Tag Archives: Lyrics

Lyrical Panorama

This post is a tip about using the Sibelius score-writing package – a minority interest!

When writing lyrics into a Sibelius score, there are a whole variety of ways to get them misaligned.  If you write them one bar at a time, for example, Sibelius will off-set from the lowest note in the bar, so the lyrics in different bars will be off-set to different levels.  However you do it, you get a ragged effect, like this:- Misaligned lyrics
Correcting this line-by-line can be messy (and can lead to further corrections if you change the positions of line breaks after you’ve aligned the lyrics.)

These days, I tend to start with the Panorama view for correcting this.  Panorama displays the whole score as one continuous system.  The following guideline uses the menu commands to achieve all the goal; there are short-cuts for many of these commands – but since you can find them from the menus, the menus fit my  purpose here.

Let’s start by looking at the panorama: [View] [Panorama]
Now select the entire score: [Edit] [Select] [Select All]
Since we want to align just the lyrics, we filter the lyrics: [Edit] [Filter] [Lyrics]

Note of caution: you’ve just selected all the lyrics in the entire score.  If you have multiple verses below a single musical line, then aligning those will put them all on top of one another.  Not a good idea.  Instead, you need to use the Advanced Filter – [Edit] [Filter] [Advanced Filter] and use the text filter to select just the lyrics for line 1 (etc.)  Get to know the advanced filter; it’s worth your time.

Having selected the appropriate set of lyrics, [Layout] [Align in a row]

That gets all your lyrics aligned with each other.  You can then scroll across the panorama to check the spacing from the lowest note, and use the arrow keys to move all the lyrics up or down accordingly.

The result should look like this:-

Realigned Lyrics
You can, of course, use the same process to align and move other components.  Here I used

[View] [Panorama]
[Edit] [Select] [Select All]
[Edit] [Filter] [Chord Symbols]

to select and move the chord symbols closer to the stave:-
Chord symbols aligned and moved

Who Sings This Line?

This post is a tip about using the Sibelius score-writing package – a minority interest!

There is a problem that everyone encounters when transcribing songs with multiple verses: where do you put the verse numbers?  A similar issue occurs within a single verse, where sections are sung by different singers.

Since you want the verse numbers to align with the lyrics, there is a temptation to write the verse number at the start of the lyrics.  Resist the temptation!  The problem here is that Sibelius (logically) ties a lyric to the corresponding note.  Since the verse number doesn’t have a note, writers incorporate the verse number in the first word of the verse.  I see this all the time, and it’s ugly!  (For illustration purposes, I have made examples from the music hall song A Bird in a Gilded Cage by Harry von Tizler and Arthur Lamb.)  It looks like this:Illustration of Verse Numbers tied to the first wordSibelius provides a number of ways around this:-

Independent Text
There are several options for text that is not a natural part of the score.  Click on the bar where you want to create the verse number.  Use the menu to go to [Create] [Text] [Other Staff Text] then select either “Plain Text”, “Small Text” or “Tiny Text”.  That will create an entry point for your verse number, which you can then drag to an appropriate point preceding the text.

This solution is implicit in my description of the problem.  Anything that appears in the lyrics needs to be tied to a note.  Consequently, the verse number can be tied to a note before the start of the verse!  Of course, there isn’t one, but if there is space to create one, this can be done temporarily: turn a rest into a note, select the note and [Create] [Text] [Lyrics] [Lyrics Line 1] (etc.) and put in your verse number.  When you’ve numbered all the verses, change the note back to a rest – the verse numbers stay where they were.
A variation on this is to create two lyrics on the same line.  Enter the verse, then select the first note and  [Create] [Text] [Lyrics] [Lyrics Line 1] (etc.) and enter your verse number.  This writes text over the top of the first word of the verse, but you can pick up that text independently and drag it away from the start of the verse.

In all cases, the results look like this.SeparateLineNumbers

Using Boxed Text
These days, when incorporating the name of a singer, I tend to use boxed text (a special case of “Independent Text” as described above).Sibelius Boxed Text used for verse numbers and singers' names

Where the singer changes in the course of a verse, boxed text can be used either, if space permits, within the text or, as here (in Roll Up, Roll Up from Working Man by Peter Nuttall) above the stave.Sibelius Boxed Text for changes of singer