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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 5, No. 2

Sibelius: a Revolution in Music Publishing Software

by Kest Carter-Morgan / October 1, 1999

Version française...

For the longest time, most music composers and educators have relied on Coda Software's Finale for music scoring, publishing, transcription and playback. Although laden with a potent array of controls to manipulate each and every musical element, it was deemed to have a steep learning curve and was overwhelmingly fiddly for many users. Especially annoying was the waiting time for the screen to redraw the score, after making edits or changes - even if it performed this feat faster than its competition. Although composers and teachers found the program and its multiple manuals cumbersome, Finale evolved, through several versions to become the de facto standard. (http://www.codamusic.com/coda)

Back in 1995, North Americans were introduced to a new music scoring product: Sibelius 7. Conceived and developed by the twins Ben and Jonathan Finn, Sibelius 7 used an 'Expert System' approach to differentiate itself from other programs. Written in assembly language only for Britain's RISC processor-based Acorn computer, the program was blindingly fast, accomplishing screen redraws and other feats instantaneously. Its intuitive interface was well suited to musicians. However, the strategy of making Sibelius 7 available only on the Acorn (thus making it cost thousands more than Finale) limited its acceptance in the marketplace. The long wait for Sibelius to be available on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms is now over. Since July, Sibelius demo versions with mini-manual have been available for download at http://www.sibelius.com.

Familiar with Sibelius 7 on the Acorn, our testers (consisting of Finale users) and I found that the new Mac version, with almost any MIDI file, would quickly recognize parts, sort out (even choose) instruments, show the entire score on the screen in an eyeblink, and play the parts without any fuss. We especially enjoyed its 'Artificial Intelligence' features. Although Sibelius may have sacrificed certain control elements for speed and ease of use, it allows access to complex functions without forcing one to wade through Finale's cumbersome system of nested menus.

Version française...

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