Finale Users: Do You Press Buttons?

Do you have a remote control unit for your DVD player? If so, do you know what every button on it does? If you do, this post isn’t for you. Some people don’t need to explore every button they see, and it’s for them that I’m writing today’s blog.


It’s not uncommon that we will speak with someone who’s been using Finale for some time, but who hasn’t yet discovered layers. In Finale, layers are used to enter notes of different durations on the same beat in the same staff, as is often the case in keyboard music or when two instruments or voices are notated in the same staff.


In the Finale 2010 for Windows example above, you can select between layers by clicking on the four layer buttons in the bottom left corner of the Finale window. Macintosh users will select from a Layer drop-down list in the same location.


By default, Finale uses only layer 1. If you’ve never experimented with layers before, chances are that all of your music is in layer 1. If you select another layer and begin entering notes, you will notice that these notes appear in a different color. This color-coding only occurs on-screen and is provided only as a reminder of the layer feature. In the above example, all the black notes are in layer 1, and all the red notes are in layer 2. While layers 3 and 4 would be indicated by green and blue, unless you need more than two layers, I’d suggest sticking with 1 and 2 as they conveniently default to stems up and stems down.


With a little experimentation, you’ll quickly get the hang of layers. My final tip is to suggest that you switch back to layer 1 when you’re not purposefully entering polyphonic music.

For those who may prefer more step-based instruction, the Finale Knowledge Base includes a helpful article about layers at:


If you read this article hoping to learn what all the extra buttons on your DVD remote do, I’m sorry I’m no help beyond play, pause, forward, and back: I’ve got a good handle on Finale, but those remote buttons are dizzying!

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