SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

Compensating for a Pickup Measure in the Final Bar

Compensating for a Pickup Measure in the Final Bar

Often when an anacrusis or pickup measure appears at the beginning of a piece, the last measure of the piece will be truncated to complete the first measure. For instance, a quarter note pickup in a piece that is in 2/4 time will often end in a measure that is 1 quarter note long (as seen above).

Since the time signature does not change when this last measure is truncated, creating the desired visual effect requires a few extra steps.  

After creating the initial pickup measure (the process is described in this Finale User Manual article for Windows or Mac) here’s how I’d address the final bar:

  1. Choose the Time Signature Tool and double-click the finale measure in the score.
  2. Set the time signature to the appropriate size. For instance, if the anacrusis was 1 quarter note long and the time signature for the piece is 2/4, set the time signature for the last measure to 1/4 to account for 1 quarter note less than the true time signature.
  3. Click More Options, then, in the lower area of the window, select Use a Different Time Signature for Display.
  4. Set the lower time signature (which will now be used as the display signature) to the same time signature that was used leading up to the last measure, then click OK. In my example, the Time Signature dialog box was configured like this:

Compensating for a Pickup Measure in the Final Bar 2

The last measure is now prepared for the appropriate amount of beats to account for the anacrusis at the beginning of the score.

John HansenJohn Hansen is a notation technician within the MakeMusic Customer Success department. John found his passion for music later in life after serving in the military. He started learning about music theory in college at the age of 25 and received his B.A. in Music Composition from Colorado Christian University in 2016.

John lives in Colorado with his wife Mary and baby son James. In his free time, John enjoys composing a broad range of music from orchestral to rock and metal. He plays the drum set primarily but also attempts to sound good on the piano and guitar.

Using Finale’s Human Playback in Digital Audio Workstations

Using Finale’s Human Playback in Digital Audio Workstations

Do you use both Finale and a digital audio workstation (or DAW)? Or do use one and collaborate with people using the other? Either way, I think the three most common ways of using Finale and a DAW together are:

  1. Creating tracks in a DAW, then exporting MIDI to create charts for performance
  2. Using Rewire to run a DAW and Finale simultaneously
  3. Creating some (or all) of a performance in Finale, then exporting Finale MIDI data into a DAW.

At Arranger For Hire we start all of our projects in Finale because our customers require notation. Because they also expect high-quality first-demos of our arrangements, we use the Garritan sounds included with Finale (called Garritan Instruments for Finale, or GIFF) in creating these demos. We find these sounds to be more than adequate for most customers who wish to audition their commissioned score.

Occasionally our customers need to continue their production in a DAW.  This can provide them with greater options and flexibility in the choice of sounds, libraries, and effects. Working with these customers, we’ve learned that beginning projects in Finale – and leveraging Finale’s Human Playback feature (or HP) – has some very real benefits. As its name implies, Human Playback can produce fairly realistic performances without the need to spend hours of manually editing continuous controller (or CC) data.

In the screenshot above, you can see the automation created by HP, as it interprets hairpins in the score.

In this post,  I’ll follow the third path listed above. I’ll share my experiences with the process, and identify some of the details that HP imparts on the MIDI data.

Human Playback – A Great Leap Forward

Early versions of Finale relied on Finale’s MIDI Tool to edit CC and other data. While this tool still remains in the software, it’s a bit antiquated and kludgy. Modern versions of Finale leverage HP (as mentioned above) to interpret score markings automatically, “under the hood.”

HP uses key switches as a means of switching samples in a particular instrument during playback. One example would be to switch string sounds from arco to pizzicato. Robert Piechaud and the good folks of MakeMusic have invested considerable resources in this more intuitive approach, and they’ve done an excellent job.

What Human Playback Data is Exported by Finale?

Let’s examine an exported Finale MIDI file (a small string section score) as seen in ProTools. I entered only a few markings, just to see how they show up in the data. There are three different sets of samples for each instrument, swapped via key switch: tremolo, legato, and pizzicato. Here’s what the example sounds like:

The Tracks

We should start here with a cautionary note. Finale will probably export KS signals in another MIDI track with a similar name. I say “probably,” because Finale didn’t separate KS data for my Violin I track – it was included in a single track. MakeMusic is aware of this issue, and its cause, and plans to address it soon.

The example score instrumentation is

  • Violin I
  • Violin II
  • Viola
  • Cello

The MIDI tracks created by Finale’s Export MIDI feature from this score are:

  • Violin I-01 (all data)
  • Violin II-02 (KS)
  • Violin II-03 (all other MIDI)
  • Viola-02 (KS)
  • Viola-04 (all other MIDI)
  • Cello-02 (KS)
  • Cello-04 (all other MIDI)

It’s not quite as simple as just opening it and having it work right out of the box. You need to route the KS track to the same channel on the player as its instrument. You must either do this or merge the MIDI data if you want to hear your KS articulations and techniques work in a DAW with the ARIA Player. Once you’re this far, you’re where you left off in Finale – it sounds the same as Finale output.

The Data

You can immediately see there’s data to work with: the image above shows all the exported MIDI data in Violin I. Human Playback can export a lot of CC data, and you can add your own either in Finale or the DAW. For a complete listing of all controllers for all Garritan instruments, see the user manual topic Garritan Instruments for Finale instrument details.

This data is automatically routed correctly in the ARIA Player by default (with the likely exception of KS, as mentioned above), and you can add more automation lanes or record more controller data for all the accepted parameters from within your DAW. To learn what all these different possible controllers do in detail, consult the Finale Garritan Human Playback Reference.

Using other players and libraries, you can route this data to the correct control in your virtual instrument, harnessing Finale’s intuitive CC data to retain playback of your score markings in any library you wish to use.

Using Aria Player in a DAW

Finale ships with the Garritan ARIA Player. All of the KS and CC data that work in Finale work with ARIA in a DAW, but with more controller options available. Garritan Instruments for Finale has minor limitations in the ARIA Player compared to premium Garritan libraries such as Personal Orchestra or Jazz & Big Band. The foreground image shows ARIA loaded with GIFF. The picture behind shows it loaded with Personal Orchestra – note the coloration of the keys for the key switches in PO, but not GIFF.

It’s possible to identify the KS in the ARIA Player interface in the premium libraries, but not so in GIFF (they’re listed in Finale’s online manual).

The available KS sounds show in a popup menu. In playback, they’re controlled by MIDI pitches “under the hood.” KS can be user-selectable via popup if you’re using it in standalone mode for live performance.

Garritan’s premium libraries offer more samples for most instruments, emulating most common sound variants, articulations, and performance techniques for every instrument in the library.

Setting up ARIA Player in a DAW

“Should I use  a Player for each track, or one Player as a multi?”

If you’re concerned about memory usage in your DAW, instantiate the ARIA Player on a single track, with each instrument assigned to one of ARIA’s 16 slots. This configuration is referred to as a “Multi” (multi-channel instrument). Import the MIDI data in your DAW, assign it to multiple MIDI or instrument tracks, and route the MIDI data to the corresponding MIDI channel for the assigned instrument. Also, you’ll want to assign your separated KS tracks if necessary.

If the session is small enough that memory isn’t an issue, adding a separate instance of ARIA Player to each instrument track gives you all of your correctly-routed Finale data, the ability to edit the MIDI if needed for better legato or changes in automation curves, and the ability to apply your favorite dynamics and effects plug-ins.

Set up and Save Multis

Save multis you create for use in other projects if you think you’ll need them again. You can do this either in the plug-in or in “standalone” mode (opening ARIA Player as an app on your computer). ARIA will put it in the correct location for recall by default into the com.Plogue.Aria folder. (It must be saved in this location or it won’t show in the ARIA Player’s “Ensembles” menu).

Using Finale’s Human Playback with Other Player Plug-ins

With a little editing, Finale’s data can be used with other players such as Native Instrument’s Kontakt, Avid’s Expand, EastWest’s Play, and others. The biggest difference from library to library will be the key switched alternative sounds available, the keys used to trigger them, and routing of the CC data. The CC data can be routed to the appropriate control in whichever player you’re using. Any DAW allows the creation of multiple automation “lanes,” which are sub-tracks to accommodate CC data. Assign any lane to any controller (for more info, please consult the DAW’s manual on automation editing).

Using Finale’s MIDI with another plug-in may require either editing of the KS in the MIDI file, or changing the assignments in the library you’re going to use. Kontakt’s Group editor allows the assignment of new triggers to KS samples. You could edit Finale KS MIDI in the DAW, either changing the KS pitches in the MIDI list, or adding the pitch for the other sampler you’re using. If you’re routing to more than one sampler, that’s the way to go, as Kontakt’s KS triggers are different and two octaves higher, though they’re not likely to conflict unless it’s a patch with a whole lot of KS. (For more info, please consult the DAW’s manual on MIDI editing.)

Final Thoughts

I created this video to demonstrate the process of importing Human Playback data into a Pro Tools session :

The people at MakeMusic have invested a lot of time and energy developing Human Playback. There’s so much useful performance data exported with Finale MIDI files, it often makes sense to start any project in Finale. It’ll save a lot of editing later.

Jon Burr is a composer, arranger, producer, recording engineer, bandleader, bassist, and educator from Yonkers, NY and a Finale user since 1996. As owner/operator of Arranger for Hire, he serves music arranging and production customers from around the world. A veteran touring bassist, his performance credits include Tony Bennett, Buddy Rich, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Eartha Kitt, Rita Moreno, The Hot Swing Trio, Stephane Grappelli and many others. Arranging customers have included the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Chilean Astronomy Society, The Milpitas Community Concert Band, The Honey Taps, The Montclair Kimberly Academy’s annual musical, and many others. He writes for and leads his own ensembles, including the Jon Burr Quintet. His arrangements for Swedish YouTube artist Kim Andersson have received over 5 million Facebook views.

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation: Part 2

In part one of this post, we identified some quick ways to make your charts more readable. We focused on beaming, rests, chord symbols, and comping notation. Today, we zoom out and concentrate on how your music occupies the page. As before, our focus is to empower sight reading and accurate performances.

Phrasing and Spacing

I believe the most important step in writing contemporary music is spacing the music appropriately. Take a look at this example (click on an image for a larger view): 

Observe how difficult it is to read this example, especially in the second and fourth systems. In the former, the spacing is so loose that it’s difficult for your eyes to move quickly along with the music. In the latter, the opposite problem occursthe music is too close together, is difficult to follow, and looks like a jumbled mess.

Fortunately, a few quick fixes with the up and down arrow keys in Finale can clean this part up well: 

What I’m doing here is changing the number of measures per system. This is a concept known as “phrasing” in copyist work. Traditionally, the copyist must plan each system out before even starting any work. In Finale it only takes a few keystrokes to “re-flow” the systems into better spacing.

When you’re still composing, I recommend ignoring the layout as you write. Finale’s scroll view is perfect for separating the tasks of writing with layout. If you prefer working in page view, I suggest keeping your spacing wide open while you write. Try for only 3 or 4 measures per system. This can create a lot of extra pages, but after you finish you can go back and reflow systems together to save space.

Layout Considerations

After notation is perfected within the staff, the next dilemma is of page sizes. While Finale’s default document uses “letter” sized paper (8.5 x 11) to ensure everyone can print what they create, publisher parts made in the U.S. are often written on “concert” paper (9 x 12). Traditionally, concert manuscript paper was sold with 10 or 12 lines per sheet, and offered either narrow or wide spacing.

Today, these paper dimensions may not always available at an office supply store, but they can easily be found online. The larger size affords more space and larger staves; it is considerably easier to read than on computer paper. Best of all, formatting for this size needs only a quick trip to the Page Layout > Page Size dialog box in Finale.

Many commercial parts are written on this type of manuscript paper. Copyists often left the top two staves of the first page for the title, creating the “fake book” appearance seen in many jazz parts. Even without blank staves on your score, it’s a good idea to leave two staves worth of empty space at the top of the first page for your title, part name, and other information. 


Page Turns and Fills

From there, the last two considerations are page turns and fills. Page turns are often pretty obvious: don’t make it hard for your performer to turn the page. Try to reflow your systems so that page turns happen during a large break in the music. If your performer must play through the page turn, try to make the turn occur where they can continue playing while they turn, or while they’re playing a part that is doubled by another instrument.

Finally, a good practice is to try and fill the last page of your part as much as possible. The best way to do this is to plan the part out separately, using a chart like the one below:

Normally I would make the above chart by hand on manuscript paper first. I made this one in Finale to spare you from suffering the illegibility of my poor handwriting.

Here’s what the actual chart looks like:

As you can see, I had to weigh many factors, including song length, measure phrasing, multi-measure rests, repeats, and page turns. My goal was to use up all systems on both pages, but as long as my last page is more than 60% covered I’m comfortable sending it off to my players.

I hope you’ve found these tips useful. I believe that adapting these simple practices in your writing will benefit most contemporary ensembles.

Please let us know via Facebook or Twitter what other quick tips you use to add magic to your sheet music.

Finale, SmartMusic, and macOS High Sierra

Finale, SmartMusic, and Mac OS High Sierra

Sometime in the next month or so, Apple is expected to release High Sierra, the latest Macintosh operating system. In light of this pending release, we have received several questions asking how our products will work in the new OS.

9-12-17 UPDATE: Apple has announced that macOS High Sierra will be released on 9/25/17.


Over the last several years we have been focusing on improving Finale under-the-hood to keep up with ever-changing operating systems. Thanks to these efforts we can guarantee that Finale version 25.x will be compatible with High Sierra. We are actively testing Finale v25 with the beta versions of High Sierra. Should there be any surprises upon the release of the gold master, resolving those issues would become our top priority.


We don’t anticipate any problems with the new web-based version of SmartMusic. We continue to test the classic version of SmartMusic with beta software with success. It will remain supported. 

9-22-17 UPDATE: If you’re using Classic SmartMusic on the Mac, don’t update to High Sierra just yet as we’ve encountered a problem. We are testing a fix now and will release an update within the next few weeks.

PrintMusic and NotePad

Despite having worked closely with our Apple partners, we will not be able to support Finale PrintMusic or NotePad on High Sierra nor in subsequent operating systems. For that reason, we will discontinue selling these products, and they have already been removed from the MakeMusic store. We have also emailed all PrintMusic users, notifying them of these changes.

People using PrintMusic or NotePad on the Mac have two options. They can:

  • Remain on a pre-High Sierra operating system
  • Trade up to Finale

To help PrintMusic owners we’re discounting the trade up price to $99 through Sept 30, 2017.

What About PrintMusic and NotePad for Windows?

We will continue to support PrintMusic and NotePad for Windows for the foreseeable future and they remain available on our website. However, we do not plan to update these products, which are based on previous Finale versions. Instead, our focus will remain on improving our flagship notation product, Finale.

For more details, check out this related Knowledge Base article.

High Sierra image, by Don Graham, found on Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation: Part 1

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music NotationMusic notation plays a huge role in both sides of my double life. By day, I work at MakeMusic, where my primary tasks involve transferring published sheet music into SmartMusic. On nights and weekends I play guitar in a variety band. Unlike the published music I encounter by day, charts for this band are often hastily made, with little regard for the finer points of copy work. The results can sometimes look like the excerpt above, which is clearly not optimal for sight reading (or anything else). 

After reading many bad charts, I’ve begun to recognize some of the most common pitfalls people encounter when writing pop music for performance. Today, we’ll examine some of these bad habits and share quick ways to correct them in your work.

Beaming, Rests and the Invisible Barline

Beaming and rest choices are often ignored by the lazy copyist, but a little extra effort here will lead to better performances.

The meter of a measure must always inform the notation. Every time signature implies a grouping of beats, which determine beaming and rest choices. Take the following excerpt as an example. Which is clearer? 

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 1

Most working musicians could play the first example correctly after some practice time, but ideally we’d like these charts to be sight read, as is typical on the gig. By contrast, the second example clearly defines the halfway point in the measure, which is a great aid to readers. This is a concept known as the “Invisible Barline,” and is vital to writing in an even meter.

Additionally, notice how the beaming has been changed to outline each beat in the measure. This practice makes it easier to subdivide rhythms while reading the piece. Proper beaming technique is especially important in complex meters: Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 2

The engraver’s rests must also support the performer by outlining the meter. I find each of the following measures to be very difficult to read: Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 3Here is the same example with appropriate rests and beaming: Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 4

Note that each syncopation is split into multiple rests. Again, this helps the performer subdivide rhythms easier. When mixed rests are needed, always choose rests which outline the beat appropriately.

Writing Chords

Another challenge for many writers is using chord notation. While this is a large topic that I’ve covered before, here are some basic guidelines to remember when building parts for the rhythm section.

First and foremost, develop a system that works for your performers. If your musicians prefer to see a ø7 chord suffix instead of min7 b5, then you need to swallow your pride and write the chord they want – even if you believe it’s “wrong.” Never sacrifice a good performance in the name of being “right.”

Just make sure to stay consistent – don’t write “C-7” in one measure, “Cm7” in the next and “Cmin7” later.

Comping Notation

Suffixes aren’t the only important part of writing chords; you must also pay attention to notation in the staff. While the lazy copyist may not see the value in writing notation during a comping part, the performers often need it badly, and each member of the rhythm section expects different conventions.

When in doubt, keep the notation simple. Here are some of my rules of thumb for writing rhythm section parts.

1. If you know exactly what notes you want them to play: write the notes in the staff. (This should be rare.)

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 6

2. If you only have a few specific notes: write the rhythms in the staff and only the specific notes you want. (This is common for guitar players, who often remember voicings based on the top note of the chord.)

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 7

3. If you don’t care what voicing they use but you have a specific rhythm: write rhythmic slash notation. (Common in a score with ‘hits’ that the band plays together.)

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 8

4. If you want them to improvise a comping part: Use slash notation. (This is the most common and easiest way to notate chords, but your performer may not know exactly what to play.)

Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 8Being a guitarist, I wrote all of these examples for a guitar part. However, the same rules apply to other instruments. Typically, the bass part is written with a sample bassline and chord symbols – that way, the bass player has an idea of what groove to play, but they can freely ad lib fills when appropriate. 
Quick Fixes to Improve Your Music Notation 8
In part two of this post, we’ll step back a bit and turn our attention to how your refined notation appears on the page, discussing phrasing and layout.

Peter Flom is the production manager in the repertoire development department at MakeMusic. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Peter has previously worked at KMA Studios in New York City, and in MakeMusic’s Customer Success department. He now spends most of his days developing new content for Finale and SmartMusic, and has worked with many publishers along the way.

He also is a freelance arranger and engraver, and plays a mean guitar when no one’s watching.

Jazz Composition and Arranging Tips: Drum Cues

One question I am asked frequently in my courses is how to create drum cues. This refers to small notes written above the drum staff, indicating what rhythms other sections are playing (as seen above).

I used to, literally, enter each cue note individually and then reduce its size. This was not efficient! Then I “discovered” a hidden secret: Finale has a way to do it that is almost automatic – it just takes a little prep work.

1. Preparation for Drum Cues

First of all, I set up Finale’s layers. The trick is to designate layer 4 to hold the cue notes, and to NOT play them back. See how in the short video below:

2. Creating a Staff Style

You also need to create a Staff Style that allows you to show, simultaneously in different layers, the cues and one-bar repeats (or slashes, if you prefer).

3. Creating Drum Cues

Now we are ready to create the cues. In my example, I show use the lead trumpet part to show the drummer cues for an ensemble passage.

I hope these “tricks” will help you create your charts more efficiently. If they do, please check out my other Finale blog posts on ensemble voicing and copying and pasting

Socrates GarciaSocrates Garcia is a composer, arranger, producer, recording engineer, bandleader, guitarist, and educator from the Dominican Republic. He currently is the director of music technology at the University of Northern Colorado, where he teaches a variety of courses in music technology and advanced jazz arranging. He has given clinics at many music conferences including the Jazz Education Network, International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers, TMEA (Texas), CMEA (Colorado), and OMEA (Ohio). His 2016 award winning album for MAMA Records, “Back Home,” features the Socrates Garcia Latin Jazz Orchestra, a contemporary jazz big band that combines Afro-Dominican genres that include merengue, bachata, and palos or atabales, alongside other Afro-Caribbean genres.


Jazz Composition and Arranging Tips: Edit Filter and Paste Multiple

Jazz Composition and Arranging Tips: Edit Filter and Paste Multiple

As I mentioned in my previous post on ensemble voicings, I enjoy sharing tips with fellow Finale users that can help them work more quickly and efficiently. Today I’d like to share tips using the Edit Filter and Paste Multiple features. This pair can greatly speed up your work when you copy and paste in Finale.

The Edit Filter

This very powerful feature allows you to select specific items to copy/paste. For example, the Edit Filter makes it possible to copy things like chords and lyrics without also copying associated notes.

The Edit Filter was recently covered in this excellent Finale Blog post, but I felt compelled to mention it again for two reasons:

  1. Visual learners may benefit from seeing the whole process in action in my video below, and…
  2. I also want to mention Paste Multiple.

Paste Multiple

My second copy/paste tip involves the Paste Multiple feature. This is a supercharged way to make the copying/pasting process faster and more efficient.  

To use it, choose the Selection tool, highlight some music, and copy it to the clipboard by clicking CTRL+C (COMMAND+C on Mac).

Next, go to the Edit menu and choose Paste Multiple or type ALT+CTRL+V (CONTROL+COMMAND+V on Mac). Here you can choose to copy the music horizontally (to the next measure) or vertically (to the next instrument staff):

Paste Multiple in Finale In both cases, you can also choose to have the paste occur as many times in succession as you wish.

See the Edit Filter and Paste Multiple in use:

I hope you find these two features as invaluable as I do!

Socrates Garcia is a composer, arranger, producer, recording engineer, bandleader, guitarist, and educator from the Dominican Republic. He currently is the director of music technology at the University of Northern Colorado, where he teaches a variety of courses in music technology and advanced jazz arranging. He has given clinics at many music conferences including the Jazz Education Network, International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers, TMEA (Texas), CMEA (Colorado), and OMEA (Ohio). His 2016 award winning album for MAMA Records, “Back Home,” features the Socrates Garcia Latin Jazz Orchestra, a contemporary jazz big band that combines Afro-Dominican genres that include merengue, bachata, and palos or atabales, alongside other Afro-Caribbean genres.

Jazz Composition and Arranging Tips: Ensemble Voicings

Jazz Composition and Arranging Tips: Ensemble Voicings

I have been a Finale user since the mid-1990s. Along the way, I have learned many “tricks” to use the application in a way that compliments my writing flow and allows me to do things quickly.

I enjoy sharing these tricks in clinics for composers, students, and teachers as well as in my courses at the University of Northern Colorado. In all cases, it’s exhilarating to see the faces of fellow Finale users light up when they see a quicker and more effective way to do something they do on a regular basis.

I’m excited to share one of those tips today and look forward to sharing more in future posts.

Ensemble Voicings from Sketch to Score

As I am composing/arranging I often create my ensemble voicings in a single staff. This allows me to see all of the actual notes in one place and in concert pitch. For me, this simplifies work on sectional and ensemble voicings before I create the actual transposed score. In fact, when writing for jazz orchestra, I often use a sketch version of the score comprised of two grand staves, one for the saxes/woodwinds section and another for the brass section; and staves for guitar, piano, bass, and drums. You can hide or delete these staves later.

In addition to entering notes, I also add all my articulations and dynamics as I write these one-staff voicings (which saves me the effort of adding them to individual voices later).

Once the notes are entered, there’s an easy way to distribute the individual voices of each section to the appropriate staves. Finale calls this process “Explode Music,” and it’s pretty simple. With the Selection tool chosen, you indicate what music you want to distribute. Then from the Utility menu, you choose Explode Music and follow the prompts. Here’s what it looks like in action:

Exploding music can save you a lot of time and avoid many clicks of the mouse. It also allows you to develop a faster workflow. I hope this tip makes you smile and helps you to more efficiently create and share your music.

Socrates Garcia

Socrates Garcia is a composer, arranger, producer, recording engineer, bandleader, guitarist, and educator from the Dominican Republic. The director of music technology at the University of Northern Colorado, he teaches courses in music technology and jazz arranging. He has given clinics at many music conferences including the Jazz Education Network, International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers, TMEA (Texas), CMEA (Colorado), and OMEA (Ohio). His 2016 award winning album for MAMA Records, “Back Home,” features the Socrates Garcia Latin Jazz Orchestra, a contemporary jazz big band that combines Afro-Dominican genres that include merengue, bachata, and palos or atabales, alongside other Afro-Caribbean genres.

Problem Opening Finale Files Saved in Version 25.4

Problem Opening Finale FilesWe’ve received a few reports of a very isolated problem that is new to Finale v25.4. Certain files, that have been previously saved in Finale v25.4, cannot subsequently be re-opened. We want to make you aware of this issue, clarify the scope of the problem, and tell you how you can avoid it.

UPDATE 7/24/17: This issue has been fully resolved in 25.4.1, which is now available.


The problem only occurs in Finale v25.4  and requires the use of an external file. Typically this is a percussion map, although an embedded graphic, an audio file, or other file types could also be part of the equation.

For the problem to occur, the file names of these external files must contain one or more of a few special characters, including the ampersand, angle brackets, apostrophe, and quotes.

The problem can be completely avoided by not using “&, “, ‘, <, and >” characters in these file names. For example, we recommend naming your percussion map “Brushes and Mallets” instead of “Brushes & Mallets.”

When the problem does occur, the file will appear to save properly but will produce one or more error messages when you try to reopen it (and it will not open). Specific error messages are listed in this related knowledge base article.

What Do I Do?

You can completely avoid the problem by not using the characters listed above in your file names.

If you do encounter this problem, please submit a case here and attach your file. We can repair the file for you, so it can be reopened, and we can help those who prefer to roll back to v25.3 until a fix has been released to the public.

Working on a solution is our top priority. We hope to share it soon.

Should I Not Update to v25.4?

If you don’t use the above-mentioned characters in your file names, you will not encounter the problem. Because v25.4 solves issues that impact more users, it will remain available while we finalize a solution.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience. If you have additional questions, please let us know via the case system.

UPDATE 7/24/17: This issue has been fully resolved in 25.4.1, which is now available.

Just Released: Finale v25.4 – a Free Maintenance Release

 Just Released: Finale v25.4 – a Free Maintenance Release 1This morning we released Finale v25.4, the fourth free-of-charge update for all owners of Finale version 25. This is part of our previously mentioned plan to frequently release modest-sized updates. The idea is to share improvements as they are made rather than saving them up in large batches.

MusicXML 3.1 is included in Finale v25.4

MusicXML is the technology used to exchange music with others – regardless of what software they use. Finale 25.4 includes a new version, MusicXML 3.1. In addition to being compatible with the new SmartMusic, 3.1 also offers improved conversion of the following items:

  • Arrowhead symbols
  • Circled noteheads
  • Dynamics such as n, pf, and sfzp symbols
  • Hidden ledger lines
  • Enclosures with more than 4 sides
  • Expressions or text blocks that contain a mix of Maestro text and symbols
  • Parenthesized accidental marks
  • Unexpected Maestro symbols used for articulations
  • Distinction between Finale’s two default percussion clefs (rectangle and vertical lines)

The benefits of MusicXML 3.1 are also available to users of Finale 2009-2014.5 via the Dolet 7 Plugin. For further information on the MusicXML 3.1 features in Finale 25.4 and the Dolet 7 plug-in see these release notes.

Additional Features in Finale v25.4

Just Released: Finale v25.4 – a Free Maintenance Release

Two features added in 25.4 can be seen above. You can now add rounded corners to any enclosure, as well as determine just how rounded they are.

We’ve also provided more control on how key signature cancellations appear. Previous versions of Finale would always show courtesy cancellations when moving from a flat key to a sharp key (or vice versa). Now you can eliminate all such courtesy cancellations with a single checkbox.

Also included is Windows-only feature that notifies you when you don’t have an audio device configured and a Mac-only addition providing access to presets for AU instruments (in addition to the access to presets for AU effect that was available previously).

Finale v25.4 Bug Fixes

Finale 25.4 also includes many bug fixes. We’ve highlighted a few below.

Windows only:

  • Launching Finale by double-clicking on a Finale file on an external drive no longer produces an authorization error message.
  • Finale now launches successfully on systems which also have ProTools 12 installed.  

Mac only:

  • Fixed crashes that could occur when specific Simple and Speedy Entry keyboard shortcuts were invoked.
  • Repaired truncated text in impacted dialog boxes.
  • N-up printing scaling has been restored.
  • Setting the audio buffer size to 32 no longer produces a crash.

Want to see all the features and fixes that have been added in Finale v25.4 (and earlier versions)? The Finale User Manual lists them in the “New Features” sections for Mac and Windows.

Installation Instructions

Ready to install? If you own Finale v25 or v25.1, 25.2, or 25.3, here’s how to get the free update:

  • 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, 25.2 or 25.3, 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, 25.2 or 25.3, click Install update. The download begins immediately.
  • When prompted, log in to your MakeMusic account under “Existing Customers”
  • Click the Download button
  • 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.

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