When you type in chord symbols in Sibelius 7 and earlier versions, they do not play back by default.  However, you can use a plug-in to realize the chords for playback and printing.

For example, let’s take the lead sheet of the folk song Scarborough Fair.  The melody and chords have been entered. When you press play in Sibelius 7 and earlier versions, only the melody plays back.

Here is the audio playback of the above file: Scarborough Fair melody

Realizing Chord Text in Sibelius

If you want to realize chords for playback, follow these steps. The plug-in will create new staves and use the existing chords to create the staff. The new staff will then playback.

  1. Select some or all of the file.  Since there are several options for realizing chord symbols, you could use one style for the beginning of the piece and then another for the next section.
  2. Sibelius 7 choose  Text > Plug-ins > Plug-ins > Chord Symbols >  Realize Chord Symbols.
    Sibelius 6 choose Plug-ins > Chord Symbols >  Realize Chord Symbols

Make some choices from the Plug-in window. I usually go with one chord per chord symbol for just a basic playback.

Here is what the plug-in produced:

Playback:  Scarborough Fair2

Other Plug-in Instruments and Styles

You can experiment with other options such as changing the instrument to piano and/or changing how the realized chord symbols behave:  Chord every beat, Chords follow score rhythm, 8th note Alberti and others.

Hiding the Created Staves using “Focus on Staves”

After you have realized the chord symbols, you can also hide the staves created by the plug-in so they are not seen on the monitor or printed out.  Here is how it works:

  1. Select just the staves in the score that you want to display and/or print. Click in one staff and use CTRL (Command on Mac) to click in the other staves. Include everything you want to display except the realized chord staff that Sibelius created.
  2. Sibelius 7:  Layout > Hiding Staves >Focus on Staves.
    Sibelius 6: View > Focus on Staves or click the staff icon on the toolbar.

TIP: Sometimes when you add plug-ins in Sibelius if there has been layout formatting, the staves will over lap. To remove the formatting:
Sibelius 6 & 7:  Choose Layout > Format > Unlock Format