Your thoughts on score?

I keep getting recommendations from composers to use Sibelius (7) and this puzzles me. I have used Cubase score for some years and although it can be a little clunky, its very powerful and I have not yet found a single thing that Sibelius can do that Cubase score cannot do. I have been using the Sibelius trial and have gone through all the tutorials.

Even things like note input are not that much better IMO , if at all in Sibelius. I have also been experimenting with querty score input in Cubase. I have set up the non numberpad numbers on the top of the qwerty keyboard to assign note lengths (using key commands set insert lengths) and when also the note lengths is set to ‘follow quanitize’, its pretty easy with a little bit of practice to write melodies and chords using just the qwerty keyboard - with a little practice. You dont need a mouse or piano keyboard. This way its fast potentially lightening fast. My old Cubase scroring habits were slowing me down, I now realise.

There seems to be lots of advantages to using Cubase over Sibelius, as its scoring function fully integrated and you dont need to import and export Xml or MIDI. There are also a whole host of things you can do in Cubase including expression maps/note expression and lots of other things

Are all these proffesional composers wrong?

I am about to start work on a big project so dont want to take a wrong turn.

I am open to persuasion, but things are currently stacking up in Cubase’s favour.

Anyone care to enlighten me? Currently I am very underwhelmed by Sibelius.

If your score-publishing needs are satisfied by Cubase - fine, you’re using the right program. Cubase is a much better audio/MIDI sequencer than Sibelius.

There IS a great deal Sibelius can do in the way of notation, and layout that Cubase doesn’t attempt. But, if your music is straightforward and you aren’t intending to publish printed music to a prefessional standard, you probably won’t miss them.

what are these things then Laurence?

Well, to lump rather a lot of esoteric stuff in one document, can you reporoduce all this in Cubase?

(It’s a PDF in Dropbox. Give it a minute to upload)

My thoughts on scoring are simple. I tried in C4 to score a simple string quartet piece transcribed from the MIDI data I played in. I then tried to make various basic musical notations for expressions, accelerando, glisses, plucks etc… For almost three weeks I battled the score versus the MIDI data. If I touched the score it fucked up the MIDI data. If I touched the MIDI data it TOTALLY FUCKED UP the score. I bought Sibelius and within 2 hours of installation and having never laid hands on it before had finished the score. In Cubase I could never even get it to approximate what a score should really look like. Never mind printing it. So no, I don’t think all those composers are wrong.

Sibelius takes a quite different approach to Cubase. In Sibelius, notation is the basis. You prepare a score, as for live players. The playback function attempts to read this, as a player would. Mostly it makes a fair stab at this. Occasionally you have to prepare a notation version and a playback version.

A lot of us Sibelius users wish playback would stay as a secondary function and Sibelius development focussed more on letting us put EXACTLY what we wanted to on paper. When I want full-control playback sequencing, with audio tracks, I use Cubase. When I want notation, plus enough playback to check I’ve written the right notes, I use Sibelius. The market, however, sees Sibelius playback as important, and we’ve just received an update version with a thoroughly bloated playback engine but very few notation advances. But that’s a whle other battle :slight_smile:

Not sure if C4 had it, but there’s the Display Quantize feature that takes care of that. IOW, you can have both an expressive, human sounding, sequence and a nice legible score all in Cubase.


I think that if your current workflow suits your needs then there’s really no point in changing that, unless there’s an actual benefit involved (i.e. in this case, you need to print professionally looking music). Sibelius, Finale, etc. are required for composers who need to give musicians professionally written music. I’m talking things that cannot be done in Cubase as shown in the image posted above (though that’s bordering on the extreme side of notation). Some composers use them because they have grown accustomed into using these notation programs to write out their musical ideas and/or because their sequencers simply lack a good score editor. But the end results are the same, with the exception of the case where printed music is needed and it is something not currently possible in Cubase.

Some of these notation programs have very unintuitive ways of entering notes (i.e. Finale). But people have been using them for so long that it becomes second nature after a while (myself included). Anyway, that’s my take on the subject. Hope it helps.

my work flow goes like this ( and I would love to hear suggestions for improving it)

I create the midi tracks by playing them (MIDI guitar or keys or monophonic audio converted to MIDI).
Once the piece is finished being composed I then save with a new name with the sufix “transcribe it”

Then I deleate all the tracks that dont need to be in the score.

Then I duplicate all the tracks that need to be in the score, that way for each score track I have a MIDI track that is connected to a playback sound (I dont touch these) and then one that is silent.

Then I open up the score for the tracks one at a time and tweak the score settings and quantize so that it looks right.
Then I hit the score to MIDI function.

Then I resave the project again with a new name with the sufix transcribed, and deleate the original midi tracks so that I only have the MIDI tracks that have been adjusted to be readable, then I export those and import them into Finale or Sibeleus.

I wish I could streamline the work flow because editing in CUBASE is so much easier for editing and quantizing (for example it is very easy to quantize only specific notes in cubase in noation software I would only know hoe to quantize and entire bar- one example), but I used notation software long before I ever got into DAWs so I know how to do many things quickly in notation software that I have no idea how to do in CUBASE, I dont even know if they could be done. Maybe I should spend more time exploring the score functions.

Thnks for the discussion guys, interesting debate.
Everyone seems to be coming in against Cubase. Laurence a lot of the stuff in the ‘notation advanced’ sibelious pdf Cubase can do and quite well. There maybe very obscure stuff such as instrument specific markings for the glockenflot, that Cubase cant do, but it can print legible scores - historically these were the imprints of chickens feet across a page.

It can print for a conductor, or for individual parts, it can print duets, or various clefs. There are lots of layout functions, staffs can be moved. It can use tab or drum staffs, it can put in chord symbols lyrics, a host of symbols and guitar chord symbols with capodaster. It can print piano keyboard symbols, and it can use your own image files if you really need something rare and specific.

It also has display quantise, which means that the MIDI data does not have to be altered - a huge thing when getting a realistic demo/performance, and it can simplify the notation and rests in various subtle ways - very useful especially when writing counterpoint lines on one staff it can also hide symbols etc.

Talking workflow:

If I want to use several orchestras and I want to be able to use note expression and expression maps (two very advantageous features) AND I want to use Sibelius what do I have to do?

DO I have to set up my orchestras in both packages (this seems an esoteric process in Sibelius) - I think so.

Then if I write the original stuff in Sibelius, then I import it as say XML into Cubase, apply some maps note expression and other tweaks, then I decide to make changes, what do I do?

If I export back to Sibelius I risk losing some XML (I guess) and all of the note expression perhaps more…?

I also wonder about tempo mapping between the two packages

Also working with two packages I will be getting one sound of the piece in Sibelius and another in Cubase.

I tried using some of the VST’s I have in Sibelius and Sibelius simply refused to work with them. VST support seems to be very limited.
I need to work with the following VSTs EWQL SO, Choirs, bits of VSL, Garrritan stuff, Konkakt, Halion, HSO SE all of spectrasonics stuff, Absynth, various other synths, truepianos, NI B4 - working almost all in 64 bit (latest versions)

I really abhor working with more than one staff for the same voice - life is difficult enough for musical types in the techno world without adding further complications.

We seem to be in the dark ages with all of this, technologically speaking, though note expression/maps is a great leap forward. These are the Charlie Chaplin days of Virtual Orchestras IMO.

My guess is that Steinberg are going to update Cubase notation in Cubase 7 and we are going to see those 24bit Halion Symphonic samples again with a updated integration of VST3, note expression and mapping

So, at present, because of these worries about workflow (and because Sibelius is overpriced), at the moment, I feel trepidacious about buying Sibelius and have cancelled my order. Still open to changing my mind though.

Interesting discussion

What about Sibelius for Scoring and then playback with a virtual Midi Cable into Cubase.
Then you can record Midi in Cubase and do note expression.

I use loopMIDI v1.0.1 in Windows 7 64 , it is very good…

I don’t have the time (or the energy) to go through loads of specific examples, but Cubase’s scoring isn’t a patch on Sibelius in terms of visual quality, or what it can do. I say that as a 20-year Cubase user and someone who found Sibelius very difficult and counter-intuitive to use (and still do in some ways), but Sibelius is a word processor for music, whereas Cubase is for creativity. As above, if I do score using Cubase (rare these days, but I do have to teach it as most schools have one or the other, not both) then I keep two different versions - one for MIDI and another for the scoring; display quantize simply doesn’t cut it for a great many things. There are lots of things Sibelius is better at score-wise than Cubase, but it’s not a sequencer.

In addition, Cubase’s score editor has been the same for a very long time - it’s still clunky and despite the “complete rewrite” for C5(I think?) it’s just the same, they’ve just put the menus on the side instead of being in a menu. When I was a college tech (1997-99), I spent ages compiling detailed reports on what didn’t work properly in the score editor, nothing ever got fixed, and I still think it’s about the same in many ways - maybe those issues have been fixed, but if I had a spare afternoon I’m sure I could fill a huge thread with issues that should be improved/fixed/binned.

Sibelius is widely used in schools for the sort of “controlled creativity” beloved of educationalists (and I tend to agree with them) where free improvisation is not enough, it also has to be organised and notated. The only “performance” is likely to be the Sibelius playback. Hence the development in the direction of making it a musical composition application as well as a score publisher.

The Score (read the title of the score chapter again “Score layout & PRINTING”) is just a PRINTING utility. Nothing to do with midi played free-form. If you play a free form piece it will, and it says so in the manual and has done since they made Ataris out of stone, look terrible in the score. You’re SUPPOSED to hard quantise and clean up the midi before you can get a legible PRINTABLE score. And you’re right. Playback SOUND will be awful.

So, if you need a real player to go over a piece that you have written you would prepare your score in a copy of the piece you wrote, print it and then if he needs the free midi original piece to play along to you play that one to him while he reads.
I never need to read anything I’ve written as I’ve usually already written it. :mrgreen: Didn’t The Doctor say that?

I tried and tried and tried to get something that was what I would consider printable. I could get blobs of notes on staff. But, to actually look like a score … nope. Again, it took forever and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I got where I needed to go with Sibelius almost instantly.

Still, no one has really qualified what Sibelius can do which Cubase Score cannot do.

When someone says I have tried to get a good Cubase print of a score and could not do it, I am left wondering what they were trying to achieve and how they went about it.
I hope posters know how powerful display quantise can be, and how powerful the layout facilites can be also, from here I have no way of telling what they think the issues are.

I’m mostly with zerozero here. You have to work to get Cubase set up right to score the way you want it to score. It does work on “classical” notation more than jazz or rock/pop. There are no shortcuts and you have to prepare other areas of the program like setting out the midi tracks score display from the Project page and tidying up the midi either there or in the Key editor.
I had to read the whole manual at least twice.
You’re not just, as in Sibelius, patting in the score. You are, because most people only use the Project page and the Key Editor for the input of notes, also altering what may be a naturally or even badly played musical part.
You may Quantise but score will see maybe two notes nailed to the same point in time and display them so one may have to be moved or deleted.
Glissandi are best with all notes between the first and last deleted and then the gliss sign put in from the score display tools.
Once you get it the score is a very handy tool. My first use of it was not without frustrations and still is sometimes because there’s a lot to forget (multi-faceted = multi DOH!).
I suppose the first rule is that first you have to tell Cubase the way you want things done and then it will do a fair amount for you. The second rule is that you have to learn it’s language.

And I agree that fundamentally it’s still not so far removed that an Atari user who travelled forward in time (using the Fujitimetravel v1.0.0.5 app forward only!) would not be at least half familiar with it.

Don’t get me wrong, the score tools in Cubase may be powerful. I’m not questioning that. What I am saying is that it was much easier/faster without a bunch of messing about, to get a score done in Sibelius. I’ve had no reason since then to even look at the score editor in Cubase. I gave it a few weeks, with the manual open the entire time by the way, and it was just clumsy and convoluted. That was C4. Maybe it’s better now. But again, I have absolutely no reason to bang my head against that wall again, because I can whip out a score in Sibelius faster than I can write it on paper(which honestly isn’t that fast, my handwriting should be used by the military as an uncrackable cypher). I was simply pointing out that folks who work in traditional composition will find Sibelius much more in tune with how they look at writing notation on paper. Or at least that’s how it was when I started using it.

Without meaning to be combatative at all, I dont see why you say these things, though I have heard them before many times. I have been using Sibelius for the past couple of weeks and find it to be much the same level of user friendliness as Cubase. The most important thing is getting notes in fast IMO. In Cubase if you set up a prefence to get the note lengths onto the keyboard ( I use the top number keys) - an oversight by Cubase I admit, then after this, I can write notes like I write text, I can put down a tune or chords, back track to make adjustments, use rests or dotted lengths very quckly indeed from the qwerty. Things like allocating polyphonic parts is easy, or adding symbols.
I am wondering if people that put down Cubase as being ‘difficult’ are talking of their first experiences with any score package, when I first started scoring this way I thought it was just a matter or writing dots on a page and should be easy, but both in Sibelius and Cubase there is a lot more to learn than this. I think newbies (not nec you) also get a bit shell shocked when they try to play in a simple piano part and get spider’s scrawl, they think the application is ‘wrong’ or poorly implemented and get faced with quite a task when they try to adjust it all. We must not forget that Cubase has a further layer of complexity with Display quantise, which is a feature Sibelius sadly lacks. Sibelius performances can either be illegible or wooden IMO.

I was simply pointing out that folks who work in traditional composition will find Sibelius much more in tune with how they look at writing notation on paper. Or at least that’s how it was when I started using it.

I’m the same and I got Cubase straight away. I suppose it depends on one’s notation style. I tend to like an uncluttered appearance with as few rests as possible and Cubase just worked straight away for me that way.
I guess if you write more intricate parts with all the rests and signage you could mouse yourself to death cherrypicking the symbol palettes.

Sibelius performances can either be illegible or wooden IMO.

I’d expect that. As I explained earlier you either get a good performance and a bad score or a wooden performance and a legible score. Seems Sibelius has one style, Cubase both. To my mind that would make Sibelius easier to use while Cubase offers more flexibility but a higher learning curve.

I still don’t know quite how to express it. When I tried it, Cubase could get the notes on a staff. But, it was a PITA to get it to look like a score, with proper spacing and symbols. And just when I thought I was getting somewhere, I’d drag a slur or a tie and the entire score would get re-jumbled.

I wasn’t trying to be able to play a score back in Sibelius. However, I can play & step enter in Sibelius very effectively. What I play is in the ballpark of score and just needs to be tidied up. I could not make that statement doing the same thing in Cubase. Playing into Cubase just creates a jumble of notes that have to be sorted out one at a time. At least that’s how it was when I tried it.

Could it be that I just never figured out the right options or workflow? Sure. But, when I tried Sibelius, I didn’t have to figure those things out. I picked a score template. Played on my keyboard … and it was close. I then played mouse click composer with the symbols, just like you would in Cubase, but the score never blew up just because I inadvertently dropped a symbol in the wrong place. It happened repeatedly when I was using Cubase.

I know guys like Vic Frank get incredible results from Cubase score editor. But, once I found a tool that worked for me, I see no reason to quit using it.