SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

New Finale Macintosh Keyboards

Finale Macintosh Keyboards

In January we published a blog post announcing new Finale keyboard skins. These skins fit over select Macintosh keyboards and display popular Finale shortcuts. While these are very useful productivity tools, we were a bit surprised when this post proved to be our most popular ever, with almost 10,000 likes. While some of us suspect this huge number was the result of a Facebook intern spilling coffee into a server, the keyboard skins did sell out almost overnight. The good news is that they’re back in stock. What’s more, we now have Finale Macintosh keyboards available, too.

These custom USB keyboards, pictured above, are color-coded with Finale shortcuts printed directly on the keys. Like the skins, these “reminders at your fingertips” are a godsend for those of us who want to increase our productivity, but don’t always remember every keystroke.

The keyboards are based on the original Ultra Thin Alu Apple Pro keyboard, and offer plug-and-play setup with any current or recent USB-equipped Mac. Because they also include all the regular letter, number, and symbol labeling, they can be used as your sole keyboard, or in conjunction with others.

The new keyboards are available today for $129 in the MakeMusic store under “Recommended Products,” where you’ll also find additional information about both the keyboards and keyboard skins.

Great Sounds for the Next Version of Finale

New ARIA Player in the next version of FinaleBack in February, we offered a glimpse inside the next version of Finale. Today I’d like to build on that by talking about how the next version of Finale will sound. One integral component will be the newest version of the ARIA Player (seen above), which was recently released in conjunction with Garritan Personal Orchestra 5.

Improved Navigation

Perhaps the biggest feature in the new ARIA player is the addition of a selection tree offering easy access to all of your installed sound libraries. This navigational tree can be seen at left in the image above (click on it for a larger view).

As Finale users know, today you have to click on one of the channels (like “#1 Piccolo Solo” seen above), then navigate drop-down menus, and heaven forbid if your hand slips; you have to start over, which can be a drag when you wish to fine-tune an entire orchestra. While you will still be able navigate this way if you prefer, the selection tree lets you see those patches at a glance and select them instantly.

Additional Convolution Rooms and Effects

Once you choose your instrument, your next step may be to contemplate where to place it in an acoustic environment. The new ARIA Player will more than double the number of convolution rooms and effects, including options like Jazz Club, Plate Verb, and several concert and recording venues. It also adds two new convolution controls; you’ll be able to adjust the decay rate and size of the performance space.

More Garritan Instruments, Too

In addition to the new ARIA Player, we also plan to add to the collection of Garritan instruments included with Finale. Temple blocks and a new piano are on the top of my list, as well as several more “colorful” additions including didgeridoo and a “strings tuning” patch. We haven’t finalized the list yet, so if you have some specific suggestions of Garritan instruments you’d like added to Finale, please let us know through Facebook or Twitter.

Mark AdlerMark Adler is MakeMusic’s notation product manager/senior editor, a professional trumpet player, teacher, and a freelance music editor and engraver.

Inspired by the progress being made on the MakeMusic recording studio (slated to be completed later this month) Mark is currently contemplating acoustic panel solutions for his home studio.

Quick Music Notation Tips: Rhythmic Hits

Quick Music Notation Tips: Rhythmic Hits

In addition to a performer’s main voice, you may wish to notate rhythmic hits from another part. These might illustrate where kick drum hits are, that a vocalist should also be clapping a rhythmic pattern, or otherwise provide additional information to the performer. Most typically these are notated as rhythmic notation in the space immediately above the measure.

To create this in Finale, enter the performer’s main voice in Layer 1 as you would normally, then switch to Layer 2 by choosing View > Select Layer > Layer 2, and enter the rhythmic hits there. The pitches you enter won’t matter.

To make sure that the next steps only affect the rhythmic hits, choose Document > Show Active Layer Only.

To fix the pitches, select the measures with rhythmic hits, and choose Plug-ins > Note, Beam, and Rest Editing > Single Pitch…. Choose a rather high pitch so that these notes are positioned above the staff and won’t collide with any of the musical information in Layer 1. On this treble clef, we choose A5.

With that same music selected, choose:

  • Plug-ins > Note, Beam, and Rest Editing > Ledger Lines (Hide) to hide the ledger lines between the staff and your newly positioned notes.
  • Utilities > Change > Noteheads to produce rhythmic notation. In the dialog box that appears, choose All noteheads in the left hand column and Small slash (rhythmic notation) in the right hand column. Click OK.
  • Utilities > Stem Direction > Up to flip the stems up.

The only remaining issue is that rests are displaced. You could simply drag them into place. Instead, choose Plug-ins > Note, Beam, and Rest Editing > Move Rests:

  • Move rests in layer 1; Move rests -6 steps, Click OK, then repeat and:
  • Move rests in layer 2: Move rests 15 steps, Click OK.

Finally, choose Document > Show Active Layer Only and your layers will both appear — Layer 1 with your original notation, and Layer 2 with your rhythmic hits above the staff.

While that’s admittedly a lot of steps, we “took the scenic route” to illustrate additional options. You could reduce steps by entering all the notes on a single pitch above the staff. Also, if you want to control how the playback of the rhythmic hits, use the Score Manager to assign a different sound to Layer 2.

Have a comment, alternate solution, or question? Share it with us and other fellow Finale users on Facebook or Twitter.

Quick Music Notation Tips: Score System Divider

Score System Divider 3

When a score has multiple systems on a page, the conductor’s eye can easily skip a system, impeding sight-reading, rehearsal productivity, and confusing performers. One option for clearly delineating systems in a score is to place score system divider markings between them. These cesura markings make it very clear to the conductor that a new system is beginning in the score.

In Finale, adding this marking between systems is simple. From the Plug-ins menu, choose Scoring and Arranging > Score System Divider. This plug-in automatically places markings between systems on the pages you choose.

Have a comment? Please share it on Facebook or Twitter.

The Next Version of Finale

The Next Version of Finale

Curious as to what’s on the horizon for Finale?

Since releasing Finale 2014.5 our developers have been focused on the next version of Finale. Their top priority is making Finale a 64-bit application. This will ensure that Finale remains compatible with future generations of operating systems, will provide performance enhancements, and will improve workflow for users of other 64-bit applications and sound libraries.

Other high priority tasks include optimizing the code base (cleaning up old code) and addressing technical debt; all of which will result in better performance and fewer issues between you and your music.

This month our developers are concentrating on addressing focus issues and improving playback. This week we compared playback performance, on the same Mac, between Finale 2014.5 and the current 64-bit development build. Want to see the difference? Check out this playback comparison video (and note the delay after pressing “Play”):


I hope you share my enthusiasm for this work in progress. Stay tuned for additional features and improvements to come.

Mark AdlerMark Adler is MakeMusic’s notation product manager/senior editor, a professional trumpet player, teacher, and a freelance music editor and engraver.

On weekends he enjoys exploring the less traveled highways of Colorado, which cannot be seen in the stock photo of Iceland we used above.

Quick Music Notation Tips: Resize Noteheads

Quick Music Notation Tips: Resize Noteheads

In many cases, an engraver or composer wants every notehead of a piece to be the same size. In some divisi parts, however, the lead voice can be clearly demonstrated by shrinking the noteheads of the other parts. This situation happens frequently in vocal pop music between backup singers and a lead voice.

To quickly shrink noteheads with Finale, use the Resize Noteheads plug-in. Select the notes or chords with noteheads you wish to resize. Choose Plug-ins > Note, Beam and Rest Editing > Resize Noteheads. You can easily filter to resize standard noteheads, special noteheads, or one particular notehead. You can also choose to resize only certain noteheads in a chord. To do this, count the noteheads in the chord you want to resize, either from the top or bottom of the chord, and enter them in the first text box. Finally, specify a percentage to reduce or enlarge your noteheads.

Here are the settings used to create the example above:

Resize Noteheads dialog box

Have questions? Answers? Please share them on Facebook or Twitter!

Quick Music Notation Tips: Beam Over Barlines

beam over barlines 2Why and when would you beam over barlines?

While schools of thought vary, many composers want to highlight hemiolas and other rhythmic effects with their beaming – even when this might seem at odds with basic engraving principles. Most frequently, this involves beaming over the barline to show performers that the metric pulse of the passage contradicts the written time signature. This encourages phrasing in performance that more closely matches the composer’s intent.

Want to create something like the above in Finale?

Select the group of notes you wish to beam across a barline. Choose Plug­ins > Note, Beam, and Rest Editing > Patterson Plug­Ins Lite > Beam Over Barlines > Create. Finale will beam the selected notes together and across the barline.

New Finale Keyboard Skin


Own a MacBook Pro®, Macbook Air® 13”, or the Apple® Wireless Keyboard? Logickeyboard just created a new Finale keyboard skin for these models that you may want to check out.

When placed over your Apple keyboard, this thin, protective skin puts Finale’s shortcuts literally at your fingertips. The all-new design uses colors and icons to organize a wide range of convenient, easy-to-understand commands:

  • Finale tool icons appear to the right of many keys to indicate what tool is associated with specific shortcuts
  • Simple Entry shortcuts appear in the bottom half of many keys, under a horizontal line.
  • Shortcuts and modifier keys (shift, command, or option) are color coded. For example, a shortcut in green requires both the command key (blue) and option key (yellow).

Whether your goal is to learn these shortcuts, or simply have them handy when you need them, keyboard skins can help increase your efficiency.

Made from .5 mm thin silicone, they’re soft, flexible, and tough. While easily removed for cleaning, in everyday use they stay put, protect your Mac from dirt and spills, and actually muffle typing noises.

They’re available today for $34.99 on the “Recommended Products” tab at the MakeMusic store, where you’ll also find additional information.

Have you tried a keyboard skin? Share your reaction with others on Facebook or Twitter.

New Finale Quick Reference Card

Vintage Finale Box

Do you remember when Finale came with printed paper manuals? I do!

Those of who started with early versions of Finale became attached to those (admittedly behemoth) printed manuals that filled boxes like the one above. When we first heard rumors that these manuals might someday be replaced with electronic versions, this sounded as feasible as replacing an entire Manhattan Yellow Pages with a small electronic device that could fit in your pocket.

Today, even those of us pretty set in our ways have grown to appreciate the benefit of a searchable manual that’s updated every time the program is updated, and is always available wherever we travel.

We do, however, still hear from users (and coworkers) who continue to miss the Quick Reference Card. This was a handy piece that you’d keep at your desk that could remind you – at a glance – of keyboard shortcuts and other quick tips to speed up your work.

Today we’re making available, for free, an updated Finale Quick Reference Card for both Mac and Windows. Here’s what they look like at a glance:

Finale QRC Covers

Each is a four-page PDF that you can download and view on nearly any device, or, if you’re like me, print out and keep on your desk.

Please let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!

PrintMusic Now Compatible with El Capitan


Today we released PrintMusic 2014.5, a free-of-charge update for owners of PrintMusic 2014 for Mac.

To get 2014.5, launch PrintMusic 2014 on your Mac and choose Finale PrintMusic 2014 > Check for Update. If you don’t have PrintMusic 2014 installed and you know your MakeMusic password, you can download it here.

Please note this update is for Mac users only: its main purpose is to provide compatibility with OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple’s latest operating system. After installing 2014.5, be sure to restart your computer.

While it is a free upgrade, PrintMusic 2014.5 is a new, separate installation from PrintMusic 2014, and can be distinguished by a new, flatter desktop icon seen at right above. While you could keep both versions on your computer, you’ll likely want to uninstall 2014 to save space.

Once you’re up and running, let us know how PrintMusic 2014.5 is working for you by clicking on “Comments” below.