Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by James McFadyen, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Fife, Scotland
    I have a feeling that this thread will have some varied views!!

    How many people here use Sibelius for the ACTUAL COMPOSITION PROCESS?

    Now, the reason I say this, is because way too many people have said to me they no longer work with manuscript and pencil, but instead use Sibelius - Instantly, my brain cells (or the ones I have left at least) start to go crazy.

    It really amazes me at how gullable people can be about Sibelius. Sibelius is a notaional package, and yes, while there are many cool things you can accomplish compositionally with sibelius, it really cannot do the job the same as the brain can by looking at a blank sheet of manuscript!

    There is a major problem here - the reviews (along with the advanved features of Sibelius) advise that Sibelius can be a great compositional tool, people read the reviews, play with the features and walla, they call themelves composers (or arrangers)

    Sibelius is a machine, the problem is it's just to perfect, low tubas can play fast awkward semiquavers that would sound muddy in real life, but the 'virtual' composer is oblivous because of the sound that's comeing from the soundcard, which, let's face it, sounds crap.

    When your COMPOSING ON SIBELIUS, you'll find you need to 'add more stuff' to make it sound full - opps, no, no - take it to your Band and you'll soon see how very little playing can sound full! - Good quality sound comes from the brain, not the soundcard or sibelius.

    Also accent, dynamics and general humanity is lost, the ear hears and is driven by what Sibelius plays back, and what it plays back is wrong.

    Contrary to popular (and misguided) belief, Sibelius is rubbish and playing back scores!!!!!!! For anyone who regards themselves a professional, I'm sure you'll agree with me. With the advent of Sibelius 3, some aspects of crapy playback can be tweeked (ie altering the volume for individual notes - a much needed facility of you ask me!)

    My advice is this: Forget about Sibelius - don't use the gimmicks, get manuscript paper and use Sibelius what it does best - MUSIC NOTATION. If you want to hear it back properly (ie outwith Sibelius) either take it to your Band (or local band) and have them play it or export it as MIDI File, import it into Cubase and mess about and tweek it for the best performance (without altering any of the notes, etc)

    Now, no doubt you fling back at me the ADVANTAGES of composing on Sibelius - which, as a competent Sibelius user, I know practically all of them, and they don't hold enough ground in my book.

    But anyway, I just thought it would be interesting to see who is using Sibelius to compose music instead of doing some hard work for a change! :wink:
  2. shedophone

    shedophone Member

    I'm worried that as Sibelius gets more and more advanced, it will eventually actually write music for you! That would be catastrophic. :!:

    I am however very fond of Sibelius for the purpose of providing a
    readable set of parts to a composition with very little effort, However, I'd never think about actually composing on Sibelius. Well said!
  3. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Fife, Scotland
    I'm glad you agree, shedophone :wink:

    Your right, Sibelius is starting to become too advanced, and I believe your right, Sibelius will write music itself one day. God help us! :lol:
  4. Bob Thompson

    Bob Thompson Member

    North Pennines. Weardale
    I agree in the most part, however, even in respect of using it as a notation tool, I am encouraging my 14 yr old daugter to use pencil and paper (well I do allow her manuscript, Im not all bad!) in the initial composition stages, as its almost like learning to type before one can use a pen, or is the pen a thing of the past?
  5. EIBB_Ray

    EIBB_Ray Member

    Iowa - USA
    now, I'm not a composer or arranger (not since college eons ago) and I have only glanced at an evaluation copy of any software. With that said, I don't see the point. I can grab a pencil and call myself an arranger can't I? I don't see that it's the software's (or the software writer's) fault. It's a tool and it's neither inherently good nor bad. I dare say that those who wrote manusrcipt with quill pens once scoffed at those rank amatuers who'd dare to call themselves composers while using a pencil.

    Who are of courwse entitled to your opinion, and the degree to which any tool enhances or detracts from anyone's creative processes is a personal issue. Seems we heard a lot about devil computers when word proceesing started to compete against the typwriter for journalists and novelists favor.....
  6. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Fife, Scotland
    Just to clarify, I'm not against Sibelius, of course I amn't. What I am against is the misuse, or at least the extensive use of the gimmicks and using Sibeilus to provide the score for you, your view, EIBB RAY, is an outsiders opinion wth no extensive knowlage of Sibelius or the Composition process, but you do provide a more general angle. :lol:

    In Sibelius when composing on it, Ideas are manufactured, ie by clicking the mouse on the notes and it seems to write itself without any thinking by the composer, It's like trial and error, ask the same composer to use only manuscript, pencil and a PIANO, and the results are shockingly different (for the better, in my opinion!).

    There is the added and BIGGEST risk of all in composing within Sibelius, copy and pasteing - ------- aaarrrgggg!! producing repetitive idea that don't join properly to provide continuity and of course, developing ideas and developing your theme is harder and in Sibelius. Try writing a test piece in Sibelius, Impossible - only an amateur would write soley on Sibelius - harsh words they may be, but if you really know your stuff, you should know fine well how the compositional process works.
  7. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    Pontyclun, South Wales
    The "Gimmicks" are there to make things easier and quicker. It's nice to hold onto some traditional skill but just as important to make progress. If we all shun new ideas/tools on the basis that they take something away we may aswell all go back to living in trees and shouting "ugh" at each other occasionally
  8. cornetgirl

    cornetgirl Active Member

    I use Sib for getting my scores and parts done, but give me paper and pencil any day for the actual brainwork!

    Rach x
  9. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    Wakefield, West Yorkshire
    we use sibelius at college although we are encouraged to get5 our main ideas using piano and manuscript but for people who cant play piano (mee) i find it easier hearing wht im wrinting i do agree with u in most of the stuff though
  10. Tpascoe

    Tpascoe New Member

    Grand Rapids, MI
    I agree to a point that Sibelius can create some problems, however, I have found it helpful in the process of composition. I did write/arrange using manuscript paper and still do on occasion but have more and more used the computer to write. I don't see a difference between paper and computer except that which is comfortable. I still need to take it to the band to get the full picture of what I've written and I do realize that the playback is a very different sound then that of live performance. I think it is in all how you use the tool not the tool.

    Each must write in the setting that is most comfortable and for me it is a computer screen.
  11. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    Muirton of Barras
    You also know you can't lose any parts when you have it saved on the computer.
    I used to go spare every Xmas looking for parts...not any more. Any arrangement I have done and it is there easy to find.
    Excellent for folks like me who are not in any way shape or form composers but like to skid off the quick arrangement for goes ....copyright again....... :roll:
  12. bagpuss

    bagpuss Active Member


    Why are people so resistant to change?? Sibelius is a tool to be used, in the same way that a car is or a computer. If some of its features can make someones life easier then why not??

    Sibelius CAN AND SHOULD be used as a compositional TOOL. It cannot compose the music for you, you MUST have the idea in your head first before it can be put through sibelius. For those of us who aren't proficient at writing down music by ear, a tool such as Sibelius is a Godsend. I would never have passed my A-level music if it wasn't for tools such as Sibelius or cubass or C-lab. If someone like me can go to a piece of software like that and input a piece of music (one note at a time in my case) and immediately hear what it sounds like, then as far as I'm concerned, the manuscript manufacturers can go bankrupt.

    Looking back at your original post, you also seem to have a problem with people calling themselves composers or arrangers when using tools such as SIbelius?? Why?? A composer is someone who composes an original piece of work. Now, whether or not that person has used Sibelius to accomplish it does not matter at all. An arranger, by definition, is someone who arranges something (in this case for band instead of orchestra for example). If they use Sibelius to accomplish that, the they are still an arranger!!! Another point to note is that the sound coming from your soundcard only sounds BEEP if your soundcard is BEEP. Also, the sound that comes from your soundcard is immeasurably better than the sound that comes from a paper and pencil.

    Anyone that uses Sibelius will agree that it is a long way from being perfect, of course you are going to have to change things around to make tham sound as you want to, those are limitations of the software and the hardware, but as I've already said, it's a tool to be used and not a replacement for any other tool you may or may not want to use.

    I notice that in a later post you say that you are ".....not against Sibelius....". Can I direct your attention to your original post which says

    "Contrary to popular (and misguided) belief, Sibelius is rubbish and playing back scores!!!!!!! For anyone who regards themselves a professional, I'm sure you'll agree with me. "

    Personally speaking I would say that a quote like means that you are against Sibelius. I was very surprised to find out that someone who is so obviously anti-sibelius actually has a copy. Even more surprised to find that someone who would prefer to go back to pencil and paper is advocating the use of a dinosaur such as Cubass.

    In conclusion I would say that Sibelius has its place, as does pencil and paper. Speaking from a relatively non-musical point of view, Sibelius and tools like it should continue to be able to be used. Also, I believe that people who DO use tools such as Sibelius should not be looked down upon by people who prefer not to (even if those people own a copy of the program they are against). Everyone is entitled to their opinion but some opinions are better kept to ones self.

  13. aimee_euph

    aimee_euph Member

    us too, and i agree!

    It's so hard when you can't lay the piano, and if i want to hear the clashes or harmonies it's easy to play back.

    For O/A level purposes it is suitsble, and at the moment it is all i want it for; - Speed, copy & paste :D
  14. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    I was going to write a big message about this but then I read Bagpusses comments and found myself nodding all the way down it so ........ thanks mate :wink:

    To me, it seems that the problem our original poster has with Sibelius is not the actual tool, but the people that use it. I would think that when we were back in the "paper" days, then most amateur composers would look at the blank piece of manuscript and think "sod this" and go to the pub. But now that it's easier and more accessible, more people want to try it and find it's a lot easier to deal with, is that wrong? Or am I missing something here?
    Why does "normal" people composing or arranging bother you so much? What I took from the post is that you believe supposed "amateurs" don't even use their brains when using Sibelius. That's just ludicrous, I'm sorry but if the sounds are so mince then turn the volume knob down, it's all rather simple, and I'm sure any self respecting arranger and composer, and even the "gullible" amongst us know that there's a world of difference between what Sibelius plays us and real life. An extremely high and mighty post that holds no water with me, I think we'll agree to disagree on this one.

    PS, ask Peter Graham what he thinks of Sibelius and he'll say it's the best thing since sliced bread, and he'll give you a hundred very good reasons for it. His musical output has probably quadrupled since he started using it, and he doesn't need to pay some incompetent notater to clean it up for him, (the plague of banding) Food for thought for the "professionals"
  15. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    Pontyclun, South Wales
    Interesting choice of words for a brass band forum. Do you have something against amatuer musicians?[/b]
  16. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    Hetton-le-Hole, Tyne and Wear
    Don't compose myself, but surely any tool that makes composing easier/more accessible can't be frowned upon??
  17. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    A pub, Surrey, UK
    I, too, am against using SIBELIUS for the purposes of writing and arranging music.

    But, then, that's probably because I do all my professional work using FINALE, a vastly superior notational tool IMO.........


  18. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    I do a lot of my composing and arranging straight into Sibelius, and I don't think it makes me any less of a composer. I'll still use pen and paper when I want to, sometimes just working out a few bars to make it easier to put into the computer afterwards; and I learned my basic technique without any music software at all, but I would never go back to working like that.

    If anything, I think good quality software like Sibelius has helped me, and no doubt many others. The danger of working at a piano is that you might be limited by your own technique as a pianist, although it's not always the case (Stravinsky wrote Rite of Spring at the piano!!). The beauty of good software is you can hear much more complex ideas without having to have a large group of players right there to try them out. I'm not saying the Sibelius playback is as good as the real thing, that would be impossible - but it is an extra tool for a composer to use. The thing to do is to use the playback for what it is good for - helping me to hear complex counter-melodies and intricate rhythms - rather than criticising it for what it can't do.

    For me, it all boils down to talent. If you have genuine talent as a composer or arranger then it doesn't matter how you arrive at your end result, you'll still produce good work. Similarly, the best software in the world can't ultimately save someone who hasn't got the necessary creative flair. If you haven't got what it takes, no computer can do it for you.

  19. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    Rockhampton, Qld, AUSTRALIA
    I have just bought Sibelius for the band for one sole purpose - presentation.

    Back when I was a student int he band, whenever our conductor ahd to do a quick, special arrangement, it looked icky and it was hard to read. This isn't totally hsi fault. Not everyone has perfect handwriting, especially when doing an entire brass band on a schedule!!!!

    Now I'm conducting, and I know I have the world's worst handwriting (my student's think it's amazing that my crotchet rests look like the number 3). So it's nicoe to know I can put something together in a rush and make it look presentable.

    I do all the thinking. I don't trust computer transpositions. I am yet to see a program that does it perfectly (but then again, I've never used Sibelius yet, the software arrives tomorrow :p ). I don't consider myself an arranger, but I know I like thicker textures, and when I do do arrangments, I also add more. I know synthesised tubas are no match for a real tuba (I don't wanna be replaced by silicon!).

    However, I wish to reiterate someone's (I forgot to look who said it) comment. IT is a tool. A Lawnmower doesn't cut the grass for you, it assists in making the job easier. A dishwasher doesn't take your dinner plate and make it spic and span, you have to at least rinse and scrape it.

    I hope this is your only problem with Sibelius.

    And, I used Logic @ uni. Not as pretty, but effective.
  20. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Hadleigh, Essex
    Having read through the above posts, and from my Dad's experience of using Sibelius over the past few years, I think the important thing to remember is that Sibelius is a tool, ie part of the solution, and not the whole answer, in the same way that a keyboard and manuscript paper are.

    If you rely on any tool excessively the end product may be a little unbalanced, and there can be dangers as well as advantages in being able to cut and paste etc - transposed parts not sitting comfortably in the instruments' range, or the balance being thrown out. Equally, any system will have its own quirks, and I know Dad spends much longer adjusting the layout of both parts and score than he does with the inputting itself.

    As for the question of listening to the music written/arranged, there is no proper solution other than finding a "tame" band who will run it through - it would be good sight-reading practice for them if nothing else!
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