Graphical MIDI Tools – Plugin for Sibelius


Hello composers, today I present you with
this Plugin for Sibelius Called “Graphical MIDI Tools”, which will basically add some
graphical MIDI editing capabilities to the program. Among its features, it includes: a graphical
Continuous controller automation module, a graphical velocity editor, and a little mini
piano roll. These tools have proved useful for producing
more realistic mockups, or simply having more control over the MIDI sequence. All modifications are stored in the score,
as well as in the MIDI file generated by the Sibelius “Export” function, so you will
get them when you open the file in any sequencer or DAW. The plugin is completely developed in Sibelius
Scripting language (called “Manuscript”). So no additional software is needed. Now, as some of you may know, Manuscript is
not originally conceived for creating graphical interfaces. So, through a series of workarounds, we’ll
be able to push this limitation and get something similar to a graphical interactive interface. So, let me show how this works:
The first thing we have to do is to install the “Graphical MIDI Tools Plugin” just
as any other plugin. You can find the instructions for doing this
in the Sibelius Site. I will also post the link in the description
of the video (in case you have never done this before). And once the plugin is installed you should
find the “Graphical MIDI Tools” option in the Plugins Menu. Now, before we can start using the plugin,
and this is essential, we have to assign a keyboard shortcut to it. This plugin only makes sense if used through
a keyboard shortcut, not from the menus as you will see. So for our second step, we’ll go to the
File Tab>Sibelius Preferences. Look for “Keyboard Shortcuts”. Then, select the “Plugins” Category, and
search for the “Graphical MIDI Tools”. Now assign a key to the plugin. It’s very important here that you don’t
use a combination of Shift with a key, but rather a single and plain key, otherwise it
will result too uncomfortable. Don’t worry if you find that most keys are
already taken. Just pick one you don’t’ use often, and
overwrite it. In my case, for example, I never use the “W”
so I pick that key. Once we have assigned the keyboard shortcut,
we can start working with the plugin. This plugin works on a bar basis. So, in order to activate it we have to first
select a bar by clicking on it; and Sibelius will paint it blue;
and then we press the Plugin Key (in my case the W but use which ever you have chosen). One strike and the interface will appear. This interface we see here is built from standard
bar objects: lines, shapes, texts. Only that they are positioned and colorized
as needed. Now, Sibelius cannot detect mouse clicks or
movement. So let’s see how the plugin deals with this. We will perform first the most basic action,
and that is to “close” the interface. In order to do this, we will select this red
square with the X, by making a click over it. You can see it’s a bit highlighted. After that we press the Key, and the interface
closes. What happens here is that the plugin knows
which one is the selected object, so it acts in consequence, executing the corresponding
action. Lets try something useful now: we will check
out the Continuous Controller Automation feature. So, we first select a bar and open the interface
by striking the plugin key. As I said, Manuscript language cannot detect
mouse movements or clicks but it can detect the objects positions. So, in the top left we will find our auxiliary
object which will work as our “pencil”. Think of this shape (which represents something
else in music notation) as a pencil we can move and use to draw things over the canvas. So we drag the pencil to any place inside
the lane, and the we strike the plugin key. By doing so a node will appear. This dot here represents the value of the
Modulation Wheel at this point in the score. The dashed line means that the value is kept
for the rest of the time line. Now, if we move the pencil and strike the
key we add a new node. What is happening here is that the plugin
is adding the necessary MIDI commands as we build the curve. We can continue adding nodes as necessary. We can even continue drawing the curve in
the following bar by opening it and adding more nodes. Don’t worry if buttons are repeated or you
if you’ve got many pencils, you can use any one of them. They will all be gone when we close the bars. So, let’s hear the result. You can hit play by pressing the space bar
or any of the usual ways, or you can use this handy yellow button, which will start playback
for only this staff, and from this measure. Something that is convenient when you’re
trying to adjust a passage and you need to go over it several times. To work with other Continuous Controllers,
we can select any of these color tabs. Hit the plugin key and the corresponding lane
will be opened. These tabs are completely configurable. In this case I have the factory defaults which
are: Modulation Wheel, Expression, Channel Volume, and Panning. If you want to change it, you have to select
the configuration button at the bottom right. Strike the key, and the setup dialog will
appear. As you can see, up to six tabs can be activated
at the same time. You can choose which MIDI Controller each
tab handles. You can also select a color for the tab and
even the label it will have. For example, let’s say we would like to
change the first one to the “Brightness” control (#74). To put it in a violet color, and label it
“BRI”. We save the preferences, and the changes are reflected. As another example, let’s try the Pitch
Bend. Another feature is the Velocity Editor which
allows to edit notes velocities in a graphical way. To open the editor, select the button at the
bottom left and strike the key. The Velocity editor will open. Again, here we will be using the “pencil”. But this time it will be setting the value
of the velocity This dashed vertical lines mean that no velocity
has been set for that node and Sibelius will decide the playing velocity according to expression
and playback configuration. One more thing. If you are editing the velocities for a group
of notes in the same position (that is to say, a “chord”), the value will be assigned
all the same for each and every note. In order to edit the velocity independently,
select the note-head and strike the plugin key. Now the vertical bar is displayed without
its border, signifying that the value is applied to one single note and not the group. Another main feature of the plugin is a Little
Piano Roll view which allows to make slight modifications on the duration and starting
position of the notes. Something that is useful for making the melodies
more human-like, emphasizing legato feels, or generating custom arpeggios. In this editor we will not use a pencil, but
we will work directly with the mouse, selecting one of the red stripes, which represent the
sound of a note. These are technically beam lines which are
painted in red. We can drag and move the stripe horizontally. Then we press the plugin key and the sound
changes its position. Keep in mind that the written note will not
be affected by these changes. Only where the sound starts. If we want to change the length of the sound,
we can click on one of the edges of the red stripe. Once we move the edge, we strike the plugin
key and the changes are applied. We can move the sound even out of the original
bar, but the written note will still remain the same. Notice that these modifications could be done
manually by introducing the parameters in the inspector window. What we are doing here is basically changing
the parameters in a graphical more intuitive way. The mini piano roll currently does not support
changing the pitch of the note, so moving the stripe vertically will be ignored. There are two arrows here which work for scrolling
the piano roll up and down. Just as any other button in this plugin, select
it and then strike the key. Well folks, those are the main features of the plugin. Now, for some final comments:
First, this plugin is not an absolute replacement of the sequencer or the Digital Audio Workstation. You will still need to do some final adjustments
to the mockup there. And though this may not get you to the final
result, it will certainly take you close to it, enabling you to prepare better drafts you might want to show, before moving to the sequencer
stage. Or it will simply help you at trying your
composition, when it comes to crescendos, diminuendos, brass swells, etc. Secondly: The plugin is written in Manuscript. A language that was not conceived for these
type of graphical applications. So, some limitations arise:
1) The elements building the interface are common bar objects. So, you are able to move them and fool around
by breaking things. Try not to do it but don’t worry if it happens
accidentally. All elements are marked so, that they disappear
when the bar is closed. Also, if you are to print the score, remember
to close the bar so that the elements of the interface are not printed. 2) Sibelius does not allow drawing lines which
are too small. So, a workaround has been applied using beam
lines (which can actually have a short length). But don’t worry if you see from time to
time a little “hair” going off the main path when you put two nodes too close. 3) Magnetic positioning. Sibelius has a tendency to align every bar
object to a written note. This can be an issue when working with precise
movements. A workaround has been applied also here that
helps in this matter. But you may find the need to accommodate things
manually, especially when working in the Mini Piano Roll. Over all, I hope you like and enjoy this plugin
and find it useful. This plugin requires Sibelius 7.5 or higher. It has been tested on PC and Mac. Just make sure you have a version that supports
plugin installation. For instance, Sibelius “First” does not
support installing plugins so it wouldn’t work. You can acquire the plugin from my personal
web page. I will post the link in the description. Your contribution to this project is very
important for supporting this development and the addition of new upcoming features. And for a final note, if you are a film composer,
please check out the “Score Maps”, also available on my web page. Thanks and in any doubt please contact me
at by email or facebook. By for now. Best regards!

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