Users and developers of the music notation software Sibelius have expressed concern about the software’s future, in the wake of a reorganization at the software’s owner Avid. Sibelius wasn’t singled out in the reorganization announcement, though it was mentioned in company background boilerplate on the press release as one of the key company products. CDM asked Avid for the full details.

Avid spokesperson Ian Bruce confirms to CDM that the Sibelius line of notation software will remain part of the company, from iPad to education products to the flagship notation tool itself (which is also integrated with Pro Tools). Avid also says that support for M-Audio and AIR products will fall to the new owners, inMusic, as inMusic acknowledged separately to CDM; the same will be true for Pinnacle and formerly Avid-branded, entry-level video products.)

CDM: Will Avid retain the Sibelius product line, including the iPad app [Avid Scorch] and Groovy Music?

On Sibelius specifically, this was not part of the sales we announced this week. Sibelius stays with Avid, and remains an important brand and product family for us going forward. This includes the sub-brands you mentioned.

Avid has said it is reducing headcount organization-wide, yesterday, related both to streamlining efforts and the divestment of the consumer divisions, but they have also said they will focus on current product lines, and explicitly include Sibelius among those families.

Updated: Separately from the official Avid line, reports elsewhere paint a radically different picture:
Avid To Close UK Sibelius Office [Pro Tools Expert]
Breaking disaster: Sibelius to shut down [Arts Journal]

Based on my interactions with the notation developer in the past, the UK office represents the bulk of the Sibelius operation in regards to development and product management.

Updated, Wednesday July 4: Unnamed sources have confirmed to CDM that the UK office is closing. Critically, though, we don’t yet know what the future of personnel may be following the closure. (The office’s closure almost certainly represents significant personnel cuts, but there aren’t yet reports of how deep those cuts may be.)

Avid declined to comment on the office’s closure or headcount reductions.

  • SkyRon™

    Sibelius: Whoever doesn’t know his Violin Concerto (especially the orgasmic 2nd movement) and his Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Symphonies, and of course “Swan of Tuonella” (instead of ‘Finlandia’—because I play E-horn!), you need to sit back and listen! 

    Music notation hasn’t had any major breakthroughs since the graphic notation days of the 1960s. Most symbols handled by digital notation systems like Finale and Sibelius were created prior to the mid – to – late 1930’s (as in Bartok’s Third Quartet–snap pizzicato). Digital tools are creating notation systems that could handle “Le Sacre” and, maybe with a bit of fudging, Berio’s “Sinfonia” (1966). Minimalists don’t push notation, so these systems are fine for Reich and Glass imitators. And, hey, let’s face it, pop music (even revered Radiohead, NIN, et alia) (who’s ‘et alia’ ? some new band I haven’t heard on Pitchfork?) does not push the notation envelope.

    I work with multiple performers at multiple tempi (via click tracks on iPods). Notation software doesn’t do this (unless you know one that does–that would prevent future rants from me!).

    You know, I’ve mentioned before mNotation™, an online random music notation generation system created by composer Joey Bargsten. That seems to me like an actual extension of the idea of notation (since the CDM franchise is all about pushing envelopes and such), even though it was created in a tool as uncool as Flash. It creates nostalgic, Modernist clouds of atonality, which you may or may not ‘be into’. Very 1980’s, but isn’t it about time for an ’80s revival?

    So, long story short, I see the possible demise of one notation software as regrettable, but ultimately, meh. (. . . . and of course, my comment can certainly be regarded similarly!) . Best, SkyRon™

    • Robert Davidson

       Actually notation has massively exploded since the 60s, but it’s seen in things like spectographs, piano-roll notation, waveform displays, and the huge variety of visual representations in digital audio workstations, which make traditional notation look like a blunderbuss.

    • SkyRon™

      Ok, so we must continually redefine notation, and frame the discussion in the context of Mr. White Stripe’s latest album. I get it! Cool! best, SR

    • SkyRon™

      But, you know, spectrographs, waveform displays and visual representations in DAWs are not really, like, you know, intended to be used as notation, are they? Or am I completely out of my meds? I mean, notation generally has meant “graphical representations of sound events intended to be reproduced by others”, or something like that, right? I mean, does anyone really ‘play’ a waveform display?  I don’t know, I’m over thirty and thus irrelevant to this discussion. But what about the phonoautographs made in the 1860’s? (yes, it’s true. google it)? OK, sorry to get so Wittgenstein-y on you. I just wanted to make a distinction between notation as representation and notation as system for further/future real-time, human realization. I’m just trying to arrive at clarity here. . . 

    • SkyRon™

      (and ok, piano rolls – – – I completely surrender to the genius [or genious, as your generation misspells it] of Conlon Nancarrow, Great High Lord of the Ampico Recording Piano!) Piano rolls are a bit like MIDI files, though, no? So, ripe for remixing; not quite in the same category as waveform displays and visual representations – – how does one ‘play’ those?). Best, SR.

    • SkyRon™

      Apologies for my lack of clarity in the posts below. We perhaps need to frame our discussions in terms of “visual representations of sound”, which all DAWs do, as does all software which deals in mp3, aiff and wav files; and “symbolic languages intended for the – – basically, human – – reproduction of some type of audio phenomenon”, which is how I would define ‘notation’. Algorithmic processes, MIDI files, and piano rolls may indeed be a third stream: elements capable of reproducing sound based on a method of encoding pitch and time events. Better? Hope so.

  • gesslr

    Arggh. I just bought Sibelius last month and have been investing time in coming to grips with the thing. (Sidebar: The actual notation stuff is pretty straightforward. It is the sound set up and mixer that drives me bonkers. We’re it to take a lesson from Notion3, it would rule the roost.) I hope they continue developing it (especially the aforementioned sound management and mixer).

  • Gwydion

    Principle != Principal 

    • Peter Kirn

      Yes, this is why I typically try to avoid editing stories around midnight… sheesh…

  • Hellgi

    What a disappointment. Yet, not completely surprising. Not the first time (nor the last) that a big corporation buy out a smaller company, officially, with the best intent, to end up getting rid of it (or destroying it) after a short honeymoon period. Apple is no stranger to that either. It’s just a big disappointment, because Sibelius is an awesome program which can still be improved in major ways. Let’s hope the “new” team will make that happen.


    I would hope that if they are closing down the London Office that they will come to California and operate worldwide from there.  The bad thing about selling companies is that the new company often does not really know or give a hoot about the company that they are buying. We saw this when certain print publishers (e.g Kalmus) were sold to Leonard.  Oh these folks were into Rock n Roll big time and did not seem to know that they had bought the major world source of Bach printed music. They did not give a hoot about Bach, Beethoven et al and you were out of luck if you wanted to purchase their scholarly Urtext editions. After worldwide complaints about this someone got the message and the catalog was sold back to Kalmus et al and everyone again became very happy.
    Sib is a great program that even a 6 year old child can get up and running within 30 minutes or less unlike other such programs that are designed for computer geeks more intrested in the programming side of things than creating music.  I had tried others and after spending some 4 weeks trying to master another program I gave up and got my money back and bought Sib. I have been very happy ever since except for the fact that I cannot incorporate sounds not included in the program or can with some difficulty.