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,


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