Finale: Understanding Expression Positioning

Expression Positioning in Finale

I used Finale for years knowing that there were all sorts of options in the Expression Designer for how the Expression should get positioned, but without necessarily understanding what all the different terms meant, or how they would actually affect the resulting position of the Expression. Looking at dropdown menus like these tended to make my eyes glaze over:

I have come to appreciate the power of understanding how these settings work and setting them properly. The more things naturally pop into the places I want them to by default, the less time I spend adjusting them by hand later!

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Getting a Good Mix in Finale

Finale’s audio output has the potential to generate great audio and wonderful-sounding scores for consumers and demos. For the majority of users, the default settings are adequate. Midi/Audio>Play Finale Through Audio Units should be selected in order to activate Garritan Instruments for Finale (or Garritan’s premium libraries. For more information on setup for these libraries, see this article on the Scoring Notes blog: “Getting Started in Finale with Garritan’s Premium Libraries”).  For those working on larger scores in pursuit of the best possible quality, however, the defaults don’t work well. Let’s take a look at how to address common problems you may encounter, and create the best possible mix in Finale.

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String Numbers for Notes on Notation Staves in Sibelius

Some educational materials color or mark the strings on which notes appear for a stringed instrument. This document describes how string numbering can be used with plugins in Sibelius scores.

For notation staves there is no user indication as to which strings a note is assigned. Plugins can access string number for notes, but only if the notes had been copied to a Tablature (Tab) staff and copied back.

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Finale: A Simple Trick for Misbehaving Measure Number Regions

I was just working as a proofreader on a recording project, and the cue I was looking at was supposed to start with measure 6. I noticed that it was starting at measure 1, and (figuring that the copyist had simply overlooked it) went to set the Measure Number Region accordingly. I was surprised to see that the measure number region had in fact been set properly, but for some reason was not updating:

With a little bit of trial and error, I tried reselecting the numbering style, and voila! The region updated appropriately:

Usually measure number regions update dynamically as you change the “Starting Number” field, and I’m not sure why this one got stuck… But if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, give this a try!

Jacob Winkler is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Girls Choir, and an instructor in Finale and Sibelius for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program. He is frequently engaged as a choral singer for film and game soundtracks, including the Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and World of Warcraft series. LinkedIn

Adding an Ossia Staff in Finale

A previous OF NOTE post, “Controlling Staff Visibility of Tacet Bars in Finale”, illustrates how to hide unused empty staves in Finale:

Controlling Staff Visibility of Tacet Bars in Finale

A score where string sections are broken out into divisi on several staves for part of the score, but confined to their separate staves for other parts of the score would be an example of this. (e.g. typically, the ancillary 2nd or 3rd divisi staves would be hidden where music for that instrument section is confined to a single staff. )

Ossia bars have a similar visibility requirement. Ossia staves are frequently used in instrumental solo literature to indicate an editorial (or original) ornamentation for a well-known classical passage, or to show alternate chord voicings, rhythmic variations or a different transposition for a double  in a jazz chart.

Let’s take a look at how we can create ossia bars for an instrumental solo, as in this example:

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Instrument Group Names in Sibelius

…a tutorial for creating custom instrument group names in Finale is here.

There are some situations where you might need to show an additional label for a group of instruments in a score; to distinguish between different ensembles of like instruments or on stage or antiphonal instruments, for example:


One can achieve this in Sibelius by manually adding and placing text on each page of the score. However, this approach gets pretty tedious for large scores. The following technique is another method to help you achieve this look quickly and consistently.

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Behind-the-Scenes: The Music Font Comparison from

What is it ?

Music Font Comparison is an online A/B comparison of 150 music font families rendered using four musical examples. The font examples were created in a fully automatic font conversion process in Finale with a JW Lua plugin from a master document in Maestro font. No manual adjustments were made afterwards.

Online Music Font Comparison from : The images on the website are downscaled JPEG versions of the PDFs created from within Finale.

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