Early Tuesday morning an e-mail appeared with the title of “Help!” It was from my friend, Sam Fritz, a great band director from Indiana. I opened it immediately and was relieved to learn that no lives were on the line. Sam’s friend had sent him some Sibelius files and Sam wanted to know how to open them in Finale. Since others may run into this scenario I thought I’d share the answer here.
The answer is: MusicXML.
MusicXML is a file format created so that musicians using different software packages could communicate with each other. If you’re familiar with saving and opening MIDI files, MusicXML files work much the same way, but with better results as MusicXML is also concerned with how things look, while MIDI is essentially limited to how things sound. MusicXML was created by Michael Good, founder of Recordare.
The cool thing is that Finale, Finale PrintMusic, Finale SongWriter, and even the $9.95 Finale NotePad can open and save MusicXML files. Sibelius can open MusicXML files, and, with the purchase of an additional Recordare plug-in, can save Music XML files as well. That plug-in is called Dolet for Sibelius. The only downside is that the plug-in costs $199.95.
Nevertheless, if Sam’s friend owns Dolet, or knows someone who does, the answer is easy. They simply export their Sibelius files as MusicXML files. To open MusicXML files in Finale 2010, go to the File menu and choose MusicXML > Import:
Of course, another option is to have Sam’s friend save his files as MIDI files. Finale can open those too, but as I said this will lose the look of the score and retain only the note data.
There you have it.
One last thing: Because Finale family notation products can open and save MusicXML files you can easily share files – back and forth – with folks using older versions of Finale software too. Check out this previous blog post for more details.