In my courses and workshops, one of the most common mistakes that I see is entering slurs and ties incorrectly. The reason to get them right is that playback will be off especially if you are entering slurs where there should be ties. And, the look of the items will not be accurate.
TIE: A curved line used in musical notation to join two successive notes of the same pitch, showing that they should form one sound lasting for the duration of their combined values. It is used to join notes either side of a bar-line or to make up a total note-value that is not available in single notes. (from The Oxford Companion to Music)
SLUR: A curved line used in musical notation to group notes for various purposes. It commonly indicates that the notes it affects are to be played or sung legato, or smoothly. On stringed instruments this normally implies that the notes should be taken in one bowstroke or, if this is physically impossible, that any change of bowstroke should be imperceptible. In music for wind instruments, and in vocal music, the slur normally implies that the affected notes should be taken in one breath. If notes within a slur have dots above or below them, they are to be played slightly detached (i.e. mezzo-staccato, but not as detached as staccato). In vocal music the slur is also used to call attention to the fact that a single syllable is to be sung to several notes. A slur over an extended group of notes may indicate the limits of a PHRASE and may encompass smaller groups of slurred notes.
(from The Oxford Companion to Music)
See below for the steps to entering slurs and ties in Finale or Sibelius.
Entering Ties in Sibelius
Ties should be entered from the first Keypad layout. I usually input ties as I am entering the notation.
- enter the left note of the tie
- click the Enter Key on the first Keypad layout. Do not select the tie before you enter the note as it will be assigned to the last note entered.
Entering Slurs in Sibelius
Slurs in Sibelius come from the lines menu. The shortcut to enter a 2-note slur is the letter S.
- press Esc so nothing is selected.
- select the left note of the slur to highlight it.
- press the letter S. You can also select it from the Lines menu.
You can tell is it is a slur or tie by clicking on it. Slurs have handles so you can manually adjust the height and length of the slur. Ties do not.
To enter a 3 or more note slur in Sibelius, you have two options:
- select the first note of the slur, and press the letter S
- Then press the space bar to expand the slur
The second option:
- press Esc to clear the cursor
- click on the first note of the slur to select it
- hold down shift and click on the last note of the slur
- press the letter S to enter the slur.
- When the slur is highlighted you can flip it by pressing the letter X.
Entering Ties in Finale
Ties are entered in Finale using either the Speedy or Simple entry tool. I usually add ties as I am entering the notation. If you are using Finale’s real-time entry HyperScribe or importing MIDI files, you will have to use Speedy or Simple entry to edit the entries that are incorrect.
- Enter the left note of the tie
- Press the letter T all by itself or choose Simple or Speedy menu > Edit Commands > Modify Entry > Tie to next note.
- To remove a tie, select the left note of the tie and press the letter T.
TIP: The original Speedy note shortcut is the equals (=) sign. This still works to enter a tie but you can also press the letter T. The equals sign does not work as a shortcut in Simple entry.
Entering Slurs in Finale
- Choose the SmartShape Tool.
- In the SmartShape palette, click the Slur Tool.
- To enter a 2-note slur, double-click on the left note.
- To enter a slur over 3 or more notes, double-click on the first note and hold down the second mouse click.
- Drag the mouse though the notes to the end of the slur.
- If the Slur Tool handles are displayed, you can flip the slur by pressing the letter F or choosing it from the SmartShape menu.
TIP: When adding slurs to an existing tie, the slur should encompass both notes.