Finishing up the engraved score, object check part 2 – slurs

In Sibelius select View/Handles so you can see the elements I am going to talk about in this newsletter.

Different instruments, different slur-meanings
In music for wood and brass, a slur mostly indicates breathing.
In music for strings, a slur indicates bowing.
In piano music, a slur indicates legato playing.
In vocal music, a slur indicates singing a melisma.

Difference between a tie and a slur
There is a big difference between the slur and the tieA tie is used to connect two notes on the same pitch and adding up their values. A slur is used to create a legato way of playing of the notes under the slur.

Here is how a slur looks in Sibelius:

And here is a tie:

If you look closely you can see that there are little dots connected by a line around the slur and the tie. These are used to adjust the way they look. It’s most of the time not necessary to adjust a tie, but it’s good to know how to do this for the slur.

The slur has 6 handles where you can adjust it the shape: the left end of the slur, the left-hand curve point, the bottom middle of the slur, the top middle of the slur, the right-hand curve point, and the right end of the slur. To adjust the slur handles and thereby its form,  select a handle and drag or use the arrow keys.

Creating a slur
To create a slur, select a note and type s. You can expand the slur over more notes by hitting space or contract it over lesser notes with Shift+Space.

Some engraving rules…
Sibelius places the slur according to engraving rules, which means it will always try to put the slur on the note-head side, there are some practical exceptions though.

Sometimes you end up with a notation like this:

I rather keep the slur on the note-head side though, so I select the 1st note and use the Edit/flip command (shortcut x) that will flip the note. Now the slur is placed for both notes on the note-head side:

Long direction mixed legato passage
When there is a long passage that should be played legato and the note-heads are notated in both directions, the slur should always placed over:

Slur- start/end on tied notes
When a slur starts on a tied note, the slur should start at the first of the notes that are tied together. Similarly, if a slur ends on a tied note, the slur should end on the last of the tied notes:

Mid-stem connections
When the slur connects to a stem, connect it mid-stem:

Not  but 

Shared staff voices
With more voices on a single staff, every voice gets their own slur:

Grand Staff
On a grand staff when there is not enough space between the staves, the slur can be placed outside the staff:

Grace-note slurs
To create grace-notes, select the place where you want to enter them and hit the “period” (.) key, choose the duration and enter the grace notes. To switch back to normal note, hit the period key again.

Grace notes are always stemmed up unless there are 2 voices, and the slur should be placed on the usual note-head side. Sibelius however, will place automatically the slur above the grace-note group and the result will look like this:

To get the corrected version above, select the lower slur, Flip it with theEdit/flip command (shortcut x) and turn off magnetic layout. After that correct the slur position by dragging the handles.

Direction of grace-note slurs
If a grace note precedes an interval or chord, the slur should follow the direction of resolution (up or down):

This is pretty much all you need to know when creating slurs according to the traditional engraving rules in Sibelius. But if you want to make some extra adjustments still, have a look at…

Engraving Rules
Go to menu House Stye/Engraving Rules and open the Slurs panel. Here you can change the slurs’ direction, the distance to note-head and stems and the distance to articulations, plus you can adjust the shape of the slurs to your own liking.

Default Positions
Go to menu House Stye/Default Positions. On the left side of this panel choose Lines. In the panel below choose Slur. On the right side you find a lot of options to fine tune the slurs’ position and give a different default position when working with vocal staves.

With all of this said, have a look at the video below to see everything in action:

I hope you liked this tip and that it makes working in Sibelius 6 a little easier. Please let me know if you have any questions.

See you in the next tip!

all the best,

Finishing up the engraved score, Object Check part 4: fingerings

Sibelius 6 Quick Tip 25: Object Check 4: fingerings 

  • Before starting this tutorial, install the Filter Text plugin (written by Bob Zawalich) from the Sibelius website: Filter Text
  • For help with installing a plugin, go here: Install plugins

Engraving Rules for keyboard fingerings:

  • In keyboard music, fingerings for the right hand go above the staff, for the left hand go below the staff.
  • Whenever there are 2 voices on a single staff, the fingerings for the upper voice go above the notes, for the lower voice go below the notes.
  • Horizontally, the fingerings need to be centred above/under the note head, vertically they follow the flow of the notes.
  • Tuplets should be moved to the other side of the notes if necessary, to avoid collisions.

To work fast when working with fingerings in keyboard music, I use two text styles: one for above the staff (Sibelius-default) and a second one for below the staff. The second one has exactly the same settings as the default fingering text style, but places them below the staff. To create this second text style, go to Text styles/fingering and choose New to create a text style based on the default fingering style:

Here are the text style settings for fingerings that I use for fingerings above the staff, and which are now copied for the fingerings below the staff style:

– Text Styles: times Roman 7 – Bold
Border: erase background. Set right/left of text to 5%
Horizontal position: align to note: centered.

I save the settings as Fingerings below staff:

To get the this new style placed below the staff, go to Default positions:

Here you can see the horizontal and vertical position of the fingerings relative to Note and Staff. My settings are Horizontal position relative to note: 0.69 – Vertical position relative to staff: 1.5. In the lower part of the screenshot you see : Below bottom of Staff. This is how Sibelius know that the fingerings have to be written below the staff.

To re-assign left hand staff fingering text style, triple click on the left hand staff to select the staff in the full score and choose the Filter Text plugin from the plug-in menu, this plugin only shows the text styles that are used in the selection:

Filter text

Choose Fingering and hit select. In the Properties window choose the Fingering Below Staff style that we made earlier.

from the Layout menu, choose Reset Position:

All the Fingerings will now move below the staff.

The Magnetic layout for fingering is by default enabled, which is done in Layout/Magnetic Layout Options. Fingering is part of Misc.Text:

If you want to change the distance between the fingering and the notes (or slurs/other objects) below the fingering, you can do this in the avoid Collisions panel. I changed the default Below value so the fingering can be a little closer to the notes and other objects: 

Magnetic Layout settings

All that is left now is to adjust the position of the text if needed. To move a single fingering text, select it and use the mouse or arrow keys. Use the arrow key to move the selected fingerings one step at the time and use CMD+arrow key to move them over a longer distance.

It’s a good idea to use keyboard shortcuts to work faster. To do this go to Preferences/Menu’s and Shortcuts/plug-ins/Filter Text. Click the Add button and use a keyboard key that is available. I used the F12 key for this and labeled the key on my keyboard to avoid forgetting which plug-in I assigned it to:

Filter text shortcut

The last thing I do is updating my Piano Solo House Style (by exporting it and overwriting my old piano solo house style), so I have these fingerings styles available when working on another piano piece.

Check out the video below to see everything in this newsletter in action (note: the text above is not updated in the video below. The difference is how I select the fingering text style):

I hope you liked this tip and made working in Sibelius 6 again a little easier.

See you in the next tip!

all the best,

Sibelius 6 Quick Tip: Page Numbers

Sibelius 6 Quick Tip 19: Page Numbers

In this video about Page Numbers, I talk about the traditional way page numbers are being used in printed scores and how you can change these defaults to your own liking. Before making this video, I never looked at how Sibelius was creating and defining the Page Number layout, but now I am actually happy I did. It’s interesting to see that there is a system that has been used since the beginning of music score printing and still is used today by the major publishers.

When I went through my collection of music scores I realised that placing Page Numbers at the Top Page and always Outside Edge the common way is and I found only 2 other publishers who put them at the Bottom Page center. There is a good reason for putting them always Outside Edge (meaning at the outside of the pages), and that is when you flip through the book, you can easily see where you are. Imagine that they would have been printed in the middle; now try to find that single page!

There is an exception though and that is when the pages are only printed on one side, page numbers are always printed at the Top Page right and for the same reason: flipping through them and always seeing the page numbers while doing this. This is especially important when you print the music on your home printer and mostly will not print on both sides of the page.

A last rule is that in books (not in the single side printed pages), the right hand pages are always numbered odd and the left hand pages alway numbered even. I am not sure why this is but everybody seems to do this and why change what apparently has worked for centuries!

If you have any questions, please use the form below and I will answer as soon as possible.

best regards,


best regards,

André van Haren

Quick Tip 10: Splitting a Score into Movements

Quick Tip 10: Splitting a Score into Movements

Sometimes it’s necessary to split a single score up into parts, for example with a sonata or a concert piece which mostly have 3 parts. Or maybe you have engraved 10 songs into one Sibelius file but now decided that you rather have ten separate files. This can be done easily with the Section End and Split Score into Movements plug-in. Have a look at the video below:

For more information about engraving, please contact me.

best regards,

André van Haren

Sibelius 6 Quick Tip: Instrument Change and Create Instrument

Quick Tip 11: Instrument Change & Create Instrument 

In this video tip I will explain how to change a piano score into an organ score by using Create Instrument Change to change the piano keyboard into organ manuals and Create Instrument to add the organ pedals. Have a look at the video below:

For more information about engraving, please contact me.

best regards,

André van Haren

Sibelius 6 Quick Tip: fingering

In this tip I show you how to create fingering and the possibilities Sibelius has to reposition text and create fingering for brass and string instruments. Because I was working on a piano piece while making this video, I used fingering for piano scores as an example, but Sibelius can add brass and string fingering automatically with the plugin Text/add brass/string fingering:


Because I am not a brass or string player, I cannot check if this is being done correctly but the option is there.

There is also a plugin called Reposition Text that you can find in plugins Text/reposition Text. This plugin can help you in avoiding notes to collide with other objects. During the years though I have developed my own workflow and use a combination of keyboard shortcuts which I created myself, mouse dragging and arrow keys to do my fingering position. In short, the engraving rules for keyboard fingering are (taken from the Sibelius reference book):

  • Fingerings for the right hand go above the staff and for the left hand below the staff, away from all the musical elements.
  • Fingerings are centred horizontally above or below the notes and if possible, outside the beam.
  • With chords, fingerings are stacked above or below the chord. Hit Return (on the main keyboard) to stack them after each number. Hitting space advances to the next note.
  • If a fingering changes on a held note, a hyphen or dash separates the two fingerings. The first fingering is centred on the note.
  • Tuplets should be moved to the other side of the notes if necessary, to avoid collisions with the fingerings.
  • When both hands play on one staff, the right hand fingering is notated above the staff, the left hand is below.
  • Keep fingering to a minimum and notate only what is necessary to establish the hand positions.
  • Successive fingerings don’t need to line up in a row – they should go up and down following the pitch of the notes, so that they are fairly near each note.

Check out the video below to see all this in action:

I hope you like this quick tip, please let me know if you have questions or ideas for other tips. To contact me or for  information about engraving scores, use the form below:

best regards,

André van Haren