortcuts to plugins and parameters inside Sibelius. Go to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > Plugin Tab and find the newly downloaded plugin from the list and assign a shortcut of your choosing. For example, I have used Alt + + for Increase Dynamics and Alt + - for the Decrease Dynamics based on my personalized shortcut organization.
This is an extremely handy plugin especially if you use the NotePerformer VST sound library. NotePerformer is a third party VST library that offers tight integration with Sibelius and offers more realistic performances for mock-up purposes. I've been a loyal user of this library from almost its first release. (You can listen to a mock-up that I did with Sibelius using NotePerformer without any further mix and mastering process here.)
Notice in the video below how easy it is to modify the dynamics of a chosen passage. Instead of selecting the area, filtering it, canceling the existing one, and re-entering the new dynamics, I just run my newly assigned shortcuts Alt + + and Alt + - to increase or decrease dynamics.
Flip Selected Notes
Next, let's continue with a Bob Zawalich plugin: Flip Selected Notes. To download it, just repeat the process we did before: File > Plugins > Install Plugins, find "Flip Selected Notes" by searching it in the list, and install it. You may not need custom shortcuts for this one in particular, and you can run it from Command Search any time you need it—but if you do, just follow the same process as the first plugin above. This plugin flips the notes inside of a selection upward or downward. The video below shows how to install and use the plugin. Imagine how long it would've taken for this particular passage if you had to click on every note!
Fill with Tied Notes
The final lightning-fast plugin for today is Fill with Tied Notes. This is another Bob Z. classic, and it's one of my most-used plugins due to my compositional music language. By now, you know how to download plugins and assign shortcuts to them, so I will not repeat how to do it. Instead I will talk about how glorious this plugin is! When you compose or orchestrate, you sometimes need to enter long pedal lines, long trill notes, or—explained in a simple way—"Long Tied Notes." This plugin automates the task for you in a marvelous way. Choose the note you want to extend the length of and run the plugin from the Command Search by writing its name or via an assigned shortcut (I use Alt+F). And voilà! Can you imagine how long it would have taken to do this manually?
Thank you for reading my blog—I hope you are discovering for yourself how powerful plugins in Sibelius are, and how significantly they can save you time with repetitive tasks. I will continue with more lightning-fast plugins in the future, but since you have now learned how to download and add the plugins to your workflow, you might want to explore the huge plugin list Sibelius provides for you on your own. Stay tuned, because in my next blog, I will show you how to write your own plugin!