SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

Finale and OS X Yosemite

The new Mac operating system, OS 10.10 (Yosemite) will be here soon. Rumors suggest that it could be available as early as tomorrow.

We have been actively testing our notation programs on the Yosemite beta builds, and are pleased to report that Finale 2014 runs well. We are tracking a few issues, including performance of pinch zoom gestures, but overall things look very promising.

We have, however, come across a potential crash when using Human Playback in older versions of Finale.

Finale 2012, 2011, PrintMusic 2011 and SongWriter 2012 can crash if Human Playback is enabled. In Finale 2012 and SongWriter 2012, this crash can occur when pressing “play” or exporting to an audio file. In Finale 2011 and PrintMusic 2011, we have also seen crashes occur after creating a new file with the Setup Wizard.

Changing HP to “none” can prevent the crash in Finale 2012 and SongWriter 2012, and in Finale 2012 the “Apply Human Playback” plugin can be used as an alternative to HP.

This crash is NOT present in Finale 2014, PrintMusic 2014, or NotePad 2012.

To be clear, options for users of older versions of Finale include:

  • Postpone updating to Yosemite until more information is available, or
  • Turn off Human Playback, or
  • Upgrade to Finale 2014. Learn more here.

Of course, Yosemite is still subject to change until its official release. As additional information becomes available, we’ll share that in future Finale blog posts. If you wish, you can automatically receive all Finale blog posts in your mailbox by clicking on “SUBSCRIBE” near the upper right hand corner of this page.

Finale Blog: Tim Davies’ Orchestration Screencast

Regular visitors to the Finale Blog are likely aware of Tim Davies, the Los Angeles-based arranger, orchestrator, and Grammy Award-nominated composer who’s also a busy conductor, drummer, and bandleader. His recent film projects include work as conductor and orchestrator on Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” which opened last week, and as the conductor and score arranger on “The Book of Life” (which opens this Friday). Visit the bio page on Tim’s website to see a few more of his many high-profile projects.

I know part of the secret to Tim’s productivity: He’s crazy efficient. He also clearly enjoys leveraging technology to increase this efficiency. Tim not only uses third-party software like QuicKeys to create additional keyboard shortcuts for Finale, but he also uses a separate iPad app to provide instant access, via MIDI, to all of his many QuicKeys scripts.

Tim recently created a screencast, titled “Extreme Australian Orchestrating,” that offers a glimpse of his workflow. In it he orchestrates a cue – from beginning to end – and details many of his productivity tricks, both in and outside of Finale. Be sure to check out the “picture-in-picture” view of his hands, input devices, and tricked-out iPad:

If you’re interested in learning more about Tim’s world, I encourage you to explore deBreved, Tim’s orchestration and arranging blog.

Let us know what you think – or how you’re using Finale – by clicking on “Comments” below.

Finale Blog: Halloween Pumpkin Fun Again

In anticipation of Halloween, we’re reposting this fun piece that Mark Adler created with Finale last year.

This traditional Halloween song can be sung as a round. Feel free to download the file and play it back in Finale. Mark suggests: “For added fun in the classroom, delete the eyes and mouth before printing and let your students create their own pumpkin faces.”

The Ghost of John 625

Are you curious about how this piece was made? Mark explains:

“People often ask how I create files like this, assuming that I have imported graphics into the Finale file. This file contains no imported graphics or customized fonts; it was created entirely in Finale. To start, I create a playback staff and entered the round that the file would play back. I chose G minor because it places most of the notes within the staff. While having notes with ledger lines is really not a problem, it does add to the time it takes to tweak the finished file. Next, I hid all of the notes and staff lines in the playback staff.

“I then created the pumpkin shaped staff lines using the shape designer. The eyes were entered as expressions made with triangle noteheads from the Broadway Copyist font. I considered using a mordant for the mouth, but was not too happy with the expression it produced, so I created a more friendly mouth using the shape designer. The pumpkin stem is actually an eighth note flag from the Jazz font. Most everything else on the page, all of the notes and lyrics, was entered as a custom Smart Shape. By using a Smart Shape, I was easily able to rotate each element to match the contour of the pumpkin.”

We hope this pumpkin puts a smile – spooky or otherwise – on your faces, too.

Happy Halloween!

Quick Finale Tips From Jon Senge – Align/Move Dynamics

If you have ever wrestled with aligning your dynamics and hairpins under a staff, this Finale tip is for you.

TG Tools is a collection of Finale productivity plug-ins created by Tobias Giesen. A subest of this collection is provided for free with Finale, and includes one of my favorites: Align/Move Dynamics. This plug-in can horizontally align hairpin markings and dynamics, and move them together – up and down – as desired.

Situations like the following are no sweat with Align/Move. Just use the Selection tool to choose which area to align and run the plug-in. In most cases involving normal expressions, you’ll see perfectly aligned dynamics and hairpins.

Align move dynamics

Here are some Align/Move details. I hope you try it out on your next score.

Jon Senge engraves music for several notable publishers and loves talking notation. Tweet him at @jonsenge.

Upgrade and receive the Finale Trailblazer Guide for free


Finale 2014 offers workflow improvements to help you complete more in less time, additional Garritan® sounds, and notation enhancements designed to produce perfect results without editing.

Also included are many technological investments, including improved Apple® OS X® support, a new audio engine, and a completely rewritten file format, offering backward and forward compatibility and more flexibility into the future.

By now, most readers of the Finale Blog know all this, and yet, not everyone has upgraded: Perhaps some of you are waiting for a deal.

Starting today, for a limited time, when you upgrade to Finale 2014 for $139.95, you can receive Finale 2014: A Trailblazer Guide, free of charge.

Revised and updated for Finale 2014, this guide continues to offers clear, step-by-step methods to help you easily create great-looking notation. Readers will find a concise overview of Finale’s framework followed by a guide to the everyday tricks and shortcuts that make using Finale a breeze.

Author Mark Johnson guides you through the latest Finale 2014 features – as well as less recent enhancements you may have overlooked – with the goal of increasing your productivity.

Upgrade or learn more at Offer expires on 9/30/14.

Do you have this or another version of the Finale Trailblazer? Share your experiences with this guide by clicking on “Comments” below.

More Real-Time Finale Tips: Modify Rests

My last blog discussed how you can use quantization to speed up note entry and reduce subsequent editing. Today I offer another tip to help clean up any music entered in real-time – whether you’re playing notes directly into Finale or importing MIDI files.

Here is a piece I played into Finale:

MR 1 625

For this example, I quantized to a 16th note and purposely lifted my fingers early to demonstrate a common way in which what we play can differ from what we intend to play. As you can see, many pitches are expressed as a 16th note followed by a 16th rest.

Now for the fun part: Tobias Giesen’s great plug-in called “Modify Rests,’ included free with Finale. This plug-in offers many options to alter the appearance and duration of rests. I’ll use it here to extend the duration of some of the shorter notes above to reduce rests:

      1. Choose the Selection Tool and highlight the music you want to clean up.
      2. Select Plug-ins > TGTools > Modify Rests.
      3. This dialog box will appear. Select the Simplify tab and check all four boxes:MODIFY RESTS db
      4. Click “OK” and the music above gets instantly “cleaned up” to look like this:

MR 4 625

While the results are similar to what we would have gotten had we quantized to 8th notes, we preserved some 16th notes in the process, so I welcome this approach as an additional option.

Along with the concepts of quantization and re-transcribe, I hope the Modify Rests plug-in will greatly improve your real-time note entry. Enjoy!

Retranscribe in Finale


Last week Tom Johnson shared a blog post about real-time MIDI entry in Finale. Today a reader commented with a related question. Although I’ve already answered the question, I thought a slightly expanded reply – in the form of a short blog post – might be helpful to others as well.

The discussion concerned Finale’s ability to re-notate an existing performance with a different quantization setting. In Finale this is called Retranscribe, and it’s easily done.

Before I share the steps, let’s look at why you might want to do this. Let’s say you’re using Finale’s HyperScribe tool to enter a keyboard performance in real-time. Imagine that the piece is mostly eighth notes and larger durations, but has one tricky section with smaller durations. In this scenario I might set my quantization to eighth notes, play in the whole piece, and then simply retranscribe the tricky section with a different quantization setting. Here’s how to retranscribe that section:

  1. Use the Selection tool to highlight the measures you wish to re-notate.
  2. From the MIDI/Audio menu choose Quantization Settings, select appropriate values, and click OK.
  3. From the MIDI/Audio menu choose Retranscribe.

It’s that easy.

Keep in mind that this works horizontally as well as vertically. Let’s say someone created a band score in a sequencer, and sent you a MIDI file. It’s likely that the quantization setting you choose on input will work better for some staves than others – so you could retranscribe select staves as well as select measures.

We’d love to hear more of your thoughts on real-time note entry. Please share them by clicking on “Comments” below.

Quantization: the key to real-time note entry in Finale

We want our music notation software to notate not what we play but what we intend to play. For example, here is a simple melody I played in using Finale’s real-time entry tool, HyperScribe:

Quantization 8 625

I helped Finale notate this example correctly – the first time – by providing some hints as to the rhythmic complexitity of what I was about to play. I did this by choosing a “quantization” setting, which allowed me to specify the smallest note value I wanted Finale to “round-off” to. For this example, my smallest note value was an eight note, so I quantized to an eighth note. This quantization setting is the key to getting Finale to successfully notate what I play.

To set your quantization:

  1. Select MIDI/AUDIO > Quantization (it’s at the bottom of the menu)
  2. indicate your desired “smallest note value” and click “OK” (I frequently choose “no tuplets” as well)

Quant DB 3

With these steps completed you are ready to successfully notate as you play.

For comparison, imagine I set the “smallest note value” to a 128th note. The exact same melody played with 128th quantization might look like this:

Quantization 64 625

That is exactly what I played. This illustrates what I mean when I suggest we want the software to display what we intended, rather than what we played.

What I love most about this second example is that what you see is MUSIC. No matter how I’ve set my quantization, when Finale plays back my performance it includes all the nuance and randomness of my human performance, while displaying the quantized notation. If it played back the earlier eighth note rendition as written, the performance would be machine-like.

By preserving your performance data and displaying quantized notation, Finale embraces your humanity and makes you look – and sound – good!

Quick Finale Tips from Jon Senge – The Clear Key

I spent years in Finale before I learned about the Clear key! Today it may be the most-used key on my keyboard. Select the handle of nearly any object, hit the clear key (Backspace key on Windows), and it jumps back to its default positioning.

Apple Keyboard

On my Mac laptop, which doesn’t have a clear key, I use Keyboard Maestro to remap Control+c as the Clear key. See more about macros in my previous post.

This tip is short and sweet. I hope I’ve saved you the years it took me to realize the functionality of the Clear key!

Jon Senge engraves music for several notable publishers and loves talking notation. Tweet him at @jonsenge and see his other Finale Blog tips here.