Finale Blog: Creating Large Time Signatures in Conductor’s Scores


Tom Johnson, talking about Finale, at the 2011 NAMM Show. To the left of Tom’s screen is Michael Johnson, our
Notation QA Manager
and ace “man behind the curtain.” Everyone not named Johnson had to stay in Minnesota.

Every January I’m in Anaheim, California for the annual NAMM Show. This is the National Association of Musical Merchandisers show, where manufacturers of music products demonstrate their latest products to dealers, distributors, and industry watchers. While most of the big deals are made in nearby suites, the real fun is on the show floor, where all kinds of musicians — from around the world — are checking out the latest tools of the trade. This is where you’ll find me every year, demonstrating Finale and catching up with old friends.

Because of Anaheim’s proximity to Hollywood, the questions I am asked at NAMM tend to be focused more on film scoring and music preparation than on education, and that’s a fun change too.

For example, this year I was asked how to create large time signatures as seen in some conductor scores. Here’s one way to do it that doesn’t change the way time signatures look in your parts. Start by removing the usual time signatures:

  1. Select the Staff Tool, type Ctrl + A (Windows) or Command + A (Mac) to select all, then right-click on any staff and select Define Staff Styles.
  2. Click New, then replace (New Staff Style) giving it a name like “Hide Time Sig,” then under Items to Display deselect Time Signatures, and click OK.
  3. Right-click on any staff, then select Apply Staff Style To > Current Part/Score…, then specify “Hide Time Sig” and click OK.

That hides all the time signatures from your score, but not your parts. Now let’s make some big time signatures:

  1. From the Document menu chose Document Options > Fonts. Next to Notation select Time (Score), then Set Font to Engraver Time, Regular, 48.
  2. From Document Options > Time Signatures, under Vertical Adjustment, in the “Score” column, set Top Symbol to 1” and “Bottom Symbol” to -.75”. These measurement move the big time signature numbers up and down so they don’t overlap – feel free to experiment.

Finally, let’s make the big time signatures appear on a few staves throughout your score. I might start with the third staff, so choose the Staff Tool, click to the left of the third staff (to select the entire staff) and then right-click on that staff, selecting Clear Staff Style > From Score Only.

Voilà! Repeat as needed lower in the score. Notice that this automatically updates all time signatures in the score, and none in the parts.

The steps above are admittedly a little tricky. How did I figure it out? I looked in the Finale Knowledge Base. To find it from www.finalemusic.com click on Support >Search Knowledge Base and search for “Large Time Signatures.” Pretty slick, huh?

I’m looking at some large time signatures, created in just this way, in a score for a popular TV show. We plan to share this score, and the story of its creation, soon. Let us know what you’re doing with Finale by clicking on “Comments” below.


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