Tag Archives: Sibelius

Sibelius 101 Video tutorial series

Sibelius 101 video tutorial series

I’m sorry I’ve not posted anything in over a month. I’ve been busy with a few new projects. Check out my Soundcloud page:

http://soundcloud.com/jamesgilbertmusic

Among other things I’ve been working on a new video tutorial series for those new to or inexperienced with Sibelius 7. I’m calling it Sibelius 101. I’m trying to keep the videos short and faster paced so you don’t have to spend too much time on any single video. Rather than go through every feature, I’m focusing on the options that will help you get things done in as efficient manner as possible. I’m also showing tips and practical ways of doing things.

View the videos at this YouTube playlist.

Part 1 covers the basics of Sibelius with regards to setting up the program and where to find things that you may want to adjust to your like.

http://youtu.be/REF0j7BOM40

Part 2 covers basic note entry. How do you get notes into Sibelius. Several ways of entering notes in step-time is shown. Mouse entry, computer keyboard entry and midi/external keyboard input.

http://youtu.be/mjED2JZgccI

Part 3 covers real-time entry and basic note editing. How to use your midi keyboard to enter notes is shown. Some tips for cleaning up your played notes are shown too.

http://youtu.be/3ZKl5hydpsQ

Part 4, 5 & 6 cover various topics about editing your notes once you get it into Sibelius. I talk about how to use voices including converting existing voices to other voices, copying and pasting notes, adding intervals above and below existing notes and more.

http://youtu.be/l0vi1Ugmd_A
http://youtu.be/7TbvGt3ZS0s
http://youtu.be/UenxdqmeJxY

The whole series is now available – 11 parts in all – see the Playlist at the top of this page to view the other 5 videos. You can also visit our YouTube Channel to see all the videos. I also have separate videos about other Sibelius topics available on the YouTube site. 

If you’ve not visited our website, please do:

http://jamesgilbertmusic.com

If you’d like to listen to our albums – we now have 8 available – listen to them on Spotify

Miroslav Philharmonik Review

UPDATE January 2016. Miroslav Philharmonik version 2 was released in December 2015. Based on the SampleTank 3 engine, the user interface is a thousand times better than the version reviewed below. I can actually use it without having to pull out the magnifer. There are new sounds and key-switching instruments are also provided. The instruments from Philharmonik 1 are also included in this program. The product is 64-bit. The mixing tab of the interface makes it possible to mix ‘in the instrument’ rather than having to mix everything in your DAW. If time permits I may do a full review. As to the Kontakt vs. Miroslav comments below, if you are into just orchestral music and don’t need to do sampling and creating your own instruments, pick Miroslav first, then Kontakt, although some of the add-on libraries available for Kontakt offer sounds and features not found in Miroslav, especially if you are involved in film or game music.

An older product, but it sounds just fine

This product, from IK Multimedia, is an older product that has been on the market for at least 4 years. But, I’ve only just now (Nov 2012) had a chance to use it. You could call it a classic. If you’re just getting into sound libraries and doing recordings or composing on a computer, this is a good library.

What is it? It is a sound library consisting of all the instruments in a typical classical orchestra. There around 8 Gigabytes of samples. There are various articulations of the different instruments, as applicable. For example, there is flutter tongue for the flute, pizzicato for the strings, legato and stacc. for all the instruments.

There are individual sounds for all the instruments in the woodwinds, brass, string and percussion families as well as some keyboard and harp sounds, including some nice organ sounds. In addition to the single patches, it comes with numerous presets that layer various instruments from different families. If that weren’t enough, there are single patches that contain a mixture of instruments. I believe there are over 3,000 presets.

The instruments are accessed via a stand-alone program or via VST, AU and I believe a few other plugin formats that I don’t use. There are 16 channels/slots that you can load instruments into. Each slot can be assigned to any channel and panning and volume can be set. There are combination presets that can save you the time of loading instruments on each track. Use your MIDI keyboard to play it (or use the mouse and play the on-screen keyboard or some of the keys on your computer keyboard work).

I use mainly the Kontakt factory library for my orchestral needs so that’s all I have to go on for a comparison. The big difference is that there seems to be more instruments and articulations and types of instruments in the Miroslav package. Unlike Kontakt, that uses key switching to switch between, say pizz. and legato, this uses separate patches. That can take a little getting use to. I do also use Session Strings Pro. I find the Miroslav to be a better sound overall than what I can get from Kontakt, but that’s not to say Kontakt isn’t good, just Miroslav better so far as the sound & variety of orchestra instruments. If I could only choose between Kontakt and Miroslav Philharmonik, Kontakt would win, but if you’re heavy into orchestral sounds, you might make the opposite choice. .

There are quite a bit of ways to modify the individual sounds. These include LFO’s, Envelopes, filters, velocity adjustments, keyboard range, many effects and effect sends, both individually and globally.

Sibelius and Windows 7 64-bit users.

If you are using the Windows 7, 64-bit version of Sibelius, you will not be able to use the plugin, at least not with the 64-bit version of Sibelius. Fortunately, Sibelius 7 installs both the 64-bit and 32-bit versions. Go to the start menu and select the 32-bit version of Sibelius. As mentioned before, Miroslav is an older program, so it hasn’t been updated to 64-bit yet.

Reaper users.

I’ve found the product to be stable and fine for use in Reaper, Win 7 64-bit version. Just be sure to set your midi controller to the correct channel, set the Reaper input to the controller AND arm the channel for recording.

Criticism.

The interface is very hard to see. The image above was downloaded from the IK Multimedia site. That image looks better than the actual program does. I’m using a 1920×1080 display and I can barely read the text. If I use the Windows magnifier to zoom in 200% it seems obvious that the graphics are not very hi-res. This makes it hard to learn the program. However, once you get use to it, it’s not a bad interface. It would have been nice if the manual told more about the presets, like which ones make extensive use of the mod wheel, expression control or other controllers. As with most any sound library I’ve ever used, the manuals barely cover the minimum and offer little in the way of practical usage. It’s sort of a ‘here are the sounds and how to load them, now you’re on your own.’ More tutorials and tips would be most welcome. Since it is an older program, it doesn’t support WASAPI sound support. I’d like to see it updated to a 64-bit plugin and the graphics improved.

Since I’m new to it, did I miss anything or do you have any comments about it?

 

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

Our latest additions to the catalog at our website consists of the title: O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.

There are two titles available. They are both upbeat, rock/pop adaptations of this classic hymn tune also known as AZMON.

One is an MP3 recording and the other is a sheet music transcription for solo instrument. The sheet music version is for solo instrument with piano and optional rhythm section and keyboards. The keyboard part is also made available in parts that could allow you to perform this piece with a full orchestra (with a piano and instrumental soloist).

We try to be versatile with our music and allow for it to be performed with a variety of possible instrument combinations. Much of our instrumental solos, orchestra, instrumental, brass, woodwind and string music can be played by instruments other than indicated in the descriptions. Most, but not all titles include parts for C, Bb, Eb, F and alto clef instruments. (The catalog description specifies which parts are provided).

As with all our music in the past 3 years, it was typeset using the Sibelius notation software program. For recordings, we use the excellent Reaper DAW.

Check out a short YouTube video where you can listen to this title:

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaoX950jl2c]

About my latest YouTube video – Sibelius 7 tips

Sibelius tips

I’ve uploaded a new tutorial video to YouTube. This one is about some tips I’ve found that help my workflow when using Sibelius. Geared toward Sibelius 7, it can be adapted to use with earlier versions.

Highlights

Advanced filtering.

Have you discovered the power of advanced filtering? An example is shown.

Preferences.

There are many preferences to choose from. This video shows how to turn off the startup sound, ease the strain on your system of the playback configurations (which seem to be more system demanding in version 7 than before). A discussion of keyboard shortcuts. Almost every task you can do in Sibelius can have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it and more.

Voices and editing music in different voices

Do you know how to take an existing part and copy it into voice 2 in another staff that already has voice 1 notes? You can’t just cut and paste. See how.

Wildcards

There are many wildcards that can be used when working with text. See how to incorporate them into your titles/composers and how you might use them in footnotes.

Parts

Making the layout of your parts look consistent among parts, including editing text styles to change the position in the parts, but leave it where it was in the score. Hiding text in the parts but keeping it in the score.

Ribbon tips

You either love it, hate it or tolerate it, but the Ribbon is here to stay. How to gain back some screen real estate and some different ways to view your music.

Take a look at it:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OouCZ-Uz0zM?hl=en&fs=1]

Please leave some feedback on the YouTube site or here.

Making a music arrangement using Sibelius 7

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B49i8EtmS-w?hl=en&fs=1]

Ever wonder what goes on in an arranger’s mind when they go to arrange a piece of music? Well, here’s a video showing some of that process. It also shows off some of the new Sibelius 7 music notation software.

See how I take a hymn tune based on a German folk melody and turn it into a fugue like arrangement for solo organ.

Not mentioned in the video is that the piece was used a few weeks ago (end of July 2011) as a postlude for a church service. Postludes are the music heard at the end as everyone is leaving so you don’t want it to be too long. The piece served its function well and will probably be used again.

I did find one issue with the arrangement when playing it. As the 3rd voice of the ‘fugue’ comes in, the hand spread required to play the piece requires part of the right hand part to be played with the left hand. That’s not too bad, but it was a bit awkward switching.

Questions about Sibelius or making the arrangement are welcome.

Sibelius 7 first impressions

A look at the new Sibelius 7. Keep an eye out on my YouTube page in the near future for some screen shots and more detailed looks.

Highlights

  • For someone upgrading from older versions, plan to spend time learning the changes
  • Gone are the menus, welcome the ‘ribbon’
  • Text handling changed (typography & frames)
  • New text font
  • Gone is the user menu structure (location of user house styles, manuscripts, etc)
  • Improved status bar at bottom
  • New quick-start
  • Improvements to dialogs (resizeable, find functions)
  • New, improved mixer window
  • Printing setup improved
  • Music XML support
  • Note input changes (sticky tuplet & lines, a Finale-like speedy entry option)
  • Shift existing notes up/down chromatically
  • Graphics export changed (PDF output built in, even in Windows)
  • New plug-ins

Upgraders & Finale converts

As someone who upgraded from Sibelius 6, this version is taking me a bit of time to get use to the new layout. Some items are harder to find at first. Once you know where they are, it is arguably easier to find the next time you need them. There were few changes of key commands.

I’m not sure if convert is the right word, but for those coming from Finale (as I did with version 6), one word: patience. Sibelius approaches tasks from a completely different way than Finale. It is not a task based/tool based approach. It is more what I would call a ‘selection’ based method. Select an item, do something with it, whether it be selecting a staff, typing the N key and entering notes or highlighting a region and pressing CTRL-arrow up to move the notes up an octave. Once you figure out how Sibelius does thing and start thinking that way, you’ll have no problem. The way Sibelius does text I think is more powerful than Finale, but so different that it may create the biggest challenges.

Ribbon

Gone are the menus and in is the ‘ribbon.’ If you’ve used Office products from version 2003 on, you’ve used the ribbon at the top. This will cause the biggest dislike among users of previous versions, but if you are new to Sibelius, embrace the ribbon and use it to your advantage. Similar to the menus, there are different tabs that specify different tasks. Organized to help the workflow in a natural way, each tab contains tasks related to that tab. The View tab, for example, gives many options for indicating what items you want to display (eg. handles, hidden items, etc). While the ribbon does take up quite a bit of vertical space, you can minimize the ribbon so that it looks more like menus. My tests with Sibelius 6 & 7 suggest that when the ribbon is minimized, you have just as much vertical space as in Sibelius 6.

Text

The text section has had a major re-write. There are now advanced typography functions available. These include line spacing, tracking, angle and text color. You can directly access an individual text item’s property on the text tab of the ribbon. The need for using the properties window (in Sib 6) is not needed. You can also specify that text fit into a fixed size frame. In newly created scores, it now uses a hierarchical system for text. (If you are opening a file from previous version, you’ll have to modify your text styles to take advantage of this). This means that you can specify that a particular text item will be based on another. Lyrics are the obvious example. Set Lyrics verse 1 as you want your lyrics to look. Then set lyrics verses 2 through 4 to be based on verse 1 lyrics. If you change the settings to verse 1, all the other verses will also change.

A new text font is included and is treated as the default. It is the Plantin font. If you are familiar with Oxford University Press, this is the font they use.

User files and program files location change

The location of the files related to Sibelius 7 have changed. Since the program is both 32 & 64 bit compatible, some aspects of the program data have changed. The what’s new file explains the changes. Since Sibelius is owned by Avid, it is stored in an Avid folder. A link to the user files location is included in the installation. On windows, it is in the start menu under the Avid folder, Sibelius part. This is where you put things like downloaded plugins and where the program stores manuscripts and house styles you create.

Improved status bar

The status bar at the bottom is improved. It shows more details about what you have selected. Also on the status bar are options for showing how the music is displayed (spreads) and the panorama option. A zoom fader with + and – buttons is also now available.

Quick start change

The quick-start has changed considerably. The new score and recent tabs give thumbnail views of the items to select. Manuscripts are organized by topics. There is a learn tab that gives links to various sorts of help. There is a latest news link that displays items from the Sibelius Blog.  (One of my YouTube tutorial videos is even on there as of this date).

Dialogs

Some dialogs can now be resized. There is some uniformity on where the ‘ok’ and cancel buttons show. Some dialogs, like the instrument selector have find boxes to help you find what you are after. (I wish they had done a find button with the keyboard shortcuts).

Mixer window

The mixer gets a new look. It looks more like a DAW mixer than it did before. There are three different sizes available, each size shows more. It is docked by default to the bottom of the screen. You can also undock the mixer.

Printing dialog changes

Press CTRL-P (or use the file tab) to get to the printer options. I find the new look to be easier to work with than the older system. There is also a print preview that is nice.

Music XML

I know many people complained that there was no XML output in Sibelius 6. Well, 7 introduces the ability to export XML.

Note input changes

Some note input changes were made. I suspect they were inspired by Finale. Most notable, ‘sticky’ tuplets. Once you start entering a tuplet, you can tell it that everything from that point on is a tuplet until you turn the sticky option off. Similarly, you can add slurs and lines during note input. If you were use to Finale, you can now specify that you pick the pitch prior to picking the duration. Personally, it never made much sense to pick a note value first before picking a pitch. Whatever your opinion, you can choose between the two. I’ve gotten so use to the default Sibelius 6 method that I haven’t even tried the pitch before value option. I eventually will.

Chromatic shifting of notes

This is something I find to be handy. If you already have some notes entered, you can select them, press the up and down arrows and they will go up and down in pitch. Diatonically. If you want to go up chromatically, use SHIFT-Page Up or to go down, SHIFT-Page down. (On Macs it is a different default key command).

Exporting

Exporting has an easier look to it. Graphics exporting has some improvements. The big thing for me is that you can now export your music directly to PDF format. Before I had to use either the full version of Acrobat (which I quit updating a few versions back because it is just too expensive) or an alternative. Now it is built in.

Plug-ins

Plug-ins are now listed by category. That is, depending on which tab you have selected will determine which plug-ins show up. Any plug-ins you might download will be listed in the home tab.

Tips

A big tip for anyone using the program is to learn the key commands. For example, instead of going to the file menu, then open to open an existing file, use the keystroke combination CTRL-O (letter O). The nice thing with Sibelius is that you can add your own key commands and even change existing ones. They are in the preferences.

If you import a keyboard shortcut set from a previous version, any shortcuts unique to version 7 will not be there. (Like the Shift-Page up/down mentioned above). I would suggest starting from the default 7 menu set and adding your own or changing the existing items. Alternatively, you could go through the what’s new and reference help to see what new keyboard commands have been added or changed and go from there.

Use CTRL-+ and CTRL– (minus key) to zoom in/out without having to use the slider at the bottom.

Use the inspector to see some of the finer detail about items. This replaces the properties window.

If using the new Organ sounds in 7, explore the playback dictionary to find out how to access the various stops included. The dictionary is also useful to look at for other playback features as well.

If you have a lot of customized items, create your own house style and/or manuscript papers. Use them when starting new documents.

If you can’t stand the purple background, no sweat, go to preference and change the texture to whatever you want. You want change all of that purple, but it does seem to tame down the purple.

 

New text font