SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

The New Finale is Here!

FN_Finale Launch_blog

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 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,

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?


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


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.

Marching Band Charts Made Easy

Marching Band Charts Made Easy

Want to write out a short pop melody for your marching or pep band? Not sure how to get started? The right template can really make a difference, saving you a lot of time in formatting parts. Especially if you haven’t fully explored Finale’s Linked Parts yet, you might be amazed at how quickly you can create some great-looking marching band charts – with parts in the appropriate flip chart size, too.

To help you get started, we’ve created two templates, both of which can be downloaded as a .ZIP file here. One is a portrait-orientation template for traditional marching band scores and the second is a landscape-orientation template for pep band scores. Each has the same instrumentation and flipbook size parts.

To see how easy it can be, try this out in either template: Enter a melody in the Piccolo staff and copy it to the Tuba staff., Notice how, by default, Finale transposes your melody to a playable range (which of course is an option you can turn on or off). Now for the reveal, go to Document >Edit Part, select the Tuba part, and see how nice it looks already!

Other benefits of these templates include…

  • Bigger time signature, tempo markings, and measure numbers in the score provide an easy-to-read experience and reduce the need for extra annotation.
  • Instruments labeled with multiple parts on one staff have split linked parts for easy input. For example, if you enter notes into Layer 1 and 2 on the Flute Staff, notes from Layer 1 will go to the Flute 1 part, and notes from Layer 2 will go to the Flute 2 part. And if notes are entered into only one layer, both parts will show the entered notes.
  • Auto-Sequenced Set Number Expression in the “Rehearsal Marks” category for easy input of your drill numbers.
  • Margins are adjusted in the score so that a standard hole punch doesn’t punch through any of the music.
  • The Baritone B.C. staff is linked to both a Baritone in Bass Clef as well as a Baritone in Treble Clef Part.
  • Linked parts have been adjusted to work well for exporting SmartMusic files.

I have one final tip. To use these templates most effectively, I suggest you make the following adjustments in Finale:

  • Edit > Check “Use Filter”
  • Edit > Edit Filter > Uncheck “Staff Styles”

Have any questions? Please let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

CJ GarciaCJ Garcia is an engraver and quality assurance technician at MakeMusic, where he helps create and edit content for the SmartMusic library.

CJ earned a B.M. in composition from the Lamont School of Music, and was a drum major for the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps from 2012-2014.

When he isn’t writing music or absorbing the Colorado scenery, CJ enjoys losing himself in the land of Hyrule while playing the Legend of Zelda series.

ReWire Support in the Next Version of Finale

In today’s preview of the next version of Finale, we’re highlighting ReWire support. ReWire will allow Finale users to synchronize with other pro-level audio applications. Why would you want to do that?

Let’s say you’re creating a pop tune in Logic and have decided to add a live horn section. With ReWire you could create the horn charts in Finale, then press Play in Logic, and both programs would start simultaneously – and play in sync. This could allow you to hear how your parts work against the existing tracks – before the performers come into the studio to play them.

ReWire will also be a huge help for people writing for film in Finale. After looking into how best to improve and modernize Finale’s Movie Window, we decided instead to replace it with ReWire support, as it allows us to take advantage of the superior video support found in programs like Digital Performer, ProTools and Logic.

Check out the video above to see what using ReWire with Finale and Logic will look like.

Please let us know what you think on 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.

He was delighted to spend company time previewing silent cartoons for the creation of this video.

Restrictions may apply*


I would like to share an update with you concerning our new feature to import PDFs into Finale. The blog article we shared previewing the feature sparked an energized discussion from publishers, composers and users concerning the broad accessibility of PDFs and copyright considerations.

OCR (Optical Recognition Technology) has been a part of Finale for more than ten years. Providing the ability to import a PDF is really a modernization of the older (TIFF) file format the functionality has relied on. We’ve always worked to ensure that the scanning feature set is configured to protect the rights of composers and rights-holders, and to focus on note entry. Limitations omit Chord Symbols, Lyrics, limit the number of staves and so forth. The PDF import functionality is no exception. In addition to existing limitations, we’ve spent effort developing other restrictions to the feature, such as not to allow the import of password-protected or print-restricted PDFs and more.

As we have stepped through this process, it has surfaced a larger question: Given the need for proactive restrictions, can we still have a legitimate import tool and also safeguard rights of content creators? I can’t help feeling that any effort we spend diluting a tool to safeguard against the potential for misuse is misspent effort. Any restriction can be abused by the truly motivated.

I firmly believe that we need to create opportunities in our software through which we can maximize technologies such as OCR and not restrict them.

The new SmartMusic is this opportunity.

Our vision is to provide high quality content, wrapped in tools for learning, accessible via the web and delivered through a platform that empowers teachers in which rights holders always get fairly paid.

If we are able to leverage technologies such as OCR to speed up and empower the creation process for SmartMusic content, it is a win for all involved. And this is exactly what we intend to do.

It is the decision of MakeMusic to remove the PDF import functionality from the upcoming release of Finale. In fact, we are going to take a further step and remove scanning functionality entirely from Finale. We are serious about the integrity of music rights.

Instead, we will refocus efforts to aim PDF import and OCR technology squarely at creating content for SmartMusic. With this approach, we have an opportunity to push the boundaries of what the technology is capable of and create an unapologetically powerful content creation tool for a fully controlled environment in which all rights holders are fairly paid and have a stake in its success.

Whether we are technology developers, content creators, performers, artists, students or teachers (sometimes all on the same day), we are all in this together. MakeMusic will always endeavor to act responsibly as partners, with the best interests of the industry at our hearts. Our line of communication is always open.


Fred Flowerday,

VP of Product Strategy

Transposed Instrument Entry in the Next Version of Finale

Have you entered music for a transposed instrument into a Finale score? If so, you may have encountered a scenario where as you enter notes, the pitches you hear in Finale are not transposed. Once you hit Play, all is well, but this entry process can be disconcerting.

In the next version of Finale, when you enter notes in a transposing staff, you’ll always hear the correct pitch upon input, too. Click on the video above for a sneak preview.

If you’re an engraver who never presses “Play,” or a composer who prefers to enter notes with “Display in Concert Pitch” selected, this might not be a game-changer. But, if you’re like me, and when you see a D in a trumpet staff you hear a concert C in your head, this is going to put a smile on your face.

Please let us know what you think on 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.

Among his many hobbies, Mark enjoys perusing vintage sheet music at antique stores. When he sees a D in a tenor sax staff, he always hears a concert C play back in his mind, too.

Importing PDF Files in the Next Version of Finale

Back in February I began previewing select information about the next version of Finale. Since then I’ve shared a little about what it will mean to be a 64-bit application, and the playback capabilities we’ll offer.

For today’s sneak peek, I’d like to offer a glimpse at the ability to import PDF files that we’ll include in the next version of Finale. We’ve been working with our friends at Musitek to provide a better solution than scanning: the ability to directly import PDF files into Finale. Having personally spent some time testing this functionality with public domain music – offered as PDFs from sites like – I can say that I’ve found the results to be very impressive.

Equally impressive is the success I’ve experienced using a smartphone to photograph public domain music and import the results. A wide variety of free and low cost apps that can create PDF files are available. I’ve had great luck with one called TurboScan Pro (its creator, Piksoft, also makes a free version).

In the short video above you can see the whole process at work.

Interested in more details? Here’s the initial PDF I captured with my phone, and a PDF of the unedited Finale file produced by the import. If you look closely you’ll find a couple of small errors, but not many.

I think it’s pretty remarkable!

Please let us know what you think on 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.

While he’s no longer certain exactly where his scanner has been stored in his basement, he’s genuinely excited about the accuracy he can obtain by taking a photo of piece of music with his smartphone and opening the resulting PDF file in the next version of Finale.