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Sibelius 5 has an uncluttered interface.
When most people think of the intersection of Macs and music, they think of synthesizers, MIDI, and apps like Logic Pro. But some musicians like to score their music the old-fashioned way—on paper, with musical notes written on a staff. And to do that on a Mac, there’s Sibelius.
Sibelius 5 is a hefty product in every way, with a clearly written 156-page handbook and a 632-page reference manual. Even if you’ve never worked with Sibelius before, installation and setup is easy if you follow the handbook. Like most score-writing apps, Sibelius lets you input music one note at a time using your mouse and keyboard (or a MIDI keyboard, if you have one) or by direct transcription of your playing, if you have reasonably good keyboarding technique—though you don’t have to be a virtuoso.
The simple interface has a toolbar that keeps most commands within easy reach of your mouse, or you can use keyboard shortcuts. And the step-by-step wizard can get your score up and running in a very short time. Sibelius 5 is the first Intel version of the software, and compared to previous version, it feels like it’s been turbocharged.
One of the most useful new features is the Ideas Hub. This is a place where you can save a snippet of work—anything from a simple melody line to a whole section of a work—for later use. When you paste a saved Idea into a score, the app automatically transposes it into the right range for the chosen instrumental part. Sibelius 5 also comes with a large number of preprogrammed Ideas, useful for educators. Sibelius can be set to mark these preset Ideas clearly within a piece of work, so it’s clear which parts of a composition are original.
We should also mention the incorporation of VST and Audio Units plug-ins, together with undoable plug-ins (yes!). In fact, the playback aspects have been greatly enhanced.
The bottom line. All in all, Sibelius is software worth having for musical scoring. If you have a previous version, upgrade now
PRICE: $599, $329 educational
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.4 or later, 512MB RAM, 350MB free disk space
New Ideas Hub feature. Better integration of playback facilities. Clean interface. Worksheet Creator is helpful to teachers. Universal binary