World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sibelius (computer program)

Article Id: WHEBN0020840813
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sibelius (computer program)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: RiscPC, Killer application, List of file formats, SIB, Sibelius Software, Copyist, Music manuscript, The Hebrides (overture), Music of the Spheres (Mike Oldfield album)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sibelius (computer program)

This article is about the music notation software. For other uses, see Sibelius (disambiguation).
Developer(s) Sibelius Software
Initial release 1993
Stable release 7.1.3 / 26 September 2012
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
License Proprietary

Sibelius is a WYSIWYG scorewriter program, created by Sibelius Software (now part of Avid Technology) for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and historically RISC OS. It is used by composers, arrangers, performers, music publishers, teachers and students, particularly for writing classical, jazz, band, vocal, film and television music. In addition to editing and printing scores, Sibelius can also play music back using synthesized sounds, produce legible scores for editing and printing, and publish scores for others to access via the Internet and iPads.

Sibelius claims to be the world's best-selling scorewriter, with "hundreds of thousands of users in 100 countries".[1]

'Lite' versions of Sibelius (with fewer features, at a lower price) have been released, as have various add-ons for the software.


Sibelius was originally developed by British twins Ben and Jonathan Finn for the Acorn Archimedes computer, under the name 'Sibelius 7'. Development (done on RISC OS entirely in assembly language) was started in 1986, just after the Finns left school, continuing while they were at university. They were music students, and they said they wrote the program because they did not like the laborious process of writing music by hand.

The program was released to the public in April 1993. It ran directly from a 3.5-inch floppy disk, in considerably less than 1MB of memory (Sibelius 7 needed only 548K for a 33-page symphonic score, for example), but the combination of assembly language and Acorn's RISC chip, for which RISC OS was written, meant that it ran very fast. No matter how long the score, changes were displayed virtually instantaneously.

The first ever user of Sibelius was Richard Emsley, who used it prior to its release and provided advice on music-engraving aspects of the software. The first score published using Sibelius was Antara by George Benjamin, published by Faber Music and copied by Emsley. Other early users included composer John Rutter, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and publisher Music Sales.

Sibelius rapidly dominated the UK market, being a killer application for the niche Acorn platform.[2] It also sold in smaller numbers in a few other countries, restricted by the availability of Acorn computers. 'Lite' versions were subsequently released; these were successful in UK schools, where Acorns were widely used.

In September 1998, the first version for Windows was released (now simply called 'Sibelius', and with the version number reset to 1.0).[3] A Mac version was released a few months later. To produce these versions the software was completely rewritten in C++, while retaining most of the original's functionality and user interface with numerous enhancements.

Releasing Sibelius for more widely available computers brought it to a worldwide market, particularly the US, where Sibelius Software had opened an office in late 1996. Following the break-up of Acorn Computers shortly after Sibelius's Windows release, no further Acorn versions were developed.

In August 2006, Sibelius Software Ltd. was acquired by Avid Technology, an American manufacturer of software and hardware for audio and video production. Avid has continued publishing Sibelius as a stand-alone notation product, as well as integrating it with some of its existing software products.

In July 2012, Avid announced plans to divest its consumer businesses (not Sibelius), closed the Sibelius London office in order to move development to Kiev, and laid off some employees.[4][5][6] Offshore software R&D company GlobalLogic is searching programmers for a new development team in Ukraine.[7] Avid has claimed it is still committed to Sibelius.[8]

A Facebook pressure group has been formed to protest against the closure of the London office.[9] A website dedicated to encouraging Avid to sell Sibelius to ensure its continued development is now live.[10]


  • The original "Sibelius 7" for RISC OS was released in 1993
  • Sibelius (i.e. Sibelius 1.0 in September 1998 for Windows, Sibelius 1.2 in March 1999 for Mac). Thereafter major new versions have been released for both platforms approximately every 2 years, with minor versions more frequently:
  • Sibelius 2 (in 2001), with numerous new features.
  • Sibelius 3 (in 2003), with new features such as Kontakt Player and the ability to create audio files and CDs.
  • Sibelius 4 (July 2005), with new features such as the ability to write music synchronized to video, instrumental parts which are automatically updated when the score is changed, and a redesigned user interface.
  • Sibelius 5 (June 2007), with support for VST effects and instruments, a new sample library (Sibelius Sounds Essentials), 'Panorama' view, and other new features.
  • Sibelius 6 (May 2009), featuring 'Magnetic Layout' (comprehensive score object positioning and collision avoidance), 'Versions' (revision control of changes made to a score), keyboard and fretboard windows, Live Tempo (recordable tempo changes), ReWire support, input via microphone, and various other notation and playback enhancements.
  • Sibelius 7 (July 2011), with a new ribbon-based user interface,[11] native 64-bit support, a 38GB professional sound library including specialized playing techniques, advanced text and typographic handling, enhanced graphics import/export, MusicXML export (MusicXML version 2, not fully implemented – importing MusicXML has been possible since Sibelius 5), Finale-compatible note input, and various other improvements. This version of Sibelius (and all future versions) is no longer supported on Mac OS X v10.5 or earlier, and Mac computers with PowerPC processors; the last version with this support is Sibelius 6.2.[12]


Sibelius's primary function is the creation, editing and printing of musical scores. It supports virtually all music notations, enabling even the most complex of scores (such as modern orchestral music) to be reproduced to publication quality.

Additionally, it allows scores to be played back realistically or turned into MIDI or audio files, e.g. to create a CD. A large range of high-quality sampled sounds and built-in sample player are included. Sibelius supports any MIDI device, and allows VST and Audio Unit plug-ins to be used as playback instruments, giving Sibelius users access to third-party sample libraries (such as Vienna Symphonic Library or MOTU's Symphonic Instrument).[13] Score playback can also be synchronized to video, or to audio software via the ReWire standard.

There are various education-specific features for Sibelius's large market of schools and universities. These include extensive built-in music teaching materials, and the ability to run and manage multiple copies of the software on a network. Discounted educational pricing is available.

The third-party Music OCR program PhotoScore can be used to scan and create a Sibelius score from printed music; a lite version of PhotoScore is bundled with the Sibelius software. Similarly, the third-party program AudioScore (with bundled lite version) can be used to turn singing or an acoustic instrument into a score.[14]

The program plays a brief passage from a Jean Sibelius symphony as it starts. Each Sibelius version has used a different excerpt. The current version, Sibelius 7, appropriately uses the main theme from Sibelius's 7th Symphony.

Internet publishing

Sibelius users can publish their scores from the software via the Internet or iPads. Anyone else using software called Scorch (free for web browsers, charged for on iPads) can then view these scores, play them back, transpose them, change instruments, and print them out (web browser version only). The iPad version of Scorch also includes a store containing over 250,000 scores from publishers Music Sales, Hal Leonard, and (see below).

Scorch is used by various music publishers' web sites, and web sites of individual musicians. Publishers can license a special version of Sibelius, Sibelius Internet Edition, for commercial online publishing. (previously is a web site where any Sibelius user can upload scores they have composed, arranged or transcribed with Sibelius, so that anyone can access the music using Scorch. Some scores are sold, others are free. SibeliusMusic began in 2001, and by June 2011 had nearly 100,000 scores.

Language versions

Versions of Sibelius are available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Chinese. Manuals have been released for various further languages.

Lite versions

'Lite' versions of Sibelius (with a smaller feature set and lower price) were released for Acorn computers from late 1993 onwards (Sibelius 7 Student, Sibelius 6 and Junior Sibelius) and more recently for Windows and Mac platforms (Sibelius Student, Sibelius Instrumental Teacher Edition and Sibelius First). A Sibelius version for guitarists and songwriters called G7 was also available for several years.

In 2012, Sibelius Student was replaced by a new version of Sibelius First.

Lite notation based on Sibelius is included in Avid's Pro Tools audio editing software.


Add-ons for Sibelius which are currently or have previously been available include extra sound libraries, extra plug-in features (which are free of charge, and often created by Sibelius users), full versions of the PhotoScore (scanning) and AudioScore (microphone input) software, keyboards and keyboard covers showing shortcuts, and Sibelius-branded merchandise.

A range of software for teachers and students from the same company, Sibelius Educational Suite, is not directly connected with the Sibelius program, but is often used by the same people.


Sibelius is used by professionals and amateurs for composing, arranging and writing out music, in addition to being widely used as an educational tool.

The software is used at music colleges worldwide such as the Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal College of Music, Trinity College of Music, Juilliard School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Oxford University and Cambridge University. Additionally it is used by thousands of schools in the UK, USA, Australia and other countries, including over 75% of UK secondary schools.


Ben and Jonathan Finn, the twin brothers who originally created the software, said they probably named it Sibelius because Jean Sibelius, one of their favourite composers, was a Finn (i.e. Finnish).

The original Acorn version of the software was called Sibelius 7, but the '7' was not a version number; it was reminiscent of Sibelius's final symphony (no. 7). There was also a reduced version called Sibelius 7 Student, which had slightly reduced functionality, and a lite version, Sibelius 6.

For the Windows and Mac versions the company began using conventional version numbers, starting with version 1. The original Acorn names Sibelius 6 and Sibelius 7 have since been re-used to denote versions 6 and 7 of Sibelius for Windows/Mac.

See also


External links

  • plugin for playing and printing sheet music via the Internet or an iPad
  • Sibelius Software Information,
  • The Sibelius web site

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.