Recently I received an email from a friend asking if there is a way to load an MP3 into Sibelius for playback and sync it to the tempo of the MP3. Why yes there is!
The Video window is not just for videos!
The Video window allows you to open video format files such as avi, mpg and mov in Sibelius. When you playback the score you can hear the Sibelius playback sounds and the audio from the video file. What many users don’t realize is you can also open audio file formats such as MP3, AIFF or WAV in the Video window. I’ll refer to the audio file as MP3 from here on but it’s the same for any of the audio formats.
Here’s how you do it:
In Sibelius 6: Go to the menu Play>Video and Time Code>Add video. This will open a window so you can find the MP3, select it and click open. The video window pops up in a smaller size that shows just the audio volume control.
In Sibelius 7: Go to the tab Play>Video>Add video This will open a window so you can find the MP3, select it and click open. The video window pops up in a smaller size that shows just the audio volume control.
Now when you start playback of Sibelius the MP3 will play along. But unless you are really lucky, the start of the MP3 and the tempo are not going to line up with bar 1, beat 1 of your Sibelius score.
Time to sync!
First you have to determine where beat 1 bar 1 is on your MP3. There are several ways to do this. The most efficient way I’ve found is to open the MP3 in an application where you can see the wave form and determine where the song actually starts.
I’ve opened this MP3 in Transcribe and you can see beat 1 bar 1 is at 1.69 seconds so let’s round it off to 1.7 seconds.
Now you need to tell Sibelius where bar 1, beat 1 is on the MP3. The procedure is the same in Sibelius 6 or 7.
In Sibelius 6: Go to the menu Play>Video and Time Code>Time Code and duration and this brings up the Time Code and Duration window.
In Sibelius 7: Go to tab Play>Video>Time Code and this brings up the Time Code and Duration window.
Go to the “Start video from” box and type in 1.7” This let’s Sibelius know to start playback 1.7 seconds into the MP3. Click OK and you are ready to go. Now if your MP3 was recorded to a click and it matches the tempo marking(s) of your score, everything will sync. If the audio file was not recorded to click or you don’t have the exact tempo, the sync will drift. You can try tweaking the tempo and/or the “Start video from” time.
If you are still having trouble, you can set a more exact tempo map using the Record Live Tempo function found under the Play menu in Sibelus 6 and the Play tab in Sibelius 7.
See the Sibelius help menu or the Sibelius reference manual for specific instructions.
You also have the option to the start the MP3 playback anywhere in the Sibelius score. Let’s say you have added a 4 bar intro and you want the MP3 playback to start at bar 5. First you need to know where bar 5 is in the timeline. Go back to the Timecode and Duration window. On the left side you’ll see “Timecode” check the radio button for ‘Above every bar.’ This will show an exact timing for each bar on the score. You can see on this score bar 5 is at 6.1 seconds.
Go back to the Timecode and Duration window and for “Start Video from” click the radio button next to the box marked “in score” and type in 6.1. Now when you playback your score in Sibelius the MP3 will start playing at bar 5.