How to create tuplets in Sibelius (Part 1)

In these series of articles, I will list all possible ways to create irregular groups of notes (in notational language known as “tuplets”) in Sibelius, from the easiest to the most complex way. For reference, I will be using Sibelius Ultimate version 2021.2. What I am about to show should be working fine with the current release version (2021.9) and back up to Sibelius 7.x, but I have not tested every version. Let’s get started.

The basics

PC/Mac

In Sibelius, creating a tuplet requires you to start with the first note or rest of the group; furthermore, such note/rest value should correspond to the ratio used by the irregular group. For example, if you want to insert a “3 eights instead of 2”, you will need to create an 8th-note/rest and then work your way from there. This is valid also if you want to insert a triplet made of a quarter note rest and an 8th note, you need to input the 8th note first. Thus, in steps:

  1. Select the bar or rest where you want the group to start, and press N to activate the caret (insertion line).
  2. Select the note value that will govern the irregular group (for example a “quaver”, 8th note)
  3. Insert the first note or rest (even if its final value will eventually change) using 0 on the keypad to insert a rest, or using a letter from A to G (or your MIDI keyboard if you use one) to insert a note.
  4. Choose any of the following options:
    1. In the Ribbon, Note Input page, Note Input grouping, hover your pointer over where it says Triplets and notice how that button is divided into two parts. If you simply click on the top part, it will insert a triplet (that is, 3 notes out of 2) based on the note value you chose before. If you instead tap on the expansion arrow, a dropdown menu will show up, and you will be able to choose a different group, up to 9 out of 8, assuming there is enough place in the bar. Ignore the Other option by now, we will look at it in another section.
    2. Press the keyboard shortcut Cmd-3 on Mac (that’s Ctrl-3 on PC) and substituted the 3 with any number from 2 to 9 according to your desired result.
The Triplets button with its down-arrow expansion submenu in the Note Input page of the Ribbon.
The Triplets button with its down-arrow expansion submenu in the Note Input page of the Ribbon.
The Triplets submenu that allows several more options.
The Triplets submenu that allows several more options.

We will look at how to refine the outlook of these irregular groups in the next episode.

iPad/iPhone

We are all happy about Sibelius finally coming to mobile, but for many actions it is a lot more complex or, better, unintuitive to get to the desired result.

In this case, one needs to enter Note Input mode (with fingers, with external keyboard shortcuts, with the Apple Pencil-affiliate link) and insert the first note or rest as with the desktop version.

Now, if you use an external keyboard with your iPad/iPhone, you will enjoy roughly the same experience that you have on desktop, while if you do not, you will need to “look for the solution”. Insert the note/rest and, with the caret still active, tap on the magnifying glass in the top right of the menu bar and, sadly, start typing for what you want (triplet, quadruplet, quintuplet, sextuplet, septuplet, octuplet, nonuplet).

You do not have other options for the time being, and please do not tap on Tuplets (style) because that is a text style and it will not insert what you are looking for.

Bottom Line

In the next episode we will look at how to master the basics (on desktop only as we cannot do that on mobile yet) and then move on to more advanced techniques that allow us to overcome Sibelius’s limitations.

If you are looking to greatly enhance your Sibelius experience, please take a moment to consider my viewset for Metagrid that I have published back in February. Metagrid is an app for iPad that allows you to control your Mac or PC from your iPad. My viewset is optimised for Mac because that is what I use; it may work on PC, but I have had no way to test it so far.

I hope you found this article helpful, if you did, please like it and share it with your friends and peers. Don’t forget to follow me on this blog and to let me know what you think.

If you are interested in my music engraving services and publications don’t forget to visit my Facebook page and the pages where I publish my scores (Gumroad, SheetMusicPlus, ScoreExchange and on Apple Books).

You can also support me by buying Paul Hudson’s Swift programming books from this Affiliate Link.

Thank you so much for reading!

Until the next one, this is Michele, the Music Designer.

Published by Michele Galvagno

Professional Musical Scores Designer and Engraver Graduated Classical Musician (cello) and Teacher Tech Enthusiast and Apprentice iOS / macOS Developer Grafico di Partiture Musicali Professionista Musicista classico diplomato (violoncello) ed insegnante Appassionato di tecnologia ed apprendista Sviluppatore iOS / macOS

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