Tag Archives: Verse Numbers

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