row of trombonists performing in an orchestra

What's New in Sibelius—February 2021

Sam Butler

February 25, 2021

We’re pleased to introduce our first release of Sibelius for 2021. We’ve continued to work from our home offices to bring you brand new ways to discover features in Sibelius, and hugely enhanced our ManuScript plugin language, so you can create scripts that instantly perform any number of commands.

Before we get into telling you what’s new, if you can’t wait, you can download the Sibelius 2021.2 update through Avid Link or find it in your Avid Account. If you need to renew your Software Updates + Support Plan for Sibelius or want to crossgrade to the latest version, you can find options to do so here. And if you’re new to Sibelius, you can try out the latest version in our free 30-day trial.

If you’d like a summary of all recent releases and more, please visit the “What’s New in Sibelius” page.

"Find in Ribbon" Becomes "Command Search"

We’re introducing a new way to search the features and functionality of Sibelius and, as such, it needs a new name.

command search in Sibelius

In this release, Sibelius no longer just searches the Ribbon menus but is now searching for features in the File tab (backstage), keypad, and the commands from the Add or Remove Instruments dialog. This makes it vastly easier (and somewhat faster) to trigger commands in Sibelius by simply searching what you need and pressing Return to execute it.

Remember, grabbing the mouse, finding the pointer on the screen, and clicking a few times to get what you need is the slowest way to do anything on a computer.

So, as with the old “Find in Ribbon,” use the comma (,) keyboard shortcut to move the focus to the new “Command Search” box and try typing some of these examples:

pdf—This now includes the File > Export > PDF page; same goes with audio, import, and others from the backstage

accessibility—This will take you to the File > Preferences > Accessibility settings page

l.v.—When you have a note with a tie selected, this will simply toggle that tie to an L.V. tie; this, and many other commands, are compatible with our multi-edit workflows we introduced in 2018, enabling you to perform a single change to multiple objects at once.

Commands from Keypad

The whole Keypad can now be accessed through the new Command Search too. For example, you can change the note duration by typing “eighth note” or “quaver.” The commands behind the other keypad layouts can be useful too:

cue size, 4 trem, etc.—This can save you the task of hunting through the keypad each time need them

The playing articulations and other symbols from the keypad are other good examples of commands that work well with the multi-edit workflows. This allows you to select multiple notes or a passage of music and have the object applied to each of those notes. Try typing fermata, pause, scoop, fall, arpeggio (up or down) and see it all fly into your score.

Commands from the Add or Remove dialogue

We’ve added a number of new commands too, which will save you from having to open the Add or Remove dialog to add staves, change their order, and so on. To do this, select a bar or stave in your score, press the comma (,) shortcut to activate the new Command Search, and type:

move instruments up or move instruments down to move the selected stave(s) up or down in the score

add staff above or add staff below to add an extra staff above or below the selected stave

We’ve added some other commands to help manage the staves in the score too. Typing “remove staves” will delete the selected stave from the score. Typing “increase instrument staff size” and “decrease instrument staff size” gives you slightly different options from those in the Add or Remove Instruments dialog. When triggered from the new Command Search, it will change the staff size for that whole stave and will override any staff size changes you’ve made in the Inspector panel. This also comes with the added ability to change the staff sizes of more than one stave at a time. And it’ll keep the relative sizes too (for example, decreasing the size of a normal Flute and small Piano staves will result in a medium Flute and extra small Piano).

Complete list of commands

To help you discover all the features in Sibelius, we’ve added a new Commands gallery. This lists the feature name (in the language Sibelius is running in), as well as the keyboard shortcut. These are listed alphabetically in the same order they appear in File > Preferences > Keyboard shortcuts. To open it, click the Commands gallery in the Home tab:

commands gallery in Sibelius

To filter the list by group, click the “All” dropdown and select the category you need:

how to filter command list in Sibelius

It’s worth noting that the lists of features in File > Preferences > Keyboard shortcuts are now in alphabetical order too. Hurrah!

Scriptable Plugins

Now that all commands are accessible to you in the new Commands gallery and Command Search, we’ve made them available to ManuScript in a really simple way. If you’ve ever thought about writing a plugin but found the learning curve too steep, then it’s time to look again.

Starting with this release, you can now create a plugin that lists the commands you’d like to run, and Sibelius will quickly process these in order. Creating a ManuScript plugin is now really simple using two new methods: Sibelius.Execute(Cmd()) and Sibelius.Execute(). As these behave like scripts, you can simply add these methods in a long list in the “Run” method.

To get started, go to File > Plugins > Edit Plugins and select “New” on the right. Give it a name and click OK. Find and select your new plugin in the list and click Edit. This will bring up the plugin editor with “Initialize” and “Run” already in the Methods section. Double-click “Run” to edit it (you can safely delete the “Sibelius.MessageBox();” method before entering your commands). It’s here that you list your commands:

how to create a new plugin in Sibelius

Command names using Sibelius.Execute(Cmd())

This command allows you to use the name of the feature as found in the Command gallery in Sibelius. For example, your plugin could simply add a third interval and an accent to all selected notes:

Sibelius.Execute(Cmd(“Add interval 3rd above”));
Sibelius.Execute(Cmd(“Accent”));

Running this on a selection does this:

adding a third above with accent

It’s important to note that these can only be run in the Sibelius language that they are created in. As such, it’s better (and safer) to use Command IDs (read on…):

Command IDs using Sibelius.Execute()

Each command in Sibelius has an internal name, and we’ve now exposed all 500+ commands to the new Sibelius.Execute() method. Examples of Command IDs are:

filter_voice1, copy, triplet, paste, select_next_object, select_previous_object…

Creating a plugin using the following example will perform the 17 actions needed to convert these two quarter notes (crotchets) into a triplet:

convert two quarter notes to triplets in Sibelius

Sibelius.Execute("filter_voice1");
Sibelius.Execute("copy");
Sibelius.Execute("triplet");
Sibelius.Execute("paste");
Sibelius.Execute("select_next_object");
Sibelius.Execute("select_previous_object");
Sibelius.Execute("8th_note");
Sibelius.Execute("repeat");
Sibelius.Execute("quarter_note");
Sibelius.Execute("select_previous_object");
Sibelius.Execute("select_previous_object");
Sibelius.Execute("select_previous_object");
Sibelius.Execute("copy");
Sibelius.Execute("delete");
Sibelius.Execute("select_next_object");
Sibelius.Execute("paste");
Sibelius.Execute("select_previous_object");

Of course, since you can assign a keyboard shortcut to a plugin, you can trigger these 17 steps with a single keystroke!

To help you get started, you can find the complete list of functions in the updated ManuScript language guide.

For plugin developers only

We've also added a number of new ManuScript methods that we think will be of interest to seasoned plugin developers:

  • Sibelius.FindCommandName() — //reverse of Cmd()
  • Sibelius.AvailableCommands — //returns an array of all CommandIDs
  • Sibelius.CommandExists() — //returns true if command is available
  • Sibelius.CommandCategories — //returns array of Command Categories in Sibelius
  • Sibelius.GetListOfCommandNamesInCategory() — //for any category, returns associated command names

All these new methods (including Sibelius.Execute()) can be used within regular ManuScript plugins, opening up a huge number of new possibilities. For example, you could use a combination of ManuScript calls to go through a selection to determine if the notes meet certain criteria, then apply something to them using the command ID.

We’ll have a follow-up blog soon that provides plenty more information and code examples.

Getting help writing plugins

If you need help getting the most out of your plugins, the first place to look is the ManuScript user guide, which you can find here.

We also have an active mailing list you can join, with a vibrant community of plugin developers—sign up here.

Once you’ve signed up, you can join the discussion by posting a new thread and view all previous threads here.

Improved Accessibility

Of course, this goes hand in hand with our recent accessibility efforts and will dramatically increase the speed and availability of many more features in Sibelius for those who use screen readers or assistive hardware to control their computer. Being able to trigger multiple actions from a single keystroke has never been possible before in Sibelius, so this is a huge step forward. If you use the Stream Deck hardware, for example, you can now trigger multiple actions by pressing just one of the buttons on the device.

This also opens things up to those who use voice commands to control their computer. To try this out (plus it’s great fun!), turn on Voice Control (Mac) or Windows Speech (Win), and Sibelius is at your command! You can even set up a shortcut in the OS preferences to press comma (,) or Alt+0 (on Windows) or Ctrl+0 (on Mac) when you say “OK Sibelius,” and Command Search will activate… tremendous fun to be had!

Bug Fixes

A release of Sibelius wouldn’t be complete without some bug fixes, so in this release, we have fixed the following:

  • Sibelius 7 Sounds can now be found once more if installed on the root of the drive
  • Sibelius can, once again, install more than one plugin at a time without having to restart the application
  • All Playback Dictionary items are interpreted during playback once more

We hope you enjoy the new improvements and the faster workflows in this release, and we look forward to hearing about your new wonderful workflows you create to make writing music faster.

Sam Butler headshot
Sam Butler
As director of audio software at Avid, and a keen musician, Sam works with all the departments in Avid to produce the future of the Pro Tools and Sibelius products and solutions.

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