MakeMusic
SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

Finale 25.5 and the Mystery of the Missing Clear Key



Finale 25.5 and the Mystery of the Missing Clear Key

Today we released Finale 25.5, the fifth free-of-charge update for all owners of Finale version 25. As previously mentioned, this release is part of our ongoing effort to more frequently provide smaller updates. The goal is to continually share improvements as they are made (and without additional cost to you)  rather than saving them up in large batches (or for paid upgrades).

High Sierra

The primary focus of 25.5 is improved support of macOS High Sierra. There are several fixes related directly to the new operating system. We’ve also made improvements to the Garritan installer (which is the process used to get the premium instrument libraries properly positioned on your computer). These fixes not only make the installer compatible with High Sierra, they also improve the installation process on its predecessor, Sierra.

The Mystery

Okay, here’s the mystery: where is the darn “clear” key on the Mac keyboard above (as well as on other Macs and Mac laptops)?  Don’t you need one to do things like clear the contents of a measure without deleting the measure itself?

While we weren’t able to add an extra key to your keyboard, 25.5 does make function-shift-delete work for this and other clear key functions.

Other Improvements Include:

  • The elimination of crashes when saving audio files on Windows or using ReWire with select DAWs,
  • Performance enhancements when exporting MusicXML,
  • Additional MusicXML improvements including support for duplicate measure numbers (as seen in pieces with multiple movements),
  • Improved Finalescript commands, and more.

Want to see all the features and fixes that have been added in Finale 25.5 (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, 25.3, or 25.4.1 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, 25.3, or 25.4.1, 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, 25.3, or 25.4.1, 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 25 yet? Try it for free.

Want to know a secret? Maybe it’s just because I am a CTA fan, but I’m really excited about version 25.624.

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.

Default Files, Document Styles, and Templates: Making Finale Work Your Way



Default Files, Document Styles, and Templates: Making Finale Work Your Way

I understand Finale’s default settings represent a compromise. They are designed to produce acceptable results for every kind of music and every level of user. Nevertheless, while learning Finale, these settings frustrated me. I found myself needing to make the same changes to these defaults every time I set up a score. I wondered if there was a way to avoid having to do these things every time.

It turns out that there are a few ways, using templates, document styles, and default documents.

Default Documents

Finale ships with three editable default documents:

  • Handwritten Default.musx
  • Jazz Font Default.musx
  • Maestro Font Default.musx

Adding your chord libraries, custom text fields, and other document options to these files can make a huge improvement in your productivity.

You can set the assigned default document in Finale’s Preferences (it’s “Maestro Font Default.musx” out of the box), or customize your own version of each. I suggest you make a copy, customize and rename it, and then tell Finale to use it. This chosen document provides the style for imported MIDI and MusicXML, as well as a new blank default document (when bypassing the Setup Wizard).

[BTW, if you do import MusicXML, check out a cool related feature here.]

Changing the Default Document

In setting the Default to other than the Maestro Font Default.musx, it’s necessary to type (or paste) the name exactly into Preferences/New/Default Document. 

Default Files, Document Styles, and Templates: Making Finale Work Your Way 1

The chief complaint about these documents is “they’re hard to find.” You can set it up so they’re very easy to navigate, edit and update. (We’ll talk about that later.) I’ve got the folder they live in in the left sidebar of my Mac finder window, so for me, it’s just like any other file… even easier, and I depend on them now and update them as needed. My Default Document sets my score up with all my preferences, out of the box, every time. 

Default Files, Document Styles, and Templates: Making Finale Work Your Way 2

Templates

Templates seemed like they might be a godsend to me – except, every client and instrumentation needs a different template. Every time I made a template for a client, I found myself making the same fundamental changes over and over again on creating it. It would have been possible to “save as” a previously created Template, but given all the options that need to be set differently for each client, such as score setup and text fields, this option eventually proved insufficient to our workflow.

Templates are a terrific starting point for storing libraries, sound configuration, or for a big project of similar instrumentation, but the necessity to save a new empty document for every client, without knowing if you’d ever be writing for that ensemble again, proved to be a tedious and inelegant solution our workflow. We need the initial score to contain all our default options, customization, page setup, text fields (including Part/Score Name) and libraries on creation.

Document Styles

Document Styles are definitely a step up from templates when you’ve got a lot of different input types. Putting a completed score in the Document Styles folder retains all settings, minus the note entries. The drawback to this option is information remains from the source file, such as tempo marks, endings, lyrics, and bar line types, all of which need to be cleaned out prior to entering data in a new document.

Using document styles allows customization of instrumentation and a fresh score setup. When you create a copy of a finished file, clean it out, save it in the Document Styles folder, and name it for the client or project, it’s very useful, functionally identical to a template file, but also with score management in the Setup Wizard. Very handy! You can create a Client folder in the Document Styles folder, and the styles will be available in the Setup Wizard. (Client names redacted below.) 

Default Files, Document Styles, and Templates: Making Finale Work Your Way 3

Editing Default Documents

The default document option is the most powerful we’ve found for the diversity of content we receive, and we retain a copy of it as our “house” document style for use in the Setup Wizard (“Jon Starter Doc” above). Imported MIDI and MusicXML files pour nicely into a score with all our settings already present. When receiving old Finale files with libraries missing or other issues, exporting them as MusicXML, then reimporting them, gives us a score already set up to our specifications.

Managing Customized Music Files

Default Files, Document Styles, and Templates: Making Finale Work Your Way 4

The first task in managing these files is finding out where they are via Finale/Preferences/Folders (above). All three file types have their own folders, and all three might reside in your user directory. The default on Mac is User/Library/Application Support/MakeMusic/Music Files/ – and in there, you see folders for

  • Default Files
  • Document Styles
  • Templates

Finale uses the folder location to determine how the file will function within Finale.

Remember to use:

Inevitably, you’ll discover yet another omission or shortcoming in the Default File or Document Style you’re working with. No problem – just open it up from your Finder bookmark (or location in your Dock or TaskBar), and edit it in Finale to make the correction, and save it. Next time you use it, it’ll be correct. And you’ll save a boatload of effort on every project.

Using Old Files

Finally, a word of caution about using any Finale files (including default files, document styles, and templates) from past versions of Finale.

Don’t.

Well, that’s probably overstating things. Using Finale 2014 files in Finale v25 is fine, but building a template from a Finale 2007 file, for example, opens the door to lots of bugs MakeMusic has fixed since Finale 2007 first shipped. Learn more here, and consider making new files every other version or so.

When I learned to customize these files it transformed my Finale productivity. I hope this post does the same for you.

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.

Darcy James Argue on Chord Symbol Spelling



Darcy James Argue on Chord Symbol Spelling

Composer Darcy James Argue is the bandleader of the highly acclaimed Secret Society, and a longtime Finale user and beta tester. Recently Darcy shared a chord symbol spelling handoutcreated for his theory students at The New School on the Music Engraving Tips Facebook page.

As he mentioned there, “I’m sure it will not be in any way contentious.”

Chord suffixes are often the subject of debate. Different chord symbol conventions exist based on geography, genre, publisher, music school and other criteria. The most vocal proponents of each school of thought often believe that their solution is the only solution, or, as Darcy words it, the “One True Way.” Darcy goes on to say that “what is considered correct is determined by consensus within communities.” So what passes for accepted practice on one coast or in this genre, may not be accepted on another coast or in a different style of music.

With that offered as a disclaimer, we thought Darcy’s handout was very well done. We were delighted when Darcy kindly agreed to let us share it with you:

 

Download Darcy’s Chord Spelling Handout

 

Editing Chord Suffixes

Here are some ways customize your chords  – whether or not you want to pattern them after Darcy’s suggestions.

Let’s start with an example file you received with Finale. From Finale’s file menu, choose Open Worksheets & Repertoire, then select Repertoire > Jazz > Rose Avalon (Lead Sheet).musx.

Bar 13 of this piece shows a Fmaj7 chord. Darcy would prefer to see this expressed as FMA7.

To see all the chord suffixes currently available in this piece, choose the Chord Tool, right-click on the Fmaj7 suffix handle, and choose Edit Chord Definition from the contextual menu. If you scroll down, you’ll see 133 suffixes listed. Unfortunately, MA7 isn’t one of them. While you could edit a similar existing suffix or create one of your own, I’m going to suggest a slightly different route. I’m going to start by loading a chord suffix library with more options and then make a minor edit to a suffix there.

Loading a Chord Suffix Library

To load the Finale Copyist chord suffix library into this Rose Avalon lead sheet, go to:

File > Load Library > Chord Suffixes > Chord Suffix (Finale Copyist).lib

To see the results of this addition, choose the Chord Tool, and once again right-click on the Fmaj7 suffix handle, and choose Edit Chord Definition from the contextual menu. Now instead of 133 suffixes, there are 315. Please note that the first 133 remain in place, unchanged. This highlights an important fact: loading libraries is an additive process. The contents of newly loaded libraries don’t replace existing items. New items added at the end of the previous items. 

More on this later.

Editing a Chord Suffix

Need a new suffix? My suggestion is to, whenever possible, find the suffix that is closest to your desired suffix and edit that. You will minimize extra work addressing spacing and other issues if you pick a suffix with, for example, the same font, font size, and the same number of characters. For this example, I’m interested in suffix #144, ma7. ALL I need to make this suffix Darcy-approved is to capitalize the “m” and “a”. To that end, I’ll click on slot #144 to select it, then click the Edit button at the bottom of the screen.

In the upper right corner of the Chord Suffix Editor, I see a lowercase “m”. I will simply replace that with by typing a capital “M”, then hit the Next button and replace the “a” with a capital “A”.

Once done, I could click OK, Select, and OKor I can use an old Finale trick, useful in “nested” dialog boxes like this, and simply hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the OK button once.

Now that I’m back in the score, I see that that FMA7 has replaced Fmaj7. If that same suffix had been used elsewhere in the piece, those instances would have changed as well. Voilà!

One More Thing on Chord Suffix Libraries

The next step might be to create your own Chord Suffix Library. If you chose to start with the combined library in this Rose Avalon example, you could simply delete any suffixes you don’t want to use before saving the library. Although Finale alerts you if you’re about to delete a suffix that’s in use in your current score, you might consider first saving off a copy of your document and using the copy to fine-tune your suffix library.

When you’re ready, choose File > Save Library > Chords and Fretboards. You can load the resulting library file into future documents as we did above, or better yet, into any new templates you create.

Two Final Thoughts on Chord Alignment

Darcy’s handout also offers several additional tips on making your chords more clear and legible. One has to do with the distance of chords from the staff, which by default are quite a ways from the staff (in part to avoid any collisions in Finale beginners’ files). To move all the chords in the piece, select the Chord tool and click on the pertinent staff. Four small arrows will appear at the left of the screen. Drag the far left triangle up or down to move every chord in the piece.

But another issue stands out when speaking with Darcy on the subject. He really doesn’t like Finale’s default to center-align chords. Whether you agree or not, as Darcy points out, it’s easy to change. Choose the Chord tool, select all, then Chord Menu, select Left-Align Chords.

If you try this in a Finale document that has previously been fine-tuned, however, simply making that change may not give you the desired result because Finale will retain any hand positioning done in the document.

To see what I mean, try it in the Rose Avalon file. If you select Left-Align Chords, you’ll note that while chord positions change in the piece, some chords are definitely not left-aligned after the change. Check out Gmin7 in the second full measure for one example: it is clearly too far to the right. Because this chord had been previously hand-positioned in this file, this hand positioning has been retained. As a result, the chord suffix appears further to the right. To reset the positioning of all chord symbols in the piece,  simply select all then hit the Backspace key on Windows and the Clear key on Mac.

Thanks again to Darcy for sharing the worksheet and starting the conversation.

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.

Finale

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.

SmartMusic

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.