Here is the scene: You’ve just finished your score, but you’re not certain a specific ensemble will be able to play it. While you have a vague idea of the ranges of the instruments involved, you may not have as good a handle on how these ranges are impacted by skill levels.
The solution? Finale includes a handy plug-in called “Check Range.”
“Check Range” could have saved me from some needlessly embarrassing moments – like the time, as a budding composer, I delivered my woodwind quartet only to have the flautist raise her hand and say, “Tom, my instrument doesn’t actually go that low.” Some performers just love pointing out stuff like that! <g>
Best of all, “Check Range” easy to use. With the Selection tool chosen, click to the left of the staff you’d like to check. From the plug-in menu, choose “Scoring and Arranging,” then select “Check Range” to see the following:
One thing I love about this plug-in is that it offers the “Range Class” control. While your old college orchestration textbook will list instrument ranges, “Range Class” gives you a good idea of how these ranges might be different for a beginning or intermediate player. Once you’ve specified Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced, click “Check” and Finale will check all the notes on this staff.
What happens when out-of-range notes are found? Finale gives you choices!
Finale suggests a note in a different octave that would be in range, allows you to specify a different substiution, or makes it easy to erase the out-of-range note.
For me, the trickiest aspect of this plug-in is discovering where to find it; I find it pretty self-explanatory to use. If your experience is different, let us know by clicking on “Comments” below.
Here’s hoping that “Check Range” helps make your rehearsal time more productive and spares you from the criticism of smart-aleck flautists. Now all I need is a plug-in to warn me when I have spinach in my teeth!