One of the most fascinating and time-saving orchestrating tools in Sibelius is the Arrange feature. I have been using it since Sibelius 3 and it is a wonderful time saver. I think of the Arrange option as actually an orchestration feature since it orchestrates the music you provide for the instrumentation that you select. It does not harmonize your music, realize chord symbols, add counter-lines, substitute chords, or remove the need to study these and other topics further if you need to use them. (Sibelius does have plug-ins that can be used to harmonize, realize chord symbols and more. These will be covered in a future post).
The Sibelius Arrange feature has many built-in orchestration styles that can be applied to any style of music and can save time. Even if it does not give you the complete final result, it can be a helpful guide to finding the idea orchestration.
I use a sketch staff when writing an arrangement. Then I can copy and paste from these staves and use them to score other parts. Here is how you can use the Arrange feature in Sibelius:
1. Select the source region containing the music you wish to orchestrate.
2. Copy it.
3. Select the destination staves.
4. Choose the Arrange Style and choose paste.
The key is to use the arrange feature for parts of a score, not an entire score. And, if you are working with a full band, jazz or orchestra score, you can use different arrange styles for the various sections.
Here is an example. I entered some 5-note chords in the sketch staff and then use the Arrange feature to put them into the sax section staves.
The steps include:
1. Select the staff with chords: double-click to select a system, click and shift-click to select a region.
2. Use the shortcut: Command+C (Mac); CTRL+C (Win) to copy the selected bars.
3. Click on the Alto 1 staff in bar 1, then shift-click on the Baritone part.
4. Select Notes > Arrange or use the shortcut: Shift+Command+V (Mac); Shift+CTRL+V (Win) to access the Arrange Styles list.
5. At the top of the Arrange window, choose Explode.
Explore Other Arrange options
1. Press the Undo arrow at the top of the screen several times to remove the notes just entered.
2. Select the top part.
3. Use the shortcut: Command+C (Mac); CTRL+C (Win) to copy the selected bars.
4. Click on the Alto 1 staff in bar 1, then shift-click on the Baritone part.
5. Select Notes > Arrange or use the shortcut: Shift+Command+V (Mac); Shift+CTRL+V (Win) to access the Arrange Styles list.
6. Choose: Jazz: Saxes Tenor Lead 1.
7. Undo this and experiment with other Arrange options.
There are many jazz styles such as Sammy Nestico and the Count Basie Orchestra and others.
And, the Arrange feature is not limited to jazz. Check out the incredible list of options for other ensembles.
There are times when you will get the dialog box that Sibelius can’t arrange the source material into the selected staves. So, experiment with different options.
For more information on the Arrange feature:
Check out Jazz arranger David O’Rourke’s document, which describes how to create great jazz voicings using the Arrange feature and the Jazz Arrange styles in Sibelius.
Check out the book, Sibelius a Comprehensive Guide, that I co-authored with Vince Leonard. It has a section of Chapter 11 dedicated to the arrange feature: Chapter 11, pages 302-311 written by Vince.