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What's New in Sibelius—September 2021

Sam Butler and Joe Plazak

September 27, 2021

It's with great pleasure that we announce the immediate availability of our Sibelius release for September 2021. This is the first release after our successful iPad app that allows you to seamlessly take your scores back and forth between your desktop and iPad. We wish to thank you for your patience while we've worked hard on our iPad app and the underlying technology in Sibelius. Over the next few months, we plan to release several updates to the program, and our licensing and activation flows, so stay tuned!

Our new desktop release contains many of the features that we first introduced in our iPad release (searchable galleries, touch support for the Keypad), as well as bringing new capabilities to our ManuScript plugin language.

If you can't wait, you can download the update via Avid Link or from your account at https://my.avid.com/products. If you need to renew or crossgrade up to the latest version, you can find the options, here:

https://www.avid.com/sibelius/upgrades-and-renewals

If you're new to Sibelius and would like to try out the latest version, you can get started with our free 30-day trial.

If you'd like a summary of all recent releases and more, please visit the new "What's new" page.

Keypad multidimensional gesture support

As with many new features we added on the iPad, they were first developed on desktop before being brought over to iPad. The new gestures on the Keypad were done in this way, and matching the capabilities of the iPad, you can now enter notes on the score directly using just the Keypad.

First, make a selection in the score, then press/click, hold and drag up and down on the note value on the Keypad to choose the pitch, and slide left and right to add an accidental. Letting go will enter the note into the score.

To enter a rest, you can now swipe left and right on the Rest button to choose the duration you need in a single action.

Clearly, using keyboard shortcuts is likely to be quicker if you just have a mouse and keyboard, but if you have a Windows touch screen (which are becoming fairly common) or a stylus and touchpad, you can use these just like you would on the iPad. If you use Sidecar on macOS Catalina or later, you can use the new gestures using the Apple Pencil too. It's not exactly the same as the Sibelius iPad app due to the way Apple have restricted touch gestures to Zoom only, but you'll soon find it works for tapping notes in using the Apple Pencil.

Pitch Correction and Chord Input Tools

The Keypad now also includes the new Pitch Correction Tool and the Chord Input Tool from the iPad app. You'll find the new tools on the right hand side of the keypad (on the first two palettes).

These tools work just like they do in the mobile application:

  1. Select a note
  2. Click (and hold) the tool button and drag it vertically and horizontally in order to alter the diatonic and chromatic properties of the selected note
  3. Release the mouse button when you're happy with the changes

Just like the mobile application, you can also click (as opposed to drag) on the Chord Input Tool to quickly place a generic 3rd above the selected note.

It is very important to note that the new Tool buttons do not affect the underlying keyboard shortcuts for navigating amongst the various keypad palettes. We firmly expect those keyboard shortcuts to be engrained in muscle memory for many users, and thus they have been preserved. In order to make this clear, you will see the former palette navigation icons appear as part of the new icons for the Pitch Correction Tool and Chord Input Tool. The palette navigation commands are only available via keyboard shortcuts on the first two palettes (i.e. not via mouse clicks).

Quarter-tone Accidentals

If you are using any of the new keypad drag gestures (including the Pitch Correction and Chord Input Tools), you can access quarter-tone accidentals by holding the ALT key (OPT for Mac users) while dragging horizontally. Holding the ALT key also extends the range of accidentals that can be accessed by the gesture. For example, when entering notes with a keypad drag, Sibelius limits the accidentals to flat, natural, and sharp, but when dragging while holding the ALT key, you can access any accidental from double flat to double sharp.

Searchable Galleries

The quickest way to navigate around Sibelius is by using keyboard shortcuts. The most useful is "," (comma), allowing you to go straight to the Command Search box in the top right and start typing what you need. We've added the same power to the Text, Lines, and Symbols galleries. Simply open the galleries and start typing the name of the object you need:

Sibelius will search through the hundreds of musical objects, enabling you to quickly find what you need. We've also added a search bar into each of the Plugin lists, making finding the right plugin a breeze.

Text, Lines, Symbols in Command Gallery

Further enhancing the searching capabilities, we're adding all the text styles, lines, and symbols to the Command Gallery, so they can be more easily found.

This also links into the Sibelius.Execute() method, where you can now add these objects into the score via the fairly recent addition to ManuScript. To add a style command via the Execute() feature, simply pass in the Line/Text/Clef Style ID as an argument (these style ID's are listed in the ManuScript Language Guide). Having access to "style commands" means that plugins now have easy access to all of the complex error and edge case handling used by Sibelius when calling such commands via the UI or keyboard shortcuts. As an example, note how the following one-liner plugin uniquely behaves based on the current selection within the score.

1 Sibelius.Execute("line.staff.hairpin.crescendo");

As yet another example, Philip Rothman and Bob Zawalich's post on our 2021.2 release speculated that the following plugin would someday be possible, and indeed, that day has come! Note that the plugin below concludes by adding a dotted slur to the selected passage.

1 Sibelius.Execute("move_down_chromatically");

2 Sibelius.Execute("accent");

3 Sibelius.Execute("toggle_cue_size");

4 Sibelius.Execute("8_tremolos");

5 Sibelius.Execute("line.staff.slur.up.dashed");

Manuscript Improvements

In addition to the style commands that were added to ManuScript, we've also added a new ManuScript command (and a command alias) that facilitates using plain language item names rather than style IDs. The new command is called: Sibelius.FindStyleId(), and its alias is simply: StyleCmd().

If you wanted to write a plugin to add a line to the current selection in the score, you now have two ways of doing it. You could write a line of code such as:

1 Sibelius.Execute("line.staff.hairpin.crescendo");

…but you now also have the option of getting this same functionality by writing (in plain language):

1 Sibelius.Execute(StyleCmd("Crescendo"));

The argument accepted by StyleCmd() is the name of the style as it appears in the Ribbon's Command Gallery. If you are using a non-English version of Sibelius, that means that you can write your plugins in your native language!

We're also pleased to announce that we've enhanced ManuScript so that plug-ins can now retrieve information pertaining to cross-staff beaming. Our new note property: "CrossStaff," in conjunction with the Execute() method and the cross-staff beaming commands, can be used to fully script cross-staff beaming settings via ManuScript. For the full details on the brand new CrossStaff property, checkout the latest version of the ManuScript Language Guide.

Features from Scorch Export

As you know, we removed Scorch from the Apple App Store around the same time as our Sibelius release for iPad. It's time we cleaned up the related features that have been in Sibelius for a long time too. You'll find the Export Scorch options in the File > Export list has been removed; however, we've preserved the useful options to export with different page margins. In File > Export > PDF, Sibelius now lets you set margins and staff size independently from the score. Simply choose "Optimize page margins for tablets" and set the values you need:

After clicking "Export", Sibelius will export a PDF with these new options, making them easier to be viewed on a tablet (using one of the many PDF score readers out there).

Bug fixes

Video sync improvements

Since version 2018.11, Sibelius hasn't been as tight at keeping videos in sync. With this release, we've introduced new re-syncing mechanisms to keep the video and score from drifting.

General bug fixes

Accessibility: The octave information for transposed instruments is now correctly spoken via your screen reader.

PDF Export: Sibelius no longer incorrectly truncates filenames that contain a dot when exporting to PDF (e.g., "Scriabin Sonata No. 5.sib" now exports as "Scriabin Sonata No. 5.pdf" and not "Scriabin Sonata No.pdf").

Lyrics: When inputting a long dash in lyrics while in Japanese (using a double space), the character encoding was corrupted. This has been fixed to show the proper long dash glyph.

That's all for now, so thank you for reading this far! We'll be back soon with news of our next installment, and we can't wait to show you what we've been up to!

Sam Butler and Joe Plazak
Sam Butler and Joe Plazak
As director of audio software at Avid, Sam works with all the departments in Avid to produce the future of the Pro Tools and Sibelius products and solutions, while Joe scores the Sibelius hat trick: working as a developer, designer, and product owner. 

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