Roll Out the Barrel

Finale has always been capable of doing great things with percussion, but before Finale 2010 it was a bit involved to assign, for example, multiple snare sounds (LH snare, RH snare, buzz rolls, side sticks, etc) to the same note position on the staff. When asked about this I would suggest folks use a MIDI keyboard for entry, as you could enter these different sounds as different MIDI keys and then assign them all to appear at the same staff position. But without a MIDI keyboard, it was, well, tricky. Finale 2010 makes this all very easy.

I love demonstrating Finale 2010’s percussion at a tradeshow, and then handing an audience member the mouse, and watching the delight in their face as they see how easily they can control their percussion playback and appearance. (If you’d like to see some specifics, check out a short promotional video here, or Justin’s excellent percussion post here.)

Now that anyone can quickly get percussion staves to look great and play back appropriate sounds, more folks are interested in fine-tuning that playback. I’ve had several people ask me recently: “Why are my snare rolls so slow?” They’ve added roll symbols with Finale’s articulation tool, and now the snare does roll, but too slowly. Before I provide the answer in the form of today’s tip, let me share a little background in the hope that it builds some suspense.

The nuance of Finale’s playback is provided by Human Playback, which makes your Finale files sound as if they were performed by musicians instead of machines. In fact, Human Playback even lets you specify what kinds of musicians you’d like to play your music, by indicating a Human Playback style. In this specific case, a Standard (or generic) Human Playback style is applied by default; it sees the roll symbol and doesn’t distinguish it from a tremolo symbol (as used by string players), which looks the same, but plays back more slowly than we’d like.

The easy solution? Change the Human Playback Style to something more appropriate. From the MIDI/Audio menu find Human Playback, and then specify, for example, Marching Band:

Now, the playback of this “tremolo” symbol has been transformed into a “roll” symbol, and your snare rolls will play at their proper – faster – speed.

Roll-on Finale users, and best wishes for the New Year!

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