On The Mark: The State of Digital Music Engraving

It isn’t remotely possible to go through all of the permutations involved in editing with these programs; the simpler, more intuitive Sibelius comes with a 500-page manual. And it is not particularly complete. Finale has gone almost entirely to online help, and its PDF user manual is over 23 megabytes in size.

The general difference between the programs is the same as in the inputting and set-up process: Finale tends to be more complete, with more options, especially for making changes over large sections of the score. Sibelius tends to be more straightforward—most edits are done by simply clicking on an item on the page and dragging.

Here are a couple of examples:



Above is a four bar segment of a folk song in Finale. The keyboard part includes music in two layers (the technique used in both programs to show independent voices in a measure. Note that the third measure rests needed to be moved lower in the measure to avoid overlapping the “A” in the upper voice; to do this, one has to select either the Simple or Speedy Entry tool, change the document to layer two, and then enter the measure and drag the note lower.




This is the same segment in Sibelius. To move the rests down one simply clicked on each rest and dragged it lower. No need to select a tool or change the document into the correct layer.




On the other hand, to change from “traditional” music and text fonts to “handwritten” music and text fonts is a snap in Finale. Select “Default fonts” in the options menu and change the fonts. The document changes instantly. Doing the same in Sibelius, unless you want to use their “Inkpen2 House Style” (which changed line thicknesses and locked all systems to four bars/system), required editing the text style (Sibelius requires specifying the type of text before any text can be entered in the program) and then selecting the text to be changed and choosing “reset design” to make the change affect the text.




Both programs allow the use of “staff styles.” The example above is in Finale, but the feature works similarly in Sibelius. The characteristics of the staff—anything from the type of notation to whether notes should have stems or barlines should be visible—are saved as a “style” and can then be applied with a keystroke to any individual measure or group of measures in the document. In the example above, the “alternate notation” box is checked and “slash notation” was selected as the type of alternate notation for the top voice of the visible measure.


From On The Mark: The State of Digital Music Engraving
By Steven Powell
© 2002 NewMusicBox

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