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SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

New Finale Sounds, from a Didgeridoo to a Concert D Piano



New Finale Sounds, from a Didgeridoo to a Concert D Piano

Working on a new piece? Maybe it needs a didgeridoo. Or a djembe. Or a dulcimer.

Or, perhaps just the sounds of a stunning Concert D grand piano.

More than 100 new Garritan sounds have been added in the new Finale (including those mentioned above, and others that don’t begin with the letter D). These additions augment the already impressive collection provided in previous versions. An updated ARIA Player is included, too, with a new interface that makes accessing these sounds easier than ever before.

Seeing is Believing

You can see a list of all the Garritan sounds included in the new Finale in this chart. We’ve subtly indicated sounds added in this version with a discrete “NEW!”

Also included are non-Garritan sounds. These appear in the chart as well, and include Virtual Drumline sounds from Tapspace Percussion. While it’s an impressive list, reading about sounds is like talking about food. Or something.  It’s not really satisfying. You need to hear the sounds…

Hearing is Better

Below is a playlist of pieces created entirely with sounds included in Finale. Here the emphasis is on sounds added in the new Finale. To start, check out the Didgeridoo, the Concert D, or the Harp example.

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Don’t own the new version yet? You can purchase Finale, upgrade from a previous version, or trade-up from other MakeMusic (and competitors’) products. Learn more at finalemusic.com.

Didgeridoo image courtesy of imagicity.

Big Band Jazz Composition with Tim Davies



tim-davies

Tim Davies is no stranger to readers of the Finale blog. He is a prolific Hollywood orchestrator and conductor working in film, television, and gaming. In addition to 2013’s blockbuster Frozen, recent film credits alone include Muppets Most Wanted, Minions, Ant-Man, The Peanuts Movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and many more. Tim is also a very active composer, drummer, and bandleader. This month he’s released a new big band CD titled The Expensive Train Set.

We talked to Tim about the CD, his workflow, Finale tips, and much more.

The title of the new CD is “The Expensive Train Set.” Can you talk about that a little?

Many years ago someone at a show said that having a big band is like having a train set. Each involves many hours of work and preparation, and neither is ever finished. They are niche things, costly, and neither will ever make you any money.

tim-davies-cd-cover

Finale-prepared music appears on the cover of your new CD, right?

Yes, I am writing notes on one of my drum parts. All of the tracks, in fact everything I have ever written for big band, has been done in Finale.

The new album features both an LA band and a band from Melbourne, however on one tune both bands are playing together. How did that work?

In 1998, before I left Melbourne, I formed a band, and I have been back and played with them many times since. Apart from my going away concert, however, I have never recorded with them, and I thought it was time. Then the idea of bringing both bands together came to me.

It would have been nice to have everyone together, but I did not quite have the budget! I actually recorded my drums in LA, then went to Melbourne and recorded that band, then came back and recorded the LA band. We put together things like that all the time in film and game scores, so I knew what the pitfalls of working like that can be and how to avoid them.

Workflow

Can you first talk about your compositional workflow – including the stuff you do BEFORE you fire up Finale?

Every piece starts with a doodle on the piano or the drums. If I am on the drums I will come up with a groove and sing, mumble, hum, or groan the other parts. If I am on the piano, I pretty much do the same as I can’t actually play! Then I go to Finale.

I work with a staff set showing two saxes, two trumpets, two trombones, and the rhythm section staves. I block it in like that, then once I have the form I go to full score and explode out the parts. I also jump between the two staff sets a lot and as my writing has gotten more textural and orchestrated, I have had to do more with all the staves showing. Having a big screen helps!

I have a basic playback setup in Plogue. I don’t host instruments in Finale, as I am opening and closing so many files in a day that waiting for sounds to load would kill me, so I leave them open in the background. I don’t use Human Playback; I want the most basic and nasty playback so I can hear all the notes.

You do have to have a good sense of what will work in the real world though, as jazz dissonance can sound pretty rough played back by samples. I am also not a fan of having excessive information in my scores, and if you are going to rely on human playback you need to put in lots of dynamics and articulations, things that real players don’t need. I use Linked Parts for the parts, and just have one score that contains everything.

Can you describe your workflow in creating these arrangements?

Again, I doodle, sing, hum and groan a lot when I write. I come up with an idea, put than in then play it back and I then sing the next part. That is how I do everything.

I am very particular about form. Every piece has to take you on a journey. I usually let it unfurl organically, but I do have my tricks. I often prefer to through-compose than to keep repeating the form, as in the traditional way of writing a big band chart. So I come up with new riffs, or use some motif, or just sing something that feels natural to me.

How does the way you work on your big band charts differ from your process when working on TV and film?

The way I use finale is the same. However when I am writing for my band, it is whatever I want, while when I am working on a film, my job is to make someone else look good. But I find all of my skills come in handy in both worlds and they do influence each other. A lot of the ideas I have come up with while working with orchestras have found their way into my band music.

On my first listen of Conceivilization it occurred to me that aspects of the piece felt very orchestral. Can you talk some more about that aspect of your band arrangements?

Most of my pieces are programmatic; I want to take the listener on a journey, tell a story, or paint a picture. It is hard to do that if you keep repeating the same thing over and over, so I often deviate from standard big band forms,  through composing and developing ideas, like you might do in concert music.

I find that once I have a good story, the music writes itself; I know where I have to take it. I like building to a climax, that part where the band goes to 11 and the lead trumpet hits the stratosphere. That was the sound that I heard as a child – that I fell in love with – and you hear it a lot in my music.

Big Band Influences

When you think specifically of your big band writing, who are some of your influences? 

My main influence and the reason I wanted to do this was an Australian big band called the Daly Wilson Big Band. I found a cassette of them when I was about 12 and decided that is what I was going to do. That band was co-led and co-arranged by the drummer too. They had a particular style, very full on, and on top of the beat.

When I was first in Los Angeles I spent several years assisting John Clayton and the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestras. His style and the band’s was nothing like Daly Wilson, but still had a huge impact on me. John is an amazing writer and his voicings are very cool. I would get a sketch from him at 2:00 am, orchestrate and copy it, and they would play it at 10:00 am.

I would see these voicings and wonder what the hell they would sound like and then within a few hours, I was hearing it with a great band. You can’t pay for that education, and I was lucky enough to get paid for it. I also like the textures of Gil Evans and the forms and orchestration of Oliver Nelson. My favorite album is Quincy Jones’ The Quintessence.

From an engraving/copying point of view, do you approach big band charts differently than, say, charts for a TV show? 

I approach it all pretty much the same. In both cases you don’t get a lot of rehearsal time. So it must be laid out clearly so players do not get lost. In a session we do a few things differently: numbers on every bar, no rehearsal letters, and we avoid consolidating rests. Instead we break them up a lot so it is easy to find your place if we stop and start. This also gives us a place to write in any new music we may wish to add.

For the band, I use lots of rehearsal letters and if it is a solo for 32 bars, they can have that as a single rest!

I do approach fonts differently. For film and TV work, a generic look is best. Also we pass files around among many people so we want to make sure the fonts are going to be standard so it looks the same. For my big band stuff, I have a look I have developed over the years. I use Swing font for text, Jazz for note heads and even one from the other program for titles. Why not! I have also customized all of the line, slur, and tie thicknesses and arcs.

In your big band writing, do you have some signature arranging techniques that you’d be willing to share with us?

More of an orchestration trick than arranging, but I love to repeat notes and have people play them at different times, maybe slip to the side every now and then. It is all over my music. If you look at bar 157 in Conceivilization you can see it in action. Then in 205 I do it again but start to add other notes and develop line.

Check out this scrolling playback video of a reduced Concievillization score:

Using Finale

What about in Finale – are there Finale tricks that you can share that are more specific to big band writing?

The most useful thing for me is working with staff sets. As previously mentioned, I have a reduced set I work with to sketch in ideas, and then I use plugins to explode it out.

Have a comic or outrageous Finale or big band story you can share?

Not so much comic but I can tell you about the hardest job I ever had to do. One thing that I did a lot for John Clayton was takedowns. And these were not for just anyone, they were often to be surprises for the actual composer or arranger. When John was director of Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl he would have a lot of guests, so I did takedowns for Neal Hefti, Quincy, and Johnny Mandel, but the hardest one was Take 6.

John wanted to add the band to them so he gave me a cassette of them. There were not cool computer programs to help slow down and loop or filter, it was just me and a tape deck. Usually when you do a takedown, you get the top, the bottom, and what else you can hear in the middle, and then use your arranging skills to reassemble what you can’t hear.

For example, I know there will be four trumpet parts in that chord, but I can only hear three, so I use my knowledge as an arranger to fill in the missing part. But Take 6 is six parts of vocal jazz and they don’t write out their stuff like a big band arranger would. They work it out so it does not follow the same rules. There is also something about the voice and how they blend that makes it really hard to pick out.

So I did my best and gave it to John and he added the band.

For some reason, Take 6 could not make it to the rehearsal the day before the show. Usually if there was something to change, you could fix it and then have it ready for the sound check the next day, but not this time. The first time we would hear it and see if I got it all right was the sound check on the stage at the Hollywood Bowl!

It was the most nervous I have ever been. But it went fine and I am still working!

Parenthood

Your daughter is how old now? Can you describe the effect that parenthood has had on your music?

Sarah is 8 now. For my previous album I had a four-movement trilogy based on some of my more interesting or recurring dreams and nightmares. (I had finished the three movements and then had a really crazy dream that I just had to write a piece for, hence the four-movement trilogy.) This time I had a few commissions and was wondering what I would write about. Every new dad composer seems to write a really sweet and mushy tune for their new baby. I had resisted, but then a commission came in for a ballad and I thought it was meant to be.

So I wrote the most mushy, ‘nice’ tune I could, then as the piece goes on it gets more Tim-ified, and I ended up with the piece called Sarahbande. I still needed a way to tie it all together, and then I realized that to make a baby you need two people, and so I thought instead of one solo followed by another, something I am not that keen on, I could just have two of them at the same time, a kind of duet. So the first three movements have two soloists at a time and the fourth, The Expensive Train Set (and Epic Sarahnade) is for two whole big bands!

View a scrolling playback video of the Sarabande reduced score:

Other Projects

What are some of the projects that you’ve done as your “day job” that have been competing for your time working on the new CD?

Quite a few! It took me over 3.5 years to finish the album. I have been conducting and or orchestrating a lot of movies, games, and TV shows; things like Frozen, Ant-Man, Minions, Empire, Book of Life, Trolls, CHiPs and La La Land. I am also scoring a TV show called Trollhunters that will come out on Netflix in December.

What’s coming next for the two bands?

I hope to do some gigs soon. A trip back to Australia too.

What’s coming next for you?

I am currently spending most of my time writing the music for Trollhunters. Not sure if I will end up with more composing gigs after it comes out. This is my first project on my own. I had never sought out composing gigs, but this one was offered to me so why not!

I am also working on preparing the scores from the album for release. I have been making reductions and scrolling videos. Eventually I hope to have them for the whole album for people to study. You can see a few here.

I like to thank Tim for taking the time to share his thoughts with us, for excellent scrolling score videos, and for the great music. I’m looking forward to the release of Trollhunters in December and hope to check in with Tim at that time to get a glimpse of a day in the life of a TV composer.

Compatibility with Finale Notation Products and macOS Sierra



Compatibility with Finale Notation Products and macOS Sierra - photo by Jonathan Fox

Apple’s new Mac operating system, macOS Sierra (10.12), is scheduled to be released next Tuesday, September 20, 2016. Last week Apple released the gold master version of Sierra for testing purposes. We have confirmed that Finale v.25, Finale 2014.5, and Finale 2014d work well in the upcoming OS, as does Finale PrintMusic 2014.5 and 2014.

We are aware of two issues. Palettes do not resize properly, and the SmartMusic Markers utility (found only in Finale) will crash. (This doesn’t impede your ability to save SmartMusic accompaniments.) While we will address both issues in an upcoming free-of-charge update to Finale v.25, there will not be updates to any 2014 or 2014.5 apps.

Finale NotePad and SongWriter

Unfortunately, NotePad and SongWriter cannot be installed in the new OS and do not run properly on updated systems. While we have notified Apple of these incompatibilities, we don’t anticipate that they will be addressed.

We recommend that Macintosh users of Finale NotePad and SongWriter either not upgrade to Sierra, or trade up to supported notation software.

To help, we’re offering discounts on Finale PrintMusic to all users of Finale NotePad and Finale SongWriter. (We’re including Windows users too, just to be fair.)

Additional information about compatibility between macOS Sierra and Finale family notation products can be found in this Knowledge Base Article. We will update the article should the situation evolve upon the release of Sierra.

Photo of Split Mountain – in the Sierra Nevada of California – by Jonathan Fox

What’s the big deal about a 64-bit Finale?


What’s the big deal about a 64-bit Finale?

Left to right: Michael Johnson, Mark Adler, and Fred Flowerday.

While industry experts like Philip Rothman and Robert Puff have applauded the inclusion of 64-bit support in the new version of Finale, a more casual observer may ask; “What does that actually mean for me?” To some, one of the biggest features in the new Finale may not seem like a feature at all. Of course, we believe it is. Today we’re sharing some of the thinking behind Finale’s 64-bit support. More importantly, we’ll also describe some of the ways it can benefit you.

Defining 64-bit

Bit size refers to how much data you can move and access through your computer. More bits are better and often translate into faster performance. While 64-bit processors were once extremely rare (like the Cray-1 super computer in Los Alamos), today they’re the standard.

Operating systems are all shifting to 64-bit as well.

“You haven’t been able to buy a 32-bit mac for a decade, and it’s expected that Apple will soon drop all support for 32-bit applications,” said Michael Johnson, MakeMusic’s vice president of professional notation. “While Windows has always been a little more cautious in their march towards the future, there will come a time when Windows will drop 32-bit support, too.”

So first and foremost, Finale needs to be a 64-bit application to remain viable on future operating systems.

“A tremendous amount of work went into making Finale a 64-bit application, and it was done because we’re in it for the long haul,” said Fred Flowerday, MakeMusic’s senior vice president of product strategy. “There are many features and enhancements we’d like to see in Finale but which are not possible without first establishing a strong technical foundation in 64-bit. By taking the long view and investing in this foundation, our goal is to provide greater benefit for all Finale users and ensure the long-term viability of Finale.”

So What?

Okay, so Finale will continue to work well into the future. That is obviously good news for those of us with a long-term investment in using the software. But what does 64-bit mean to those of us who use Finale today?

Many high-end sound libraries are 64-bit only. These libraries can now be used directly within the new Finale, without additional intervening software. In addition, 32-bit applications, like previous versions of Finale, are limited in the amount of samples they can load into memory. Top libraries will quickly use up this 2 or 3 gig limit. Today’s Finale, however, allows you to load much larger libraries. Your only limit is the amount of memory you have installed.

Don’t use premium sound libraries? You’ll appreciate enhanced stability and speed improvements, some directly related to the 64-bit work, and some that are not. As noted in Philip Rothmans review, performance in the new Finale; “demonstrates real improvement in some key areas.” Even in areas where performance isn’t yet improved, 64-bit compatibility is likely a necessary first step toward further enhancements.

Laying the Foundation for Additional Improvement

In developing a 64-bit version, Finale developers laid the groundwork for forthcoming advancements. This has great potential both for increasing performance and future feature development. Moving forward, working on 64-bit software allows developers to access better, more modern development tools that can also increase advances in Finale faster.

“Not only can advances be made faster, they can be shared with Finale users faster, said Mark Adler, MakeMusic’s notation product manager/senior editor. “We are set up to easily deliver smaller, free-of-charge releases that represent our plan for continuous development and continuous release. Finale 2014.5 is a great example of the kind of feature-rich free update we plan to share in the future; between major releases.”

What Future Improvement is Important to MakeMusic?

Michael Johnson offers his top three: “Performance, rendering (the speed it takes to draw things on the screen), and playback. Those are the big three that touch everybody’s life.”

While Michael pauses to recognize there have always been select Finale users who claim to have no need for playback (because their audiation is perfect), he adds:

“When you wait a few seconds for this or that, it adds up over time. In extreme cases this can arrest your creative momentum. More often the cumulative effect simply presents a hurdle in getting more done in less time. Our goal is to have everything play and draw instantly, and today’s Finale sets the stage for that future.”

Fred adds: “Our ultimate goal is to get your music in front of musicians more efficiently.”

Check out the new Finale for yourselfat no charge. Try the free trial version today.

What’s the big deal about a 64-bit Finale? Image 2

Third-Party Finale Plug-in Developers



Third-Party Finale Plug-in Developers

I recently asked readers of MakeMusic’s Finale forums to indicate what they’d like to see in future Finale blog posts. Among the replies was a request for more information on third-party plug-ins. In response we reached out to the most influential third-party plug-in developers asking for an update. Today we’re please to share replies from Jari Williamson, Robert Patterson and Tobias Giesen.

Finale includes plug-ins from each developer (although Jari’s many plug-in aren’t branded as such). In addition, all three offer additional plug-ins (which will be updated soon for use with the new 64-bit Finale). We’ll share more details on these plug-ins below.

I once conducted an informal survey of plug-in usage as an additional means to inform future Finale development. In the process I spoke with many professional power users. My take-away was that plug-in usage is very diverse. Everyone I spoke with had plug-ins they were very passionate about, but everyone’s list was very different.

I think that’s the beauty of the plug-in development community; it’s possible to create wonderful (if somewhat niche) applications for a relatively smaller number of fervent users. I also think it’s amazing how Finale draws people together from across the world, from Tobias in Münster, Germany and Jari in Göteborg, Sweden, to Robert Patterson in Memphis and MakeMusic in Boulder.

Robert Patterson

Robert Patterson was once best known in Finale circles for his Patterson Beams. Today he creates the Patterson Plug-ins suite, which includes the plug-ins detailed below (with commentary from Robert himself):

– Beam Over Barlines (included in Finale) automates workarounds for creating the appearance of beams over a barline.

– Beam Selection provides one­-click beaming of any notes within a selected region.

– Mass Copy allows flexible copying of edits such as tuplet edits, articulation and expression assignments, cross staving, and a host of other items. It works independently of bar lines and replicates the source throughout the selected destination region. I probably use this more than any other plug-in.

– Multimeasure Rests (new in v5) provides additional options for creating multi-measure rests beyond those in Finale, and it also is more flexible about creating them. (For example, it only takes into account staves visible in page view on the system where the multimeasure rest is. If you have force ­hidden staves containing music with a staff style, they will not prevent the multimeasure rest from being created.)

– Name Utilities provides one-­click repairs to a number of issues related mostly to bugs or limitations in Finale. Two examples: 1) Finale 2014 randomly modifies the staff name positions whenever you run a plugin on a part, and 2) The Setup Wizard applies full­name font size to abbreviated names. This plugin has one­-click repairs for both issues. It also has one­-click options to split and join staff­ groups.

– Note Spacing (new in v5) allows you to set up different regions with different note spacing options (not including allotment tables). It also has options for better spacing of leger lines and upstem flags.

– Page Mover allows you to change margins and page size without modifying the image size (and hence the layout) of your music.

– Page Title Copy copies page titles from one page to another or one document to another. It also can copy from score to part and hides or shows the title appropriately as it copies.

– Patterson Beams (included in Finale) modifies beams and stems according to engraver standards.

– Smart Shape Editor (new in v5) provides an assignment dialog for beat­ attached smart shapes similar to Finale’s assignment dialog for expressions. It allows precise placement of metric position of each endpoint as well as horizontal and vertical offsets. It is especially useful for beat­ attached slurs, which have never received the UI­ upgrade the other beat ­attached shapes received.

In addition there are plugins to mass ­edit ties and tuplets and a plugin to copy settings between files. There is also a separate product called Copyist Helper that provides extra handling for measure numbering and instrument name titles. It is mainly aimed at copyists working in musical theater.

The Patterson Plug-ins received a major overhaul in 2014­-2015. The development environment is now (approximately) state­-of-the-­art, and the code base is ready for 64­-bit. Several new plug-ins (mentioned above) were added as well. The result was v5.00 which was released in April, 2015 and updated most recently in April, 2016. The main plan for the immediate future is to release 64­-bit versions for the new version of Finale.

Jari Williamsson

Jari Williamsson has created several plug-ins within Finale and hosts the website www.finaletips.nu, which offers a host of resources in addition to Jari’s many plug-ins. He shared the following:

My most popular plug-ins are: JW Change, JW Staff Polyphony, JW Meter and Rhythm, JW Pattern, JW Space Empty Rests, JW Measure Numbers, JW Accidentals, JW Yada Yada Tremolo, JW Navigate, JW Expand Region, and JW Change Pitches.

Many of these plug-ins are collections of many different tasks (JW Change, for example, contains more than 100 different tasks).

I currently have a lot of unreleased plug-ins in various development states. I will not reveal any info about unreleased projects, other than that a few of these plug-ins will also incorporate the functionality from some of my smaller plug-ins from the past.

Some plug-ins are currently available for download as open beta versions. The most popular plug-in there is “JW Lua”, which enables users to write their own fully-functional plug-ins.

Tobias Giesen

Tobias is the creator of TG tools. He offers an update on his latest developments below:

The TGTools Plug-In Collection for Finale has been available for more than 15 years now. An extensive feature set was created during the initial development years, ranging from various mass editing features thru part processing, Smart Explosion, as well as Lyrics and music spacing tweaks, and layout tools. It includes over sixty separate menu items and dialogs. Some of the features were so well-received by copyists that MakeMusic included them in Finale as free pre-installed plug-ins (also known as TGTools LE).

As an example, a useful music editing tool is the Beam Breaker. It is mostly used for breaking secondary beams such as to visually divide a sixteenth note sixtuplet into two or three parts. Beam Breaker does this automatically for you, intelligently analyzing the underlying rhythms and breaking the correct beams. Rather than doing each measure manually, you can have Beam Breaker process the whole score at once.

The Harmonics and Tremolo tools have more available settings and options than the ones that ship with Finale. The Smart Explosion tool is popular with many arrangers and copyists who need to make parts from scores where multiple instruments are on the same staff. It intelligently recognizes keywords such as 1., 2., a 2, solo etc. and does a completely automatic explosion, correctly distributing smart shapes and positioning expressions. 

TGTools is a commercial product. A free trial version is available from www.tgtools.com. A new 64-bit version will be released soon, and the update will be free for any licenses ordered in 2016.

Do you wish we’d talked about other plug-ins? Would you like to see plug-ins you’ve created highlighted here? Please let us know via Facebook or Twitter and we’ll follow up with a subsequent post.

UPDATE 9/21/2016:

  • Tobias adds: My 64 bit versions are available but still in beta. I have received a few
    bug reports which I intend to fix ASAP. I hope to have an update before the weekend.
  • According to Robert’s website, his 64-bit versions are now available.

 

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

The New Finale is Here!


Finale team celebrating new Finale 25 launch

Finale development team, L to R: Mark Adler, Joan Deitchman, Matt Logan, Doug Rassmussen, Mark Green, Will Jones, Jess Garrett, Jason Wick, Marco Herrera-Rendon, Melanie Balderas, Jon Tschiggfrie, Michael Johnson. Not pictured: Fred Flowerday, Lawson Dutton, Dan Downs, Chris Cianflone, Joe Lenarz, Michael Good, Andrew Kruse, and Greg Angel

Today I’m pleased to announce that the new Finale is now available, both as a download and a USB drive. As I’ve hinted at over the last few months, some of the highlights of the new release include 64-bit support, additional Garritan sounds, transposed instrument entry, ReWire compatibility, significant streamlining, and more.

We’ve also updated finalemusic.com. If you currently own Finale, please check out the what’s new page to see what this upgrade offers you. If you’re new to Finale, check out the main Finale page for a brief overview. In either case, be sure to check out the audio samples highlighting just a few of the 100+ Garritan instrument sounds we’ve added.

Want to try it out today? The Free 30-Day Trial is ready to go.

You can also upgrade today, from any previous version, for just $149. Or, if you are using another pro-level notation product and want to own Finale too, take advantage of our competitive upgrade offer for just $149 as well.

If you have questions or comments, please let us know via 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. Mark is smiling in this photo because he’s thinking of how happy he’ll be when the new version of Finale is actually shipping. Today is the day!

More New Features in the Next Version of Finale



More New Features in the Next Version of Finale (Tall Time Signatures)

Tall time signatures have been the standard for studio scores for decades. They help ensure that the conductor sees the time signature changes, which is especially crucial when the clock is ticking and dozens of musicians are on the payroll. In recent years this style of score has also become increasingly popular in the concert hall as well as in published scores.

You’ve always been able create tall time signatures in Finale, but it the past it was laborious and error-prone. It has been accomplished with staff styles which are easily deleted by mistake (especially when copying music). The added complexity required to make this all work frequently inspires users to create two separate scores, one for the conductor, and another from which to create parts. In addition to duplicating effort, having two scores ALSO increases the likelihood of errors.

In the new Finale, with individual control on whether or not time signatures will appear in your score or parts, it’s no longer necessary to maintain different scores, or use staff styles to get the results you’re looking for.  

Another improvement that also impacts how your music looks is the addition of contoured dashed slurs, seen here in Bach’s “Invention No. 8:”

Unlike tall time signatures, this is not something most people can accomplish in current versions of Finale. These types of slurs are popularly used to distinguish editorial markings from those of the composer. They are similarly used in choral music to indicate where a breath should not be taken.  Soon they will simply be an additional item you can select from the Smart Shapes tool pallet.

Again, our plan is to make this available to you by late summer. Have questions or comments? Please feel free to let us know via 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.

Mark is particularly passionate about features that provide musicians with additional visual options for their scores AND save time in the process.

Finale Spotlight on Alex Lacamoire, Orchestrator of Hamilton



Alex Lacamoire by Edgar Miranda-Rodriguez

Hamilton is a cultural phenomenon. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton has won 11 Tony Awards (including Best Musical and Best Orchestrations), a Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and numerous other awards. At a time when so much of America is divided on multiple fronts, Hamilton is clearly not one of them: President Barack Obama joked that admiration for the musical is “the only thing Dick Cheney and I agree on.”

Alex Lacamoire is the musical director and orchestrator behind Hamilton, and has been from the start. In 2009 when Lin-Manuel offered the White House a glimpse of the show that was to come, Alex provided the spectacular piano accompaniment behind his performance.

With all of the excitement around the show I was surprised and delighted that Alex found the time to answer some questions for us about his work and workflow.

How did you first meet Lin-Manuel Miranda?

I was recommended to Lin by some mutual friends that I grew up with in Miami. They performed in an early reading of In the Heights and said to him: “You have to meet Alex; he’s a music director, he’s an arranger, he’s Cuban, he’s from Miami…I think you guys would hit it off.” Heights was our first project together and I’m fortunate that he kept calling me to join him on the others.

I loved the performance that you two did at the White House in 2009. Was that a pivotal moment in the development of the show? Do you have a White House story you can share?

It was amazing enough that we were invited to perform for President Obama and the First Lady, but we didn’t know that the event was going to be filmed so classily or that it was going to be so accessible on YouTube — that was a lovely surprise. I think it got people excited about the piece and started to show us that the idea had an impact on audiences.

A fond memory of the day was the minute I spent chatting privately with President Obama, telling him how happy I was that he had just loosened the laws that permitted us Cuban-Americans to travel more freely to Cuba. He said, “Let’s see if we can’t make some progress down there,” and I replied, “With you at the helm, sir, I have no doubt we will.” He kept his promise — there is now an American Embassy open in Havana.

How did you and Lin-Manuel work together on Hamilton? What is your workflow, and when does Finale enter the process?

Lin composes mostly into Logic. Since he doesn’t notate music, he hands off his demos to me or my assistants so that they can get transcribed into a piano/vocal chart using Finale. As I edit the music, I customize the piano part and organically improvise some arrangement ideas that become part of the song, such as vocal harmonies, rhythmic breaks, endings, etc. Lin will give me feedback after I present my edits to him.

Sometimes we’ll work side-by-side on a moment, but mostly he’ll hear the big picture at a vocal or band rehearsal after everything’s been taught and then give his notes. We’ve worked together so much that I feel like I know what he wants, and he trusts me enough to let me do my thing and add my own voice to his music. When it comes time to orchestrate, I input directly into Finale. The Hal Leonard Vocal Selections for Hamilton were also done on Finale, drawing from the files that my team and I created for cast rehearsals.

Can you share a specific hurdle or significant challenge you encountered in orchestrating Hamilton?

The trickiest part of orchestrating a show like Hamilton is finding the balance between the electronic and the acoustic, between the live instruments and the loops. Fortunately, I had just worked with Lin on Bring it On, which had a similar challenge. With that show, I had some misfires where I oversaturated the orchestrations with too many keyboards and pre-recorded tracks, thereby obliterating the vocals and drawing attention to the charts — I basically learned what NOT to do. If it hadn’t been for Bring it On, I would have been much more lost on how to orchestrate Hamilton; I got to establish a vocabulary that allowed me to know where I was going.

Do you have a favorite memory from the creation of the cast recording and working with the Roots?

The whole process is my favorite memory! Some highlights include: seeing how well my band plays in a studio context; being given the time to record each element individually until we got it right; seeing the cast CRUSH their vocal performances; playing REO Speedwagon with Questlove on some down-time; and hearing the finished album with the cast at a listening party at Atlantic Records. Every phase went so smoothly, and it was the best experience I’ve ever had making a record.

What was your role in creating the sheet music?

I get the distinct honor of having a strong say in how Lin’s music gets visually presented to the world. I’ve been transcribing since I was 9 years old, and I have always obsessed over the details of how sheet music is “supposed” to be notated. That makes me a meticulous caretaker of Lin’s work, and I take great pride in being in charge of that.

If it weren’t for Finale, I wouldn’t have the means to make my edits so quickly or to make the charts so easily accessible to the actors and the band. An author needs some kind of word processing software to notate their ideas and broadcast them; as a musician, I use Finale to make the music transmittable to others.

Were you introduced to Finale at Berklee?

I first heard of Finale as I was graduating high school in the early nineties. Finale was accessible to us in the computer labs at Berklee when I got there in 1993, so that’s where I became comfortable using the software. When I bought my first home computer in 1995, Finale was one of my first purchases, and I have never stopped using it.

What do you like about Finale? What would you change?

I love that Finale gives you the ability to adjust any facet of your music, whether it be spacing, measurements, fonts, etc. On Broadway it’s still the most popular notation software, and I get to be part of the “club” that trades insider-tips. While I know that it’s not the easiest application to learn, it’s certainly the most powerful that I’ve seen. The one thing I would change is the bugs that pop up from update-to-update. When you upgrade, there’s always some little quirk that appears that wasn’t there before, and that’s frustrating.

Have a Finale tip you can share?

My favorite tips that most people don’t seem to know about (passed on to me by my buddies Ryan Shore and Michael Starobin):

— In Page View, after selecting a measure (via Measure tool, or Selection tool, etc), you can use the up or down arrow keys to move that measure to an adjoining system.

— In Speedy Entry: Say you want to change the notes of a chord you’ve already notated. Instead of deleting and re-inputting, move the crosshair onto the chord you want to change, play the new chord on your MIDI keyboard and hit Enter (this only works with the Enter key, not Return).

— Select the handle of an expression you’ve already assigned to a staff. While holding the Option key (Ctrl on Windows), hit arrow up/down to copy that expression to an adjoining staff. (Great for dynamics in a large score.)

— The Selection Tool has some great macros assigned to it by default. After selecting some music: Press 6 to transpose it down a step, 7 for up a step, 8 for down an octave, and 9 for up an octave.

Alex L Edit

What are you working on now?

I’m about to go into rehearsals for the next company of Hamilton, which will open in Chicago on October 19. Between now and then, I’ll be working with my brilliant copyist Emily Grishman and her team to update all of the charts in Finale to include the changes that were made to the show in the preview process last year.

After that, I’ll be focusing on my next Broadway show, Dear Evan Hansen, which opens on December 4. For that piece, I’m the music supervisor and orchestrator, so I will once again be relying on Finale to make everything happen.

Thanks again to Alex for making time for the Finale blog and especially for the spectacular music.

Featured photograph (at top) courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, SomosArte.com

Streamlining the Next Version of Finale



Previewing the Next Version of Finale

Many of you have asked when the next version of Finale will be released. Today I’m glad to report we plan to make it available by late summer, 2016.

With this release we are fully committed to streamlining and modernizing Finale’s codebase. We do this to improve performance, maintain compatibility with future operating systems, and to set the stage for future improvements. In the process, it has become necessary to remove old code  – and corresponding functionality  – that slows down this progress. This is something we never do lightly or without significant user feedback and a close eye on usage data. Our ultimate goal is to provide music creators with the best tool possible.

With that in mind, here are the items that won’t be in the next version of Finale:

  • Movie WindowAs I mentioned in this previous post, we’ve replaced the Movie Window with ReWire support, allowing  users to take advantage of the superior video support found in programs like Digital Performer, ProTools and Logic.
  • Mirror Tool  and Tempo Tool – Please note that Finale continues to offer multiple ways to control tempo, and that older files with mirrored measures can easily be converted to regular notes and rests.
  • Plug-ins – Discontinued plug-ins include Band-in-a-Box Auto-Harmonizing, Count Items and Classic Eighth Beams. While technical issues prevented us from updating the  auto-harmonizing plug-in to the 64-bit world, we do plan to revisit this functionality in some form in the future.
  • Compact Disc installer – Because many new computers no longer have CD ROM drives, we’ve switched to a USB stick (in addition to offering a download option).
  • ScanningWhen we offered a preview of our plans to modernize this feature, we sparked a larger discussion about rights. Musicians from all walks of life  –  from individuals to major publishers  –  expressed concern over the publishing consequences that could result from significantly improved scanning technology. We take rights very seriously. We explored enhanced restrictions as a possible solution, but ultimately decided that any restriction has the potential for abuse. Instead, we’ve decided to refocus this technology for the future and apply it in such a way that it can be stretched and pushed while simultaneously safeguarding musicians’ rights. While we’re eager to share more on this, the next Finale will not include scanning capabilities. Learn more.
  • Support for older Mac operating systems  – OS X 10.10 or higher will be required.

On the subject of OS support, we’re pleased to announce that full support will be provided for Yosemite, El Capitan, and Apple’s upcoming Sierra. Plus, being 64 bit, the next Finale will be poised to be compatible with subsequent operating systems as well.

One additional thing that will not be in the next version of Finale is a name that corresponds with a year. Why? Since the launch of Finale 2012 we’ve moved away from releasing a new version every year. While we’ve received positive feedback on asking users to upgrade less frequently, this change has produced some confusion as the current software (2014.5) appears to be out of sync with the calendar (2016).

We’ve also changed our approach regarding the addition of new features between major releases. Moving forward we plan to release more incremental versions, as we did with Finale 2014.5, which add new functionality (not just bug fixes) without charge to our current customers.

So what will the next version of Finale be called?

Finale.

That said, if you look in the “About Finale” dialog box, you’ll see version 25 listed. Why 25? This is 25th full upgrade since the release of Finale 1.0 in September of 1988.

Have questions? Please feel free to let us know via 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.

Mark has recently become the proud new owner of a 1990s-era player piano. Does anyone have some 3.5” floppy discs they’d like to donate to the cause?

PrintMusic and Finale in OS X 10.11.6



el-capitan-3768_700

Apple has just released OS X 10.11.6. While current versions of Finale and PrintMusic are fully compatible with this new version of the Mac El Capitan operating system, previous versions are not. Here are our corresponding recommendations:

  • If you’re using Finale 2014d, update to the free Finale 2014.5 (or don’t update to 10.11.6).
  • If you’re using PrintMusic 2014, update to the free PrintMusic 2014.5 (or don’t update to 10.11.6).

You can log into your MakeMusic account and download 2014.5 for Finale or PrintMusic here.

What about even older versions?

  • While Finale 2012, SongWriter 2012 and Finale NotePad 2012 are not supported in Yosemite or El Capitan, they do not exhibit additional problems in 10.11.6.
  • Finale 2011, PrintMusic 2011, and earlier versions are no longer supported.

We have contacted Apple and notified them of the incompatibility, and we’ll share updates on any subsequent developments on this blog.

If you have any questions, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter.