- Can we explain why Sibelius the preferred program?
- What's a good free alternative?
- Any other arranging guides?
- Arranging for the YPMB
Arranging (and Composing) Software
- Sibelius is best?
- Finale is okay?
- Free software equivalents are currently not as easy to use as Sibelius or Finale; however, one might check out Denemo or MuseScore, both free programs with the standard feature sets.
Listening (Transcribing) Software
Arranging off of YouTube or iTunes seems utterly primitive once you look at other software (like Audacity). You can see the song in front of you and identify EXACTLY where you want to start playback and you can play it back from that EXACT spot as many times as you like. If you need the track, you should buy it (or see Music & Movies).
When you're transcribing/arranging, it also sometimes helps to:
- Loop part of a track (SO HELPFUL)
- Change the tempo (slow it down)
- Change the key (into the key you're arranging in)
- Isolate the bass and mids, isolating vocals, etc
- Here are some software options
- Mac/PC/Linux: Audacity can do all of this, and it's the open-source standard.
- Arranging off of YouTube or iTunes seems utterly primitive once you find Audacity. You can see the song in front of you and identify EXACTLY where you want to start playback and you can play it back from that EXACT spot as many times as you like.
- Mac: Capo does the same thing, but it's easier!
- This is a (much more Mac-like) Mac alternative to Audacity. It's pretty awesome, simple, intuitive, and pretty much does everything you'd want it to do in the context of arranging (ie. changing tempo and key, isolating bass and mids, isolating vocals, etc). It technically costs $50.
- PC (and Mac/Linux): Transcribe! does the same thing, but it's easier!
- Here's a great program that you can use in place of Audacity that is more tailored for arranging and transcription called "Transcribe!". It's intuitive, easy to use and unearths all the useful tools in Audacity and places it at your fingertips. For PCs you can download the installer file AND the all-important trial reset file that allows you to turn back the clock on your 31 day free trial period right here: http://ge.tt/8mSvh05?c. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a version of this for all you Mac users.
Import MIDI Files
Did you know you can import MIDI files into Sibelius? And that just about every popular song has a MIDI alive and wandering the internets? MIDI + Sibelius = so much of the arranging work is done. I feel like I could arrange 10 songs this week! hehe
In less than an hour I just threw together a full (but unpolished!) 98-bar arrangement of "Itty Bitty Pretty One" - just by putting (arranging!) the various MIDI-parts onto the right instruments. Now I have no intention of even trying to release this song; I was just playing around with this MIDI idea. But it doesn't sound half bad for a completely unpolished song, eh?;D 
There are limitations:
- Some MIDIs might not import correctly. But so many might, especially on Sibelius 7!:D
- Your dictation skills will not improve:<
Tricks that help after importing MIDI
Clean Up Junk Text
Have to clean up some junk text after importing: Home => Filters => Advanced
- Select whole score
- Check only the "text" box and
- Select the specific text styles that the junk text is (mine was "technique" just now)
When a staff has multiple parts (like chords!) and you want only the "top ones" or "bottom ones" You can use Home => Filters => Advanced to do anything. Or try these keystrokes (ctrl+alt windows = opt+command mac): ctrl+alt+(1 or 2 or 3 for top, second from top, third from top) ctrl+alt+b (select bottom note, but it's not working for me. "bottom" is available in the filter section though)
More Keyboard Tricks
(ctrl-f this document) http://www.sibelius.com/helpcenter/resources/keyboard_shortcuts.pdf