Tutorial 1c: HyperScribe - Notate As You Play

So far, you’ve explored ways of entering music into Finale note-by-note. Simple Entry is useful for working without a MIDI keyboard, and Speedy Entry makes good use of the MIDI keyboard with the computer keyboard for extra speed.

One of Finale’s most useful features, however, is its ability to record and transcribe a live performance in real time. To do this you’ll be using the HyperScribe Tool, which notates your performance almost as fast as you can play it. By the end of this tutorial, you should be able to get notes on the page by playing on your MIDI keyboard with HyperScribe.

If you don’t have a MIDI keyboard or microphone, skip ahead to Tutorial 2.

Introduction to HyperScribe

Each time you play a note on your MIDI keyboard, the computer receives certain information via the MIDI cable: which key you struck, how hard you hit it, and how long you held it down. But to convert your performance to standard notation, the computer needs to know how each note’s duration relates to the beat and the measure.

In the past, music programs solved the “where-does-the-note-fall-relative-to-the-beat” question by producing a metronome click while you play. In other words, the computer itself provided a point of reference, forcing you to align your playing with the computer’s beat.

Finale offers this option, but also introduces a novel concept: let the musician provide the click. The computer gets what it needs to transcribe the music—a reference point for each beat—and the musician gets what he or she wants—the freedom to speed up or slow down while playing.

What’s more, Finale lets you decide what you’re tapping to provide this tempo reference; if you’re playing a single-line melody, you might tap along on a very high or low key on your MIDI keyboard. For two-handed performances, you’ll probably choose to tap your foot on a pedal. But any MIDI controller, from breath controller to modulation wheel, can provide the tap.

HyperScribe, as this recording mode is called, can be extremely accurate. First, however, Finale needs you to answer some questions concerning what you’re about to play:

In this tutorial we’ll explore how these settings affect your transcription. HyperScribe, by the way, isn’t just for keyboard virtuosos. No matter how slowly you go, HyperScribe is still an excellent means of entering music—single-line or simple music in particular—into a score. Even non-keyboardists often come to prefer HyperScribe for quick, accurate note entry. With the MicNotator feature, you can even play your favorite instrument, like clarinet or saxophone, to enter notes. See MicNotator for more details.

In the following sections, you’ll give HyperScribe a try. For a more complete discussion of various settings and how you might use them, see the User Manual under HyperScribe Tool or the Quantization Guide in the Appendix.

Creating a New Document Style

There are hundreds of variables in published music notation: thickness of the staff lines, size of the notes, distance between accidentals in a key signature, and so on. Finale will let you change settings for some of these variablesalmost every variable you can think of.

However, you probably won’t want to set up your favorite design rules each time you create a new piece. Teaching Finale precisely how you like your music to look could take you half an hour every time you launched the program.

The good news is that Finale lets you determine all these variables once, after which it remembers your preferences for any future piece. The Finale 2009 folder houses a collection of “Document Styles,” each a collection of settings that can be applied to new files when you begin a new document using the Setup Wizard. There are several Document Styles already included with page numbers at the bottom of the page, specific music spacing rules, and so on.

Of course, you can and should create your own Document Styles, using your own favorite setup; the ones we’ve provided are meant to serve as an example. When you’re finished with these tutorials, simply create a new document (or modify one we’ve provided), edit the desired Document Options, load desired libraries, and save it in the Finale 2009/Document Styles folder.

For this tutorial we will start a document with a single treble clef staff using the “Engraved Maestro Style.”

Click and Countoff

Transcribing a Scale (with a Click)

Note that you can access the Click and Countoff dialog box from here. For more details, see Click and Countoff dialog box.

If you wish to use the internal speaker on a Macintosh, select the MIDI Menu, then Internal Speaker Playback.

As you play each measure, it fills up with notehead-like dots; only when you’ve completely filled a measure (and moved on to the next) does the full-fledged notation appear.

Transcribing a Melody (with a Tap)

Before we start recording our melody, we need to change a few settings, such as the countoff measures.

For this test, you’ll use a key. If you know the MIDI key number of the note you want to tap, you can enter it into the MIDI Note text box (middle C = 60). Otherwise, you can enter the note information just by playing it:

When using  HyperScribe with a Tap, make sure you play the first note at the same time or after the first tap.


Recording Audio (Optional)

If you have a microphone attached to your computer, and would like to learn how to record an audio track, continue with the steps in this section. Otherwise, skip ahead to Setting the Time Signature Beaming Patterns.

Finale allows you to record audio directly into a document with the HyperScribe Tool. You might use this feature, for example, to record a solo vocal line.

Setting the Time Signature and Beaming Patterns

When you feel confident with playing a single-line melody, you might like to try this experiment: playing with two hands while tapping with your foot.

In the previous experiments, you used Finale’s default setting of quarter-note key taps. In the next experiment you’ll be trying a piece in N time, which will require you to change some of HyperScribe’s settings.

Open the file called “Tutorial 1c.” This is a grand staff like one you can create with the Setup Wizard.

Note that with the Time Signature Tool selected, you can also right (Mac: )-click a measure to choose a new time signature.


The Time Signature setting does more than set the meter; it also determines the beaming patterns for the music you’re about to enter. You could have increased the top number to 6, and decreased the bottom number to eighth notes, like this:

But then you’d wind up with no eighth notes automatically beamed together. By specifying a meter formed by two dotted quarter notes (instead of six eighth notes), you’ve instructed Finale to beam the eighth notes together in dotted-quarter note groups—that is, in groups of three.

Two-handed HyperScribing

If you take this much care to set up HyperScribe every time you play, you should get excellent results.

If the dotted-line rectangle never budged from the first measure, there may be something wrong with your MIDI setup. It’s possible that your pedal isn’t sending a signal; check your connections and try again. Or try a non-standard pedal for the Tap.

If you got something, but it doesn’t look accurate, check the settings you made in the HyperScribe Menu. Also, be sure your foot taps were synchronized with your hands.

In this file, we’ve turned off Scrolling Playback, so Finale simply plays the music it encounters in your score, but the screen display doesn’t change. If you want, you can tell Finale to scroll the music as it plays, so you can follow the score as you’re listening to the playback.

NOTE: To play a score—a large score in particular—is already a demanding task for a computer; to continuously redraw the screen at the same time requires massive amounts of computational power. Therefore, when using Scrolling Playback, the Playback Controls help the computer cheat a bit by taking a moment to prepare the audio portion in advance. Then, when you play back, only the visual portions are computed.

When You're Ready to Continue

Feel free to experiment with HyperScribe. For further information on quantization, consult the User Manual under Quantization Guide in the Appendix. Close your file, saving it if you want.

In the next tutorial, we’ll add more details to our score with key and time signatures, lyrics, repeats, and guitar chords.