Daniel Spreadbury

Welcome to Making Notes! I’m Daniel Spreadbury, and you may remember me from other notation programs and other blogs, but I’m very happy to be starting something new here, and to chronicle the development of Steinberg’s new music notation and composition application.

Our mission is simple: to create a next-generation application that meets the needs of today’s composers, arrangers, engravers, copyists, publishers, teachers and students. We know we have a big mountain to climb: we’re starting work on a new professional-level application for Windows and Mac (and hopefully mobile devices later on) and looking to bring it into a crowded market that already has two very capable and mature competitors, not to mention an explosion of new products that exploit mobile devices and the web.

Despite the magnitude of the task ahead of us, I believe we can be successful because of three things: our experience, our vision, and because we have the support of a great company. The 12 of us who currently make up Steinberg’s scoring team have, between us, nearly 100 years’ combined experience in developing world-beating professional notation software. The core of this same team was responsible for developing six major versions of Sibelius, introducing hundreds of innovative features over the past 14 years.

It’s rare for an established development team to get the chance to develop a whole new application in the same area as their previous one, and we believe our combined experience gives us a unique perspective on how to design a new application that will overcome the limitations of existing programs, escaping the legacy of code that is 20-plus years old. (Of course there are dangers inherent in starting again from scratch, but since we don’t have any code of our own to use, we have no choice in any case.)

We have a vision for a flexible, powerful music notation application that is equal to the task of notating today’s most challenging art music and capable of producing graphical results of the highest quality, while providing an environment for composing and arranging that is as close as possible to the simplicity of writing music with pencil and paper, or improvising at your instrument. I will share plenty more details about how that vision translates into design considerations in future posts.

Steinberg is the ideal home for our new venture, and we are beyond delighted that its leaders asked us to join their team. Steinberg builds tools that change musicians’ lives, and that comes from a deep understanding of what musicians need, often before they know they need it. Every one of our new colleagues that we have met shares our passion for music and delivering to customers what they want. We are looking forward to contributing directly to the amazing portfolio of products and technologies that Steinberg has built over its near 30-year history.

My aim is to involve you as directly as possible in the development of our new program, and to listen to your thoughts and ideas so that we can take them into account. At the same time, the number of companies actively working on professional music notation software is very small, and perhaps now numbers only two (one being Steinberg, the other MakeMusic). Despite the small number of big players, it is a very competitive niche of the music software market — with both many small start-ups and some decent open source solutions — and we don’t want to give away our best ideas before we’ve had a chance to make them into reality! All that said, I will share as much as I can of what we’re working on, because I hope you will be excited to hear about it, and it may spark off ideas that could help us to make our software even better.

I hope that this blog will also act as a catalyst for musicians who are working with other scoring and composition programs to get in touch and share their own ideas, wishes and dreams with me and the team. There must be things you wish you could do more efficiently, or things about your current application that drive you crazy. Tell me about them! You have an open invitation to email me, tweet at me, call me or, heck, send me a letter if you like. In my previous job I made myself as available as possible, and I want to build the same kind of close relationship with users of our new product. We can start now, even before the product is released: it could be that you tell us your idea at just the right time, and we are able to take them into consideration as we develop the program.

Please take a moment to follow this blog, to make sure you don’t miss anything. If you “like” the Steinberg page on Facebook, you will see each new post appear in your timeline. Alternatively, you could follow me on Twitter, where I will also be sure to share each new post.

That’s it for now. I’m excited to be able to start up the conversation, so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.

239 thoughts on “Welcome!

  1. Steve Reading

    Daniel. Congratulations! Now we have so much to look forward to, especially as we have the world’s best development team working on it. I’ll look forward to constructive comments, and will hopefully make some myself!

  2. Vicki

    Daniel, I can really feel your positive energy and excitement of creating a new groundbreaking product. Congratulations and thank you from all of us about to follow the journey with you.
    My first request is for the provision of a musical theatre format. In Sibelius I find it frustrating to create the many different kinds of formats required, eg splitting up music lines with dialogue and cues etc
    So thanks you again.
    Go forth and conquer.
    Vicki from Oz

    1. Tim Parkin

      Here, here, … I would also like the provision of a musical theatre format. This, together with film is where most of my energies currently goes with using Sibelius.

  3. Nick Planas

    I personally can’t wait to see, hear and “touch” your first product as and when it hits the marketplace! I’m so pleased for you and the team, and I know that you’ll climb the mountain with enthusiasm and energy to spare. Best Wishes – Nick

  4. DrMatt

    Seems like a great opportunity to make a lean mean notation system that can meet real publishers’ stylesheets out of the box, in which “extractable part” is a real unit of filtered view not tied to fixed staves in scores, with full support for revision and editing, with automatic collision-avoidance, and with just enough playback capability to support creative minds… without having to code Ballad-of-Mel-style for an inflexible set of hardware.

  5. Francesco

    Daniel, I’m really delighted to hear from you!

    As a long time user of Sibelius (from 1.4 to 6.2) and as a user who often was helped by you, I was saddened by the (idiotic? perhaps now NO :-)) decision of avid.

    I wish you and the team a big success, and I’m sure you’ll surprise us all!


  6. Alistair Warwick

    It’s great that you’re doing this, Daniel.

    At one time I used Pro24 and later Cubase, but switched to Score due to its unbeatable flexibility and output (even in Windows 7).

    As you are evidently open to new ideas from a wide range of potential users, I hope from the professional engraving viewpoint that you’ll be investigating keeping Score’s philosophy but in a way that will bring its functionality bang up to date (including on mobile platforms).

    All the best for your venture.

    Alistair Warwick
    The Art of Music

  7. Ralf Gabriel

    Dear Daniel,

    This is great news! I agree you are facing a big challenge, particularly if your aim is not just to match the two big players but to come up with something really new. I am using one of the other two at the moment, and I would be more than happy to collaborate in order to sketch out features that would make your new software stand out from the rest.

    Kind regards!

    Ralf Gabriel

    1. Martin Armiger

      Excellent news! One thing you did not mention though was film music (including TV and interactive) – that is, all music tied, one way or another, to picture. I’ve used Sibelius for many years for scoring and loved it, but there are many features that would be good to improve from that programme and introduce into the new. And interconnectivity with other packages – sequencing, sampling etc – is hugely important to users in my field. Looking forward to what you do, good luck with it, Martin Armiger, Sydney

  8. Odod

    Funtasticz … Can’t wait to see it, i hope it wold be able to notate avantgarde notation better, like curving the staves and others

  9. Richard quarmby

    Very best of luck with everything. Would love the software to be able to directly export all parts as PDF files on one click rather than having to put them all through a PDF mill one at a time…

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  11. Paul Spanton

    Great news. Please don’t forget those of us who produce rehearsal CDs, where easy of note entry is secondary to the quality of the sounds available to put on the CD. I am sure most users of Sibelius use a tiny percentage of the amazing facilities on offer. I am sure that part of your challenge is to distil the huge functionality into a slimmer but potentially equally useful product. (And don’t forget to have a sensible cross grade price!)

  12. Wheat Williams

    Right on, righteous brother. Preach the good news. Your team understands what music notation should be, and you have the opportunity to create something with no encumbrances from legacy code. I’m excited to see what you’ll be coming up with.

  13. Gael

    Looking forward to this…! But why turning to mobile devices (tablets) only later? Isn’t the market there right now? Especially on Windows…

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Gael: it’s a matter of priorities. At the moment we’re quite a lean and mean (read: small) team, so we have to prioritise. But we are designing the software in such a way that we should be able to develop applications for mobile devices using the same core technologies, as time and manpower allows.

  14. Martha Bishop

    This is thrilling news, Daniel! I specialize in early music, particularly viola da gamba, and I hope you will consider the special qualities of these instruments in your sound files. They are not violins and cellos, either by range or sound. Visit the Viola da Gamba Society of America website for more information, particularly the section aimed at people composing for the gamba, to learn their ranges, etc.

    Meanwhile I’ll struggle with Sibelius 7 and dream of your new creation. . . .

    Martha Bishop

  15. Ali N. Askin

    Hi Daniel,

    Great to hear that you guys are moving on, and working on new code. All the best for the future! Looking forward to your new application… can’t wait!

    Greetings from Berlin
    Ali N. Askin

  16. Tiago Costa

    That’s great news, Daniel. A third major player in the notation business will bring faster innovation!

    One of my wishes, that I miss a lot in other notation apps, is that you guys could bring a simple plain sequencer together so it can help us doing better arrangements and mock-ups.

    All the best!

    1. Tom Kecskemeti

      …..yes a sequencer! Something as versatile as Cubase’s.

      The ability to slice, paste, glue sections with a few clicks. To easily drag and drop sections from one track to another. To solo or mute just a section of a track. And the flexibility that an arrange track allows for trying out different possibilities.

      All these are functions that are are indispensable for the creative process. I don’t know why they seem to be lacking in notation programs but are implemented to some degree or other in all major DAWs.

  17. Loren H. Griffin

    A product that will play nice with others would be great also. There are some who are dyed in the ______ (fill in the blank) users and no matter how much better, easier, faster…etc etc the product you create is they are not going to change, but there are many who have to interface with them who will be open to a great new product. To have the ability to work with other products will in and of it self open a whole market for your endeavor. I look forward to using, supporting and promoting this product just as i do Cubase and the rest of the Steinberg offerings as a Club Cubase Moderator.

  18. Fred

    I think Sibelius is one of my favorite software. If you and your team can achieve better than Sibelius I will sign with both hands and I will get it.
    Congratulations and all the best for the team.

  19. Juerg

    Yesterday I discovered the first snowdrops and crocusses in our park. Today I discover this blog. Springtime is about to come! Great to read you again, Daniel!


  20. Sharon Kathleen Johnson

    I’ve been using Noteflight for quite a while, but will opt for Steinberg software any time. My Tascam US-800 included Cubase and I have had more hours of fun and frustration moving between MIDI(via Piano Roll Composer) and Cubase. My MIDI compositions always import as slow in the extreme, however, so I sometimes convert to wav. first?

  21. Steve Farrell

    In the sixties they put men on the moon. 50 years later here is Daniel shooting for the stars!. Best of luck. I am sure many others will follow your progress with great anticipation.
    Steve Farrell

  22. Stephen Ferre

    I would like to see a program that is more flexible than Sibelius, that will allow you to use modern notational techniques, more on the model of Score, and looks as good as Score. I like the page-based format of Score, but understand that some will need the pages linked together somehow to achieve the wishes of the people above. I don’t need an all-singing, all-dancing program. I need one that provides the first class music notation that Score provides. Finale is flexible, but could look better. Sibelius looks better (than Finale), but is very rigid in its notational foundation (some of which, speaking as an experienced music engraver, is incorrect). Of course, different publishers have different ideas about what is ultimately correct, and I’m tired of saying (when using Sibelius) that it can’t be done, or that it can be done if I spend x number of hours fooling the program to get simple things right.

    1. Tim Ferchen

      Roger that last comment. As good as Sibelius is, it is really quite rigid when working with things uncommon. I used Finale years ago and it was great to be able to notate anything you wanted. So Sibelius when it came really made things look great and as long as you used normal writing techniques worked fine. However my big wish STILL is that it would be nice if a notation program had a really workable sequencer attached to it so demos could be made to sound good. What I’m thinking of here is Cubase attached very closely to a great notation program so it all works together without any mediatory programs.

  23. Baci

    Will it be a really a separate new app or something incorporated into Cubase / Nuendo, replaceing the old Score engine?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Baci: At first it will be a separate application, but we will be thinking about how to achieve good interoperability with Cubase and Nuendo, and eventually how we can integrate our new scoring engine with the sequencer applications. That is going to be a long journey, however, and won’t be achieved overnight.

  24. David Coscina

    Greetings Daniel. All the best on your new endeavor. I think others have chimed in here on this but I hope you chaps can incorporate your own stellar playback library into the new notation program. One thing that I found wanting from Sibelius was how BIG the samples were. Yes, some of the instruments were very nice sounding (Ii appreciated the double bowed string arts) but having been a user of NOTION for years as well, they somehow managed to compress their samples to make loading and playback much faster. I have a 8 core Mac Pro and it still takes some time to load a large orchestra. I’m hoping you awesome guys can find a way to produce terrific playback results but not sacrifice speed and efficiency. All the best and you have one guaranteed customer in the waiting for you new app!

  25. Johan Ramström

    This all sounds great!
    I would welcome an application wich give the composer the same feel as when writing with pencil. I remember the since long gone Swedish Software “Igor” who had a nice way for inputing notes, in the same order as when you use pencil. Maybe you remember to?
    I still have students who use Igor on Os9 old laptops… and its neat in many ways, despite all the crashes.

    1. Nicholas McNair

      I still use Igor and would welcome contact with others who do, especially programmers who can help with difficulties that occasionally arise. For me it is still the world’s best!

  26. Thomas Goss

    Hi Daniel! Even though I’ve got well over a decade invested in a professional-level understanding of Sibelius, with about 30 hours of music scored in that format, not to mention about 12 hours of reviews and tutorials, I’m still very ready to learn more about your new software, and excited at the prospect of a new format like no other.

    Does this new product have a name yet?

  27. Bob McCauley

    Silly suggestion – if it hasn’t been named yet, have a contest for naming rights and the winner gets a free copy of the product on either Mac or Windows (and the 3rd platform to be named later…)

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Bob: I don’t think this is a silly suggestion at all! We definitely welcome ideas for names. I have a shortlist already, but I’m not madly in love with any of the names on our list just yet.

      1. Ludwig Nussbichler

        Cubase Score 😉
        I just switched to Cubase from Logic because (of You, Daniel) I hope for a new notation program that really works together in a modern and professional way with a DAW. Best wishes for You and Your team!!

  28. David H. Bailey

    I’m looking forward to what the team can come up with — All your fantastic work with Sibelius proved earth-shattering and moved that into the forefront of notation software, and this chance to begin from ground zero, with all your past experience and expertise to build on, is something rare.

    And thank you for being willing to be so open about this process and to keep “the faithful” in the loop as the development moves forward.

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  30. Janette Montague

    Hi Daniel, I am SO GLAD you are still out there somewhere and will follow these exciting developments with great interest. Please remember the HELP side of things, and don’t forget the BAGPIPE!!! Will sign up for tweets, updates etc etc etc. Best of luck with the new venture!

  31. Walter Lo Nigro

    My congrats to you Daniel! I am sure y’all will succeed in packing a lot of useful tools in your new software… in the meantime I cannot wait, so I am writing MY OWN new music engraving program 😉


  32. Björn Malmehed

    Now, this makes me happy! I have used Sibelius since 1.4, but I’m ready to take a new path.

    One feature I liked a lot was in MOTU’s old Mosaic. You put the notes in a “voice” (I don’t remember what they called it), and you could drag that voice to different pages just to add that music to the score. It was very easy to reuse what you had already written.

    Best wishes!

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Björn: I will post in more detail soon about the ideas we have for how to structure musical data in such a way as to make complex edits and layouts as easy as possible. Programs like Composer’s Mosaic and Igor Engraver had some good ideas in these directions, and we won’t be shy about standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us.

  33. Paul Johns

    So glad to see you again, Daniel! I was so glad to see that Steinberg had hired y’all, and I’m even more glad to see you blogging again!

    I’ve always had deep respect for you, and there’s nothing like the humility of a man who would post a link to the Spolsky article about why you shouldn’t start from scratch.

    I have two requests: First, I hope that your data format and score drawing are flexible enough to support Gregorian chant notation at some point, perhaps as an add-on.

    The second is a bigger one: I found note input and especially editing–and particularly using the mouse– to be VERY non-intuitive when I first used Sibelius. (I’ve since learned the little tricks necessary to get things done. Two examples that come to mind: First, if you click on a note in a chord, the chord is erased and replaced with the single note you just clicked. (If I want to replace the chord, I would select it first–like every other Windows program.) Second, changing note values in an existing bar is incredibly painful because Sibelius forces the bar to the correct length after every edit, erasing notes as it sees fit. For example, changing two quarter notes (crotchets) to a dotted quarter/eighth (dotted crotchet/quaver) while retaining the pitch is a royal pain: adding the dot erases the following note, replacing it with an eighth (quaver) rest. Changing the second note first puts it on the beat, not on the and of the beat. I think this could be solved by delaying forcing the bar to the correct length until after all of the edits in the bar are complete.

    I guess there are three: work well with touchscreens, at least when there is a digitizer and accurate pen, as on the Microsoft Surface Pro.

    Looking forward to what new code can bring!

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Paul: You can be sure that the kinds of irritations you mention in dealing with note input and editing are very high on our list of things to address as we look to meet our goal of making software that is as natural and flexible to use as pencil and paper. We are working out the details at the moment, and I think you’ll like what we’re coming up with.

    2. DrMatt

      The mother of invention…
      In ol’ Brand S, to change 2 crotchets to a dotted crotchet and a quaver (2 quarters to a dotted quarter and eighth), I’d first change the 2nd note to an eighth, then repeat it with R, then dot the first note.

  34. Celia Johns

    Best news I’ve had… I fell down the crack when the Sibelius fiasco blew up – had been using Noteworthy, but it wasn’t flexible enough for what I wanted, so I’d just got a trial download of Sibelius when everything went bang. Good luck for the new development, it can’t come quickly enough!

  35. Peter Roos

    Fantastic Daniel – congratulations to you and the team. Can’t wait for the release of the new product. Here is what I would love to see (substitute “Sibelius” by the new product you are working on, and “Pro Tools” by Cubase):


    That is pretty ambitious but it would spectacular and put Steinberg way ahead of the curve (and I have not too much faith that Avid could pull this off, even if they wanted to).

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  37. Elliott McKinley

    This is great news, Daniel! And I am so happy for you, having known you, at least via Sibelius, for many years. I’m ready to dump them for whatever you come out with.

  38. Robbie

    Glad to hear of your progress! I’m also glad to hear that you have plans to develop this software for tablet, albeit not immediately.

    My wishlist has many small items in it, but I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting my old Sibelius files to open on your new software. Are you working with this in mind?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Robbie: It won’t be possible to open Sibelius files directly in our new application. I’ll perhaps write a separate post about this issue, but for now suffice to say that it would be both impractical and more than likely illegal to reverse engineer the Sibelius file format, and so we won’t be able to import it directly. But we will do our very best to support MusicXML for both import and export to a high standard.

      1. Bob

        Do you consider supporting the MEI (Music Encoding Initiative) format? I’m not involved with the development of this format, but I think it is really well engineered and high promising. At least it can store way more information than the musicXML-format.
        I think it would be great for everybody in the sector if MEI (or musicXML) could become the default file-format of your new software. I know both of these formats have some shortcomings. But with your help, it could get a boost in development and standardisation of a digital sheet music format.
        Looking forward to it.

        1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

          @Bob: We are in touch with Johannes Kemper and Raffaele Vigliante from the MEI project and have discussed the possibility of supporting MEI with them. Realistically I don’t think we will have sufficient time to devote to supporting MEI directly in the first version of our application, but my hope is that the scripting support will be sufficiently rich that it will be possible for somebody to write an MEI exporter (and potentially even an importer) via that route.

  39. bradafuller

    Your team builds great product. Exciting News!

    I would ask, as you design your next product, that you design for current and future methods of notating Interactive music. I suggest looking beyond video games and include design goals of best ways to notate AND play any interactive music piece – video games, museum pieces, geo-tablets — it’s endless — today we have a variety of deployment opportunities to experience interactive music
    Your team has a unique opportunity to build (or build from current methods) new interactive tools — especially since we in the beginning of learning how best to provide better tools for composers.
    Please look beyond today’s traditional western notation — it’s been done and done well by two of your competitors.

    Good Luck!.

  40. esfield

    There is a serious need for reasonable classroom licensing terms for notation software. None of the options that were available a year or two ago exist in the same form today. This may account for the migration to web-based software, even when in some cases compromises in quality have to be made. I hope that your new products will accommodate teaching/learning/semi-professional notation needs. Good luck with them.

    1. Martin Guy

      There is one: lilypond, “the 600-pound gorilla of music typesetting”, which already does everything that people have asked for here including gregorian notation as well as NOT locking you in to yet another secret proprietary file format. With frescobaldi, its graphical front-end, it’s available for free for any OS you care to name.

      As for “100 years of experience in 12 people”… I make that an average of 8, which is not much. It takes 10 years to learn to program, considerably longer to have good taste in musical typography.

      Sorry, amid all this gung-ho hand-licking and back-patting, someone had to say it!

      You’ll find a (lilypond bigots’) discussion of the relative merits of the two approaches here:

      1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

        @Martin: Lilypond is wonderful software, and it’s great that its proponents advocate for it so strongly. I hope we will demonstrate to you that our experience and, yes, our taste in musical typography makes our new application a worthy rival, even if it is (to you) a useless, closed source white elephant.

        1. Janek Warchoł

          While i’m all for LilyPond and i strongly dislike proprietary software, i have to admit that your response was excellent.
          I wish we had you in LilyPond team.

  41. Beth Kollé

    I have loved using Sibelius, but have hesitated to upgrade from 5, which has been comfortable, to 10 or whatever it’s at now, which includes a format change. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    Things I like about Sibelius – mostly it is easy and intuitive. Definitely faster than Finale and it’s easier to solve problems.

    Help feature – could be more useful. Often it doesn’t recognize American terminology. Finding the right name for the problem is a problem in itself. Finale had a handy piece of music notation it used as a demo to help you identify the ‘body parts’ of notation, and thereby find the word for the problem you were trying to solve.

    Easy keystroke commands – I have been too busy to figure out how to shortcut some operations, such as Layout / Break / System Break. Can’t there be a ‘Repeat Previous Action’ command somewhere? – that would really save time.

    I look forward to the next new notation product from you and your team!

  42. Kevin L. Gibbs

    Sibelius was a Godsend to me and a legion of blind and visually impaired musicians like me. I know I speak for each and every blind user of Sibelius when i encourage you to remember to keep accessibility well in mind as you develop your new software. First, remember to make as many QWERTY keyboard commands as possible so that a user doesn’t have to use a mouse to achieve his or her goals. Even before implementing a graphics to speech solution, making sure that the program can be used without a mouse will make all the difference in the world.

    Cary on,
    Kevin Gibbs

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Kevin: I am in touch with the folks at the RNIB here in London, as I was in my previous job, and am also participating in the Music Subject Area experts group on behalf of Steinberg in the UKAAF. We will work hard to make our new application as accessible as possible from the outset, and I hope that the scripting capabilities we plan to add to the application will likewise make it possible for enterprising users to build on our foundations too.

  43. David Coscina

    I think Elgar would be a great name for the notation program. It’s stately and is faithful to the development team’s UK roots. But if Steinberg wants to go more Teutonic, Gustav or Mahler would be good. He had such a fine command of the orchestra. Those are my suggestions.

    1. Stephen Ferre

      Of course, you could try Haydn (Mozart is taken already), since he wrote more than 7 symphonies. Avid had to pull the plug on Sibelius, since they ran out of Sibelius symphonies to quote at start up. 😉

      Or (Havergal) Brian for the British roots, but that may have too many Python connotations.

  44. Robert Puff

    “The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards” – Arthur Koestler … Here’s to you and your team improving music notation software in ways we never even thought possible.

  45. Acreator

    Great news. I am a longtime Sibelius user, and also a longtime wisher for something even better. I appreciate the explicit goal of addressing notation/engraving issues related to contemporary art music.
    A major challenge for this new project will be accommodating people like myself – those who have years’ worth of scores and parts made in Sibelius or Finale. Will those scores/parts be portable? Or will I have to keep a copy of Sibelius in perpetuity in order to work with my back-catalogue?

  46. John K

    Congratulations! The “time mapping” of notation software has always seemed a secondary priority and it would be wonderful if this could be addressed. If complex time signatures could finally be an option, we could catch up to the way people are composing (see Ades, Benjamin, etc). And oh you would make us happy if we could have triplets go over barlines more easily.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @John: One of the things we have heard most clearly from the music publishers we have visited over the past couple of months is how important flexibility in meter (including polymeter) is for the art music they’re dealing with every day. It is definitely our intention that our application should natively support polymetric music as simply as it handles music in only one meter, up to and including the ability to have both different meters and different tempos simultaneously across different groups of instruments.

      1. Alexander Plötz

        Of all the wonderful and promising things written here, this is the one that makes me feel especially warm and fuzzy deep inside in a way that I will refrain from describing in any more detail, as not to overstep the boundaries of propriety.

  47. Harper Tasche

    Congratulations, and best wishes for a wonderful and successful product!

    My #1 request: PLEASE make so-called “intuitive” features completely disableable at the user’s discretion. Maybe my brain is just wired oddly, but I have spent hundreds of hours with both Finale and Sibelius to find work-arounds, to force the software to allow me to make the score look the way I want it to look, and even more hours combing through often-irrelevant tutorials and “jargon rich” user manuals (when you can get them) in often fruitless searches to figure out how to undo a software designer’s unfortunately quite incorrect idea of how at least this particular composer thinks and works.

    I guess another way to say this is, how about a truly customizable user interface?

    Soapbox vacant. 🙂

  48. Alice Renken

    Oh, Daniel, this is wonderful news! I have used Finale (from 2.6.3), moved up to Sibelius (started with 2) for the better page lay-out control. I do have Sibelius 7, but use it only to save things back to Sibelius 6, where I have some hope of working on them.

    Please give us an easy way of notating unmetered music, and a perfectly bland, sustained,non-vibrato, uninflected playback for proofreading. And please, PLEASE make any ribbons optional. Let those of us who work on laptops have pull-down menus. And the print dialogue box – did you know that the Sibelius one has no way of accessing the PDF creation buttons on a laptop screen? If it’s going to be that long, it needs scroll bars.

    Best of luck to you, and may you all be inspired so that we have something better than Sibelius SOON!

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Alice: We are not considering a ribbon interface for our new application. The ribbon was always intended as a solution to a specific set of problems caused by the organic growth of Sibelius as it matured, and it is clearly not the best user interface choice for every kind of application. I will share some more thoughts about how we envisage the user interface will work in future posts.

  49. Steve Campagnoli

    I don’t know who’s idea it was to include Boomwhacker in Sibelius, but I literally could not compose without it. I have some musical dyslexia, and the colorization allows me to analyze chords and passages much more easily. The Sib5 version worked better than the Sib6 version of Boomwhacker. Chords notes in Sib5 are individually colorized and easier to analyze.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Steve: Thanks for your suggestion concerning Boomwhackers. It would be my expectation that you will be able to colour individual notes in our new application, and it should be possible to write a plug-in to support Boomwhacker colours.

  50. Graham Ranft

    Everybody has said it all – nothing I can add so all I can say is

    IOnce more with feeling! :- )

    Im just really thrilled to see the positive reponses so far on this blog!

    Graham long time user Sib 1.4-7.1.3

  51. Marcos dos Santos

    Great news Daniel! As a Sibelius and Cubase user, I am very happy to see you and team moving to Steinberg. I’d like to know if there are any plans to release the new software in multiple language, like Steinberg did with the most recent version of Cubase.

    Thanks and good luck!

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Marcos: Although we don’t have our plans set in stone, our expectation is that we will develop localised versions of our application in the same languages as those supported by Cubase.

  52. Arno Waschk

    Congratulations and big respect to your new plans!
    Following posts like the one by Acreator, may i ask you about thinking into the future? The LONG future, i mean…
    As we all know about Sibelius (and many others…), commercial software projects tend to have an end. And often for “cheap” reasons… And this was and might even be true for commercial operating systems. (Yes, i can really see OS X disappear, when most stuff will be mobile in some years, and who knows about windows…?)
    As a composer i want to set scores which i know for sure that i can read them in the future. Next year, in ten years, in hopefully 50 years as well. Not sure i will like my stuff then, but at least i want to learn then from the mistakes i make now 🙂
    So i won’t ever even think about setting a score valuable to me into a secret format. Which in some years might be as dead as the Sibelius format now, or in near future.
    Actually Sibelius was obviously on purpose designed like this, which was the first reason for me never to buy it…
    So please DO support really long-term future by using natively a well-documented format for your scores, be it your own or an existing one, so i can know for SURE it can be read somehow in 50 years. (Again, we cannot know that Steinberg or even Apple or Microsoft even by far exist then, not to speak about them supporting things from nowadays. “Cheap” reasons, you know…?)
    And DO support Linux! (Which is – as you probably know – very easy, you just should check that your Windows version either runs under wine, or give the wine-people a chance to keep up with your new inventions which they then will happily take care of). Among other things Linux is the only operation system going to mobile without a rewrite of the operation system, and completely open and existing independently from particular companies. So it has the best chances to survive the next 50 years, and especially to survive the “cheap” reasoning of commercial companies closed software is in risk to die of.
    Not to mention it is much, much cheaper than a windows copy or the extreme amount of extra money you have to pay for Apple-hardware just to be allowed to run OSX…
    And while we are at it: Free software like lilypond, rosegarden and so on already covers (when easily being combined) 98% of the wishlist coming up here. So when you (or Steinberg) want to make money out of your new product, you have to start beyond their level. Which IMHO is in many details already beyond the level Sibelius ever reached. But of course the latter might be a matter of taste…

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Arno: Although I can’t say this with any certainty at this early stage, my expectation is that our application will use a proprietary file format as its primary means of saving your work. This isn’t because we don’t see value in open source software, but due to more practical concerns: an open source file format is only any use if you also have a wide range of software that can make use of that format. The difficulty with complex applications like scoring programs is that a great deal of the richness of the end result that you see visually on the screen or on paper is worked out algorithmically from the small amount of data actually contained in the file saved on disk. Even if you consider Lilypond, the Lilypond file format itself does not describe exactly how the finished score will appear, because it is up to Lilypond itself to handle positioning, spacing, etc. based on its own internal algorithms and rules.

      That said, we do intend to support MusicXML as fully as we can for both import and export, which will give you the ability to store your music in at least one relatively open (if not entirely unencumbered) format, and one of real practical value. Our application will also have extensive scripting support, which should make it possible to write a file exporter to any arbitrary format, should there be a compelling need to do so.

      1. Paul Davis

        Although what you say about file formats not containing the full description of how a score will appear is true, I think Arno’s point was a little different.

        The user interacts with the software, and ends up with a file containing a description of what they asked for/did. If you store this information in a proprietary format, then the user cannot access the record of what they asked for (or did) without either the relevant proprietary software or reverse engineering. It doesn’t matter whether or not this data is enough by itself to draw a pixel by pixel representation of the score, since presumably over time even your implementation may slightly alter the rendering algorithm(s) anyway. What matters is that another program can come along, understand what the user had requested and then proceed to do the rendering in its own way. The result is not necessarily going to be identical, but it will be done via the combination of “user input” + rendering algorithms, which is really what everyone wants. I appreciate that there are gray areas here.

        If MusicXML (for example) is not a rich enough format to record what the user asked for, and there is no other non-proprietary format that can, then please do us all a favor and extend or invent one so that it can serve this purpose. If there is an existing non-proprietary format that can record the user’s intention and desires, then surely everyone wins by you using it? Or at least, everyone that matters, which are the users, both today and tomorrow.

        1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

          @Paul: I do understand your concern that proprietary file formats can lead to a user’s hard work becoming ghettoised within a closed system. MusicXML is a good format, as is MEI, each with different strengths and weaknesses. I believe we will be able to satisfy most concerns by supporting the most popular “open” format (to the extent that MusicXML is open) and provide tools that will make it possible for people to support any other reasonable format they choose. That, at least, is our initial strategy, but we are open to change if need be.

      2. Joe Wakeling

        @Daniel: On the contrary, I suggest an open file format would allow the *creation* of a whole new ecosystem of music notation development, all centred around your program.

        That’s probably scary from a traditional software retail point of view, but in this day and age seems like an opportunity worth seizing.

        In any case I wish you the very best with this new project, but please keep these things in mind — so much good is coming out of open formats, open source software etc., and it would be a shame if you didn’t engage with these communities to the greatest extent possible.

        1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

          @Joe: We would certainly like to foster an ecosystem of development around our application, but I would argue that end can be better achieved by way of rich scripting support for our application, rather than an open file format. We intend to expose every function of our application (within reason) to an embedded scripting language (most likely either Python or Lua) which will allow all manner of interesting and useful things to be done. We will have to agree to disagree, I suspect, about the value of a file format that is open for open’s sake.

  53. brax

    Hope you will NOT put all your effort on playback.
    Composers need a powerful notation tool, easy to do the most complex tasks, and with many automatic tools.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Brax: We will have to balance carefully our attentions between playback and everything else. I can tell you from my past experience that we typically got as many feature requests for playback improvements as for most of the rest of the functional areas of the software combined, so it is clearly a very important issue to many users. But I think it is safe to say that our priority is to develop software where the printed page is the primary focus, not playback.

      1. Jeff

        The whole question of what should go in and what should not seems to me to dictate a module approach to the program. For instance, some people need the playback for their work and others just want an engraving program. And there are a lot of different functions that can or cannot be necessary depending on what you really want to do. To try to put all of them in might weaken them. I, for one, never want to relinquish the ease of editing using the parameter system of Score. But I do use Finale to easily input notes and hear what I put in. But the engraving of Finale is not good so I have to convert using Jan de Kloe’s SIP (XMLtoScore) to get good copy. It goes fast but I could imagine one program containing them all. I am not a computer programmer so I have no idea how that would work but while working just imagine—Output, editing, page orientation of Score combined with input ease, sequencer, Windows/Mac accessibility of say Finale or Sibelius und you might possibly come close to what most musicians will need. Personally I would like a program that would read my mind, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

  54. Geoffry Wharton

    You and the team made Sibelius a wonderful product to use, thank you! Not only that, you wrote a manual that remains the most useful and entertaining of any software product ever. This handbook will be read with joy long after the software itself becomes an historic footnote.

  55. Pingback: Sibelius team ontwikkelt nieuwe notatiesoftware voor Steinberg - homerecording.be forum

  56. Iain

    Hi, Daniel. So pleased to hear this news! I’ve got a lot invested in Sibelius, but it’s likely to stagnate now, and there are several things that would easily pull me away to another package from your great team. The sheer musicality is evident in Sibelius in a way that Finale has never managed to show me.

    You obviously have a good start on the new software, and hundreds of users clamouring to tell you which features they *really need* 🙂 Will you be using something like https://www.uservoice.com/ for capturing feature requests?

      1. iainhallam

        Fair enough. I’ll just chime in here for a mo! For me the two big problems I have in my current workflow are:

        1) That each stave has a direct one-to-one relationship with an “instrument” – in vocal music, the sopranos (or tenors) are often on the same stave as altos (or basses), but when their rhythms diverge, they split onto separate staves at a system break.

        I have a score with sixteen parts at one point that are on independent staves, but which can reduce to two staves in places. I have to maintain all these different combinations as different staves and hide or show as necessary, and it’s often impossible to get the right effect with ties/slurs across such boundaries, and I then have duplicate hidden dynamics to set those correctly as well. A way of indicating that “these three singers should be on one stave” would speed up my typesetting so much!

        (I think this is similar to the request below for putting three flute players on a single stave in the full score, but having separate parts printable, and by extending to “merge these parts into ” over a region, could deal with the 4 horns on two staves with the name centred.)

        2) That I have to export MIDI to another (utterly terrible) program to get vocal tracks actually sung by the computer.

        I produce learning tracks for singers, and there are too many (and too large a range) to just sing them all onto the computer myself. Plus a computer singing is always going to be more accurate for a learning resource. Is it possible to include a virtual singer in your new package to address this, please?

        1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

          @Iain: Thanks for your suggestions. The issue you raise concerning the relationship between “voices” or streams of music and staves is definitely something we are giving a lot of thought to. I’m not sure about making the program sing lyrics, but maybe there’s something we can do with Yamaha’s Vocaloid technology at some point? Food for thought, at any rate.

        2. Mark Lansom

          Yes that was what I was going to ask for. Full orchestral scores have, for example, clarinet 1 and 2 on the same stave. It would be great to input in this way and still easily be able to extract separate parts. Thanks in advance for your hard work!

  57. Felix Plinio Designori

    A feature I really missed in Sibelius was:

    a) the abilty to easily have eg. 2 staves for 4 horns in the score (http://felixrosch.com/example.png) and still be able to get 4 entirely different printed parts for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th horn alone.
    …or to have 3 flutes in one stave in the score (http://felixrosch.com/example.png) and still be able to print 3 different parts, one for each voice.
    That would save a lot of time i think… and/or space in the score.

    b) of course the obligatory “you cant copy dynamics and everything else into triplets” thing should be fixed, but i think this was mentioned a couple of times already.

    c) I would love to be able to easily and intuitively have the instrument names placed in the middle between two or more staves. eg. with the horn example above I would like to just write “4 Horns in F” and have it placed automatically between both staves instead of writing it for both staves seperately. I know, that is possible in Sibelius already, but its still not as easy to do as I think it should be.

    1. Jim Long

      Does this score show the features you missed in Sibelius?


      The music for each horn part is specified once, and all the other systems are derived from those parts: four horns grouped into two staves; transposed to concert pitch and bass clef for four trombones, both in separate parts and in a combined score with four voices on a single staff. Becase there’s no copy-and-paste involved, a change of notes or an articulation (staccato, tenudo, etc.) will automatically take effect in all the places where that music is referenced, including other parts which had cue notes referencing the horn or trombone parts. Change it in one place, and all the other parts automatically reflect that change.

  58. Martin Thomson

    Hi Daniel,

    As I’ve said to you before, I am very excited to see and get hands-on with the new software.

    Re name – I personally would avoid the Compsers-names route, possibly use a musical term, although again, a lot of those have been used over the years. Maybe a different name that is inherantly musical, but not like a different version of something that already exists or has existed?

    Re features – all I would ask, is that you keep the education market firmly in mind when deciding features and probably more importantly in these austere times – price. I definitely would consider a reduced-feature student version that is priced at a level that everyone could buy, so that teachers can assign homework etc with it, and a good network version for the schools, preferably one that works well on all school networks. Most of the complaints I had as a Sib trainer/demonstrator were network-related.

    On a personal level, if you need a beta tester, let me know. I have a wide collection of machines and OSs these days… ;o)

    Martin Thomson

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Martin: Certainly we intend to target educational users with our new product, though I expect that institutional adoption will be slow, since typically institutions have already made a significant investment in either Sibelius or Finale. So our plan is to build something that meets the needs of the professional, and let it trickle down into education, rather than target education specifically from the beginning. Steinberg typically has a good-better-best configuration for its products (e.g. Cubase Elements, Cubase Artist, Cubase), so I expect that we will likewise produce a cheaper version of our professional product with a reduced feature-set as well in due course.

  59. Peter James Felice

    Hi Daniel,

    I’m Peter, a former member of Sibelius Music for over 13 years. You have helped me with many questions and also helped me recover my scores when my computer crashed. I’ve been a supporter of yours for many years and I wish you the best on this new development! I will be going to graduate school for music composition in the fall and I am happy that I have another thing like this to look forward to! Thanks for all that you and your team have done so far! Best of luck!

    Peter J. Felice
    New Albany, IN, USA

  60. Dave Clackett

    Daniel, It’s nice to see a company that is forward thinking in its approach to [new] software creation. As a mature user of software (I started Hands On MIDI many years ago) I have seen many incarnations of software come and go. Whilst I understand you have to start somewhere and get product to market, I am sceptical that this a true two way dialogue and nothing more than a PR excercise to gain [new] product awareness. There are many useful comments from previous posts which (over time) you may wish to consider and at this early stage you probably have an overview and work plan as I write. Can this be shared or are we looking at another software ‘fait accompli’. Saying all this, I am still moderately hopeful.

  61. Peter Tappern

    Hi Daniel,

    Having got used to the ribbon in Sib V7, I find it OK but still think V6 was the classic. Can’t wait to see your new product – will we see a magnetic text type facility or panorama?

    Best wishes to you and the team,

    Peter Tappern

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Peter: I would certainly expect that we will have some form of scroll view, and ensuring that objects are positioned and aligned correctly as automatically as possible is likewise something that seems mandatory for any new scoring product.

  62. Tolga Zafer Özdemir

    Hi Daniel,
    It is great to see you back again. My first suggestion is to be able to use different tuning systems, so every kind of World Music is on the hand of a composer finally.
    I have been using Sibelius for many years already, but I always crave for the flexibility of Finale to zoom in and out very quickly, and to be able to see where I am, especially there is a symphony orchestra right in front of me. Just a blue dot in millions of pixel does not work sometimes 🙂
    The midi, audio, writing developments are going to be much more musically focused software I am sure.
    Is there a deadline to release? When am I going to get my hands dirty ?
    Welcome back.

  63. Alvaro Bertrand (Bashkii)

    Well, nothing mediocre can come out of such a team as already demonstrated in your last job. So, we are all ecstatic about you guys and Seinberg. You will forever get our enthusiasm and full support in this new project.

  64. CTM Freeze

    I would be interested in your work. Will you be bringing the best of Sibelius and Finale to the new product?

    There are things that one does easier than the other and vice a verse a.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Craig: We will be standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, certainly, but we are not going to actively look to either Sibelius or Finale for inspiration. Our new program won’t look like some kind of a cross between Sibelius and Finale, but it will certainly be capable of producing results as beautiful (indeed, hopefully more beautiful) as those two programs.

  65. Bob Ross

    Well Daniel,

    It seems that we’re all excited and have great hopes for what you and your team come out with. If you want to have BETA testers…you know where to find them….HA!

    As for KEEPING SCORE….I see it as AVID:0 Steinberg:14+

    Now…get to work… 🙂

  66. Bram Wayman

    Hi Daniel,

    You probably don’t remember, but we had some impressively detailed correspondence about custom engraving features in Sibelius last year. I’m thrilled that your team is spearheading this project, and that you’re under the wing of Steinberg to boot. It’s going to be a game-changer.

    I’m wondering if your team plans to put up a suggestion box. Especially considering that you’re coding from scratch, this would be an excellent opportunity for people to weigh in with ideas about how to handle certain types of notation. I’ve already got some ideas about certain common, avant-garde notations that I’d like to see implemented (e.g. for aleatory).

    Happy New Year!

  67. Mark

    I wish you and your team all good luck and fortune for this new notation program and look forward to your developments.

    One hope/dream for it: more seamless integration with Kontakt etc. and the myriad world of sample libraries and their various artics. I know its a veritable minefield but this may be where the Steinberg integration really kicks into gear 🙂

    I will suggest d’Arezzo! for the name of the program as a nod to the monk who created the first idea of a notation stave. Plus it sounds upbeat and fun lol

  68. jeepi

    Good news!
    I’m glad to see you working for Steinberg on such an exciting new project.
    I am a music engraver, musician and publisher. I am using Finale since version 2.0.1 and I began to consider working with Sibelius when Avid thanked you. I am very interested to read your reference to Noteheads Igor engraver because it was a software very innovative for the time. To 2006-7 I participated in beta tests for Igor…
    I wish you the best for the future and will follow closely the progress of your work.

    Jean-Paul Gilles

  69. Claude Lapalme

    I owe a lot to Sibelius. Despite being a conductor by profession, I have been very busy in the past 15 years in producing arrangements, orchestrations-adaptations, and original compositions on the side, all destined for performance or production. What I have earned from this software during those years is well into the six-figure bracket (in Canadian dollars in my case), and I could not have done it without Sibelius. So I feel is a great sense of loyalty to this team.
    Not everybody writes the way I do, or for the purposes of my specific set of clients. However, I can share what some of my needs are when it comes to a notation program;
    1. In Sibelius, speed is of massive importance to me. Although there are areas of note entry that have been frustrating for some (including myself), there is no question that as a package, Sibelius is very fast. Some of the features that notably increased the speed were collision avoidance and part-score synchronization. I would suggest that these features be put near the top. Like most, I write with deadlines looming and getting easy to read results quickly is of paramount importance. Collision avoidance, while not perfect in Sibelius, sped up my work by as much as 25%.
    2. This has been covered by others, but I will reiterate that the possibility of having scores in which wind parts share a staff in the score but are still separated in the parts set would be a godsend. As a conductor, reading a bunch of separate lines in winds and brass is tedious and slow. My Sibelius scores are all written according to the Score-as-Part principle, which means extraordinarily bloated master scores which are not used for printing, while the real scores – sometimes two of different sizes – are actually parts. This works OK, but is a huge time waster and makes the use of cues pretty much useless, since they appear in the score and have to be hidden individually. Polymeters have also been covered in this thread. It would be a godsend.
    3. Niggling time wasters such as trill endings, unmeasured cadenzas and voice overlaps which Sibelius had difficulties with, would, I hope, be dealt with. I realize though that implementing something can always create limitations elsewhere, but again, I wasted a lot of time on these issues. The complete and accurate bar paradigm is to blame with some of those, but I also realize that this approach made parts that were pretty much mistake-free. As a conductor, I used to be able to tell if a piece was written with Finale by the kind of questions I was asked in rehearsals, especially about missing rests. So I understand it is a mine field to juggle what is important in a complex program.
    4. Playback. At first, I was unconcerned with playback, but as I kept writing, I realized that good integration with playback and sequencing systems is very important and as transformed me from a pen and pencil type to an engineer. I have completed several electronics-only projects by now and the ability to work closely with a sequencer has made me competitive. So a balance, as Daniel previously expressed, is quite important to me as I am no longer a disbeliever!
    I realize that I have had to go back to this long-winded comment and change much of what I wrote in past tense to present tense before posting it. I use Sibelius 7, it is a great program and will continue to use it for many years I am sure. But the fact that I initially wrote much in past tense (Sibelius did this great etc …) demonstrate the psychological state of many users. We all know that the first version of the Steinberg software is not going to appear for a couple of years and that the first versions will be immature. But I know that we are all looking forward to support it. It will be great to feel like we are back in a community of users again.

  70. Marco Weber

    Great to hear, congratulations again and my very best wishes – please do not forget excellent playback solutions, i.e. an even better integration with or link to sequencing functions, as the Avid Orchestra was quite an impressive step actually.

  71. Marc-André Roberge


    I am most happy the see the real Sibelius team back at work and wish you all the best. As you may remember from various posts over the years, one of my repeated requests for enhancement is the equivalent for music notation of word wrap. This means that the software would automatically (or upon request) break an overlong bar where the music ceases to fit comfortably on a given system and wrap it to the next system. This would make it possible to keep a perfect format even when the page layout or notehead size is changed. Possible breakpoints could be at every single beamed group, or where the user decides, and the two parts of a bar would be joined back automatically (or upon request) when this becomes possible.

    Another improvement that I would gladly see is full flexibility with regard to cross-staff beaming. Any note or chord could be moved up or down as many staves as needed and it would be possible to have its accidental(s) move with it (rather than disappear, as is the case in Sibelius, at least up to version 6). This is most needed in piano music written on three and four staves (and more).

    I also very much support all the many requests for complex meters in different staves at the same time.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Marc-André: I think most of the standard texts on music engraving would disagree that it is desirable to allow bars to break at arbitrary locations! I doubt that we would make it the default behaviour of our new application to prefer to allow systems to break mid-bar rather than at bar boundaries. But our new application will absolutely allow systems to break mid-bar, as this will be a common requirement in both polymetric music and in music written with no time signature.

  72. Rinre J.

    This is great news indeed. I wish you and your team all the best of luck. The area Sibelius suffers the most, is the hundreds of tricks I have invented over the years to more or less write complex music.

    – For example the symbol support in Sib. is just too weak, and not so easy to greatly modify. Many users like me, rely on too many external fonts, and it gets messy after a while. in short: We need total control over the fonts, and the ability to modify them easily.

    – A lot of composers have specific vibrato, bow pressure etc. graphs, and Sib. does not support that. Only straight lines. Basically, it would be great to have numerous drawing tools inside a notation software.

    – Proportional notation is a true mess in Sib. Yes, we can fool it once in a while, and hide millions of objects, but it is obvious that the program is simply not designed for that.

    – As already mentioned: Different Tempi + different time signatures going at once. AND playing back accurately.

    – Having the ability to completely turn off the software’s functions and be able to do irrational things. Treat the score like a drawing, approach the freedom one has when notating by hand.

    – Any program that can facilitate “G. Crumb” or “B. Ferneyhough” type scores is a winner in my eyes.

    All the best of luck.

  73. Juhani Nuorvala

    Both Finale and Sibelius are extremely awkward for microtonal notation with playback, ie. in situations where non-standard accidentals and tunings are used. Moreover, Sibelius has severe limitations in this area, as custom symbols cannot be assigned Midi CC commands or pitchbend values. Something along the lines of the dedicated microtonal notation application Mus2 would be most welcome in the new application.

  74. Milos Betko

    Great to hear from you, Daniel!

    As a music publisher of contemporary classical music we would definitely appreciate much, much more “avant-garde” notation elements fully integrated to the base architecture of the new software, e.g. palette of intelligent wave lines. (The solution with imported graphic is highly comfortless.)

  75. Peter Aderhold

    Hi Daniel,

    best wishes from Berlin! Some thoughts from me as a composer, conductor and teacher.

    1.) In the future more and more people will try to use electronic devices for rehearsals and even performances I think. Maybe you keep this in mind… Network, classroom, rehearsals – to work in teams should be as easy as possible. Believe it or not – in the last rehearsal of my orchestra one of the trumpet players used his iPhone to show the notes (as PDF) – he had forgotten the paper music…

    2.) Flexibility in staff size or page size would be another wish – that we missed in Sibelius.

    3.) Re-using of existing things (notes, texts, complex articulations, what ever…) – like programmers do with fields.

    4.) Make the using of the software as simple as possible BUT not simpler! Most people is willing to learn new things if nessecary.


  76. Chris N Miller

    Daniel –

    DELIGHTED to hear that your team’s move to Steinberg has now been crowned with this great news of the birth of a new product.

    For no very explainable reason, I took the news of Avid’s treatment of the Team very personally, and I was outraged by it.

    Sadly, redundancy means that I no longer support a lab of Sibelius6 PCs at the Uni where I worked, but it was a delight to see the Students present their Sibelius Scores to The London Sinfonietta Players – at the many Composition Workshops we arranged.

    Whilst its probably obvious that no ONE notation program will suit all users – Our needs are SO different – I think that both Avid and Steinberg should bear in mind that the WEALTH they seek from Software sales comes from paying customers – who will not be best pleased if their lives are made difficult, opening existing Sibelius Scores in the new application OR vice-versa.

    There will always be room for a number of Apps to do the job – and our various “specialities” will decide which we choose . . . .

    So lets play fair, and put away the swords and cutlasses (and Lawyers) – and PLEASE our customers.

    I wish you every success with KeepingScore – and look forrward to its release . .

    Chris N Miller

  77. Daniel Bjarnason

    I have been a Sibelius user since Sibelius 1 and I am VERY excited about what your team will come up with!

    Wish you all the best and look forward to following the development of this new program.


  78. Alan Smith

    This is very welcome and exciting news! I have used Finale and Sibelius from the very first, so it’s good to know that a potential rival is on the stocks at last. Great playback is desirable, of course, but, above all, please prioritise the notational capabilities.

    I will be following your progress with keen interest and wish you every success.


  79. Ron Davis

    Music notation software needs a fresh, hard new look. Toi toi toi for your new venture. I can’t imagine anyone in music who isn’t excited to see where you go with this.

  80. Bo

    I’ve been a user of Composer, Composer Mosaic, Finale and now Sibelius 7 which is, to me the best program for my musical needs. In my opinion, too many notation programs have tried to be all thing to all musicians, a formidable feat, and not always successful. I’m eagerly looking forward to your “vision” on notation software (and hardware), and wish you great success. “Straight ahead and strive for tone…” J. Moody.

  81. Serge

    Please make a score-following software that works with MusicXML, not only with MIDI files. Like Tonara or Home Concert Xtreme, but with MusicXML. This could be either a feature of your notation software, or a separate program. A lot of performers, music teachers, students and their parents would buy it.

  82. Torsten Kamps

    Good luck with the new software!

    Some thoughts:

    As most musicians are used to use a DAW it would be fantastic to have a few features everyone is used to:

    – a piano roll editor for note lenght and pitch

    – the possibility to grab a note (or a group of notes) in the score and drag it in time and pitch (move it to the left or right to set it “later” or move it to the left to set it “earlier”)

    – cc control recording, editing and drawing: nearly every arranger/composer has to make mockups… it would be great if you don’t have to leave the notation/arranging/composing software for that!

    I’ really looking forward what will happen 🙂

  83. Pingback: Sibelius Outcasts Up The Ante | The DIY Recordist

  84. James Rhodes

    Congratulations Daniel! I hope you and your team make a product better than Sibelius or Finale. If you need a damn good software tester I’m your man. I can furnish proof of my abilities in that area. 🙂

    A few features I’d like… I want to be able to read the new products scores on my iPad. I’d like to buy music scores of songs from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s+. Especially the 1980s! e.g. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Visage, Ultravox, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Yazoo, etc. 🙂

  85. Anders Edström - sweden

    I and lots of others I know actually compose in the Cubase MIDI-sequencer, and export the MIDI to Sibelius only to get a reasonable note layout. Could the two be synchronized in Making Notes?

    For instance synchronizing the staccato button. If I want the sound of semiquavers but the notation of staccato quavers, I will have to spend time re-writing all of them it as it is now. (Sibelius does have a function for such a MIDI-translation, but it still required miffing in the sounding sequence)

  86. Dejan

    Steinberg should have tried to purchase Graphire Music Press. It makes most sense to me.
    – great little program without code bloat
    – great concept base for a modern music notation program done by one of the notation pioneers. (Alan Talbot was inventor of synclavier music typewriter)
    – most beautiful music font
    – working cross platform versions (not osX)
    – developer not interested to continue with it anymore
    – potential for getting it for a real bargain
    – installed base amongst professional engravers…

    just a thought!

  87. Patrik Bishay

    a really great approach to involve users from the start. Personally speaking I am really looking for an alternative to finale at the moment (I tried sibelius, but this is not really mine), but I cannot find a real alternative that makes sense. For that reason I would like to post few suggestions of mine:

    1.) Being able to edit and control all aspects of the score, notes etc. (as in finale); distance between systems, composite time signatures, graphic notation etc.

    2.) Integration into cubase in terms of sounds / vst instruments!!!

    3.) Especially when working with audio or video files, it is often necessary to write some rhythms of midi / vst instruments in “wrong” rhythms so that they fit to the audio/video files. A feature to address this could be something like a possibility to “split” real notation and sequencer notation… (e.g. for the printed score normal eights notes are being displayed but after one would have written these notes, one could edit just the “playback sound freely in the “sequencer notation” eg. to be 32nd anticipations in order to address latency issus of certain samples).

    4.) A possibility to connect a notation symbol to an audio sound (eg. from an audio track or even just the media bay in the sequencer). As soon as the particular notation symbol appears in the score, that sound could be triggered in playback (e.g. a woodwind multiphonic… a previously recorded audio file could be connected by the user to a symbol that the user would define).

    5.) Being able to start staff in the middle of a page in the score and therefore being able to move initial clef, time signature, brackets etc freely without changing the layout for the whole piece. eg.: in a full orchestral score. Page starts for example with measure 5 and on that page, I have Piano enter on measure 9. It would be great to be able to start the Piano system directly on measure 9 (of cause, it is possible to “hide” the first measures of that staff, but then it is difficult to have clef, time signature, key signature and brackets to the entry point)

    I hope that these suggestions are helpful, I will post more if I find more…



  88. jojunghanss@gmail.com

    Awsome – congratulations to the new team and all the best for your task!

    Finally somebody will try change the notation troubles the two former market leaders gave to us composers! Hopefully with new code (unbelievable Sibelius code is that dated, well, maybe this explains the difficulties) resulting less layout bugs, no applications slowdowns and a fine playback! I’d buy it right away!

    Huge hopes, best of luck to the team!



  89. PWT

    Any serious new notation project would be smart to take a good look at Graphire Music Press, the best notation program ever orphaned (heck, just licensing Graphire’s fonts would be a coup!), and Harmony Assistant, for a brilliant approach to combining notation and sequencing. Having the option to decouple from the kinds of restrictions playback brings and do a purely graphic approach like Score would be useful as well.

  90. Peter Chapman

    Hi Daniel,

    Wonderful news to hear about Steinberg stepping in, and I am very excited about the new product. I can honestly say that if not for Sibelius 2, then 4, then 7 (which I’m still getting to grips with – fantastic to hear you’re moving away from the ribbon on the UI!), I would never have learned the art of composition (by which I now define myself).

    I have recently begun integrating Sibelius with Vienna Symphonic Library products, and find the marriage to be close-to-ideal. Certainly massively preferable to changing articulations by keyswitch in Cubase. That said, being able to play back the score and use a MIDI CC controller to record dynamics would be awesome. Perhaps also being able to assign at the point of an instrument being added to the score whether it will be played back by standard MIDI, or external synth, or VST. It would be important to keep the ability to immediately switch everything back to the standard MIDI player, though (like changing the Playback Configuration in Sibelius 7) for times when processing power is needed elsewhere.

    I wonder if it would be feasible to integrate the new product with Cubase to the point that it would no longer be necessary to create a score in one and then record it in the other – so I could create a piece using notation along the lines of Sibelius, and then switch to a more traditional Cubase view for recording in real instruments, all without having to export to a different program. It would mean easy, one-stop creation of music in lovely, intuitive, musician-friendly notation format, and then easy overlaying of real vocals, guitars etc, studio-quality effects plugins, and professional-standard mixing abilities. And of course the real score would be right there for printing, copying, transposing and so on. I think it would be important to include VST freezing into the notation side as well, for less processor/RAM usage. I guess that would be more like a giant front-end app within Cubase, and probably isn’t what you’re aiming for, but I for one would use it religiously. It just seems that now you’re so close to Steinberg, product compatibility could be absolute (while remaining open for users of Logic/Protools/etc).

    I also wonder about being able to record in MIDI data from a keyboard at non-specific/varying tempos, and then go through the recorded part and add barlines, with the program then working out what the tempos must be and applying them automatically, so the original performance is unaltered. Sloppy bars could then be tightened/corrected/quantised/completely rewritten as desired, while the piece keeps the dynamic feel of the original performance.

    By the way, a suitable name for a British-made program that works with classical music notation up to the scale of enormous orchestral scores, now able to be brought to life with VSTs so rich they’re almost-indistinguishable from the real thing? My suggestion would be Jupiter, because it really does bring jollity.

    I very much look forward to what you and your team come up with, and will be following your progress all the way.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Chapman

  91. Jack

    Daniel and the team,

    I was particularly relieved (and I assume many other users of Sibelius were also) that the value of you and your team was not just seen from the perspective of the end user, but that the quality of service and product that you have provided us in the past had the keen eye of those in Steinberg. I think it’s brilliant that this project is going ahead and has kept many of you from the Sibelius days together and hopefully doing something you enjoy and feel is worthwhile.

    While it might seem like “starting from scratch” with source code and as Joel Spolsky says this gives competitors a few years advantage, what I see from Steinberg, is a cunning move to employ the exact people who can give them the best launch and then continual improvement and expansion to stay ahead of the game. To have a team that are so experienced individually but also have functioned as a team before to great effect and hold between them some of the best knowledge of the targeted area, previous user’s feedback, practicalities and development of methods of the type of software, Steinberg have gained what software development companies take years to achieve from scratch in the first place. And while you may have no base to start building upon as with previous rewrites or additions, you also have no limitations yet to what you can do and particularly how, meaning that you can make the most of new methods and technologies to create an updated and improved platform on which to build.

    I think that still puts you ahead of rival companies in many respects, and there is no doubt that a lot of the people supporting you over this transition will be trying out and maybe swapping over to your product, and thus helping to discover those mysterious bugs as only the target users can, because of the trust and expectation of great developments we have in you all. You have not let us down before and I doubt you will this time.

    Good luck and I will be following you all the way!

  92. Thomas Boulenger

    Wonderful !!

    Today Linux becomes the most wide-spread O.S. Envisage you a compatibility with this system?
    The publishing will be more and more digital, the scores are sold on Internet. A module like scorch with better compatibility and with not only midi sound but mp3 audio will be fantastic. The musicians and Teacher will use tablets (not only Ipad please !!!) to read partitions and make notes.

    Think of the future and the innovation !

  93. Adam Spiers

    Hi Daniel,

    Please don’t take this personally, but whilst I’m glad that talented developers can still find honest work, I’m rather disappointed with the direction that your team is heading since it seems to me that you’re missing a great opportunity to make the world a better place (apologies for how cheesy that sounds, but I do genuinely mean it!) I’ve just blogged my thoughts at the link below – apologies also in advance for the rather negative language! I hope that doesn’t put you off reading it …


    I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts and learn whether I’ve misunderstood your position – if so I’ll happily admit I’m wrong!


    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Adam: thanks for taking the time to write your blog post, and to link to it here. Our position is ultimately a practical one rather than an ideological one: first, we wanted to continue working together as a team; secondly, we wanted to continue working in the same, very small field of music notation software, if possible; and thirdly, we all have mortgages to pay and children to feed, and needed to make choices that would be to the benefit of our families. Aside from believing in its leaders’ vision for us and how we could build for them a valuable new product, the opportunity afforded to us by Steinberg satisfied all three of these practical criteria, and I make no apologies for our collective choice to join the company. Perhaps it might have been possible for all of us to start hacking on MuseScore or Lilypond and find a way to cover our mortgage payments and feed our families in the short term, but I doubt it. I’m glad you’re working for a company that makes its money out of services in support of open source software, and I’m certainly aware of many such companies — but that is not the situation in which we found ourselves last summer.

      Leaving aside trifling matters like how we would feed our families, there are other reasons why we would not want to start with Lilypond or MuseScore, which have nothing to do with not wanting to write C++ (our team of programmers are all highly experienced C++ coders, like all of Steinberg’s developers). Firstly, a long-term goal of our project is to integrate our technology with Cubase. You will be aware of the so-called “viral” effects of some open source licenses, which can greatly complicate the bundling of open and closed source components within products. Although Steinberg does make key pieces of technology available under royalty- and fee-free commercial licenses that retain its copyrights (e.g. the VST SDK), it has no plans (to my knowledge) to make Cubase or any of its other products or technologies open source, and so it would be justifiably wary of including large chunks of open source software within Cubase. Like any commercial software developer, there has to be careful legal examination of the licensing terms of any free and open source software components or libraries before they are included in any commercial product.

      Secondly, there are potential legal issues around programmers closely examining open source code under certain kinds of licenses, because somebody could later assert that a project uses open source code that the programmers copied or derived from an open source project without the correct attribution or consideration for the “viral” effects of the license. This can make it difficult for programmers who are working, or may be working, on proprietary software products to closely examine the source code of an existing open source project like Lilypond or MuseScore to establish its suitability as a basis for future work. Both Lilypond and MuseScore are licensed under the GPL, which means that any derivative software that uses any part of its code must itself be open source. This means that we have not examined the source code for Lilypond or MuseScore, and have no plans to do so. As such, the opinion I am about to state as our third reason is of necessity coming from a somewhat uninformed position.

      Thirdly, it is our opinion that neither MuseScore nor Lilypond provides a suitable basis upon which we can develop software that meets our vision and goals. Of course, software being infinitely malleable, it would ultimately be possible to redesign either one such that it is closer in design to our planned approach. But how much work would that take compared to starting from scratch, and how much might it damage, or even destroy, the existing strengths of those systems?

      Fourthly, we have respect for Werner and Jan and David and the other people who are driving these existing open source projects, and would no more wish to march in and start changing the direction of their projects, or fork them and risk fragmenting the communities around them, than we would wish somebody to march in and start telling us what to do either!

      All of us on the team, like just about all modern computer users, use free and open source software every day, and we fully support its aims and ideologies. I hope you will agree that this is not incompatible with making a living writing closed source, commercial software. Ultimately, an abundance of free, open source and commercial alternatives benefits the end user.

  94. Adam Spiers

    @Daniel: Many thanks for your thoughtful and detailed reply!

    I entirely understand your position with regard to mortgages, hungry children etc., and far be it from me to tell you to sacrifice any of these obligations for the sake of ideological goals 🙂 I would be most hypocritical if I did, since I used to work on proprietary software myself. My position is not as extreme as that of some Free Software purists who might tell you that it’s better to sell your house than work on proprietary software, but I expect that even they would agree that feeding children is more important than ideology!

    So I should clarify that my main complaint is not with you but with Steinberg for not recognising what I still believe is a valid opportunity to be THE game-changer in the way the notation software industry operates. In other words, I don’t see why Steinberg couldn’t have hired your whole team to work on a music notation project based on Free Software. You raised some very valid points, so let me address them one by one.

    Firstly, you mentioned the concern about income in the short-term. Steinberg is clearly big enough to be able to afford to hire you all to work on a product which won’t be released for (presumably) at least 12 months, so the only financial argument against hiring you to work on Free Software would be if they couldn’t see a way to recoup that investment in the longer term. I suspect that this is the single biggest barrier to my suggestion, because it requires construction of a significantly different business model which I’m guessing noone at Steinberg has much experience of or has spent any significant time thinking about yet (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    You say that music notation software is a “very small field”. Whilst I agree that it’s tiny compared to say, the operating system market, or the word-processor / spreadsheet market, you still surely have a potential* global customer base in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. But unlocking that potential customer base would require changing from a low-volume, high-margin business model to a high-volume, low-margin model, and (based on my 3 years of experience helping a billion-dollar company sell Free Software) that’s where I believe you currently have a great opportunity.

    Rather than limiting your customer base to experienced professionals and relatively rich music conversatoires who can afford to spend hundreds of pounds on commercial software, it could extend *way* beyond that. There are *huge* numbers of schools, colleges, orchestras and bands of all shapes and sizes stretched across the world who would be able to pay a very small amount of money to sustain 12 developers. I’m sure you’ll agree that the LilyPond user-base is miniscule compared to the Sibelius one, and yet the LilyPond community already manages to fund a full-time developer (David Kastrup) on donations alone! The unfortunate status quo is that many people who need Sibelius can’t afford it, and end up using an unlicensed copy instead.

    Imagine for a moment that there was a Free Software project with functionality to rival Sibelius 7 (i.e. without any of the deliberately imposed limits in Sibelius First). The source code might be available via a git repository, but most users do not know how to compile code and would need something easy to install with a lot more polish. I bet that for every Sibelius 7 or Finale license currently purchased, you could find 50 people who for say $5/year would snap up a version of this new software if it was fully supported by the same team which built a great reputation in supporting and developing Sibelius. It’s a different business model, but the numbers are in the same ball park.

    Another consideration is that being employed to work on Free Software is a very good thing for your own long-term financial security (and your children’s), because even if your current employer were to unexpectedly “pull an Avid”, you would still be free to continue working on the same codebase for income, either by finding a new, less short-sighted employer, or simply by setting up your own company.

    Regarding the compatibility of Free / Open Source software with proprietary products such as Cubase, yes I am fully aware of the “viral” nature of licenses such as the GPL, and that could indeed be a barrier to integrating code from LilyPond or MuseScore *directly* into Cubase. But this hinges on the definition of “derived works”, and it should be possible to harness the functionality of GPL code from Cubase without linking the code together into a single binary, for example by communicating between the two via a client-server model:


    I understand your paranoia about the dangers of examining the LilyPond and MuseScore GPL’d source code; however it sounds a little extreme to me, since algorithms are not usually subject to copyright law, only (sadly) to patent law. But I am not a lawyer, so I can’t say for sure. If I was in your shoes, I would ask the Steinberg legal team whether it was safe to examine that code or not. Even if you have no plans to reuse any of the GPL code, you may find it very useful to learn from it if it is legally safe to do so! Here is a thread which may or may not shed light …


    You ask how much work it would take to rearchitect either MuseScore or LilyPond to align with your vision and goals, in comparison from starting from scratch … but you already answered your own question by linking to Joel Spolsky’s famous article on code rewrites. My answer is exactly the same as Joel’s: it will be a HUGE amount of work. No matter how much collective experience and wisdom your team have, I predict they will take a very long time to get anywhere near the many man-years of work that LilyPond and MuseScore have already accumulated. Isn’t Steinberg at all worried about when the break-even point will occur?

    You also ask how much might such a redesign damage, or even destroy, the existing strengths of LilyPond or MuseScore. The answer is an unequivocal zero! That’s one of the great things about Free Software it’s a guaranteed meritocracy, so if you fork a project in a direction which others don’t like, they are totally free to ignore you.

    Finally, your stated respect and support for existing Free Software is much appreciated, and I would also like to clarify that I am not trying to tell you what to do in any way! Whether ultimately I agree with your choices or not, I still respect your freedom to make them, in the same way that I previously chose to earn money working on proprietary software. However I can promise you that there is something incredibly satisfying about waking up every day knowing that someone is paying me to work on Free Software!

    Thanks for the dialogue!


  95. Arno Waschk

    @Daniel: My point was actually ony that a format must be able to survive the possible death of a software. Otherwise i won’t put a single note of my music into it. Lesson learned from Sibelius. So this definitely means a well documented, open format to save the files. If existing standards don’t suit you (which of course is well possible), you should create your own, or provide extensions. And if the existing standard seem minor to you, it is obviously unsufficient to announce an export feature into it. (Even if you might not charge extra for it, as Sibelius did ridiculously, at least for a while…) Obviously everything would be much easier in open source surroundings. Not to speak about the fact that closed source software strongly believes in making humanity to reinvent the wheel again and again for commercial reasons. But this is some extra fun you will certainly experience yourself when recoding your software. But of course this is your decision 🙂

    All the best!

    BTW: Lilypond does not write into its file format, it reads from it what i want it to do. So the information in its files is obviously complete.

  96. David Fetherolf


    The only program I can think of which has come close to SCORE in flexibility and output was Graphire Music Press, which is in mothballs somewhere. Would Steinberg consider purchasing that code? Would that even be of any help?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @David: I met Alan Talbot several years ago in my previous life, and we had some initial discussions along those lines. These days I don’t think there would be much to be gained, though Revere is a very attractive music font!

  97. Alex Stone

    Daniel, i wish you and the team the best of luck and success. Sibelius was one of two notation apps i used when i ran windows, and it excelled as a quality programme for professional use.

    I left win and mac for 64bit linux about 7 years ago, and have had great success with a far more stable OS platform. (It runs all day every day without complaint, doesn’t crash,etc)

    Dare i ask that you and the team consider a native linux version of your new application, for both 32 and 64bit? It’s a commonly assumed myth that linux apps are all opensource, and we already have examples like renoise, and pianotech, that are successful binary commercial apps built natively for linux.

    I realize i’m throwing a stone in an established pond here, but as linux continues to spread into mobiles, tablets, and PCs, it’s viability as a mainstream OS grows.

    Whatever your response to this suggestion, good luck and best wishes to you and the team now and in the future,

    Alex Stone.

  98. Matthew Maslanka

    I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring. I’ve been a longtime Sibelius user (v. 1 for Windows!) and have been continually delighted by the dramatic improvements in the software over the last 14ish years. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you and your talented team are able to cook up. Some things I’d love to see in this new software are:

    Advanced alignment features: If you can crib from Illustrator on this, I would be eternally grateful. I would love to have the ability to align objects not just to specific beats on a staff, but to objects within the staff — time signatures, accidentals, etc.

    Having more powerful controls for page items — running heads especially — would be greatly appreciated. Please, please steal InDesign’s approach.

    The text support in Sib 7 is miles ahead of where it used to be, but still falls short in a couple of ways. Specifically, use of old-style figures, smart quotes, and automatic hyphenation. Again, cribbing from InDesign would be greatly appreciated.

    Accidentals stacking: I would love for you guys to crack this problem. No software that I’ve seen (including Score, but feel free to yell at me on this one) properly stacks accidentals automatically. Ted Ross’ rules are straightforward and produce elegant results. Allow flats to tuck themselves under naturals. Align octaves.

    Leger lines: I would love to have leger lines automatically shorten when in cramped spaces. Also: automatically shorten leger lines (a la Lilypond) to allow for flats to snuggle up to the noteheads.

    Beams: The beams in Sib 7 are actually very good, but I still end up having to tweak a significant percentage of them when I’m going for an engraved standard. Allow 32nd and 64th beams to expand slightly when slanting 1/4 or 1/2 space within a staff. Ensure that, when in the staff, flat 32nds (and higher) leave the space adjacent to the notes clear — Sibelius ignores this when the beam group starts with a 8ths or 16ths. Make the stem length adjustment in the control panel contingent upon the closest beam, not the total length of the stem.

    Cross staff beams need serious attention: Have them slant properly (Elaine Gould has good rules here). If beams end up in the staff, have them align properly to staff lines. Beam corners should be intelligently chosen, and allow for flipping if the other is desired. Tuplets should correctly align themselves, even to reversing one side of the bracket if needed.

    Cross staff spacing: When the instrument is playing by itself and not aligning to anything else, the stems should be spaced, not the noteheads. When it does align with something else, it should revert to note spacing.

    Optical spacing: when playing by itself, instruments should be optically spaced. Back-to-back stems need more space; notehead-to-notehead abutments need to have less. A rest followed by a note several leger lines below the staff needs a little less space, etc.

    I’m sure that’s plenty. For me, Sibelius + Illustrator + InDesign allow me to put together superior publications. I’d love to offload dependence on the other two programs if possible. Every additional translation between software is another step where mistakes can happen.

    Thank you so much for your attention and extraordinary work. I will certainly be keeping up with this software and look forward to getting it on day 1.


    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Matthew: Thanks for taking the time to provide your list. Your overall vision of being able to ditch your graphics program and your page layout program and to be able to produce a truly beautiful end result using only your scoring program is very much in line with our own. I hope over time you will see that vision become reality (though maybe not completely in version 1.0!).

    2. Randy Josleyn

      I’d just like to say that I concur with Matthew’s ideas. I would also love to see the text customizability that InDesign offers (the options in that program are like Christmas everyday), and although I try to avoid having to use Illustrator whenever possible, some of its features could be very useful in Cubase’s score editor.

  99. estroela

    If you can actually make a great notation program that can also be fully integrated with cubase (not simply by rewire or things of the sort), with a “playback dictionary” concept similar to sibelius, and with the ability to use all the midi/mixing functionalities of cubase… than you are then presenting the next generation of notation software, and making me a very happy new client 😉

  100. Martin Marte-Singer

    Oh yes, the features of Sibelius and Cubase in one program sounds very, very well in my ears. I would like not only to hear all the nuances of expression I write in my composition, but also see practical suggestions of instructions for the musician when I import a midi-file. The intercommunion should work in both directions.

  101. David Sale

    Having started Sibelius with version 7, I was very sorry to see the development team leave. I still have not finished importing all my arrangements from an earlier notation software. It’s a great program but after investing a year and a half to master it I find it still needs some refinements to meet my needs:

    Entering and spacing grace notes is a pain.

    Hiding time signatures for bars with fewer beats creates spacing problems.

    Orchestral sounds even with a small chamber group still crash my system (4 GB of memory with Windows 7)

    Correcting unison notes on the same staff (eg. adding a tie to one part) is not intuitive.

    Most of these are cosmetic but they do detract from the final printed or recorded score. Let’s hope your new product will address these sorts of problems..

  102. Wol

    You won’t look at GPL software to learn from it ?!?!

    Sorry – that really leaves me bemused! One only has to take a cursory look at the reason behind why the GPL was written and one of the MAJOR driving influences was that the source should be available for people to learn from.

    I thinks that if somebody sued you for studying and learning from GPL code, the entire Free Software world would be up in arms screaming for them to be crucified – it just goes utterly completely against the grain!

    And anything you learn is not protectable under either the US Patent code OR the US Copyright code. I know there are plenty of people trying to change that, and there are plenty of sue-happy people only too ready to bankrupt you with a spurious lawsuit, but the sue-happy crowd don’t need that sort of excuse …

  103. Martin Ramroth

    Daniel, so happy to see you back in a more than reasonable position. Looking forward to a new production, leaving behind former limitations.

    Nothing new, but nevertheless some reiteration of requests I consider important:
    Flexibility in staff size and
    in page size (render pages with 20 staves smaller, than pages with only 12 staves within the same piece)
    Getting rid of old triplet / tuplet troubles.
    Make cross beams easier.
    Different (mixed) meters in different voices at the same time.
    Degroup stave and instrument.
    Mind the education market, therefore: make it affordable…
    Make a good network version for schools,
    More page layout capabilities / easier handling thereof.

    to be continued
    (happy to beta-test…)

  104. Charlotte Wrinch

    I’m inclined to feel more loyal to you and your team, Daniel, than to any particular company or brand. So whether it’s Sibelius, Steinberg, or whomever, I support you guys 100%. When should we expect to see Version 1?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Charlotte: It’ll be a while before we’re ready with our first version, I’m afraid. I’ll be posting some kind of status update in the very near future so you can at least get an inkling of what we’ve been working on to date.

  105. Max

    Very interesting. I really hope someday you will be able to replace the old Cubase Score engine. Even Notator Logic for Atari ST from around 1993 looked better in my opinion. However the Vst expressions are very important to me, so I dont have to add several tracks for each instrument in order to have many articulations/expressions. I like step recording. I dont know if anybody actually like to write music in the Cubase Score editor or they all use Cubase Score in order to prepare already written music for live musicians (which works fine btw).
    Good luck with your software

  106. musosoup89

    I know that you have already answered quite a few questions about linux, but I’d like to also request that it be compatible if not with the OS itself, but with wine. As someone above me also pointed out: there is still money to be made through selling to linux (especially as entities such as the ubuntu software centre and online game-distributors such as steam – which saw a pretty successful release recently – expand). But even if you did not officially support the OS, if you were to make it compatible with wine and use, say, a portion of your site forum to dedicate to wine issues (or just followed the already established wine appdb), that would still be enough for me fork over cash for this software.

    I stayed with sibelius 3 for many years using it through wine and tapping it into the timidity sound-server in ubuntu and was very happy: I only left as I thought the upgrade to Sibelius 6 was worthwhile enough to change and then buy windows. It would make my job so much easier if I were able to use this software on linux in some shape or form.

    By the way, the new font ideas sound fantastic. I love the idea of looking back before computer notation programs existed and working on a new look. The most common feedback I hear from musicians about sibelius scores is how sterile they appear (although most users are just using the standard layout and not experimenting with housestyles etc), and a rethink of those core-concepts could make this program really stick out

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @musosoup89: I don’t know what the likelihood of Wine compatibility will be given that our new application will make use of Steinberg’s eLicenser technology to guard against piracy. I imagine that kind of thing could throw a spanner in the works for Wine, but we’ll see in due course.

      1. musosoup89

        Okay well I’ll keep an eye out anyway. If it comes to release time and compatibility is not looking positive, you could always test the waters with a kickstarter for a linux release which would help fund an extra conversion. That’d help gauge how large a userbase is interested across the community without any necessary commitment. Just an idea should you be wanting to push the program out to a wider range of users.

  107. Pingback: Sibelius Core Team Now at Steinberg, Building New Notation Tool | Uber Patrol - The Definitive Cool Guide

  108. Jett Hitt

    Dear Daniel,

    I was very excited when I heard that your team had joined Steinberg. I thought “Finally someone is actually going to marry the concepts of notation and playback.” As a longtime Finale user (ver. 2.6.3) and an occasional Sibelius user, I have long since been puzzled by the lack of playback functionality in notation programs. As sample libraries got better and better, I was bewildered by Make Music’s move to purchase Garritan, and Sibelius’ union with VSL was equally puzzling to me. The most versatile notation software should be able to harness all of the great libraries out there, and it should be able to edited all of the same facets of playback as Cubase.

    As a composer, having to look at graphical representations of notes in Cubase has always been disconcerting to say the least–though not nearly as frustrating as trying to use Cubase’s Score interface. We are musicians; we should be looking at notes, not graphs. As for notation, I have been able to edited almost any feature of a score with Finale since about 1997. Sometimes it was a pain, but it could always be done. I have been using it for so long that I am indifferent to its quirks and its huge learning curve. The simplicity of Sibelius was the beautiful thing about it to me. Almost everything about it made sense, though I am not sure what you guys were smoking when you came up with the Ribbon. These programs should be simple and intuitive and comprehensive. If you guys can combine Finale’s versatility with Sibelius’ user-friendliness and Cubase’s editing and playback functions, Steinberg will be King for a long time. And I can’t tell you how much luck I wish you.

  109. Richard (Dick) Van Nostrand

    Hello Daniel- I just got through reading all 210 plus comments and was so impressed with the seriousness and care bestowed upon your group’s new project. As a long time user of Finale and then Sibelius and Logic, I have experienced many of the same desires for an improved Notation program. It sounds like your group’s marriage with Steinberg is going to be a rousing success.

    I took up playing an instrument called a Mountain Dulcimer about 6 years ago and have written many original songs for it. It is a diatonic-based instrument with 3 strings and a Mixolidian based (7 tone instead of 12-tone) scale. I would love to be able to copy a chromatic based notation line into 3-string tab and have all the notes interpreted correctly. This, of course would mean that I would have to define how many strings there are in my instrument (which Sibelius does now), but would also be able to specify what the fret placement is (and where the half frets and whole frets fall) so that the playback of the tab is correct.

    I am sure there are many diatonic-based instruments out there that could use this feature.
    Please keep us non-chromatic users in mind with your new software.

    Good luck to you and all the gang.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Dick: Thanks for your comments, and for taking the time to wade through everything that everybody has written so far! I very much hope that we will be able to provide proper tablature support for diatonic instruments in our new program. I can’t promise it will be in the very first version, however!

  110. jeff reynolds

    I wondered where you wandered off to. Another Sibelius tech said you left Sibelius. I”ve had Sib.3 (and now Sib.6.2) for about a decade with mixed results. At least I know what Sib will not do. I am around 1000 pieces for various voicings for Compline Choirs: AATB, ATBarB, and SSAT and use a lot of stemless, meterless, only black note or white note notation and transcriptions of music from the Middle Ages. Sibelius does not do that well. Many times I have been tempted to ash-can Sib. and go over to the ‘F’ word, dark side (Finale) whose specific applications for me fit fine.
    jeff reynolds, Komplinmeister

  111. phillmj

    Daniel, kind sir, I have such wonderful experiences with both you and Sibelius in the past. I’m 100% behind the new efforts and wish so much success and accolades! My only hope is that you find a way to make sure we can import our Sibelius files into the new program – that’s a gigantic feature request which I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, so here’s a million and one. Thanks for your dedication and excellence.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @phillmj: I’m afraid our new application will not be able to open Sibelius files directly, as the Sibelius file format is proprietary and it would be impractical to reverse-engineer it, even assuming that were legal to do (which it is not in some countries). But you will be able to import and export MusicXML files, which will make it possible to share files with Sibelius, Finale and other programs.

  112. Randy

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I’d love to see sequencing capabilities and merging or at least close interoperability with Cubase. My other request is leave off the “ribbon” in your new software, or find a very different way to implement it. I never felt that thee “ribbon” in Sibelius was easy to use or intuitive.

  113. Thomas Boulenger


    I was a user of Cubase Score but now i’m user of sibelius wich is much better. With sibelius, i wrote many extensions with Manuscript and i have an account in the Mailing list for plug-in developers.
    Would you given possibility to write extension in your new music notation and composition application ? It is so practical to be able to add very specific and personal new features.

  114. Thomas Boulenger

    @Daniel, Wonderful !!!!

    The IDE to write plugin in Sibelius was so basic, so i wrote a WEB IDE (Javascript, jQuery, Ajax, PHP and Mysql) wich parse plg files and rebuild them. It uses ACE editor for editing the methods of plugin with a auto-completion of manuscript object. There is also a java applet with Simkin library for checking the code, and many other tools, search over all plugin, dialog editor, etc …
    The main problem of this IDE was Sibelius does not allow the dynamic load of plg files, so i modified plugin with copy and paste only for testing and at the end i rebuilded them with my IDE and relaunched Sibelius …

    Do you project to provide a kind of github for community of plugins developpers ?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury Post author

      @Thomas: I’m very impressed by the ingenuity of your solution for creating an IDE for ManuScript development in Sibelius. Very clever indeed. Hopefully in our new application you won’t need to jump through anything like as many hoops: you will instead be able to use an existing high-quality IDE, such as Koneki (which is based on Eclipse) and have real-time debugging and other convenient features.

      We haven’t really thought about how we will allow plug-ins to be distributed, but it would make sense for us to have a central location for the sharing of useful bits of code, perhaps both via something like Github and something like Gist.

  115. Gary Schutza

    Many thanks for Sibelius, anyway. I guess I’m a relative newbie, having only used it through version 2. And I’ve never tried to wade through Finale. I’m having issues with Sib. this weekend and Avid has gone totally bye-bye. This is frustrating. It means 2 total days of time wasted.
    Anyway, I’d like to mention a possibility for a small feature on your new software (which I am now waiting for like crazy). When I do individual parts for a score I like to have page turns at longer rests (whenever possible). As a professional musician in a symphony orchestra, I can’t tell you how many times I have noticed myself and my colleagues turn a page while counting longer rests, then at sometime before the next page entrance they have to flip back to the previous page to remind themselves what the actual number of rests were. I’ve done it a million times and I’ve watched those around me do it, as well. My solution in the parts for my pieces is to construct a small reminder at the top left corner that looks like the rest bars with the number of bars centered (just like a typical multirest, but smaller). I also separate them with a small vertical bar to indicate double bars or rehearsal marks, whatever would split a normal multirest. I even put a small reminder of the rehearsal numbers (or letters) over the small double bars. Conductors will generally just call out a rehearsal number and drop their hands, never waiting to see if anyone is ready. When this happens during a longer rest at a page turn, everyone has to flip back a page to see where the rehearsal mark was – how many bars rest are left – then quickly flip the page again – hoping that they still have time before their entrance.

    It’s a very minor thing, but my colleagues have always mentioned the convenience of my little reminders in the left hand corner.

    The only problem is that it’s terribly time-consuming in Sibelius. If there were an easy way to do this (or if it happened automatically) composers and arrangers would very quickly see the value and start including it.

    I was a good hand copyist before Sibelius. The cardinal rule was that everything had to make the music easier to read for the performing musician. My first good theory teacher taught us that if no one could read your music, no one was going to play your music.

    Anyway, thank you for all your years at Sibelius! I wish you tons of luck with your new project. And please hurry.

  116. Eric Bojonell


    I am looking forward to this program, I started in Finale…which I still use sometimes, but when Rewire was added to Sibelius with Pro Tools, I decided to take a look at it. I think it was Sibelius 6…which I found to be a bit more harmonious with the creative process than Finale was. I was wondering if you were going to have a “composers assistant.” I cannot recall what it was called, but in Sibelius 6, there was this plug-in that I loved. I could write a line for a single instrument and then select it and it would generate parts for the other instruments. It was such a nice tool to have to spark creativity, or speed up work flow and it seems to have been pulled in Sibelius 7.

    In any case, I waiting IMPATIENTLY for this new product. Very impressed with Steinbergs latest offerings and I can only assume this new software will be no exception.

  117. Randy Josleyn

    I’m a Sibelius 7 user, and it seems apparent to me that it’s light-years ahead of it’s competitors in terms of user-friendliness, but some things about that program annoy me a little bit. Specifically, when I do transcriptions of modern-style electric guitar solos (solos a la Steve Vai), I use straight lines between notes to denote sliding from one note to the other in a quick manner, like legato or slurred playing on other instruments. This tool is more or less conveniently located on the second keypad layout at the bottom.

    The problem is that these lines are rarely spaced evenly between the two notes they connect—it only happens when the notes are pretty close together, and sometimes the right end of the line intersects the right note head—the spacing is only corrected when I move the right-side note head out and back into position; it is a time-waster.

    Furthermore, when the line connects a grace note to its “mother note”, the line only slants downward as if it were not connected to any other note. These lines are not repositionable, which means that I must use a separate plugin to achieve the desired result.

    It would be very nice to see a program that deals with all the nuances of guitar notation appropriately. Hopefully, this team can do that at Steinberg!

  118. Randy Josleyn

    Oh, I forgot another important point, one that could have serious ramifications, at least for me, depending on what the interface ends up looking like. I use a Dvorak keyboard, and so all the keyboard shortcuts for programs end up in places that often aren’t as user friendly as they could be. If important shortcuts like note value selections end up being assigned to their corresponding letter keys, it would be really nice to be able to reassign them manually to whatever shortcut I wish. The same goes for all shortcuts, really. This probably should not be an issue, but I felt like I should mention it.

  119. Randall Michael Tobin

    Daniel, I’m a Cubase 7 user and I’m surprised that the Score module doesn’t support fake-book style lead sheets, i.e., chord symbols above the staff, slash marks on the staff for quarter notes and other values noting rhythmic cues, fermatas, accents, etc. Since Cubase Score is note based, hiding the notes leaves rests, and symbols of any kind will not show because notes are hidden. I know Sibelius does this because I sent a Cubase Score printout to a friend who recopied the music in Sibelius and gave me what I needed for the recording session. Hopefully some of your know-how will signal the dawn of a new Score for Cubase…

  120. John Blyth

    Long time Sibelius user here, migrated from Encore, and before that Finale. I don’t suppose too many people do things the same way I would, but a kind of function that would be really useful to me as a composer is if rhythm were the last thing determined (or at least if that were an option) so that one could enter real-time or midi data and it would be interpreted as a sequence of long and short pitches, whose value could be guessed at globally or piecemeal. As it is, all of these programmes seem to in their hearts be built on a sort of midi grid, which encourages metrical rigidity etc. So asynchronous music processing is what I would like, so that the barlines, and their associated values can be entered later in the game. If that is well-managed it would serve people who lack either the ability or the inclination to enter data in the rather metronomic fashion that midi seems to precribe.

  121. Rachel Moore

    A suggestion for step-time entry for music engravers. Graphire Music Press used to have an incredibly fast step-time entry system. A little over an octave at the left end of the midi keyboard was customised by the user for specifying rhythms/rests and other common user options, such as resetting the octave. The remainder of the keyboard was used for inputting pitch. (Any occasional overlap was accounted for by changing the octave). Using this method, with both hands on the midi keyboard, step-time entry was almost as fast as real-time entry, but more accurate (unless you are a perfect sight reader first time). It felt like you were “playing” the music. Being able to customise the midi keys also made it feel very intuitive, as you could do whatever felt logical to you.
    My personal setup was (white keys):
    C – add dot to rhythm just specified
    D – semiquaver
    E – quaver
    F – crotchet
    G – minim
    A – semibreve
    B – full bar rest
    C – change voice
    D – move cursor back
    (Black keys):
    C#: add flat
    D#: add sharp
    F#: convert to rest
    G#: stem up
    A#: stem down
    C#: keyboard octave setting up
    D#: keyboard octave setting down
    But the beauty of it was that you could put whatever options you want – for example, adding a tie, courtesy accidental etc. Even a few more customisable keys might be handy.
    I’ve since been using Sibelius for many years, and it has loads of other great features and advantages, but the step-time entry in Sibelius never seemed to “flow” like the Graphire Music Press system did.

  122. Bob Ross

    I hope things are going well, Daniel. Please don’t think ill of me if I spend the $50 on the Sibelius 7.5 upgrade in a few weeks…BTW take a look at the Timeline window for accelerated navigation…not a bad idea….not that you guys hadn’t thought of that already….

  123. Kevin Michael Tillman

    I’m glad to hear you guys found a place that supports your work – I have no idea what Avid was thinking.

    I use Sibelius and I compose Choral Music and I’m getting into composing Electronic Acoustic Music.

    The biggest issue I’ve always had was scoring for electronics and alternate instrument techniques: Graphic shapes, filled polygons, freeform lines and curves. Being able to incorporate some of the playback to get at least an idea of what I had written down and be able to demo that to players would be a major plus for me. Right now, I have to use brute force to score the temporal/non-metric sections for the instrumentalists and then draw the graphic objects in another application in a PDF exported version of the score.

  124. Stuart Leitch

    I write a lot of piano music, so I hope you’ll find a better way to handle cross-staff notation. In Sibelius I always have to adjust cross-staff slurs, and every time I change staff spacing I have to adjust them again. Also accents and such go wrong, also default accidentals. An ideal solution would treat a grand staff more like a single staff, since that’s how it’s used.

    One more big problem is grace notes before a barline. An ideal solution would be to let us attach grace notes to the actual barline.

  125. derekjwilcox

    Great news! Congratulations from a Sib 6 user who can’t really afford to upgrade to 7! Looking forward to getting to grips with your new ideas!


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