Sibelius Chord Notation Fonts: Opus Standard, Norfolk ASL Standard and Norfolk ASC Standard

Update: After working in my scores with these different chord fonts, I prefer Norfolk Chord ASL Standard for all layouts (Full Score, Piano/Vocal, and Parts)

Getting the right chord font for notation software is a big deal for the player that has to read the music on the fly. Often I’m orchestrating scores for shows that I am working on and I need the fonts to be intuitive. When a score is laid out well visually then it’s a pleasure to play through scores for rehearsals and performance. I can’t waste a split second trying to differentiate a chord marking. It needs to be crystal clear.

Here are three examples of chord text fonts. The first, Opus Chord Standard, is what I have used previously in most of my orchestrations. It’s very clear and visually intuitive to sight-read scores (and yes, I often have to sight-read my own scores).

The Norfolk fonts are a derivative of the Bravura fonts, but made specifically for compatibility with Sibelius notation software. The Norfolk fonts are available from New York City Music Services for an extremely reasonable price at:

Here are three screen shots from a keyboard part in the most recent musical theatre show that I orchestrated. The first is Opus, and then two variations of Norfolk (ASL and ASC). The most striking difference in the three fonts is how they handle the slashes for chord with alternate bass notes (as seen in Db/F, Eb/F and F/A).

The Scoring Express templates for Sibelius use Norfolk ASC for all templates, except for Piano/Vocal which uses ASL.

I think these are excellent calls. I like the ASC slash for clarity in the main score, but also prefer the ASL version for the piano vocal because it takes up less vertical space. With piano/vocal scores the notation real estate is at a premium and that little nudge with Norfolk ASL creates a smoother vertical chord space that makes sight-reading a score a bit easier and more intuitive.





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