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Moving Lyric Verses in Finale



TestNeed to move lyrics from one verse to another? Select the Lyrics tool and go to Lyrics > Lyrics Window. From here it’s a simple task: Just cut the text from one lyric and paste it in another.

Once the words have been moved, however, they’ll likely need to be re-assigned to the notes in the document. You can use a modifier key – CTRL on Windows, OPTION on Mac – to click-assign the entire lyric in one go. The feature even avoids rests and tied notes.

This works great if your document has a 1:1 ratio of syllables to notes, but what if some notes are slurred together as a melisma?

Shift Lyrics offers an easy solution. Instead of having to plod through your document, click-assigning each individual note to avoid the slurs, you can use Shift Lyrics to quickly move a mis-assigned syllable one note at a time. Let’s take a look at an example.

In a sample document, I’ve inadvertently entered the lyrics of the second verse into Verse 3.  After only a few steps, I can get this corrected.

1. In the Lyrics Window, I’m viewing Verse 3. I choose Edit > Select All and Edit > Cut.

Lyrics Step 1

2. From the Lyric drop-down menu, I select Verse 2 and choose Edit > Paste. Then I select the Click Assignment tool.

Lyrics Step 2

3. In the document, I hold CTRL (OPTION on Mac) and click the first note. The entire lyric is assigned, but now I need to correct the few mis-assigned syllables. For example, “Ma-ry” needs to start in measure 3 below:

Lyrics Step 3

4. I choose Lyrics > Shift Lyrics to display the Shift Lyrics dialog box. This is already set to Shift Lyrics to the Right and Shift syllables by one note, to the next open note, so I click OK.

Lyrics Step 4

5. I click once on the syllables “Ma-”, “stood”, “ves-”, and “blood” to avoid the first four slurs, three times on “ful” to avoid the long slur, and once on “food” to avoid the last slur.

Lyrics Step 5

And that’s it: no need to manually assign each syllable individually. This can be a major time-saver in a lyrics-heavy document.

How are lyrics working for you? Share your experience with the Finale community by clicking on “Comments” below.

Steven M. Alper on Preparing Music for Broadway



Preparing Music for Broadway

In a recent Finale Blog post we met composer, author, and orchestrator Steven M. Alper, a long-time user and friend of Finale. This time, responding to a request from a Finale blog reader, Steven has kindly agreed to share his insights to preparing music for Broadway.

What are some of the unique challenges of being a Broadway music copyist? What are some of the hallmarks of parts prepared for Broadway?

First off, I’d like to point out that preparing music for Broadway is little different from preparing a score for any other form of musical theatre (in the theatre, the entire set of songs and instrumental pieces is referred to as the score) whether it be off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, regional theatre, etc. It’s really just a matter of scale.

Most of the process of modern computer music preparation for Broadway (and musical theatre in general) is a direct outgrowth of many decades of hand-copying. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, under pressure from the producers, many of the Broadway copying supervisors made the decision to begin the process of shifting over to computer copying (using Finale, almost universally). They took their many years of experience and imposed the standards and procedures that had served well in the past on music copied using computers. To this day we still create parts that would be familiar to a copyist from the 1960s.

To understand what makes copying for musical theatre unique, it’s important to recognize that the fundamental underlying beast with which the copyist wrestles is change. I can’t think of another music-based field in which the material is potentially subject to such a great amount of revision. These can entail anything from taceting an instrument to cuts to insertions to wholesale replacement of numbers. And it’s the many years of experience of handling these kinds of changes that led to the basic rules of thumb the leading hand copyists used and that we still employ.

There are four relatively distinct phases of copying music for a show.

Pre-Production

Pre-production is the time when rehearsal piano-vocal music is prepared. These may or may not be prepared by the supervising copyist, but will become the basis for the orchestral score. Even before rehearsals start, numbers which are not expected to change significantly may be released to the orchestrator to begin work. The copyist will prepare a template to the orchestrators’ specifications. For each number, the copyist pours into the template (or manually copies, if the rehearsal piano is handwritten) the vocal lines and the rehearsal piano part (which will be used as a sketch).  Next they lay out the score to a standard 4 bars per page, adjusting for proper phrasing (meaning to accommodate for music that does not fall into regular 4-bar phrases). If the orchestrator is working by hand, Show Rests in Empty Measures is of course turned off for all staves except the rehearsal piano and vocal.

Rehearsal Process

In this phase we will begin to see changes and revisions. Generally these are communicated to the orchestrator who will inform the copyists of what is needed (assuming the copyist has already received orchestration to work on). During the rehearsal period, hopefully, the bulk of the rest of the material will be released for orchestration. I say hopefully because the end of this phase leads to the event demarcating this phase from the next: the first orchestra rehearsal.

Because rehearsal time is expensive and necessarily short, parts are laid out according to some fairly strict rules which are designed to accommodate potential revisions and changes, and to assure that the music is as clear, comprehensible, and usable, as possible. Some of these include: eight stave first pages and ten staves on the following pages, all phrases and rehearsal letters or numbers begin at the left margin, double-barlines at the right margin, the use of instrument change warnings and new instrument labels, rests at every page turn (even if it means tossing out most of the other rules); and never having a page turn fall during an instrument change. Parts typically have 4 bars per line, and no more than 8 (have you ever tried to hand-write 12 bars of 16th notes on a single line to avoid having to reformat?) and no more than 8 bars of rests without cues.

First Orchestral Rehearsal through Opening

While new orchestrations may continue to come in, this is the period of most intense change and revision. Since the players will have made many marks on the music, to avoid reprinting entire parts and having to transfer all those marks for the players, it’s become standard procedure to print only the areas that have changes and paste these over the existing parts. So we try to lock down the layout as much as possible to prevent unaffected areas from losing their formatting. And limiting the parts to 4 bars per line means we can, for example, accommodate an 8-bar insert by changing 4 lines of 4 bars each to 4 lines of 6 bars each.

By the way, there’s a kind of Murphy’s law which states that all revisions will eliminate page turns or time to make instrument changes. This will of course require a more extensive type of layout modifications (try this on a bass part where you’ve squeezed 150 bars onto two pages in order to get to that one bar rest for a page turn).

Not all revisions are done at the computer. When we’re at the theatre and are informed of the need to make changes to the parts too quickly to go back to the office and print them, sometimes hand-correction is the fastest way to go. We’ll hand write the fix on blank staff paper, cut out the hand-fix and paste it over, just as we would with a printed fix.

When we go in to do our patching, whenever we have time we will look through the parts to see if there’s anything we can clean up to make the players’ lives easier.

At some point before a show’s official opening, a decision will be made to “freeze” the show, meaning that no more changes will be made. This call can be made any time prior to opening night, but I’ve been in situations where I was passing out new material to the orchestra just before curtain on opening night. This brief freeze period will give us time to sort out loose ends, take care of issues we haven’t had time to deal with, and to handle player requests (for layout changes, replacement of childishly scrawled and illegible rewrites, and the like).

Post-Opening Cleaning

Shortly after opening, if the producer feels that the show has a shot at a longer run, the copyists will be permitted to do a cleaning. In this, the last phase, the master files will be updated with all of the changes that were done directly to the parts (e.g., dictated to the players or hand-written by the copyists), as well as any other improvements and beautification deemed of value. These may include note fixes or changes, changes to instrument changes, cuts and other revisions, articulation additions, lyric changes, cue adjustments, layout improvements, etc.

Here’s a photo of a “short stack” of photocopied player parts, in preparation for a cleaning:

Preparing Music for Broadway 2

Granted, every show is a different animal and everything I’ve described above is subject to change. (I’ve also omitted two special circumstances: cast recordings and preparation for publication for a licensing house, which involve many of the procedures mentioned above.)

In Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, there was one particular number that was almost 400 bars long. For most of the parts the accordion-folded music for the number was about 1/4″ thick (even thicker for the keys and percussion). Spider-Man‘s troubled path saw its original director replaced after many, many months of previews (a typical Broadway show will have three to six weeks of previews). With the new director came a new vision, which included a new script, new music, and extensive revisions to the existing material. The production was shutting down for several weeks for the retooling. We received the direction to do a cleaning of the existing material to prepare the files for these changes. The parts for that particular number looked like snakes that had dined particularly well. They bowed outward in the middle from the quantity of revisions the number had received. There were patches over patches over patches, patches across patches, pages shoved into the middle to be pulled to the side. Some of those 1/4″ parts bulged to almost a full inch by this point. (The revision of this number that was played on opening night was cut it down to nubbins.)

Are handwritten or engraved-looking fonts the standard? For everything? Are there specific fonts that are particularly well (or poorly) received?

Many of the decisions about what the music ultimately looks like come from feedback from the players. In the early days we played around with handwritten font styles. Some players swore they preferred them until we actually put them on the stands. But it became apparent that the more traditional, engraver-ish fonts gave a greater sense of precision and accuracy. We’ve continued to play around with different fonts, but I’ve pretty much settled on Maestro for its weight and clarity (although I do use some Petrucci articulations which are more elegant and require less real estate).

Is there a standard size for parts, and a typical type (and color) of paper? Are pages taped together, in a book, loose, or ?

For Broadway and shows of similar scale, we use a special 9-1/2 x 12-1/2” heavy stock, taped accordion style, with each number taped separately. What the players end up doing with their parts can be wild; cutting them up and taping them in a different layout, tearing off cover pages, inverting the accordion folds. On one show, the bassist taped the entire first act together into a single accordion.

For out of town or off-Broadway or short runs we may use regular 8-1/2 x 11” letter size paper, printed or taped back-to-back. This of course has its own set of problems since every right hand page must accommodate a turn – there’s no option to have 3 rest-free pages with the marking “OPEN 3 PAGES” on the first page. But it is a much easier size to deal with when printing to unfamiliar printers or when photocopying the parts.

Thanks again to Steven for taking his time to share his experience with us. Have a question for Steven, or a request for future topics? Please let us know by clicking on “Comments” below.

Finale Spotlight on A Cappella Guru Deke Sharon



Deke Sharon

Back in May I was delighted to discover a video interview with Deke Sharon, the “musical force behind NBC’s ‘The Sing Off’ and both ‘Pitch Perfect’ films.” In the video we see Deke using Finale 2014 to demonstrate one of his arrangements, which have become widely influential in the a cappella world and beyond.

After we shared a link to the video on social media, we received this tweet from Deke:

“FINALE!!! My life saver! Been using your amazing program since 1991 for over 2000 a cappella arrangements. THANK YOU!”

Emboldened by his kind words I reached out to ask if he’d be willing to be interviewed for the Finale blog and was delighted when he agreed.

How would you describe your arranging style?

Honestly, I’m not sure I can. People tell me they can absolutely tell if I’ve arranged something, and I don’t know how they can tell. Moreover, sometimes they’re wrong, and maybe it’s because I’ve influenced others… who knows. I just do what makes sense to me, and arrange in a variety of styles so it’s a rather wide bandwidth more than a clearly defined style.

What vocal arrangers have been most influential on you?

So many musicians, and arrangers in general (like Claus Ogerman and Nelson Riddle), as well as everything from classical arrangers (Vaughan Williams) through vocal jazz (Gene Puerling) up through modern a cappella groups (so very many, like the Bobs and Vocal Sampling), with a healthy dose of world music thrown in (From Bulgaria’s Les Voix Mystere to Ladysmith Black Mambazo). I wouldn’t begin to know how to tease these apart, as my iPod is like my brain: a thick gumbo of music spanning the globe and a thousand years.

Have you had to develop your own notational style for certain vocal techniques?

Pitch and rhythm are generally straightforward, but timbre can be a challenge, as extended vocal techniques and non-linguistic sounds have no clear spelling. I do my best, and then teach in person whenever possible.

Have any Finale or notation tips to share?

There is no doubt that many and perhaps even most of your users have many skills I don’t but I’ll bet I have the upper hand when it comes to lyrics, since pretty much every note in an a cappella arrangement has a syllable attached to it. I could probably speak at length (boringly) about the changes over the years… let’s just say I’d like to give a hug to whomever decided that a copied music section’s lyric changes no longer effect the original’s lyrics. That has added years to my life!

How do you notate “percussion” parts?  Are there generally accepted syllables for different “instruments”?

The vocal percussion and beatboxing traditions are aural with each person having their own style and technique, so as a result 99% of the time nothing is notated, and when it is it’s usually a simple pattern a measure or two long at the end of the arrangement to give the director a general guideline. Let’s be honest: most drummers can’t even read drum notation, so I’d be wasting my time!

Do you tailor the number of parts to the specific number of singers in a group or do you take what you need from the song you’re arranging and use that to determine the number of singing parts needed?

It depends if I’m custom-tailoring an arrangement to a specific group or if I’m arranging something for publication that will be sung by a wide variety of ensembles. I try to make arrangements no harder than they need to be so that people can focus on emoting rather than extended rehearsing.

Do you have any advice for people who want to sell their own arrangements or otherwise earn their living though a cappella-related endeavors?

I do, and get asked about publishing arrangements so very often that I wrote a blog post about it, to which I direct people weekly: http://www.casa.org/content/sheet-music-and-big-brick-wall

As for people wanting more info on a cappella related endeavors, I usually send them to www.acappella.how, which I just started this year. A one-stop, ad-free clearinghouse of how-to a cappella information.

What was your introduction to Finale?

I reviewed it long ago, in 1991, for the Contemporary A Cappella Newsletter, and have been a convert ever since. I will admit I initially preferred arranging with pencil and paper, but as Finale has grown and expanded it has become increasingly clear that there’s no better tool for a composer or arranger.

What do you like about Finale?

You can do pretty much anything with it. I use it for sketches, and to publish music. It’s a high performance vehicle and a beater car, always getting you where you need to go.

Also, anyone can use it at many levels. I can always spin off midi files and PDFs, which I do, but being able to also send a .mus or .musx file and tell my singers to download notepad for free so they can watch the music scroll by as it’s playing (and make tweaks if needed) is priceless.

What would you change?

Since you asked: The default sound for vocals is always that washy “ah” choral sound, which when arranging a cappella always needs to be changed. I wish vocals always defaulted to a piano sound, which is much more useful in complex 12 part arrangements. This would save me 2 minutes, not a big deal.

You guys fixed the backward compatibility issue (THANKS!)

Ooh – here’s one more suggested fix: If I’m dragging lyrics from one staff to another and the second staff has rests, I’d love to have those words not copy, so I don’t have to go through and erase them. Often there are harmonies that don’t sing every word that the melody does, and having lyrics not “stick” to rests would definitely save time.

What you think is necessary to re-establish confidence in our innate human ability to be musical that was lost with the advent of recording technology?

We’re all animals, and like animals we use communication to connect with others, form bonds, mate. Singing is found throughout nature, from crickets to song birds, and is very clearly a part of human history, as it was the first music, and has been documented as a part of all cultures through time. All of our ancestors used to gather together around the fire at the end of the day and sing, tell stories, make music.

Something has happened in Western culture, a downward spiral, that started with a chosen few taking the stage, and then the birth of recorded music where we could listen to others make music instead of making it ourselves, and finally with the shaming of singers ala American Idol. The result is that people think they need to sing like Pavarotti or they’re garbage, and if they open their mouths in public they’ll be ridiculed. This is a travesty.

The result is that you have people singing in their showers, in their cars, under their breath. Going to karaoke bars and getting drunk before they dare take the stage. We don’t pass by a group of 30 year olds shooting hoops on a Sunday afternoon, so why should we so harshly judge some friends getting together to sing a couple songs on the street corner? We need to return music to the people, rather than the chosen few. The Simon Cowells of the world should be exposed for what they are – exploitive, shameful bullies who make fun of others to make money – and we should inspire more people to get back in touch with their own innate desire and ability to sing. They joy and connection in vocal harmony should be able to be experienced and shared and celebrated by everyone.

What music has recently moved you?

The high school group I’m working with on the new Lifetime show has been moving me every day. We recognize that teenagers lead the most fascinating, emotionally rich, complicated lives which is why they’re the focus of so many movies and stories (from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games), but they’re usually portrayed by older actors (ahem, Grease). This isn’t necessary, because when teenagers are given a voice and an opportunity to really express themselves it can be so very powerful, so very moving.

What’s next? An a cappella reality show on Lifetime? Will your participation include being on-screen as well? How is that going?

Yup! We’re shooting that right now in New Jersey. I’m one of two hosts/coaches, and will be on-camera working with a great high school group from Cherry Hill, near Philadelphia.

Just finished the first week, and I’m very excited for people to see this show, as for the first time (unlike The Sing Off, Pitch Perfect, Glee, etc.) people will be able to see how a cappella is really crafted before groups hit the stage.

If you’d like to learn more about Deke and his music, check out his website at www.dekesharon.com where he even offers free a cappella arrangements. His published music can be found at http://capublishing.com and he offers free a cappella arranging tips at http://www.acappellaarranging.com. Thanks again to Deke for not only sharing his time with us, but for so generously sharing his knowledge with other singers and arrangers.

 

Finale Spotlight on Ben Byram-Wigfield



Ben Byram-Wigfield

In our office, Ben Byram-Wigfield is best known as a knowledgeable member of the Finale forum community. In London, however, he’s also a singer, musicologist, author and the operator of Ancient Groove Music, who publish editions of sacred choral and other vocal music. (Check out their website, which offers great free resources including beautiful music, engraving tips, essays, and more.)

Ben is also the author of a new book, Finale Music App Basics, available in the UK through Flame Tree, and in the US through Amazon and others, and the book’s publication seems like a perfect opportunity to introduce Ben to our readers.

Congratulations on the publication of “Finale Music App Basics.” How did you become involved in this project?

Simon Troup of Digital Music Art posted on the MakeMusic Finale forum that a UK publisher was looking for someone. They had to be familiar with Finale, experienced at writing, and able to work to a tight deadline and strict brief. I’ve worked in book publishing and I’m used to writing quickly, so I put my name forward.

How does this book differ from other Finale guides?

It’s designed to be a true beginner’s guide. Finale is so complex that it’s very easy to be overwhelmed by the possibilities. The book keeps it simple and shows you how Finale does what it does.

Does the book’s organization reflect the order in which it was created, or did you consider other alternatives?

It takes you the whole process in a natural order: creating your first document, putting notes on the page, adding notation elements, text and lyrics, laying out the music on the page — all the way to the finished article. That seemed the most obvious and logical way.

You make it very clear that a staff is one line of music and the plural of staff is staves. Do I sense a pet peeve here? 

Not really. I do think that precision and agreement in terminology is important, and that’s how Finale has it. In the UK, “the music stave” is common. However, if you’re going to hit someone, you definitely need a staff.

You’ve been very generous with your time on the Finale Forums, helping many Finale newcomers. What motivates your forum participation?

I’ve received as much help from others as I’ve given. It’s a nice exchange of ideas, and a friendly community, though the passions of perfectionists can sometimes run high. I try to see it as some light relief from my day.

What was your first introduction to Finale?

In the 1990s, I worked at Gloucester Cathedral, and the Choir School had a copy of Music Prose 2.1 running on a Mac IIsi. I used it to engrave a newly commissioned piece for the Cathedral Choir. Not my finest work, but it started me on the path of becoming a professional engraver with Finale.

What do you like about Finale?

Flexibility and Control. Music notation has as many exceptions as rules, and Finale can achieve any result you want. You can adjust everything.

What would you change?

A lot of the UI needs an overhaul. There are too many “Russian doll” dialogs. And I’d like to see some of the plug-ins rolled into the core of the program.

Have a favorite Finale tip?

If in doubt: right-click on it.

Have any comic Finale or Finale forum anecdotes to share?

The most impressive thing I’ve seen is a drawing of a boat, done entirely in Finale.

Given Sibelius’ popularity in the UK, have you ever been pressured (or tempted) to switch (or use both)?

I was a chorister at King’s College Cambridge with the Finn twins, who wrote Sibelius. They were brighter than a pair of brain pies. [Editor’s note: Check out this Ben Finn interview] Sibelius didn’t reach the Mac platform until quite late, and I’m a Mac user of old.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently exploring the darker corners of the late Italian Baroque. There’s some really whacky stuff out there, much of which is now sadly forgotten.

On behalf of everyone who’s benefited from his help on the Finale forum I’d like to thank Ben for his generosity and wish him luck with his new book and his brave explorations into the darker corners.

Mark Adler and What’s next: Finale 2014.5



Mark Adler

Lately we’ve been hearing lots of questions about the next version of Finale and I thought this might a great opportunity to answer those questions and talk a little about my new role at MakeMusic.

The project we’re currently working on is Finale 2014.5, which will be a free upgrade for all registered Finale 2014 owners. This release will feature performance enhancements, bug fixes, and will also add some new features based on your requests. Following the release of Finale 2014d we’ve been able (for the first time ever) to gather Finale usage data, and we’re very appreciative that so many of you have opted-in and allowed us to do this. This data plays a crucial role in the course of Finale development, including the creation of Finale 2014.5.

While we haven’t announced a time frame for the release, rest assured that Finale 2014 is the version for the 2015-2016 school year.

We’ve also been asked about our plans to support Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) fonts in Finale. We’re concurrently working on this support and updating our flagship Maestro music font to be SmuFL compliant. In the process we will add thousands of new glyphs to the font. The current plan is to not provide this with Finale 2014.5, but to make it part of the next version of Finale.

As of the first of the year my title changed from Senior Editor to Notation Product Manager/Senior Editor. Today I am responsible for all of our notation products; defining the product road map and feature sets, as well as prioritizing development. As a long-time Finale user (starting with version 3.0), a professional copyist/engraver, an active performer, and a private music educator, I believe my notational interests and goals align with those of many Finale users, yet I’m always interested in learning about workflows and usages that differ from my own. My goal is to do everything I can to help make Finale the very best it can be.

If you’re interested in looking at some of my engraving work, readily available examples include the worksheets and repertoire included in Finale as well as some of my whimsical work on the Finale blog.

On a personal note, my wife and I moved the final box into our new Colorado home last week, and we’ve already made our first trip to the Goodwill to share with others some of the stuff we shouldn’t have moved in the first place.

I’m excited about my new role, home, and Finale’s future. If you have any questions for me, please share them by clicking on “Comments” below.

Steven M. Alper and Finale History



Visual Index for Print 3 700

Do you recognize the document above? This version of Finale’s Visual Index was found in the Quick Reference guide that came with Finale 3.0, with a copyright date of 1992. Today we’ll meet with its creator, Steven M. Alper, and learn a little about Finale history.

What was your introduction to Finale?

In the late 1980s I was always casting around for some way to get my music (original compositions, orchestrations, or arrangements – whatever) onto the paper more easily, quickly, and accurately. Convinced the computer was going to help, I accepted my first Mac (along with a dot matrix printer and a 20 Megabyte hard drive and software) as payment for the first show I ever copied. I had read about what software was available and decided to go with HB Engraver, which was at the high end.

On this particular show, all of the parts had been orchestrated except for the piano-conductor’s, who was reading from lead sheets. The easiest way, it seemed, to get his part notated was to have him play it into a sequencer and use software to transcribe that information. In those days, that wasn’t so easy. While HB Engraver could notate a file from MIDI data (and I believe this was before there was a Standard MIDI file  spec, or at least before it was generally accepted), recording functions were not built in. The only software that could output a file that HB Engraver could interpret was something called (I think) MIDI Painter, which could record MIDI from an external keyboard and also play back sequences you created by painting on a “musical canvas .” Quite cumbersome, but it worked after a fashion.

A couple of years later, I was music director for the off-Broadway revival of Godspell. Once we had run for a while, a guy named David Pogue started coming in to sub on the second keyboard chair. David and I hit it off and spent a lot of time in wide-ranging discussion. One topic that came up fairly frequently was notation software. David was a big proponent – oh, let’s say he was an evangelist — for a new program called Finale. It sounded interesting to me, but not enough to make me want to switch from HB Engraver.

We went around and around on this, and David was fairly relentless. He sensed victory when I finally asked, “If I buy this, will you help me find work using it?” At the time, Finale was available only at the full list price of $1000, which was a lot when I was taking home a little less than $300 a week as a big, hot shot music director.

The next day I visited David at home for an intro to the program. He spent about a half-hour demonstrating some of the basics of the different input methods and then jokingly showed how to shove about 140 measures onto a single staff. Then he told me that he was sending me to work with Jule Styne (if you have to Google that name, you should hang your head in shame). “What, are you crazy!?” I asked for at least a week. And sometime shortly after that I was working with Jule Styne, using Finale.

David was moving on to other things and started off-loading to me some of his clients for whom he did computer guru-type things as well as Finale work. And this ultimately brought me in to the Broadway copy shops.

You created some classic  Finale tutorial files. Can you remind me of your history with Coda?

I don’t know how it came about, but David was going to do that massive and brilliant revision of the Finale manual for version 3, splitting the original dense material into three volumes: a set-up and tutorial volume, a standard reference to the tools and what they did, and a kind of reverse of that which looked at what you might want to achieve musically and explained how to accomplish that. (Finale’s manuals have continued to utilize variations on David’s idea.) He brought me in to help with screenshots and to write and create the tutorial examples and The Visual Index.

David described what he wanted each tutorial example to illustrate and I whipped up some musical things to his specs. The biggest challenge was The Visual Index. David had this idea that there would be a piece of music that in two pages should demonstrate almost everything that Finale could do, with callouts telling the reader where to look in the manual for an explanation of that particular element. I remember little of the writing process, but there are two things I can tell you about this piece.

First, the production department needed the finished piece at a time well before the software was due to be completed. This meant that I was to create a piece of music that used types of notation that the version of the software I was using was not yet able to do. So I took it as far as I could in Finale, then exported it as an EPS file, which I opened in Adobe Illustrator and finished manually.

The other piece of trivia about The Visual Index is that I originally wrote a very different set of lyrics than what appeared in the final version. The people at Coda thought mine too irreverent and David came up with the pseudo-art song lyric that has appeared ever since. Here are mine:

I HAVE GOT NOTES
AND NOW
I’LL SING
MY SONG
FOR YOU.

AND IT’S ALL THANKS
TO FINALE,
TRADEMARK
OF CODA MUSIC SOFTWARE,
OF CODA MUSIC SOFTWARE,
CO-OH-OH-DA-AH-AH-AH
MU-OO-OO-SIC
SOFTWARE.
WHICH IS PROBABLY A TRADEMARK TOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

By the way, while The Visual Index may be my most famous composition, some of the tutorial examples have been used in ways I never imagined. “Tin Dance” has been performed on several occasions and was recorded for use in a documentary (about what, I can’t recall).

When Finale 3.0 was released, it was notoriously and stultifyingly slow. I did a parody of the tool bar, which featured things like a Mass Mover truck that had crashed out of the side of the toolbar and was tumbling away (the “Instrument of Destruction” tool). Some other notable tools included the “Get-That-Stupid-Expression-Off-Your-Face” tool, the “MIDIternity” tool, the “Peek-a-Boo Ossiu” tool, and “Zippy has his temperature taken” tool.

I shared my parody with David who did something I never would have: he forwarded it to the Finale engineers who, according to him, got a great kick out of it. (Here’s what we reclaimed of the parody when we tried to open the ancient Canvas file.) I also have to say that 3.2, which came out very soon after the 3.0 release, was downright spritely.

What do you like about Finale?

I like: the ability to lock things down (when you remember to) to keep things from moving around; key-assignable tools, articulations, and expressions; multiple input methods; plug-ins; and I like the fact that 99% of the time anything I need to do I can eventually find a way to do.

The two biggest plusses about Finale: the beauty of the results after care and effort; and the fact that it’s what I know. I’ve been using it since the beginning, and while there have been a few major paradigm changes, it’s always become familiar relatively quickly. When I had to use Sibelius, I literally burst into tears of frustration because it was so alien. There is very little the two programs have in common except the end goal. (However, once I achieved some level of competence, I stopped bashing the program which I admit has its merits, and I see the Finale engineers striving for parity in the areas in which Sibelius excels.)

What would you change?

Kill the bugs. I wish: Finale was smarter about collision avoidance; that, when you’ve set up inside-outside margins, the Page Layout tool would recognize when you’ve inserted a page and not give you two right-hand pages in a row; that the Lyrics tool was smarter, didn’t suffer from so many problems especially after many revisions, and didn’t slow things down so much; that the Chord tool was more intelligent and that font changes didn’t require so much tinkering; that some of the Smart Shapes were smarter; that the measure numbering tool could place measure numbers below on single-staff parts, but above on multi-stave parts; that many of the things available as plug-ins were built in. I wish it wasn’t so hard to find the things you know are in the program but you can’t find because you haven’t used them in a while.

I really wish MakeMusic would purchase Sibelius from Avid, create a direct importer/converter of .sib files, and grab everything of value and incorporate it into Finale.

Have a Finale tip youd like to share?

Learn the plug-ins. If it had been around longer and hadn’t taken me so long to find, Jari Williamson’s “Copy Part Layout” alone would have shaved years of man hours. Same for Robert Patterson’s “Copy Page Titles.” And then there’s Tobias Giesen’s TGTools, which was (and still is) a huge toolkit of time saving devices. After seeing my complaints about dealing with page number placement and some other special notation that were required at the time, Robert Patterson created the “Copyist’s Helper” plug-ins, which did some extraordinary things that seemed nearly miraculous at the time.

What are you working on now?

Aside from my own writing and arranging projects, I am the supervising music copyist for Amazing Grace, which I was with when it tried out in Chicago last fall and is opening on Broadway in July.

This post came about when a reader of the Finale blog asked if we could provide a piece about the preparation of parts for a Broadway show. I put out a few feelers to folks-in-the-know who could provide some insight and Steven was kind enough to reply. My special thanks go out to Steven for this and an upcoming post in which he shares some of his experience in copying music for Broadway.

Bicycles and Music



Johnny Random screenshot

June is bike month in Colorado. While MakeMusic will participate in Bike to Work Day on June 24, bikes are a significant part of our world every other day, too. Moderate weather, ample bike paths, and encouragement from our upstairs neighbors at TrainingPeaks all contribute to making our office bike-friendly all year round.

That said, when bikes and musicians meet, magic can happen. Check out the video above to hear what composer Johnnyrandom can create using only the sounds of the bicycle. As he says:

“Through music, I want to change the way that people perceive their surroundings, and I hope this will inspire others to look at everyday objects with more curiosity and wonder.”

If, like me, you’re intrigued, here’s another well-done video about the found objects aspect of Johnnyrandom’s music, created at the Belgium Brewery in nearby Fort Collins.

Of course, no blog post on bicycles and music would be complete without mentioning Frank Zappa’s 1963 appearance on the Steve Allen Show.

Enjoy and ride safe.

Duet Display app and Finale



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Last week I enjoyed a fine post on Philip Rothman’s Sibelius blog about the Duet Display app, which allows you to use an iPad as an additional screen for your Mac.

Naturally, I wanted to try it out with Finale.

I have an 11-inch MacBook Air that I travel with, and I often have to use Logic and Finale at the same time, which is not practical on such a small screen. While obviously I can’t run Logic on the iPad, running it on the MacBook Air and displaying it on the iPad with the Duet Display app (as seen above) works quite well.

While I typically use the MacBook mouse to control whatever is seen on the iPad, the iPad’s touch screen is a viable option for the larger controls (and I have rather large fingers).

While $15.99 seems a bit expensive as iOS apps go, it’s still the cheapest way to add on-screen real estate, and is worth considering for anyone who travels with a Mac laptop and an iPad.

What’s more, Duet Display works with any iDevice, so you can use your iPhone, too.

Why would you do that?

In the example below, I moved my Finale palettes off the MacBook Air, and assembled them on my iPhone. The touch screen interface works beautifully with the tool palettes. (If you’re using Finale 2014, make sure you have 2014d so you can select the large tool palettes in Finale’s preferences.) That said, if your expectation is to have full-blown touch screen access to Finale via your iPad you will likely be disappointed: to me the benefit is simply in additional screen space.

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If you really want to explore touch screen entry in Finale, the Surface Pro 3 is a much better bet – more on that to come.

Questions or comments? Please let us know.

Tourette Syndrome, OCD, and Finale



David Aldridge

A previous blog post introduced two rhythm pattern theory books, The Elements of Rhythm, Volumes I and II. In creating that post I thought the books represented fine examples of how Finale empowers us to create anything we can imagine. Furthermore, their creator, David Aldridge, indicated that they couldn’t have been produced without Finale. While both points may be true, it turns out they don’t begin to tell the whole tale.

I’ve since spoken to David at subsequent NAMM shows, and have learned a bit more about his background and the books’ creation. While a young man, David was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, and a published story of his came to the attention of Oliver Sacks, the best-selling author/neurologist, in part because of how David was able to leverage the way his brain worked to his advantage. More recently, David has published Tourette Syndrome and Music: Discovering Peace Through Rhythm and Tone.

In recognition of National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, David and I discussed Tourette Syndrome, OCD, Finale, and the creation of all three books.

SY: Since we last spoke in 2013, how have The Elements of Rhythm books been received?

DA: People are very curious about the idea of there being a theory of rhythm pattern development that you can actually see, because it hasn’t existed in such a structured format until now.  When Modern Drummer gave them 4 out of 5 stars in their November 2013 issue, it greatly helped introduce the concept into the drumming world, and hopefully beyond.

When you were first diagnosed with OCD?

Technically, never, but for me it did come along with the Tourette’s territory. My diagnosis in 1979 is not as broad as diagnoses are today.

Can you share your understanding of how Tourette’s and OCD are related?

Tourette’s and OCD more or less co-exist to some degree, because you have an excess of neuro-transmitters and not enough neuro-inhibitors. My personal opinion is that the brain inherently seeks order and structure, and the OCD component demands it in varying degrees from person to person. It’s somewhat about the need for symmetry, to complete a pattern. If you are walking and turn left, OCD might make you feel like you have to turn right.

Can you describe how your OCD compelled you to create The Elements of Rhythm books?

The day Terry Bozzio showed me some basic permutation patterns during a private lesson in Los Angeles in 1981, I knew instantly where things could and had to go. Within days, I’d written basic combinations, created some pairing tables, and my brain basically went into hyper overdrive and wouldn’t stop.

I had to know all the patterns because I could feel that an order existed, and it needed to be realized and brought to the surface. I saw a way to create beautiful order out of chaos, and I had to make it happen, to fully realize and present that order.

How did you come to meet Oliver Sacks?

Dr. Oliver Sacks first wrote about me over 20 years ago when he mentioned a story I’d written called “Rhythm Man” for Don’t Think About Monkeys (Hope Press, 1992). He liked that I’d taken a disability and turned it into an ability. He later wrote about me in academic papers and generously mentioned my drumming in Musicophilia (Knopf, 2007), his book about music and the brain.

You’ve mentioned “work-arounds” for folks with OCD. Can you give an example?

My OCD workaround is mostly psychological. When I get too locked into something, I remind myself that it’s just chemical, and I just have to let it run its course. I then work to direct myself towards projects I really want to get done, and this becomes the new focus. It’s a great and productive way to re-direct things.

What role does Finale play in all this?

Finale gave me the tools to harness the OCD and help me produce what I was feeling about order and present it on an incredibly complex level of layers. I wrote the entire book out by hand in the beginning, over 300 pages. Re-doing this electronically required a very powerful and flexible workhorse. I always had a vision of what it would look like, and the following examples depict the Before and After very well.

Example 1 is the Level 5 combination table, where the sixteen 4-note 16th rest and note combinations generated from the Level 4 combination table were each paired up with an additional rest and note. This produced the thirty-two basic 5-note combinations: Before and After (as seen in Volume I).

Example 2: Before is the earliest draft of the Level 8 combination tables, where the sixteen 4-note 8th rest and note combinations were paired with each other. The After example is the revised version, where I changed the combination methodology to create a cleaner layout and order.

My favorite example can be seen in Example 2 above: there are 256 fundamental rest/note possibilities in 4/4 using 8th and quarter rests and notes. I had to write them all in 4/2, 4/8, 4/16 and 4/32 as well. Finale’s transposing functions let me select dozen of pages and re-write them in seconds… as opposed to days.

Now, apply that idea to the remaining 1-7 groups of patterns, doing exactly the same thing… and you see why I absolutely worship Finale. It let me get everything out of my head, which was a blessing!

This was especially true in Volume II, where multiple music staves contained patterns that I cut and pasted after translating them. No rhythm reading book anywhere has ever taken this idea to the level I did, and I really wanted the music world to have this particular study tool.

You mentioned your story “Rhythm Man” above. Did I understand that this was the basis for your new book, “Tourette Syndrome and Music: Discovering Peace Through Rhythm and Tone”?

Yes, “Rhythm Man” was definitely the basis. I only had room for a brief account in 1992, and for over twenty years, the desire existed to flesh it out and share a great deal more information about myself and my path. Ironically, I actually had to wait twenty years to have a more fully developed path to live, learn from and share.

What were your goals in writing the new book?

I wanted to inspire people with Tourette’s to explore the therapeutic aspects of music study and performance. I also wanted to elaborate on my overall life and include discussions about the other instruments I play. For example, “Rhythm Man” ends at the night of a concert performance when I was 18 in 1979. That summer, I went to Europe with a big band jazz group, and then went on to attend music school in Baltimore. I talk about that, receiving my accurate diagnosis of Tourette’s at 20, and what it was like to live from six to 20 NOT knowing I had the disorder.

Additionally, I really wanted to share in-depth conversation about how playing acoustic and electronic drums, acoustic and synthesizer keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar, and bass guitar helped provide unique therapeutic aspects for dealing with Tourette’s. I’ve never really needed to take meds, and I have always believed that music was what made that possible.

And that’s the beauty. Music is available for virtually anyone, and if you delve into the high tech aspects of things, you can compose and record your own music, put up on the Internet, and share your creativity with the world. But you don’t have to be a virtuoso to reap the rewards of playing music. One of the main takeaways of the book is that you can enjoy all the same benefits by simply strumming a guitar in the privacy of your own home. I do that now with my mandolin, for example, that I recently bought and absolutely love. Every night, a little bit, and that’s all it takes.  I just play… and discover the peace. That’s where the gold lives.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in practicing and performing because we have to, and to overlook how playing music – simply for the joy of it – can be as nourishing as sleep, food and exercise. Thanks to David for the reminder.

Chord Positioning and Alignment



Finale’s Selection Tool makes it easy to click and drag any chord  into the right place. Sometimes, however, you need to move a lot of chords the same amount, or align all of your chords to appear uniform. Today I’ll share three options to make the process easier for you.

Finale’s default document style center-aligns chords by default. This means that when you click and begin typing a long chord suffix, the chord can appear further to the left than you had intended.

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While center alignment can work perfectly with shorter suffixes, sometimes you may need to left-align chords so they begin exactly over the beat. To do this, click the Chord Tool, then click Chord > Left-Align Chords. Your document will immediately update, moving chords slightly to the right, to show that they are now left-aligned.

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For vertical alignment, the Chord Positioning Triangles can be extremely helpful. These are the four triangles that appear to the left of your system when the Chord Tool is active. You can drag each triangle to reposition your chord symbols in different ways. Here’s how all four triangles work:

  1. The leftmost triangle positions items for every staff in the score in all systems.
  2. The second triangle from the left positions items in the adjacent staff.
  3. The third triangle from the left positions items in the adjacent staff in the adjacent system only.
  4. The fourth triangle from the left specifies the vertical positioning for the next item entered.

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Knowing and using these four triangles can help ensure that your chords are all the right distance away from the staff, without any guesswork or ‘eyeballing’ involved.

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The Change Chord Assignments dialog box offers a third way to position chords in a selected region.

To get there, press the Escape key twice so that the Selection Tool is active. Select the measures in your score you want to edit, so the music highlights blue. Next, click Utilities > Change > Chords.

Dialog BoxWhile I encourage you to experiment with all the options offered here, since we’re talking about chord positioning today, take a look at the center section of the dialog box. Here you can adjust chord position by entering specific values relative to either the Default Chord Position or their Current Position. These values should be expressed in whatever units of measurement your document is using (inches are the default), and they can be positive or negative.

Have any alignment or chord questions? Are there other topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know by clicking the “Comments” link below.