Online

2013

Speedy Arranging with Sibelius
Session 1 & 2
Katie Wardrobe
Midnight Music
Speedy Arranging Session 1 & 2 5

Tools of the trade 5

Physical setup 5

Audio playback tools 5

Music selection 5

Tips for choosing a piece of music to arrange 5

Listening....and more listening 6

Familiarize yourself with your chosen piece 6

Decide the basic parameters of the arrangement 6

Faithful to the original, or a creative approach? 6

Getting ready to arrange 7

Gather source materials 7

Song lyrics 7

Sheet music 7

MIDI files 7

Map out your arrangement 8

Why map out the structure? 8

Mapping out the structure in Sibelius (optional) 8

Setting up your Sibelius score 8

Choosing the key 8

All about MIDI files 9

What is a MIDI file and why is is useful? 9

Why it’s important to know how MIDI files are created 9

The golden rule 9

Finding and downloading MIDI files 9

MIDI file sites the good, the bad and the ugly 9

How to download MIDI files 10

Importing MIDI files into Sibelius 11

Hold everything! 11
How to open the MIDI file in Sibelius 11

Minimum durations setting 11

But how do I know what the minimum rhythmic duration is? 12

But the score looks terrible! 12

Multiple imported versions 12

Open the original MIDI file to playback as well 13

Re-order the staves 13

Basic fix-up 13

Remove empty bars 13

Missing clefs 14

Missing key signatures 14

Incorrect playback sound and/or instrument name 14

Now, choose your weapon: there’s a plug-in for (almost) anything 14

Problem: Unison (“Double”) Notes 15

Problem: Lots of Tied Notes 15

Problem: Too Many Rests and/or Short Notes 15

Problem: Overlapping notes 16

Problem: all the C sharps are D flats! 16

Problem: My swing score is full of dotted notes 17

Weapon #2: don’t forget the Keypad 17

Weapon #3: filtering 18

How to filter 18

Advanced filter 18

Piano Parts 18

Common issues 18

How to fix them 18

Drum Parts 19

Common issues 19

If you just need printed parts 19

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Backing tracks 19

Other options 20

Tips for fixing drum parts 20

Arrange feature 20

Ideas panel 20

Homework 20

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Speedy Arranging Session 1 & 2

Tools of the trade
Sometimes I find it useful to hear about other people’s tools and physical setup. Occasionally you can
discover simple tools or tricks that make life a lot easier!

Physical setup
My physical setup includes:

• A laptop (MacbookPro)

• Full-sized computer keyboard and mouse

• A numeric keypad for on-the-go work

• A large monitor plugged into the laptop (when I’m at home)

• MIDI keyboard

• iPad

• Piano

• Manuscript paper and pencil (yes, really!)

Having all of these things in place means that I will work more quickly and efficiently.

Audio playback tools
When arranging or transcribing, I listen to recordings of the piece I’m working on many times. To play
back your audio file, you might use any of the following:

• iTunes on your computer

• Windows Media Player on your computer

• Transcribe! software on your computer

• Audacity on your computer

• iPod/iPad/iPhone (using the default Music app or the Anytune app)

• CD player

Personally, I use iTunes, Transcribe! or my iPad - I’ll talk more about these options (and why I use them)
during the session.

Music selection
Tips for choosing a piece of music to arrange
• Choose  a  song  that  will  suit  the  members  of  your  group,  and  the  soloist  (if  there  is  one)

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• Don’t  overlook  public  domain  songs  (folk  songs,  tradi>onal  songs,  hymns)  because  they  can  o?en  be  
given  a  contemporary  “makeover”  –  think  gospel  style,  jazz,  pop  

• Try  to  choose  something  different  to  everyone  else!

• Listen  to  music  with  your  “arranging  ears”  on  all  the  >me

• You  might  consider  doing  an  arrangement  of  an  arrangement  of  an  original  song

• Keep  a  list  of  poten>al  songs  to  arrange:  an  iTunes  playlist,  a  note  in  Evernote,  a  Word  document  or  a  
Google  doc

• Choose  a  song  you  like  –  you’re  going  to  spend  a  lot  of  >me  working  on  it  even  before  you  get  to  the  
first  rehearsal,  so  don’t  pick  something  you’re  not  prepared  to  listen  a  lot!

Listening....and more listening
Familiarize yourself with your chosen piece
• Find  recordings  of  your  chosen  piece.    Check  the  iTunes  store  or  your  local  music  shop

• Play  the  piece  through  yourself,  on  your  chosen  instrument

• Make  some  basic  decisions  about  your  arrangement  while  listening/playing  

• At  some  point,  it’s  good  to  put  away  any  recordings  so  you  don’t  end  up  replica>ng  someone  else’s  
work

Decide the basic parameters of the arrangement
Faithful to the original, or a creative approach?
This  is  where  you  can  start  to  think  crea>vely.    Perhaps  you’d  like  to  change  the  original  song  completely,  or  
maybe  you’ll  choose  to  be  fairly  faithful  to  the  original  concept.

Some  basic  things  to  think  about:

• How  many  parts  will  the  arrangement  have?

• Some>mes  less  is  more:  3  or  4  parts  sung  well  is  be[er  than  8  parts  sung  badly

• Will  the  song  feature  a  solo?

• What  is  the  song  structure?  Map  out  the  verse/chorus/intro/outro  and  remember  that  you  don’t  
necessarily  need  to  be  faithful  to  the  original  version

• And  the  fun  part...deciding  the  musical  style,  key,  speed  and  overall  “feeling”.    These  elements  can  
really  make  an  arrangement  unique.  

• Will  you  use  a  jazz-­‐style  accompaniment  for  a  gospel  song?

• Will  an  up-­‐tempo  pop  song  become  a  hear_elt  introspec>ve  ballad?

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• Will  your  version  be  in  a  different  key?    Minor  instead  of  major?

• Use  a  different  voice  part  for  the  solo?  Be  faster  or  slower  than  the  original?

Getting ready to arrange
Gather source materials
You  may  have  found  a  recording  of  the  original  version  of  the  song,  but  there  are  other  resources  you  can  
use  to  give  you  a  head-­‐start  in  crea>ng  your  arrangement.    There’s  no  point  spending  hours  transcribing  a  
song  from  a  recording  if  you  can  find  the  sheet  music  or  a  MIDI  file  or  your  chosen  song  at  li[le  or  no  cost.

At  the  very  least,  finding  the  lyrics,  sheet  music  or  MIDI  file  can  save  you  >me  wri>ng  out  the  melody  and  
bass  line  and  will  allow  you  to  spend  more  >me  tackling  the  crea>ve  aspects  of  your  arrangement.    

Useful  source materials might include:

• Lyrics

• Sheet music

• MIDI files

• Recording/s

I gather as many of these together as possible and put them in a folder on my laptop so they’re easy to
find.

Song lyrics
You  can  find  the  lyrics  to  almost  any  song  online.    Do  a  search  for  the  song  >tle  plus  the  word  “lyrics”.    Some  
lyrics  websites  prevent  you  from  selec>ng  and  copying  the  lyrics  on  their  web  pages.    I  keep  looking  un>l  I  
can  find  one  that  allows  copying.

Sheet music
The  easiest  way  to  purchase  sheet  music  is  via  download  from  an  authorised  website

• Sheet  Music  Direct:  h[ps://www.sheetmusicdirect.com/  

• Sheet  Music  Plus:  h[p://www.sheetmusicplus.com/  

• The  Music  Room:  h[p://www.musicroom.com.au/en-­‐AU/  

Don’t  forget  that  you  can  o?en  transpose  the  sheet  music  before  prin>ng  out  your  purchased  copy

MIDI files
There  are  thousands  of  MIDI  file  sites  -­‐  try  typing  your  song  >tle  plus  the  word  “MIDI”  into  Google.    More  
about  finding  MIDI  files  below.

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Map out your arrangement
Why map out the structure?
If I’m working on a song, I  copy  and  paste  the  lyrics  into  a  Word  document  or  into  Evernote  so  that  I  can  
add  my  own  informa>on  and  annota>ons.    I  like  seeing  the  lyrics  in  one  place  so  that  I  can  map  out  the  
structure  of  the  song  easily.

If  I’m  working  on  an  instrumental  piece,  I  listen  to  a  recording  (or  look  at  the  sheet  music)  and  write  a  list  of  
the  sec>ons  in  order.

There  are  mul>ple  reasons  for  doing  this:

• I  can  see  where  repeated  sec>ons  are  (save  >me  later  on:  copy/paste  and  vary  it!!)

• I  can  get  an  overall  feel  for  the  direc>on  of  my  arrangement

• I  can  make  notes  about  how  I  will  arrange  each  part,  or  how  I  will  vary  the  arrangement

Mapping out the structure in Sibelius (optional)
Some>mes  it’s  useful  to  open  Sibelius,  start  a  new  score  containing  the  instrument  staves  your  need  (you  
can  add/subtract  instruments  later  on)  and  add  a  whole  bunch  of  empty  bars.

You  can  map  out  the  structure  of  the  piece  in  Sibelius  by  adding  in  double  barlines,  rehearsal  marks,  >me  
signature  and  key  signature  changes,  repeat  signs  and  so  on.

I  some>mes  do  this,  but  not  always.    It  depends  on  what  type  of  piece  I’m  working  on!

Setting up your Sibelius score
At this point, I like to set up my Sibelius score (if I haven’t already during the “mapping out” process).

I will create a new score with the following:

• title

• composer/lyricist

• arranger (you!)

• key signature

• time signature

• all the instrument staves I think I’ll need (even if they don’t all play straight away)

All of these things can be altered down the track, so don’t worry too much about them at this stage.

Choosing the key
A note about the choice of key: if I’m arranging a song into a different key to the sheet music, MIDI file or
recording I’m using as source material, I often leave the key signature the same as the source material for
now.

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It’s much easier to work with the Sibelius score in the same key as your recording or sheet music and very
easy to change the key signature later on in Sibelius, when you’ve finished. Just be mindful of instrument
ranges and so on, if the key is going to end up vastly different!

All about MIDI files
What is a MIDI file and why is is useful?
There are hundreds of MIDI files that are available for free download on the internet. If your ensemble is
keen to play current songs, jazz standards or a range of other styles, MIDI files can save you from
transcribing parts note-by-note from a recording – someone has done a lot of the hard work already by
playing all the parts in via keyboard and saving it in a format that Sibelius can interpret.

Why it’s important to know how MIDI files are created
It’s very important to be aware that the MIDI file was created by someone sitting at a keyboard,
recording each part in line by line.

This means that they may have created a drum pattern that consists of 8 parts - way too many parts for a
drummer with two arms and two legs to play!

Guitar parts may include chords that would require 7 fingers on the left hand, and brass parts may go
right out of the playable range.

The golden rule
You should always remember that MIDI files are there simply to give you a head-start with note input.
They will not give you a note-perfect arrangement straight away.

Finding and downloading MIDI files
MIDI file sites the good, the bad and the ugly
MIDI file sites are generally overrun with adverts. That’s how they make their money. The quality of MIDI
files also varies - a lot. Look for, and download more than one version of your song if possible.

You’ll also probably notice that the same MIDI files are available across many MIDI file sites. MIDI file
creators tend to upload them to multiple sites.

To search for MIDI files I usually head to Google and type in the name of the piece/song with the word
“MIDI” at the end: ie. “New York New York MIDI”.

Some of the MIDI file sites I use frequently include:

• Cool  MIDI  h[p://www.cool-­‐midi.com/  

• MIDI  Zone  h[p://www.free-­‐midi.org/  

• Electrofresh  h[p://www.electrofresh.com/  

• Hit  Trax  h[p://www.hi[rax.com.au/

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How to download MIDI files
Once you’ve searched for a MIDI file, click through to the website. If you click on the Download button for
the MIDI file, it will usually just open up in your web browser and look something like this:

Instead, it’s better to save the file to your hard drive. Right-click on the Download link and choose
“Download Linked File As” or “Save Linked File As” or similar.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find the real download button! See the image below:

Don’t worry too much if you click on the wrong download button - the only thing that will happen is that
an advert will open up. Go back to the original page and look hard for the real download button.

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If there is no download button on the page - just the title of the song which is hyperlinked - right-click on
that and choose “Download Linked File As” or “Save Linked File As”.

Importing MIDI files into Sibelius
Hold everything!
Before you import a MIDI file into the score you’ve set up for your arrangement, you might like to
consider using what I call a “dump score”. This is a score where you dump any material you might use (or
discard) in your arrangement. I often have more than one going! So, leave your nice, clean working score
aside and open the MIDI file in a new score.

How to open the MIDI file in Sibelius
Option 1:

• Open  Sibelius

• Select  Open  a  MIDI  file  in  the  Quick  start  menu,  or  go  to  File  >  Open

• Navigate  to  your  MIDI  file  and  click  OK

Op>on  2:

• Locate  the  MIDI  file  in  Windows  Explorer  (PC)  or  the  Finder  (Mac)

• Right-­‐click  on  the  file  and  choose  Open  with  >  Sibelius

You’ll  then  see  this  Open  MIDI  file  window,  which  allows  you  to  control  the  import  sejngs.    The  images  
show  the  sejngs  I  mostly  choose.      

Minimum durations setting
One  of  the  most  important  sejngs  is  Minimum  dura:ons  on  the  Nota:on  tab  (as  marked  below).    This  
acts  a  li[le  bit  like  an  “input  quan>ze”  feature  in  a  sequencing  program  and  will  round  up  rhythmic  values  
where  possible.    However,  unlike  some  other  programs  it’s  not  enforced  rigidly.    

In the Minimum durations drop-down menu, you should choose the minimum rhythmic value in your
MIDI file.

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But how do I know what the minimum rhythmic duration is?
Well, yes. You don’t really.

Take a guess to start with. I usually start with the semiquaver setting which will work well for some
instrumental parts in the score, but not so well for other parts. More about that choice later on...!

If you’d like a full explanation of the items in this window, see Sibelius’s Reference manual.

But the score looks terrible!
Yes,  well  that  tends  to  be  the  way  it  is  with  MIDI  files.    MIDI  files  are  intended  for  playback  only  and  not  for  
nota>on,  so  there  are  always  things  you’ll  need  to  correct  when  you  open  a  MIDI  file  in  a  nota>on  program  
like  Sibelius.

Luckily,  there  are  some  tricks  you  can  learn  to  fix  the  score  up  quickly.    However,  if  things  are  really  bad,  it  
can  be  worthwhile  trying  to  reopen  it  using  different  import  sejngs  –  in  par>cular  the  minimum  note  
dura>on  sejng.

Multiple imported versions
O?en  it’s  a  good  idea  to  import  the  MIDI  file  into  Sibelius  more  than  once,  each  >me  with  different  sejngs.    
For  instance,  import  the  MIDI  file  the  first  >me  with  semiquaver  set  as  the  minimum  dura>on.    Some  parts  
may  look  great,  while  others  are  really  difficult  to  read.

Save  that  score  and  name  it  “Fly  Me  To  the  Moon  semiquaver  import”  or  similar  so  you  know  what  the  
selected  sejng  was.

Then,  import  a  second  >me  with  quaver  set  as  the  minimum  dura>on  and  save  that  score.    You  will  
probably  no>ce  that  now  some  of  the  terrible  parts  look  be[er.

You  can  have  both  of  these  scores  open  while  you  work  and  copy  and  paste  different  parts  from  each  one  
over  to  your  main  working  score.

As  an  example,  here’s  an  excerpt  from  the  same  score,  imported  with  two  different  sejngs:

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Open the original MIDI file to playback as well
It’s  useful  to  be  able  to  play  back  the  MIDI  file  in  iTunes  or  Windows  Media  Player  or  Quick>me  just  in  case  
the  file  doesn’t  come  out  well  in  Sibelius.    It  allows  you  to  playback  the  MIDI  file  in  its  original  form  so  you  
can  check  what  it’s  supposed  to  sound  like.

Re-­‐order  the  staves
When  you  open  a  MIDI  file  in  Sibelius  the  staves  are  o?en  in  a  strange  order.    To  change  them  around:

• Press  I  (for  Instruments)

• The  list  of  Staves  in  Score  on  the  right  side  shows  you  the  order  of  staves

• To  move  an  instrument,  select  it  and  use  the  Move  Up  or  Down  bu[ons

• When  you’re  happy  with  the  order  click  OK

Basic  fix-­‐up
The  first  thing  I  do  is  to  fix  a  few  “global”  things  such  as  missing  clefs  and  key  signatures  and  incorrect  
playback  sounds.

Remove empty bars
There  are  o?en  a  couple  of  empty  bars  at  the  beginning  of  a  MIDI  file.    To  remove  them:

• Go  to  View  >  Hidden  objects  so  that  any  hidden  items  (such  as  the  metronome  mark)  show  in  the  
score

• Drag  the  metronome  mark  to  the  beginning  of  the  first  full  bar  of  music

• Drag  the  >me  signature  to  the  beginning  of  the  first  full  bar  of  music
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• Delete  the  empty  bars:  Ctrl-­‐click  (⌘-­‐click)  on  the  bar  so  that  you  have  a  purple  double-­‐line  box  
around  the  bar

• Press  Delete

Missing clefs
• Open  the  Clefs  menu  (press  Q)

• Select  the  clef  and  click  OK

• Click  at  the  beginning  of  the  stave

Missing key signatures
• Open  the  Key  Signature  menu  (press  K)

• Select  the  key  signature  and  click  OK

• Click  at  the  beginning  of  one  of  the  staves  

Incorrect playback sound and/or instrument name
Sometimes it’s  easier  to  fix  the  playback  sound  and  instrument  name  by  adding  a  new  stave  (with  the  
correct  name  and  playback  sound),  copying  the  music  across  and  dele>ng  the  original  stave

• Create  a  new  stave  by  opening  the  Instruments  window  (press  I),  select  the  instrument  and  click  Add  
to  Score.    Use  the  Move  Up/Down  bu[ons  to  reposi>on  it  if  necessary

• Select  the  music  on  the  original  stave  by  double-­‐clicking  on  it  (in  Panorama  View)  or  Triple-­‐clicking  on  
it  (Page  View)

• Alt-­‐click  at  the  beginning  of  the  first  bar  of  the  new  stave

• Delete  the  original  stave  by  double-­‐clicking  on  it  (in  Panorama  View)  or  Triple-­‐clicking  on  it  (Page  
View)

• Press  Delete.    Sibelius  will  check  whether  you  really  want  to  do  this.    Click  OK

Now,  choose  your  weapon:  there’s  a  plug-­‐in  for  (almost)  
anything
In  Sibelius,  most  plug-­‐ins  automate  task  that  are  mundane  and/or  repe>>ve.    There  are  many  plug-­‐ins  
inbuilt  into  Sibelius’s  plug-­‐ins  menu  and  there  are  even  more  available  for  download  on  the  Sibelius  
website.

The  basic  process  for  using  plug-­‐ins  is  as  follows:

• Look  at  a  passage  of  music  and  iden>fy  the  problem

• Select  that  passage  (I  find  it  best  to  work  on  a  small-­‐medium  sec>on  of  music  at  a  >me,  rather  than  
the  whole  piece  ie.  work  on  just  the  verse,  or  just  the  chorus)

• Locate  the  plug-­‐in  that  will  fix  your  problem  and  follow  the  instruc>ons  (if  any)

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• Click  OK

• Voila!  The  passage  will  be  fixed  (well,  hopefully!)

Problem: Unison (“Double”) Notes

Before A?er

How  to  fix  it:

• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Remove  unison  notes

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Remove  unison  notes

• Choose  the  op>ons  and  click  OK

Problem: Lots of Tied Notes

Before A?er

How  to  fix  it:

• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Combine  :ed  notes  and  rests

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Combine  :ed  notes  and  rests

• Choose  the  op>ons  and  click  OK

Problem: Too Many Rests and/or Short Notes

Before A?er

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How  to  fix  it  –  op>on  1:

• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  5  &  6:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Renotate  performance  

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Flexi-­‐:me  >  Renotate  performance

• Choose  an  appropriate  note  value  from  the  drop-­‐down  menu  and  click  OK

How  to  fix  it  –  op>on  2:

• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Remove  rests

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Remove  rests

• Choose  your  op>ons  and  click  OK

• A  new  score  will  open  and  the  passage  will  be  notated  in  a  more  legato  way

• You  can  copy  the  passage  back  into  your  original  score

Problem: Overlapping notes

Before A?er

How  to  fix  it:

• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Remove  overlapping  notes

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Plug-­‐ins  >  Simplify  nota:on  >  Remove  overlapping  notes

• Choose  your  op>ons  and  click  OK

Problem: all the C sharps are D flats!

Before A?er

How  to  fix  it:

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• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Accidentals

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Plug-­‐ins  >  Accidentals

• Choose  Respell  Flats  as  Sharps  or  Respell  Sharps  as  Flats  and  click  OK

Problem: My swing score is full of dotted notes

Before A?er

How  to  fix  it:

• Select  the  passage

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Plug-­‐ins  >  Notes  and  rests  >  Straighten  wriVen  out  swing

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Note  Input  >  Plug-­‐ins  >  Straighten  wriVen  out  swing  

• Click  OK

Weapon #2: don’t forget the Keypad
When fixing up messy sections, don’t forget to make use of Sibelius’s Keypad.

If you need to change an entire passage of quavers to crotchets, simply select the passage and press
number 4 on your numeric Keypad.

It’s useful to remember that all the keys on the Keypad allow you to “toggle on/off” each element shown.

So, if a passage has a few unwanted staccato markings, you can do the following:

• Select the passage

• Press the staccato button on the Keypad (a staccato will now be added to ALL the notes in the
passage - toggle ON)

• Press the staccato button on the Keypad a second time to make them all disappear (toggle off)

John Hinchey has written a great tutorial about this on his Notes On Notes blog:

• http://johnhinchey.com/2010/10/13/sibelius-tutorial-quick-filter-delete-with-the-sibelius-keypad/

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Weapon  #3:  filtering
Aside  from  plug-­‐ins,  your  next  most  important  weapon  is  the  ability  to  Filter.    Filtering  allows  you  to  take  a  
passage  of  music  containing  lots  of  different  musical  elements  and  select  just  one  of  those  elements.    

For  instance,  you  can  select  a  vocal  part  and  filter  just  the  lyrics,  allowing  you  to  delete  them,  move  them  or  
copy  them  to  another  part  without  affec>ng  the  notes  in  that  passage.

When  fixing  up  MIDI  files,  some  of  the  useful  filters  include:

• Filtering  the  top  note  (or  the  bo[om  note,  or  middle  note)  of  all  the  chords  in  a  passage  of  music

• Filtering  one  of  the  “voices”  on  a  stave  with  2  or  more  rhythmically  independent  parts

How to filter
• Select  a  passage  

• Sibelius  6  and  earlier:  go  to  Edit  >  Filter

• Sibelius  7:  go  to  Home  >  Select  >  Filter

• Choose  an  item  from  the  menu.    For  cleaning  up  MIDI  files,  the  most  useful  ones  include  Voices  and    
Notes  in  Chords

When  you  have  filtered  the  item,  you  can  delete  it,  move  it  copy  it  or  change  it.

Advanced filter
If you can’t see the option you need in the Filter menu, you can try using the Advanced Filter which
gives you many more options. We’ll discuss the Advanced Filter options in Session 2.

Piano  Parts
Piano  parts  from  MIDI  files  are  frequently  messy  and  this  is  o?en  to  do  with  the  way  they  were  sequenced  
by  the  creator  of  the  MIDI  files  in  the  first  place.    

Common issues
• Notes  are  split  strangely  between  le?  and  right  hand

• Everything  comes  through  on  one  stave  only,  or  on  two  separate  instrument  staves  (ie.  they’re  not  set  
up  as  a  proper  grand  staff)

• There  are  o?en  lots  of  >ed  notes

How  to  fix  them
Cleaning  these  parts  up  really  requires  you  to  listen  to  the  way  the  piano  part  plays  back  and  to  imagine  
how  you  would  notate  it  from  scratch.    Then  it’s  a  case  of  cleaning  it  up  as  best  you  can  with  the  plug-­‐ins  
men>oned  above,  and/or  with  some  clever  copying  and  pas>ng.

And  some>mes  it’s  simply  quicker  to  notate  piano  parts  from  scratch.

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Drum  Parts
Drum  parts  usually  come  through  the  worst.    Again,  this  is  usually  due  to  the  way  they  are  sequenced  in  the  
first  place  –  ie.  they’re  created  by  someone  playing  a  keyboard  with  drum  sounds,  not  by  someone  playing  a  
real  drum  kit.    

Common issues
• The  drum  kit  part  is  not  playable  by  one  person.    It  may  have  a  con>nual  tambourine  pa[ern  in  
addi>on  to  the  3-­‐part  kit  pa[ern,  or  extra  percussive  sounds  like  hand  claps

• The  drum  part  plays  back  OK,  but  looks  completely  unreadable

• The  drum  part  looks  like  hieroglyphics  and  doesn’t  make  any  sound  at  all  when  played  back

• The  drum  part  comes  through  on  a  treble  or  bass  clef  and  changing  the  clef  doesn’t  fix  it

In  the  case  of  the  first  two  issues,  you’ll  just  need  to  fix  up  the  parts  using  plug-­‐ins,  filtering  and  plain  
edi>ng.    

In  the  case  of  the  la[er  two  issues,  you  might  like  to  try  opening  the  MIDI  file  in  a  program  like  Mixcra?,  
Sonar  Home  Studio,  Logic  or  Pro  Tools.    Ensure  the  kit  part  is  assigned  to  MIDI  channel  10  and  re-­‐export  it  as  
a  MIDI  file.    Open  it  again  in  Sibelius  and  see  if  it’s  any  be[er.    

The  method  I  use  for  fixing  up  drum  parts  varies,  depending  on  how  the  score  will  be  used  in  the  long  run.

If you just need printed parts
• Fix  just  one  or  two  bars  (more  detail  below)

• Use  a  Repeat  bar  sign  for  the  remaining  bars  (in  Sibelius  6  and  7,  the  Repeat  Bar  sign  plays  back  the  
drum  pa[ern)

• Write  the  word  Fill  above  the  bar  at  the  end  of  a  phrase  or  sec>on  if  appropriate

Backing tracks
If  you  want  to  use  your  Sibelius  score  as  a  backing  track,  you’ll  need  the  drum  part  to  sound  good  all  the  
way  through  your  score.

• Fix  the  drum  part  up  as  above

• If  you’re  using  Sibelius  5  or  earlier,  bars  which  contain  the  Repeat  bar  signs  won’t  play  back.    You  can  
choose  to  avoid  the  use  of  Repeat  bar  signs  and  write  out  the  drum  part  in  full,  or  you  can  “hide”  the  
drum  part  behind  the  Repeat  bar  sign  so  that  it  s>ll  plays  back,  but  won’t  show  in  the  score

• If  you’re  using  Sibelius  6  or  7,  you  can  use  the  Repeat  Bar  sign  which  is  located  on  the  4th  Keypad  
layout.    The  drum  part  will  con>nue  to  play  in  bars  that  contain  the  Repeat  Bar  sign

• Vary  the  pa[ern  so  it  doesn’t  get  monotonous

• Write  out  any  fill  bars

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Other options
• Find  an  exis>ng  drum  pa[ern  in  the  Ideas  window  (Sibelius  5,  6  and  7  only)  

• Use  the  Add  Drum  PaVern  plug-­‐in  (Sibelius  3  onwards)  

Tips for fixing drum parts
• Play  back  the  drum  part  to  see  if  it  sounds  right.  You  can  click  on  each  type  of  notehead  in  the  drum  
kit  part  to  hear  what  it  is,  and  to  iden>fy  anything  that  shouldn’t  be  on  that  stave  (ie.  hand  claps)

• Move  any  extra  percussive  sounds  -­‐  like  hand  claps  or  cowbell  -­‐  to  a  separate  stave  (requires  an  extra  
player!)

• Listen  to  the  original  MIDI  file,  or  even  the  original  recording  to  hear  what  the  part  should  sound  like

• Tidy  up  the  nota>on  so  that  it  is  as  succinct  as  possible

• Find  a  nice  drummer  who  can  tell  you  what  it  should  look  like!

Arrange feature
Seen by some as a “cheat’s” method, the Arrange feature in Sibelius allows you to do some of the tedious
splitting up, “exploding” and moving around of notes in your score.

Please see the accompany notes: Sibelius Basics, Tips and Tricks for more information

Ideas panel
The Ideas panel (available in Sibelius 5, 6 and 7) is a useful “digital scrapbook” that allows you to save
snippets of music for later use in your current score, or in other scores.

For details about the Ideas panel, please refer to the How to Use Sibelius’s Ideas Panel notes booklet.

Homework
Your turn!

• Choose a song/piece of music to do a mini arrangement with (or use something you are already
working on)

• Search for a MIDI file of that piece

• Download the MIDI file and open it in Sibelius at least two ways (each with different Minimum
Duration settings)

• Compare the notation in each one

• Set up a fresh score and copy/paste bits of each of the MIDI file import scores

• Fix up any messy parts using the plug-ins and filtering techniques mentioned above

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