SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

Finale Tip: Adding Space at the Beginning of a Measure

Finale Tip: Adding Space at the Beginning of a MeasureRecently, our friend Adam Perlmutter asked a question about the Finale file seen above:

“Is it possible to globally adjust the chords with arpeggio lines on beat 1, so that they don’t crash with the left barline? Or does each one have to be adjusted manually?”

The answer is yes, there’s at least one easy way to do this that doesn’t require manual positioning. I’d do this by adding some extra space at the beginning of these measures. You can do this to a selected region of music using the following steps.

Note: Measurements below are in EVPUs. To follow along, I recommend choosing Edit > Measurement Units > EVPUs (Windows) or Finale > Measurement Units > EVPUs (Mac) before proceeding.


  1. Select the Measure tool.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key and click to select a region of measures where this occurs.
  3. Right-click (CONTROL+click on Mac) and choose Edit Measure Attributes.
  4. Add a value to the Extra Space at Beginning field; I would recommend somewhere between 24 and 36 EVPUs.
  5. Click OK.

Repeat steps 2-5 for each contiguous region of measures with this issue, or this can be done for all measure at once (Edit > Select All) if that works.

Here’s what the process looks like:

Finale Tip: Adding Space at the Beginning of a Measure

The musical example seen above will soon be part of a series of arrangements that Steve Baughman has created for Acoustic Guitar. These arrangements will be available at Acoustic Guitar’s online store. Thanks to Steve, Adam and Acoustic Guitar for letting us share this real-life example.

Lawson DuttonLawson Dutton is a Notation/Garritan product specialist for MakeMusic and a longtime Finale fan, which he uses to complete his own music engraving and arranging projects.

In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and heading out into the mountains for a hike.

No Foolin! It’s an April Fools Finale Sale

No Foolin! It’s an April Fools Finale Sale

In celebration of April Fools Day, we’d like to give you something to say “Whoopee” about!

We’re making it more affordable than ever to own the new Finale, whether or not you own a previous version or another MakeMusic product:

  • Owners of any previous version of Finale can upgrade for only $79
  • Finale SongWriter and Finale PrintMusic owners can trade up for a mere $99
  • Everyone else can buy Finale for just $149

To take advantage of our foolishness, enter promo code NOFOOLIN17 at checkout.

But hurry, we’ll come to our senses on April 3rd.

Buy Now

PS: Despite our silliness, this is a real offer, but the Finale sale does expire at 11:59 PM MDT on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Finale v25.3, a Free Maintenance Release, Is Now Available

Finale v25.3, a Free Maintence Release, is Now Available

Today we’ve released Finale v25.3, the third free-of-charge update for all owners of Finale version 25.

As mentioned previously, multiple free-of-charge releases are part of our new continuous development and release initiative. In other words, we plan to share improvements more frequently rather than saving them up in big batches. This release includes new features, bug fixes, and significant investments under-the-hood.

New Feature Highlights

As seen above, the Simple Entry cursor color now reflects the currently selected layer. This provides a little extra visual feedback to prevent you from mistakenly entering notes in the wrong layer.

We’ve also provided more control over how things look on the page. The opening width of short and long crescendo/decrescendo markings are now independent of each other and can be set in the Smart Shape Options dialog box.

It’s now easier to use Unicode musical symbols as accidentals in nonstandard key signatures thanks to an added Symbol button in the Symbol List dialog box.

We’ve made several improvements to MusicXML import and export. In MusicXML Preferences we’ve added “Restrict MusicXML formatting.” This option allows you to import a MusicXML file into a Finale template without overriding formatting options within the Finale file. On the other end of the process, MusicXML Export now supports nonstandard key signatures created with Unicode symbols.

One Mac-specific addition impacts Finder and Spotlight. The metadata used by these apps has been updated to 64-bit. Now you can search through your Finale files by Title, Composer, Copyright, Description, Time Signature, Key Signature, Lyricist, Pages, Page Width, Page Height, Content Creator, Duration, Fonts, Default Music Font, Arranger, Subtitle, Staves, Parts, Instruments, and Tempo.

Want to see all the features that have been added in Finale 25.3 (and earlier versions)? The Finale User Manual lists them in these “New Features” sections for Mac and Windows.

Finale v25.3Bug Fixes

Mac Highlights Include:

  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Switching between open windows works automatically when using COMMAND+` (grave accent).
  • Printing: Printing custom page sizes no longer crashes Finale.
  • Rebeam to Time Signature dialog box: Number of Beats and Beat Duration can now be edited.

The updated Finale User Manual provides a complete list of all Mac Fixes.

Windows Highlights Include:

  • File Access: Select Finale files that previously didn’t open on Windows 7 machines now open successfully.
  • Finale Authorization: Authorization is now successfully maintained on Windows 10 machines.

The updated Finale User Manual provides a complete list of all Windows Fixes.

Infrastructure Investments

We continue to make significant investments under-the-hood, improving Finale infrastructure (or code base) to set the stage for additional improvements in the future. While much of this work may not produce measurable improvements in the way Finale works today, to not mention them would seriously under-represent the work we’re doing on the behalf of Finale users.  

Highlights Include:

  1. Replacing code Apple no longer supports with modern, forward-looking code. The primary benefit is that Finale will continue to support future Mac operating systems.
  2. Additional Unicode font work. For example, while users of Finale 25.2 can access Unicode font characters in their music, they can’t use Unicode characters in file paths, percussion MIDI maps, plugins, fretboard and fretboard instrument names, and other similar places. Many of these improvements can be seen in 25.3, and more are in development.

A third area of investment is a little more difficult to talk about. It has to do with “globals.”

Every time you open a Finale document, the document options configured in that piece are loaded from a list of variables with global scope.  A more modern software practice is to define these values in classes with a more limited scope.  It would seem like an easy thing to tell software to define and access these details somewhere else, right?

In practice, it’s a little more involved, but taking the time to address this today positions Finale well in the future, making it easier to understand, and modify the code into manageable classes. In addition to general performance improvements, this work will help Finale make better use of multi-threaded processors and to someday allow users to make edits while Finale is playing back (for just one multi-threading example).

Installation Instructions

Ready to install? If you own Finale v25 or v25.1, or 25.2, here’s how to get the update:

  1. Either follow the update prompt in Finale or:
    – Mac: Choose Finale > Check for Update. For Finale 25, click Learn More. About Finale appears. Follow the onscreen instructions and skip to Step 2. For Finale 25.1 and 25.2, click Install Update. The download begins immediately.
    – Windows: Choose Help > Check for Update. For Finale 25, click Get update. About Finale appears. Follow the onscreen instructions and skip to Step 2. For Finale 25.1 and 25.2, click Install update. The download begins immediately.
  2. When prompted, log in to your MakeMusic account under Existing Customers
  3. Click the Download button
  4. Close Finale if it’s still running and run the installer from your Downloads folder

Don’t own Finale v25 yet? Try it for free.

Please let us know how the update is working for you via Facebook or Twitter.

Michael JohnsonMichael Johnson is the vice president of professional notation at MakeMusic. He first joined the company in 1996 as a technical support representative, solving tricky issues with Finale 3.5.2. He earned his music education degree from the University of Dayton and his computer science degree from Metropolitan State University.

Michael lives in Colorado with his spouse, Owen, and their son, Elliot. When he isn’t working in Finale, he enjoys playing the trumpet and bicycling around the Rocky Mountains.

Finale QuickTips: Cross-Staff Beaming

When creating cross staff beaming in Finale, many people use the Note Mover Tool or the TG Tools Cross-Staff Plug-in dialog box to move notes from one staff to another.

While both of these options do the job well, there’s an even quicker way to do this.

  1. Write all of your notes for the cross-staff passage in one staff.
  2. Choose the Selection tool then click and drag to select the notes you wish to move.

Finale QuickTips: Cross-Staff Beaming

  1. After you have selected the region of notes you wish to move, press ALT+SHIFT+Up/Down Arrow (Win) or OPTION+SHIFT+Up/Down Arrow (Mac). (*no shift in Finale 2014 or later for Mac)
  2. You can then use the Beam Angle tool from the Special Tools palette (Window > Special Tools Palette) to alter the beam height and angle.
Finale QuickTips: Cross-Staff Beaming 2

Steps 3 and 4

How does that work for you? Share your thoughts with your fellow Finale users via Facebook or Twitter.

Pi Day Finale Font Update

Pi Day Finale Font Update 2Happy Pi Day! Here at MakeMusic we love our puns, so March 14 is one of our favorite days of the year. To honor this most auspicious of days, we’ve added some special (punny) characters to our MMDings font.

As you may recall, MMDings grew out of a wonderful Facebook post by Patricia Wallinga, Articulations You Wish You Could Use. As more and more fans asked about these articulations in Finale, we built a free font so that you could use Patricia’s characters with music notation software. Today, we’ve given it a delicious update, including the pie noteheads you can see at the top of this post. (Don’t worry, the pies representing whole notes and half notes are included too!)

Font Installation

Download this .zip file and expand it. Then double click on the font MMDings.otf and click on the Install button (Windows) or Install Font button (Mac).

The Quick, Easy Way to Use This Font

Want to just take a quick peek? Open the .musx file we’ve included in the download. This is a template we built using the default document style with the MMDings articulations and noteheads already loaded.

To add these articulations and noteheads to a file you’ve already built,  load the .lib file we’ve included by choosing File > Load Library. Choose the Articulation Tool and the new characters will appear in the Articulation Selection dialog box.

To take it a step further and create your own articulations using the new font, read on!

Creating Your Own Articulations

  1. Open some music in Finale, choose the Articulation tool, and click above a note or rest.
  2. In the Articulation Selection dialog box, click “Create.”
  3. In the Articulation Designer dialog box, click “Set Font,” choose “MMDings,” then click “OK.”
  4. Now click “Main,” choose the symbol you’d like, and click “Select.” You’ll find some pi-tastic symbols in numbers 80-84. (Repeat this step substituting “Flipped” for “Main” to use this articulation both above and below notes.)
  5. While you could make further adjustments if you wish (like default positions), click “OK,” then “Select” to see the articulation in your score.

That’s a fair number of steps to get a scoop of ice cream on top of your pie-shaped notehead, but if you’re going to repeatedly use these characters it may be worth it. Building the articulations from scratch means you can further customize the articulation. Plus you can easily use them alongside the default articulations you’re used to.

Fine print: the MMDings font is free to use, even in your own for-profit work, but you can’t sell the font itself.  

Want to Use These Characters, but Don’t Own Finale?

These same steps work with our free Finale demo. Feel free to try Finale free for 30 days and join in the fun. If you use another notation program (or any other software that uses text fonts) you can also use the font there as well.

We hope you enjoy March 14thand the delicious puns that come with itas much as we do.

Young Composers Contest Announced!

Young Composers Contest Announced!

In celebration of Make Music Day 2017, MakeMusic is hosting a composition contest for young composers, aged 13-21. The winner will receive cash and other prizes. In addition, their composition will be made available to all users of SmartMusic Teach Free and will be performed live in select cities as part of national Make Music Day celebrations.

Enter Now

Young Composers Contest Entry Details

Entries can be created in any notation software. Musicians without notation software are encouraged to download a free 30 day trial of Finale and start creating. Contestants must submit both PDF and MusicXML files of their composition. (All licensing rights to pieces submitted will remain with each composer.)

Eligible compositions must use (and are limited to) the following instrumentation and should be written at a level of difficulty that could be performed by a typical middle school band:

Flute/Oboe F Horn
Bb Clarinet Trombone/Baritone B.C./Bassoon
Alto Saxophone Tuba
Tenor Saxophone Bells
Bb Trumpet Percussion

(This instrumentation is available as the Beginning Band template in Finale.)

All submissions are due by 11:59 pm Mountain Time on Monday, May 8th, 2017. We’ll announce the winner on May 22.

Contest Prizes

In addition to having their competition included in SmartMusic and performed at MakeMusic Day events, the winning young composer will receive:

Are you over 21? It’s time to be a mentor. Please share the contest with students and young friends. You’ll find complete details and rules on the contest website.

We’d also like to extend our thanks to our cosponsors, the American Composers Forum and the Make Music Alliance, for helping to make this contest possible.

Learn More

Where’s Jari? When Will We See JW Plug-ins?

Where’s Jari? When Will We See JW Plug-ins?

With the release of version 25, Finale was updated from 32-bit to 64-bit bit. We’ve blogged about this in the past. As a result, every third-party developer of Finale plug-ins had to update their code to work with the new Finale.

“Can I run 32-bit plug-ins in a 64-bit Finale?”

This is a common question. Unfortunately, the answer is no. As we mentioned here, there is no emulation mode for the PDK.

Updating these plug-ins has been a monumental task and has involved significant collaboration between MakeMusic and these independent developers. We would like to publicly thank Michael, Robert, Robert, Tobias, and Jari for their efforts and the significant value their plug-ins have added to Finale since Finale ’97. We’re happy to report that both Robert Patterson and Tobias Giesen have released 64-bit versions of their plug-ins (in addition to the MusicXML plug-in). That leaves Jari Williamsson, creator of JW Plug-ins, unaccounted for.

[Update 3/17/17 – Several of Jari’s plug-ins are now available — see details below!]

What Really Happened to Jari Williamsson?

For the last year or so, Jari has not commented on whether this is something he’s working on. In fact, Jari has not commented at all, about anything. This has led creative minds in the Finale community to imagine several conspiracy theories explaining his “disappearance.” These range from the pleasant (he won the lottery), to the political (he’s been drafted by the Swedish army), to worst-case scenarios (he’s dead).

With the exception of the lottery, I’m glad to report that none of these rumors are true. Today we can confirm that Jari is alive and well. So why the lack of communication?

Well, for one he’s a violinist with the Gothenburg Opera, and they’re having a very busy season. In addition, Jari has a family to whom he’s very devoted. On top of this, Jari is always working to grow and develop, and is currently pursuing a degree in mathematics.

Note: musicians make amazing mathematicians!

His studies have taken a significant amount of his time and thus the free Finale plug-ins that he so diligently developed for the past 10+ years have taken a backseat. Jari is a brilliant fellow and we wish him all the best and great success.

What About My Plug-ins?

We understand that life without these plug-ins has been difficult – even for us. Two critical groups of the Peaksware organization, Alfred Music Publishing and our SmartMusic Repertoire Development, rely on these and other third-party plug-ins to develop content.

So where does this news leave the plug-ins that we all need to complete our projects and meet our deadlines?

As mentioned previously, MakeMusic has helped plug-in developers during this 64-bit migration and we will provide help and support to Jari to lighten the burden. Fortunately for us, there is a brief break in Jari’s schedule that will allow him get to back to the plug-ins and finish the migration. While it would be remiss of us to make promises on his behalf or announce a proposed ship day, we at MakeMusic trust Jari and know what an excellent and efficient developer he is.

That said, they are coming. As plug-ins are updated, Jari assures us he will post them. We will help share that communication as it becomes available.

Stay tuned!

Update 3/17/17:

Jari announced today that 17 plug-ins for Finale 25 on the Mac are now available here: and Windows plug-ins are available here:

Update 3/20/17:

Jari has released 10 additional plug-ins. See the Mac and/or Windows links above for details.

Michael JohnsonMichael Johnson is the vice president of professional notation at MakeMusic. He first joined the company in 1996 as a technical support representative, solving tricky issues with Finale 3.5.2. He earned his music education degree from the University of Dayton and his computer science degree from Metropolitan State University.

Michael lives in Colorado with his spouse, Owen, and their son, Elliot. When he isn’t modifying Finale files with plug-ins, he enjoys playing the trumpet and bicycling around the Rocky Mountains.

Finale Quick Tips: Creating Tempo Changes

Finale Quick Tips: Creating Tempo Changes

Finale’s Setup Wizard makes it easy to add an initial tempo marking to any new score. But what if you decide to add a tempo marking long after you’ve finished the Setup Wizard? What if you want to add tempo changes mid-piece?

This is a question our technical support staff hears fairly often, so we thought we’d take a second to show how quick and easy it is!


1. Select the Expression Tool and double-click where you would like the marking to appear.
2. In the Expression Selection dialog box, specify the Tempo Marks category.
3. Now you can choose one of the pre-made expressions, or create your own.  To create your own, click Create Tempo Mark.
4. Click Insert Note to select a note value (a quarter note, dotted quarter, whatever), and then type in your desired tempo, for example “=122.”

In practice, that fourth step looks like this:


(Note that you can change fonts here too if you wish.)

5. Click OK then Assign.

That’s it! The marking not only looks great, it sets the correct playback tempo.

Finale and the 2017 Academy Awards

Finale and the 2017 Academy Awards

Will you watch the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 26? Will you cheer for your favorite films, in part because the Super Bowl is over and your team, like mine, was defeated long before the playoffs?

I always root a little more for films in which Finale played a part. This year the big film on my list is “La La Land.” It received 14 Oscar nominations, tying with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for most nominations ever.

Not only was  Justin Hurwitz nominated for Music (Original Score) and Music (Original Song), he (along with lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ) received two separate Original Song nominations for  both “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars.”

“Trolls” is another film from the Finale camp, and it was also nominated for Original Song for “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” with music and lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster.

Other nominated films in which Finale was used include “Hacksaw Ridge” (6 nominations), “Florence Foster Jenkins” (2 nominations), “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2 Nominations), “Allied,” and “Piper.”

My research method involves word-of-mouth among Finale users in the music preparation field. I’ve undoubtedly missed some films involving different music prep teams. Did you use Finale in your work on a nominated film? Please let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

Avoiding Other-Worldly Behavior by Retiring Old Finale Templates

Avoiding Other-Worldly Behavior by Retiring Old Finale Templates

Working in the customer success department at MakeMusic, I have seen all sorts of Finale files. As the notation product specialist, files exhibiting the most unusual behavior usually cross my desk at some point. 

I have worked with files that presented significant obstacles that were oddly persistent. This behavior could range from odd tempo changes that cannot be controlled to bizarre font substitutions and poltergeist-like page layout. Or deleted expressions that reappear after adding instruments. Weird, unnatural stuff;  almost as if the files came from another world!

Occasionally these issues cannot be worked out by normal means. I may have to recreate the file by using MusicXML import/export or copying and pasting into a new document. At this point, I will begin to suspect that the file was created from a template. And this often proves to be the case.

You can avoid this kind of strange file behavior by updating your Finale templates regularly.

Why Should I Recreate My Finale Templates?

If otherworldly mischief isn’t reason enough, you may also find that you are missing out on added features and updated functionality. Older templates may be missing expression categories, modern fonts, specific staff styles, and more. Don’t find yourself pulling your DeLorean time machine with a set of horses because you neglected to clean the flux capacitor!

How Often Should I Recreate My Template Files?

The general consensus in our office is that a template should be replaced every is every two to three versions of Finale.

If you’re using Finale v25, this means that it’s time to retire templates that originated in Finale 2011 (initially released almost 7 years ago) and you might consider replacing 2012 templates as well. Keep in mind that creating a template in Finale 2011 and opening it in v25, even on the same day, could bring forward some difficulties.

Where Do I Start?

I believe the best way to start over with a template is to simply open the default document (File > New > Default Document), use the Score Manager to add instruments, and then add your own personal flare from there.

What Should I Do Next?

After creating the document, begin by setting up Document Options (Document > Document Options) and your default page formatting values (Document > Page Format > Score | Document > Page Format > Parts). By defining these values before creating a piece from this template and adding content, you pave the way to have Finale take care of much of the details for you along the way.

Note: Be sure to redefine existing page values for All Parts and Score using the Page Layout tool (Page Layout > Redefine Pages > Selected Pages of Selected Parts/Score) before moving on!

After properly setting the default values for the items in Document Options as well as Page Format, I would then recommend creating any Expressions, Articulations, and Smart Shapes that you will use regularly in this template.

You can, of course, do this separately from your new template and save them as libraries (File > Save Library) to load in later. Whether or not you do this library creation in or out of your new template, save yourself some time, and save those libraries for use in other templates you wisely choose to recreate (note that old libraries can suffer from the same form of entropy that affects old templates). If you are a heavy user of chord symbols, now would be a great time to build those chord suffix libraries as well.

All of this being said, in most cases template recreation should take you an hour or two. If just one tricky gremlin is avoided in the process, the time is clearly well spent.


Once you have these tools in place, backup your template files (I recommend three copies in at least three different locations, at least one being external storage), and then use File > New > Document from Template to get back to making fantastic music at speeds your friends and commissioners wouldn’t believe (Warp one, Mr. Sulu).

Stay tuned for more information regarding detailed template update methods and tools for recreating and creating your new, robust Finale templates!

Lawson DuttonLawson Dutton is a Notation/Garritan product specialist for MakeMusic and a longtime Finale fan, which he uses to complete his own music engraving and arranging projects.

In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and heading out into the mountains for a hike.