Sibelius 7 review

£223
Price when reviewed

Most music packages require a good workstation, but Sibelius puts heavy demands on your system: you’ll need a multi-core processor and plenty of RAM. You’ll also need plenty of hard disk space, not to mention patience. The program’s massive instrument libraries are spread over a whopping four discs, and while the authentic orchestral sounds make it a powerful tool for composition, it takes a good couple of hours to install them all.

Sibelius is focused on classical notation and composition, so perhaps it’s no surprise that getting to grips with the application is challenging. There are no easy tutorials for students to access, and the only guide is a lengthy PDF document. While there are step-by-step wizards to automate the basic tasks, there are no shortcuts to cover a lack of musical expertise.

A basic knowledge of music and notation is required to get tangible results, and while a little discovery could work, Sibelius’ classical approach doesn’t lend itself to the kind of intuitive music-making of sequencer and loop-based packages.

Sibelius 7

Sibelius has power to spare, and this is reflected in the range of tools, features, menus available. The interface can be daunting; it’s closer to Microsoft Office 2010 than a conventional music package, with a ribbon used to select different menus and carry out various tasks. There’s no doubt this is a program aimed at secondary students and dedicated music lessons.

In this context, however, it’s an amazing platform for learning classical music: it provides all you’ll need for writing and orchestrating. Everything is tailored to producing good, clean-looking scores, with features such as Magnetic Layout ensuring notes are spaced properly and each bar is clearly legible.

There are also some nice, intuitive features for adjusting tempos as you play back your work to give it a live feel. Extra applications come bundled with the software that allow scores to be scanned in or transcribed via an audio input. These are both useful and fun, giving perhaps a little more insight to those without a musical background.

Details

Software subcategory Audio production software

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