A not insignificant alarm has rung out in the music production world, with the news that Avid is shutting down the London office of Sibelius, the much-loved and loyally supported music notation programme. Avid, the makers of Pro Tools, bought Sibelius in 2006 and since then we have seen versions 5, 6 and 7 of Sibelius released to the public.
However, last week’s announcement, coming as part of a major shakeup of Avid’s operations, has invited a lot of speculation about the future of Sibelius.
Was Sibelius 6 The Ultimate Notation Programme
As it happens, I was chatting with a good friend just over a week ago in London, about the trajectory of Sibelius. My friend is an arranger and copyist who has worked with some of the biggest names in the classical world. We talked about the mixed reception that Sibelius 7 had received and both agreed that while the new version had some good features and any software could benefit from improvements, Sibelius 6 was very close to perfect as far as music scoring and notation software goes.
We both felt changes were being made to Sibelius to make fit the Pro Tools environment had made the notation programme more menu-bound and less fluid. Still, Sibelius 7 is an amazing bit of kit.
The Future Is Not All Apples
I really wish Apple had bought Sibelius. Logic Pro has a notation component, which I’ve never loved. Logic produces workable, but fundamentally ugly scores. Sibelius could have thrived under Apple, but I guess high end scoring software is too niche for Apple.
But, as it looks now, there is a distinct possibility that Sibelius may not exist in the near future, or, it may become less than appealing to composers, copyists and serious arrangers.
Personally, I’m gutted by the news. I’ve been using Sibelius pretty much every day I’ve been in the studio since 2003 and it’s become part of my musical imagination. My mind is now wired to bring the notes I imagine to life through Sibelius’ keystrokes and interface. Everything I compose or arrange comes to life in Sibelius.
For some further views on the issue, here’s a roundup of blogposts discussing Avid’s announcement and what it may mean for Sibelius users.
Sibelius UK Office Closes Avid Selling Consumer Businesses
Sibelius Will Stay with Avid, But Sources Report Principal Sibelius Office to Close
Top Composers Express Anger Over Avid Sibelius Closure
Breaking disaster: Sibelius to shut down