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Blog // Sounds
November 16, 2012

More On The Future Of Sibelius

Back in July I posted news about Avid shutting down the London office of Sibelius, which was responsible for the music notation programme’s design and development. Since then, there has been plenty of speculation about the future of Sibelius and even a web-based campaign to save the programme. Steinberg Steps In The latest instalment of […]

Back in July I posted news about Avid shutting down the London office of Sibelius, which was responsible for the music notation programme’s design and development. Since then, there has been plenty of speculation about the future of Sibelius and even a web-based campaign to save the programme.

Steinberg Steps In

The latest instalment of this unfolding story came last week, with the announcement that Steinberg (part of the Yamaha group and makers of Cubase) have employed Sibelius’ former development team and setup them up in a new London-based office to work on notation and education programmes.

“Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH announced today that it is establishing an R&D centre in London, United Kingdom, to focus on developing software for the music notation and education markets.”

Implications for Sibelius

It seems that, for now at least, Avid will continue to develop new versions of Sibelius. There are rumours of a version 8 around the corner. Though with the ill-will this has created amongst long term Sibelius users, the prospect of a new notation programme from Steinberg and the clamour for open-source and other notation alternatives, one suspects future sales of Sibelius will slow down.

What It Might Mean

Avid has been in a perpetual state of upheaval for some time, buying and selling brands and constantly restructuring itself. I lost faith in M-Audio products after they were bought by Avid and I had my doubts about the future of Sibelius.

By contrast, I have a lot of faith in Yamaha and despite their stop and start approach to music technology, I like what I see from Steinberg. I’m inclined to believe the former Sibelius team will deliver a good product under Steinberg’s umbrella, but I do wonder how long it will take. Perhaps we won’t see anything till 2014?

But, I’m hopeful we do see something, it will be a step in the right direction.

“As musicians, we are very excited to be joining Steinberg, a company whose unrivalled tradition of ground-breaking technologies we have always admired. As a development team, we are looking forward to bringing our extensive experience to bear on a new generation of products, designed by musicians for musicians,” adds Daniel Spreadbury, new product marketing manager for Steinberg.

How I’m Approaching This

Right now I’m using Sibelius6, having grown frustrated with Sibelius7. I expect to stay with Sibelius6 for all of 2013, baring some OSX update that kills 32 bit applications, in which case I’ll revert to Sibelius7. I won’t be updating Sibelius again, even if Avid release an update (which I assume they will).

I live in hope that Apple will one day give us a major overhaul of the notation engine in Logic Pro, but I admit, it’s a very far fetched hope. I’m leaving my options open for whatever the former Sibelius team cook up at the new Steinberg office.

However, the changes I want to see in a future notation package are not incremental. Sibelius6 really was close to perfect as a nation and engraving package as one can imagine (although I still would like to see text, annotations, lyrics and lines put on Photoshop style layers, for faster, more precise editing).

But, I’d really like to see more iOS integration, not just reading scores, but notating musical ideas and even controlling the notation programme itself. There are plenty of things in music engraving, from slurs to stave spacing, that could work well with touchscreen control.

And, I really want to be able to open my notation programme as a plugin in Logic (or any other DAW). ReWire is kind of OK, but not the same. These days I am almost always composing in the context of working with recorded sounds, soft synths and drum samples.

I would love to be able to use my notation software the way I use Kontakt, or Melodyne, from within the DAW, in real time, without having to import and export files, or manage ReWire. In fact, this is the killer feature that would sway me in the direction of any future notation programme.

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