Sibelius Sibelius 7
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Sibelius Sibelius 7

Sibelius 7, Score writing software from Sibelius.

public price: 519 € TTC
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chromaticism 10/11/2014

Sibelius Sibelius 7: Produktbewertung von chromaticism (content in English)

"Efficient Scorewriter Software"
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In the scorewriter world, there are two software titles that go head-to-head to become the king of the hill. These two are Sibelius and Finale. In this piece, we’re going to take a look at Sibelius 7.5. I have been using Sibelius for many years now, starting with version 4, to work on my compositions, for arranging/orchestration, and for transcribing music for a variety of clients such as Steve Stine and guest guitar instructors for GuitarZoom. I find Sibelius 7.5 to be essential for my line of work, and therefore it is worth investigating.

Among all the scorewriters I have tried, Sibelius by far is the easiest and fastest to use. I have tried a bunch of software before such as Encore, Guitar Pro, and Finale, but I find Sibelius to be most efficient. The wizard that is available at the beginning can easily provide the general structure of the piece you are working on starting out with assigning the time signature, the key signature, instrumentation, tempo, title, the option to add a pick-up bar, paper size, staff spacing, and others. Once everything has been set through the document wizard, one can immediately begin to notate the piece by using the mouse, the computer keyboard, or a MIDI controller.
Rather than get confused by a plethora of buttons scattered along the sides of the screen, Sibelius groups various functions such as note rhythmic values, expression markings, and others in an item called the keypad. The keypad replicates the standard keyboard numeric keypad and so all that one needs to call up a particular expression symbol such as an accent mark is highlight the note in question and press the button on the numeric keypad corresponding to the desired function. Although it is possible to drop in notes after assigning a particular rhythmic value using the mouse, it is easier to input notes using the computer keyboard or a MIDI controller as if you are typing in a word processor. The magnetic layout function makes it very easy to align staves, lines, chord symbols, lyrics, and other elements to minimize the possibility of symbols and lines overlapping each other. Because of this and other automated processes, composers and music copyists get more time and focus to write down their ideas rather than dabble on the nitty gritty of formatting the appearance of the score.


SUITABILITY/PERFORMANCE

The big change in Sibelius 7 from previous versions of the software is that the menus now sport a more graphical interface rather than the pull-down menus from previous versions, a trend seen in other software like Microsoft Windows. While long-time users will need to spend some time to adjust to the new interface and relearn other shortcuts, once the interface has become more familiar, things work easier and faster. In previous versions of Sibelius, all of the plugins can be found in a plugins menu. However, in Sibelius 7 upwards, plugins have been grouped accordingly into function. For example, plugins for motif/thematic transformations and variations can be found in the note input section and the “add chord symbol“ plugin can now be found under the text section. Intelligent arrangement (a.k.a. “intelligent copy and paste”) remains the same as in older versions where you can copy a particular passage or section written for one instrument (piano, for example) and have Sibelius automatically arrange it for other instruments or even group of instruments. The thing is that while it may make things easier with plugins and intelligent arrangement, human intervention is still necessary to make them work perfectly. In some cases, intelligent arrangement doesn’t make a lot of sense at all (e.g. rearranging a passage with a tessitura that is too high and difficult, wrong assignment of voices, etc.).
Slur markings in Sibelius 7 remain as flexible as ever as started in Sibelius 6. You can easily create slurs and ligatures with shapes and forms you would deem appropriate for the music. Lines such as slurs are now are generally easier to work with in Sibelius 7 since you can just start by inputting a note, creating a slur, and then input the rest of the notes of the phrase that you want slurred. Sibelius will then automatically extend the slur until you stop inputting notes. The downside to this is that, for people who transcribe guitar music like I usually do, this tends to mess up lines for bends. I usually have to stop inputting notes once I have written the bend line and then restart at the next rest to avoid the bend line from extending to the next set of notes.

One thing that sets apart Sibelius 7.5 from Sibelius 7 is the new navigation window. The old navigation window used to be a micronized version of the score with an inner blue border indicating the position of the screen at the score. The new navigation window is vastly different in that it is works as a map of the piece which shows the measure numbers, rehearsal marks, tempo markers, segno and coda signs,and other important landmarks that will make navigation of the piece easier. For example, if you want to go to section E of your piece, all you have to do is look for that rehearsal mark in the navigation window and then click on it. You no longer need scroll back and forth the piece or search for the measure number to find the section that you are looking for.

The included Sibelius 7 Sound Library adds more realism to the sound of score playback. The percussion sounds seem to be the best of the bunch followed by the woodwinds and brass. The strings are okay and the guitars are the worst. In an effort to add more realism to the guitar sounds, Avid added a fret noise function. The problem is that the fret noise function is exaggerated to the extent that it doesn’t sound very realistic at all. If you’re working with the Sibelius 7 Sound Library’s guitar samples, you most often will need to turn down the fret noise knob. Overall, the new Sibelius 7 Sound Library is good although it is still not at par with other sample libraries like Cinematic Strings 2 or Vienna Symphonic Library.


OVERALL OPINION

The most recent projects I have worked on involved the use of Sibelius 7.5, and I am very happy with the results that I have got so far. The response to my work was very good. I am still able to produce high quality scores with it in the most efficient way possible. However, I don’t think I will rely too much on the Sibelius 7 Sound Library for creation of orchestral mockups because I still do think that there are better sample libraries out there that I can still use like Chris Hein Horns Compact or Cinematic Strings 2. Overall, I am very pleased with the results I get from Sibelius 7.5.

Pros

- Efficient to use, low learning curve
- Elegant score output
- New navigation window provides easier way to find sections in scores.
- Better organization of plugins from previous versions.
- Magnetic layout makes it easy to format scores
- Working with lines is faster

Cons

- Sibelius 7 Sound Library guitar samples fret noise function sounds unrealistic
- Bend lines tend to extend over other notes not to be included in the bend, leading to erroneous guitar tab output.