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Robert Piéchaud Releases Medieval 2

Robert Piéchaud Releases Medieval 2Robert Piéchaud is a composer, performer, and a veteran Finale software engineer, having created Human Playback, FinaleScript, Score Merger, the November music font, and more. Today Robert has released Medieval 2, an update to his ingenious solution to creating ancient music notation with Finale. Below Robert explains exactly what Medieval is, what’s new in version 2, and what’s on the horizon.

How do you describe Medieval? Is it a plug-in? A font? Both?

Medieval is a specialized third-party solution devoted to ancient music. It was designed to help musicians create the most ancient types of Western written music known to us, taking advantage of the power of the world standard of “standard” notation, Finale.

It is a package with many facets; a font family, a very powerful plug-in with a multilingual user interface, rich documentation, and some specific templates and component files. Together with Finale, it offers a comprehensive environment devoted to medieval music. It could be described as a software within a software as its relationship with Finale is definitely a symbiosis.

Can you provide a brief history of the Medieval product?

I have long been bewitched by the idea of emulating the “warmth” of traditionally engraved music, but with modern digital tools. Keeping a strong link between the analog and digital worlds is an important theme in my work and in my music.

In the 1990s  Finale, Sibelius, Score, and other products were available, but I realized that there was no satisfactory solution to produce music notation created before the 15th century. Inspired by my passion for the fabulous musical diversity that existed since the 8th century, I came up with the idea of a font (Neuma) that would include many fine ligatures and medieval music features  I soon realized, however, that more was needed in order to adapt to medieval paradigms.

Neumes, in particular, proved problematic as they do not represent rhythms per se. Finale “thinks” in term of bars and rhythms while, for instance, there are no such things in Gregorian chant. Fortunately, Finale provides the flexibility to allow users (and plug-in developers) to emulate almost anything.

While in London in 1999 I met by chance with John Paulson, the founder and former CEO of Coda Music Technologies (before it was named MakeMusic). I had an early build of what would become Medieval on my MacBook and I was able to show it to John, who loved it. At the time I referred to the project with the obscure war code “Gradualis” to which John reacted abruptly with a “What the heck is this?” Then, in a gentler voice, suggested I rename it “Medieval.”

What circumstances led to the release of version 2 now?

Over the course of many years, Medieval became obsolete. A significant amount of work had to be done to adapt it to be compatible with modern operating systems (and versions of Finale).

While there was a great deal of interest in an update, and I had even created a beta version (that was used for publication by some chant specialists), I never could find the right window of time to complete the project. Finally, after the release of the November 2 font in February 2015, I began to find the time to sit down and work seriously on the update.

What is new in version 2?

First of all, the code base has been entirely rewritten. In addition, Medieval 2 has many new features. Perhaps most notably the Neume tool – a unique recognition system – has been enhanced a great deal with over 200 forms of fundamental neumes.

Robert Piéchaud Releases Medieval 2 for Finale

Graphically speaking, I have entirely revised the Neuma font family, adding many new symbols and paying much attention to details, as in my November 2 font.

I’ve made Medieval 2 much easier to use, with a dedicated menu and keyboard shortcuts. There is also a friendly notification system that feeds you with information or warnings without breaking the workflow, and the documentation has been rewritten from scratch. There are probably other many good points I’ve forgotten to mention!

Plus, you can now choose between five languages for the user interface: English, German, French, Italian… and even Latin! (This is thanks in part to my 15-year-old son who already is a true humanities scholar…)

Finale News: Robert Piéchaud Releases Medieval 2

Is a Windows version coming?

Yes, absolutely. Version 2.1 of Medieval is already scheduled for Q3 2017, and will be Mac and Windows. The Medieval 2 project had taken so much time that I felt that I couldn’t delay the release of the Mac version until both were complete. It was important to me to give the outside world a concrete sign of my progress! I am also planning the translation of the documentation into French, German, and Italian, as well as other goodies.

UPDATE 9/25/17: Version 2.1, with support for Windows, is now available

Other goodies?

Well, for instance, I am working on a new font that will emulate the St. Gallen style of neumes. It is a fascinating and very specific type of music notation that takes us back even further into history. Also called campo aperto (“open field”), it was developed around the 8th century at the Abbey of St. Gallen (Switzerland) and has no staff, so actually it is closer to mnemonics. In some ways, it resembles certain avant-garde music notation experiments! (The same could be said  for Ars Subtilior, another very interesting notation period that Medieval 2 embraces). Very often, scholars write Gregorian chant with the standard square notes and staff, and with the St. Gallen neumes upon them. The idea in Medieval 2 is that these neumes can be entered as text font characters, above the music and through a specific verse line in the Gregorian template.

What’s next for you?

Writing music is definitely high on my list! Last year was already quite intense with a carte blanche program entitled “Amerika” that was performed at Festival d’Automne in Paris, featuring my Wittgenstein-Lieder, my wind quintet (with voice) The River (after Henry David Thoreau), and some personal arrangements of music of the great Charles Ives, among them the Variations on America.

But for this year and the year to come, my dearest desire is to achieve some more ambitious orchestral projects. Perhaps this may lead me to some new technological ventures. Who knows?

I’d like to thank Robert for sharing this background. Medieval 2 is available through Klemm Music Technology, who is also the exclusive distributor of German-language versions of Finale.

Creating PDF Files from Finale Scores

Finale creations can be a saved in a wide variety of file types that allow you to share your music with collaborators. These options include the ability to export MusicXML files that can be imported and edited in a multitude of other music apps.

But what about those times when you simply want to share the notation, and not the keys to your masterpiece? PDF files work great for this. Not only are they not directly editable, they can also be viewed on Macs, PCs, tablets, phones; pretty much everything.

PDF files are very simple to work with. In most cases, there is no need for any additional software to create, open and view them.

Users of Finale for Macintosh have long been able to create PDFs directly from Finale. If you’re a Windows user, and using Finale 2011 (or an earlier version), you’ll want to check out third-party software like CutePDF, PDF Creator, or PDF995 (or consider upgrading to Finale v 25).

Otherwise, here are the steps for creating a PDF file in recent versions of Finale:

Creating PDF files from Finale for Windows

If you are using a PC with Windows 7 – 8.1, simply open Finale’s File menu, go to Export and then select PDF. Now, just save the file where it is convenient for you, and you’re done! You can see the process in action above (click on the animated GIF if you’d like it to appear larger).

If you are using Windows 10, you will also have an alternative option to use. Within the Print dialog, Windows 10 users can also select Print to PDF as an OS native printer.

Creating PDF files from Finale for Macintosh

If you are using a Mac, navigate to the File Menu, select Print, click the PDF option, then select “Save as PDF.” From here you can follow the prompts and you’re good to go. This menu also offers other options including“Mail PDF” or “Send PDF via Messages” to more quickly share your document.

It’s that easy.

Do you have remaining questions about creating PDFs with Finale? Please let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

David CuciskOutside his role as a MakeMusic customer satisfaction representative, David Cusick spends a lot of his time composing and producing music for TV and media. He has a passion for everything related to music technology. David’s music often incorporates digital and electronic sounds with traditional acoustic instruments and samples.

When not producing music, he enjoys hiking, camping, and biking in the beautiful Colorado outdoors.


May the Fourth Spotlight on Joann Kane Music

May the Fourth Spotlight on Joann Kane Music

In celebration of May the Fourth day, I spoke to Mark Graham, owner of Joann Kane Music. Those of you who watch movie credits will recognize his company’s name as they are frequently listed as “Music Preparation” in top films, including many Star Wars classics.

Mark (pictured above at left, with John Williams and Victor Pesavento) was kind enough to speak to us about their work on these films in honor of the day.

What Star Wars films have you been involved with?

I worked on the three prequels, Episode VII, and we’re just finishing up on Episode VIII now.

Can you describe your workflow on these films?

John William writes very detailed handwritten sketches. On the prequels, these sketches went to orchestrators. The orchestrators would write pencil scores and we would copy parts into Finale.

But for the past six or seven years, John has just sent the sketches directly to us. We put them straight into Finale. I’ve kind of edited them, checked them out myself, and then we’ve used them at the stage for recording.

Is there much in the way of back and forth or does he trust that you know what he wants?

Well, I would say it’s a relationship based on twenty years of pretty much full-time activity and a lot of trust. He’s very careful with the way he writes his sketches. Obviously, when we input them into Finale scores, we’re very respectful of that. He uses several forms of shorthand, but we’re accustomed to the way that works, and know what to look for.

The only thing I would say that we sometimes have to deal with is the woodwinds, in term of assigning particular instruments. Often I have to make a decision on instruments to cue in case he might want more sound in a particular place.

We’ve got it down to a well-established practice now because we’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve been at all of the recording sessions since 1998, so I have a very good sense of how he works as I’m always there. Once he sends the sketches to us, it’s only very rarely that he’ll want to look at the score.

May the Fourth Spotlight on Joann Kane Music 2

So the first time he sees the score is at the recording session?

Typically, John will work from his sketches and look at the score every now and then if there’s an issue we need to work out, in terms of balance or something like that. For this reason, I’m very near the podium during the sessions, and I have a set of his sketches and a set of the scores we’ve prepared that the engineer uses to mix with.

Can you share a sense of what it feels like at the sessions? Is it tense?

No, it absolutely is not tense. Many recording sessions can be very tense and tempers can get frayed and there can be an atmosphere sometimes, but his sessions, I would say that they’re very business-like. He can lighten things up with humor, but he can be very demanding on an orchestra as he has very high standards. He’s got a vast amount of experience and he doesn’t waste any time.

He’s always prepared. We start right at ten o’clock. There’s no speeches or chat or “Is this ready?” or “Is that ready?” The musicians know exactly the order of the cues we’re going to play that particular day. We typically post difficult music online for them to look at ahead of time if we can, so they have a sense of that. The principal string players will have a sense of how it’s going to be bowed and all the rest of it, and then we move on really quickly.

We can typically record comfortably over twenty minutes in a day, which is a lot for epic film scores like these, and we’ll be done without overtime. But that’s because he’s so efficient and everything is well prepared and thought out.

Can you share a story of a time when things didn’t go exactly as planned?

I can remember one incident on a “Harry Potter” film. There was a short cue he’d written for a kind of unusual small band and there were no strings. There might have been an accordion or a keyboard or something like that.

So I got a call to go out to the podium. And he said to me, sotto voce, “There are no strings on this cue.” We looked at it together and I said, “Well, you didn’t write any strings.” And he said, “Well, you know what to do.”  [Laughs]

So I provided the string parts from his keyboard sketch and within forty-five minutes or an hour they had strings and that’s the way we did that.

Again, there’s that level of trust.

Definitely a level of trust, yeah. None of this would work with any of these composers without some level of trust, frankly.

May the Fourth Spotlight on Joann Kane Music 3

Do you ever see clues in the music that reveal upcoming plot twists?

Yes – often. And the people here are very sensitive to that. We’ve got to be careful. There can be a big reveal either with some text in the cue or with thematic material which indicates the appearance or disappearance of a character.  

As a fan, I think it would be tough if you were working on the project and had a reveal like that.

Yes. People here are interested. I can remember at the end of one of the prequel movies, we were saying goodbye to George Lucas and my colleague at the stage asked him about one of the characters. And George was very surprised to get this question – I would say taken aback – and said, “Well, how did you know about that?” And my colleague explained his thought process on this character.

George listened to this and then gave a big explanation of how this character was going to be very present in the next movie. And it was quite interesting to hear that whole thought process, which was all worked out, and of course, we hadn’t seen any of it yet because they hadn’t even shot the film. But obviously, it was coming. And my colleague had worked it out in advance and then a couple of years later, we saw all the evidence of that in the film.

“The Force Awakens” was recorded in the U.S., right?

Yes, and Episode VIII was also recorded in the U.S.

The three prequel films, Episodes I, II, and III, and were all done with the LSO at Abbey Road. I think IV and V were done at Denham, an old film studio in London, but that’s before my time.

Interesting enough, we’re recreating those first scores right now for some concerts with the New York Philharmonic in September. We’re going to do the first three films and “The Force Awakens” in concert over a  period of about two weeks, with two shows for each film or something like that. And that’s been a very interesting project to put together.

Can you say anything about the difference in working on Star Wars music with an American orchestra in a different studio?

The LSO is a leading, well-established, top symphony orchestra. They play together all the time and they have a definite kind of overall sound and Abbey Road also has got its own unique sound. We’re working with a studio orchestra in L.A. which is a fine orchestra, at  Sony, one of the L.A. scoring stages in Culver City. It’s a big room that can absorb a lot of sound. And so there’s a denser kind of feel to the sound the orchestra makes than at Abbey Road – it’s not quite as bright.  It’s a slightly different experience.

When we did the prequel films, we would just do five or six days in a row and then go home.

The way that John works now, we’ll do a day or two in a week and then have a couple of weeks off. It’s a much more leisurely pace partly due to the writing schedule and a myriad of other factors, but it works very well. The filmmakers can get a sense of what they like in certain sections of the movie, which informs all of us as we move forward and can save quite a bit of back and forth.

So it’s a different experience from that point of view, but basically, the orchestra has been the same kind of players, the same people. And they played very well. They’ve really kind of risen to the challenge of this music, which is difficult.

Are efforts made to make it sound like the earlier recordings?

No. They want to make this music that he’s written now as good as it can be. I mean, that’s the whole thing. Mr. Williams is not a person to kind of rest on his laurels. He’ll want to constantly improve both in terms of performances and what he thinks he can do in terms of writing thematic material slightly differently, orchestrating slightly differently, working on the performances just to really fine tune stuff.

To close, is there something that I haven’t asked about that I should have?

I don’t know – people get very excited about Star Wars material. When you hear some of these beautiful themes played, 30 or 40 years later, with these musicians here in L.A., I think there’s a big feeling of… I don’t want to say reverence exactly, but certainly a massive feeling of respect toward that music and towards making it sound really good. It’s become a cultural icon like it or not, and I think people really want to be a part of that, and really want to do well in their contribution

This includes the engineers, stage crew, the musicians and all of the people at my office. We work really hard on this stuff. And the production team as well – the people who mix it and everything, they really want to make it great. They know a lot of people are going to listen to it for a long time.

Many of the people are working on music that’s been part of their lives for most of their lives.

Oh, no doubt. It’s remarkable.

Sometimes I see footage and I try to imagine it without this particular music. Obviously, it could be done with a different approach, but John’s music has been the language of these films and is a very big part of it.

Thank you for your time today.

My pleasure. I’m not a person who gives a lot of interviews, but I understand that this is interesting to people. And Finale, using your software has been a big part of this. All the Star Wars films we’ve done have been prepared with it and it’s very handy to do this stuff digitally and to have very clear and accurate parts on the music stands. Finale has been a great tool for that. You can talk yourselves up a bit for that – It has been a good thing for us to use it.

People might not immediately understand that in the early films the performers were actually reading from handwritten parts.

Oh, yeah. We’ve got some handwritten material from the very first film. And when we look at how we’re doing that material now, it’s very nice and clear for people to read from. Put it like that.

May the Fourth Spotlight on Joann Kane Musiic 4

Thanks again to Mark for taking the time to talk to us and to everyone at Joann Kane for the part they’ve played in so many of our favorite films!

Finale Tip: Using the Edit Filter to Save Time

Using Finale's Edit Filter to Save Time

Have you ever wanted to copy select elements of a staff to other places in your score, without overwriting existing notes? This is easily done with one of my favorite features in Finale: the Edit Filter.

Using the Edit Filter allows you to select particular item types, or categories of item types, to copy and paste while leaving everything else alone. You can find the filter by choosing Edit > Edit Filter. This will bring up the Edit Filter dialog box where you can choose what you want to copy and paste and what you wish to leave behind.

Be forewarned, however, the Edit Filter has a sneaky side.

Once you are done using the Edit Filter be sure to go back into the Edit menu and deselect that Use Filter. It gets selected right after you close the Edit Filter dialog box and you may find yourself trying to copy notes later and forget that it has been selected. I’ve done this more than I care to admit, so consider yourself warned!

To get a sense of how powerful this feature can be, let’s look at two examples where you could save a lot of time copying only specific things.

Chords & Fretboards

When I learned how to copy ONLY chords from one place to another in Finale, the clouds parted. Here’s how to feel that glorious sunshine for yourself.

  1. In your Finale document, choose the Selection tool from the Main Tool palette.
  2. Choose Edit > Edit Filter; the Edit Filter dialog box appears.
  3. Click the None button in the lower, right-hand corner of the dialog box to deselect all options.
  4. Check the box next to Chords & Fretboards option (found in the Markings section).
  5. Click OK; your filter is now active.
  6. Using the Selection tool, highlight the section of music that contains the chord symbols you wish to copy; choose Edit > Copy, or use the appropriate keyboard shortcut CTRL+C (Windows) or CMD+C (Mac).
  7. Select the first measure of the next region to which you wish to copy the chords and paste them there using either Edit > Paste or the keyboard shortcut CTRL+V (Windows) || CMD+V (Mac).

Note: you can also highlight the section you wish to copy, hold down the CTRL key (Windows) or OPTION key (Mac) and click the first measure of the section to which you wish to paste the chord symbols to complete steps 6 & 7 in two quicker actions. You can just hold the appropriate key (CTRL or OPTION) and keep clicking away to continue pasting to other staves.

Here’s what this looks like: 

Using the Edit Filter to Save Time Copying Chords

Secondary Beaming

Secondary beaming is another example where the Edit Filter can save a lot of time, especially when you have a specific beam break pattern that repeats often through your score. Start by perfecting your secondary beam breaks in at least one measure, and then follow these steps to copy this beam break pattern elsewhere:

  1. Choose the Selection tool from the Main Tool palette.
  2. Choose Edit > Edit Filter; the Edit Filter dialog box appears.
  3. Click the None button in the lower, right-hand corner of the dialog box to deselect everything.
  4. Choose the Secondary Beam Breaks options (it’s part of the Special Alterations section).
  5. Highlight a measure or partial measure.
  6. Hold down the CTRL key (Windows) or the OPTION key (Mac) and start clicking away! (In all seriousness, click the next beamed figure to which you wish to copy the secondary beam breaks).


I hope these two examples give you a sense of the many different ways you can leverage the Edit Filter to save time. I encourage you to experiment with this incredibly powerful feature, and please let us know how it’s working for you via Facebook or Twitter.

Lawson DuttonLawson Dutton is a Notation/Garritan product specialist for MakeMusic and a longtime Finale fan, which he uses to complete his own music engraving and arranging projects.

In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and heading out into the mountains for a hike.

Finale Tip: Adding Space at the Beginning of a Measure

Finale Tip: Adding Space at the Beginning of a MeasureRecently, our friend Adam Perlmutter asked a question about the Finale file seen above:

“Is it possible to globally adjust the chords with arpeggio lines on beat 1, so that they don’t crash with the left barline? Or does each one have to be adjusted manually?”

The answer is yes, there’s at least one easy way to do this that doesn’t require manual positioning. I’d do this by adding some extra space at the beginning of these measures. You can do this to a selected region of music using the following steps.

Note: Measurements below are in EVPUs. To follow along, I recommend choosing Edit > Measurement Units > EVPUs (Windows) or Finale > Measurement Units > EVPUs (Mac) before proceeding.


  1. Select the Measure tool.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key and click to select a region of measures where this occurs.
  3. Right-click (CONTROL+click on Mac) and choose Edit Measure Attributes.
  4. Add a value to the Extra Space at Beginning field; I would recommend somewhere between 24 and 36 EVPUs.
  5. Click OK.

Repeat steps 2-5 for each contiguous region of measures with this issue, or this can be done for all measure at once (Edit > Select All) if that works.

Here’s what the process looks like:

Finale Tip: Adding Space at the Beginning of a Measure

The musical example seen above will soon be part of a series of arrangements that Steve Baughman has created for Acoustic Guitar. These arrangements will be available at Acoustic Guitar’s online store. Thanks to Steve, Adam and Acoustic Guitar for letting us share this real-life example.

Lawson DuttonLawson Dutton is a Notation/Garritan product specialist for MakeMusic and a longtime Finale fan, which he uses to complete his own music engraving and arranging projects.

In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and heading out into the mountains for a hike.

Finale v25.3, a Free Maintenance Release, Is Now Available

Finale v25.3, a Free Maintence Release, is Now Available

Today we’ve released Finale v25.3, the third free-of-charge update for all owners of Finale version 25.

As mentioned previously, multiple free-of-charge releases are part of our new continuous development and release initiative. In other words, we plan to share improvements more frequently rather than saving them up in big batches. This release includes new features, bug fixes, and significant investments under-the-hood.

New Feature Highlights

As seen above, the Simple Entry cursor color now reflects the currently selected layer. This provides a little extra visual feedback to prevent you from mistakenly entering notes in the wrong layer.

We’ve also provided more control over how things look on the page. The opening width of short and long crescendo/decrescendo markings are now independent of each other and can be set in the Smart Shape Options dialog box.

It’s now easier to use Unicode musical symbols as accidentals in nonstandard key signatures thanks to an added Symbol button in the Symbol List dialog box.

We’ve made several improvements to MusicXML import and export. In MusicXML Preferences we’ve added “Restrict MusicXML formatting.” This option allows you to import a MusicXML file into a Finale template without overriding formatting options within the Finale file. On the other end of the process, MusicXML Export now supports nonstandard key signatures created with Unicode symbols.

One Mac-specific addition impacts Finder and Spotlight. The metadata used by these apps has been updated to 64-bit. Now you can search through your Finale files by Title, Composer, Copyright, Description, Time Signature, Key Signature, Lyricist, Pages, Page Width, Page Height, Content Creator, Duration, Fonts, Default Music Font, Arranger, Subtitle, Staves, Parts, Instruments, and Tempo.

Want to see all the features that have been added in Finale 25.3 (and earlier versions)? The Finale User Manual lists them in these “New Features” sections for Mac and Windows.

Finale v25.3 Bug Fixes

Mac Highlights Include:

  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Switching between open windows works automatically when using COMMAND+` (grave accent).
  • Printing: Printing custom page sizes no longer crashes Finale.
  • Rebeam to Time Signature dialog box: Number of Beats and Beat Duration can now be edited.

The updated Finale User Manual provides a complete list of all Mac Fixes.

Windows Highlights Include:

  • File Access: Select Finale files that previously didn’t open on Windows 7 machines now open successfully.
  • Finale Authorization: Authorization is now successfully maintained on Windows 10 machines.

The updated Finale User Manual provides a complete list of all Windows Fixes.

Infrastructure Investments

We continue to make significant investments under-the-hood, improving Finale infrastructure (or code base) to set the stage for additional improvements in the future. While much of this work may not produce measurable improvements in the way Finale works today, to not mention them would seriously under-represent the work we’re doing on the behalf of Finale users.  

Highlights Include:

  1. Replacing code Apple no longer supports with modern, forward-looking code. The primary benefit is that Finale will continue to support future Mac operating systems.
  2. Additional Unicode font work. For example, while users of Finale 25.2 can access Unicode font characters in their music, they can’t use Unicode characters in file paths, percussion MIDI maps, plugins, fretboard and fretboard instrument names, and other similar places. Many of these improvements can be seen in 25.3, and more are in development.

A third area of investment is a little more difficult to talk about. It has to do with “globals.”

Every time you open a Finale document, the document options configured in that piece are loaded from a list of variables with global scope.  A more modern software practice is to define these values in classes with a more limited scope.  It would seem like an easy thing to tell software to define and access these details somewhere else, right?

In practice, it’s a little more involved, but taking the time to address this today positions Finale well in the future, making it easier to understand, and modify the code into manageable classes. In addition to general performance improvements, this work will help Finale make better use of multi-threaded processors and to someday allow users to make edits while Finale is playing back (for just one multi-threading example).

Installation Instructions

Ready to install? If you own Finale v25 or v25.1, or 25.2, here’s how to get the update:

  1. 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 and 25.2, 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 and 25.2, click Install update. The download begins immediately.
  2. When prompted, log in to your MakeMusic account under Existing Customers
  3. Click the Download button
  4. Close Finale if it’s still running and run the installer from your Downloads folder

Don’t own Finale v25 yet? Try it for free.

Please let us know how the update is working for you via Facebook or Twitter.

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.

Finale QuickTips: Cross-Staff Beaming

When creating cross staff beaming in Finale, many people use the Note Mover Tool or the TG Tools Cross-Staff Plug-in dialog box to move notes from one staff to another.

While both of these options do the job well, there’s an even quicker way to do this.

  1. Write all of your notes for the cross-staff passage in one staff.
  2. Choose the Selection tool then click and drag to select the notes you wish to move.

Finale QuickTips: Cross-Staff Beaming

  1. After you have selected the region of notes you wish to move, press ALT+SHIFT+Up/Down Arrow (Win) or OPTION+SHIFT+Up/Down Arrow (Mac). (*no shift in Finale 2014 or later for Mac)
  2. You can then use the Beam Angle tool from the Special Tools palette (Window > Special Tools Palette) to alter the beam height and angle.
Finale QuickTips: Cross-Staff Beaming 2

Steps 3 and 4

How does that work for you? Share your thoughts with your fellow Finale users via Facebook or Twitter.

Pi Day Finale Font Update

Pi Day Finale Font Update 2Happy Pi Day! Here at MakeMusic we love our puns, so March 14 is one of our favorite days of the year. To honor this most auspicious of days, we’ve added some special (punny) characters to our MMDings font.

As you may recall, MMDings grew out of a wonderful Facebook post by Patricia Wallinga, Articulations You Wish You Could Use. As more and more fans asked about these articulations in Finale, we built a free font so that you could use Patricia’s characters with music notation software. Today, we’ve given it a delicious update, including the pie noteheads you can see at the top of this post. (Don’t worry, the pies representing whole notes and half notes are included too!)

Font Installation

Download this .zip file and expand it. Then double click on the font MMDings.otf and click on the Install button (Windows) or Install Font button (Mac).

The Quick, Easy Way to Use This Font

Want to just take a quick peek? Open the .musx file we’ve included in the download. This is a template we built using the default document style with the MMDings articulations and noteheads already loaded.

To add these articulations and noteheads to a file you’ve already built,  load the .lib file we’ve included by choosing File > Load Library. Choose the Articulation Tool and the new characters will appear in the Articulation Selection dialog box.

To take it a step further and create your own articulations using the new font, read on!

Creating Your Own Articulations

  1. Open some music in Finale, choose the Articulation tool, and click above a note or rest.
  2. In the Articulation Selection dialog box, click “Create.”
  3. In the Articulation Designer dialog box, click “Set Font,” choose “MMDings,” then click “OK.”
  4. Now click “Main,” choose the symbol you’d like, and click “Select.” You’ll find some pi-tastic symbols in numbers 80-84. (Repeat this step substituting “Flipped” for “Main” to use this articulation both above and below notes.)
  5. While you could make further adjustments if you wish (like default positions), click “OK,” then “Select” to see the articulation in your score.

That’s a fair number of steps to get a scoop of ice cream on top of your pie-shaped notehead, but if you’re going to repeatedly use these characters it may be worth it. Building the articulations from scratch means you can further customize the articulation. Plus you can easily use them alongside the default articulations you’re used to.

Fine print: the MMDings font is free to use, even in your own for-profit work, but you can’t sell the font itself.  

Want to Use These Characters, but Don’t Own Finale?

These same steps work with our free Finale demo. Feel free to try Finale free for 30 days and join in the fun. If you use another notation program (or any other software that uses text fonts) you can also use the font there as well.

We hope you enjoy March 14thand the delicious puns that come with itas much as we do.

Young Composers Contest Announced!

Young Composers Contest Announced!

In celebration of Make Music Day 2017, MakeMusic is hosting a composition contest for young composers, aged 13-21. The winner will receive cash and other prizes. In addition, their composition will be made available to all users of SmartMusic Teach Free and will be performed live in select cities as part of national Make Music Day celebrations.

Enter Now

Young Composers Contest Entry Details

Entries can be created in any notation software. Musicians without notation software are encouraged to download a free 30 day trial of Finale and start creating. Contestants must submit both PDF and MusicXML files of their composition. (All licensing rights to pieces submitted will remain with each composer.)

Eligible compositions must use (and are limited to) the following instrumentation and should be written at a level of difficulty that could be performed by a typical middle school band:

Flute/Oboe F Horn
Bb Clarinet Trombone/Baritone B.C./Bassoon
Alto Saxophone Tuba
Tenor Saxophone Bells
Bb Trumpet Percussion

(This instrumentation is available as the Beginning Band template in Finale.)

All submissions are due by 11:59 pm Mountain Time on Monday, May 8th, 2017. We’ll announce the winner on May 22.

Contest Prizes

In addition to having their competition included in SmartMusic and performed at MakeMusic Day events, the winning young composer will receive:

Are you over 21? It’s time to be a mentor. Please share the contest with students and young friends. You’ll find complete details and rules on the contest website.

We’d also like to extend our thanks to our cosponsors, the American Composers Forum and the Make Music Alliance, for helping to make this contest possible.

Learn More

Where’s Jari? When Will We See JW Plug-ins?

Where’s Jari? When Will We See JW Plug-ins?

With the release of version 25, Finale was updated from 32-bit to 64-bit bit. We’ve blogged about this in the past. As a result, every third-party developer of Finale plug-ins had to update their code to work with the new Finale.

“Can I run 32-bit plug-ins in a 64-bit Finale?”

This is a common question. Unfortunately, the answer is no. As we mentioned here, there is no emulation mode for the PDK.

Updating these plug-ins has been a monumental task and has involved significant collaboration between MakeMusic and these independent developers. We would like to publicly thank Michael, Robert, Robert, Tobias, and Jari for their efforts and the significant value their plug-ins have added to Finale since Finale ’97. We’re happy to report that both Robert Patterson and Tobias Giesen have released 64-bit versions of their plug-ins (in addition to the MusicXML plug-in). That leaves Jari Williamsson, creator of JW Plug-ins, unaccounted for.

[Update 3/17/17 – Several of Jari’s plug-ins are now available — see details below!]

What Really Happened to Jari Williamsson?

For the last year or so, Jari has not commented on whether this is something he’s working on. In fact, Jari has not commented at all, about anything. This has led creative minds in the Finale community to imagine several conspiracy theories explaining his “disappearance.” These range from the pleasant (he won the lottery), to the political (he’s been drafted by the Swedish army), to worst-case scenarios (he’s dead).

With the exception of the lottery, I’m glad to report that none of these rumors are true. Today we can confirm that Jari is alive and well. So why the lack of communication?

Well, for one he’s a violinist with the Gothenburg Opera, and they’re having a very busy season. In addition, Jari has a family to whom he’s very devoted. On top of this, Jari is always working to grow and develop, and is currently pursuing a degree in mathematics.

Note: musicians make amazing mathematicians!

His studies have taken a significant amount of his time and thus the free Finale plug-ins that he so diligently developed for the past 10+ years have taken a backseat. Jari is a brilliant fellow and we wish him all the best and great success.

What About My Plug-ins?

We understand that life without these plug-ins has been difficult – even for us. Two critical groups of the Peaksware organization, Alfred Music Publishing and our SmartMusic Repertoire Development, rely on these and other third-party plug-ins to develop content.

So where does this news leave the plug-ins that we all need to complete our projects and meet our deadlines?

As mentioned previously, MakeMusic has helped plug-in developers during this 64-bit migration and we will provide help and support to Jari to lighten the burden. Fortunately for us, there is a brief break in Jari’s schedule that will allow him get to back to the plug-ins and finish the migration. While it would be remiss of us to make promises on his behalf or announce a proposed ship day, we at MakeMusic trust Jari and know what an excellent and efficient developer he is.

That said, they are coming. As plug-ins are updated, Jari assures us he will post them. We will help share that communication as it becomes available.

Stay tuned!

Update 3/17/17:

Jari announced today that 17 plug-ins for Finale 25 on the Mac are now available here: and Windows plug-ins are available here:

Update 3/20/17:

Jari has released 10 additional plug-ins. See the Mac and/or Windows links above for details.

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 modifying Finale files with plug-ins, he enjoys playing the trumpet and bicycling around the Rocky Mountains.