Finale Quick Tip : Use MIDI Input To Create Chord Symbols

Did you know that you can enter chords on your MIDI keyboard to create Chord Symbols over the staff?

If you would like Finale to recognize MIDI entry to generate chord symbols, choose Allow MIDI Input from the Chord Menu. For many of Finale’s existing chord libraries, this is all you need to do; with the Chord Tool selected, you’ll be able to play in (typically root position) chord voicings on your MIDI keyboard to produce chord symbols at the bar and beat locations you specify.

Depending on the chord library you choose, you might find that an existing chord library or a particular chord symbol within the library doesn’t recognize your chord entry.

Only chords that have been defined for MIDI entry will produce Chord Symbol text.

Fortunately, it is straightforward to enter new MIDI chord definitions which can be used to generate a specific chord symbols:

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Finale Quick Tip : Chord Symbol Playback

Chord symbols in Finale can play back, should you want them to.

To turn on Chord Symbol playback, select the Chord tool, then make sure Enable Chord Playback is checked in the Chord menu.

Chord Symbol playback can be muted for an individual staff in Score Manager > Instrument List > Instrument > Chords in Finale 2012 and later, and in Window > Instrument List > Instrument > Chords in Finale 2011 and earlier.

Some chord libraries, such as the JazzCord suffix library from Finale 2010 and earlier are not defined to play back by default, which is a shame, since the JazzCord suffixes look really nice for handwritten charts. Or perhaps, you’ve created a custom chord suffix and would like it to play back.

Here’s how to define a non-playing chord suffix for playback:

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Finale : Create Dashed & Dotted Cresc. / Dim. Hairpins Via Graphic Overlay

In previous posts, (1) (2), I’ve discussed Finale’s ability to create an opaque mask for text using its Enclosure Designer in order to bring text prominently to the foreground in front of a line such as a hairpin.

An imported graphic can also be used as a background mask. Note how the graphic completely masks the dotted line across its surface area in this example:


An imported TIFF graphic in Finale has an important additional ability: to display a mix of opacity and transparency. In this example, the same overlay graphic is transparent in its “white” area. Note how the solid line in the background now appears to be woven between the vertical lines of the graphic:


We can use this same ability to create a kind of “picket fence” graphic overlay for crescendo and diminuendo hairpin smart shapes that allows them to show through the graphic at regular intervals, like this:


Here’s how:

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Reposition Staves Vertically In Finale

It’s common practice to include a little extra space between groups of instruments throughout the score. It’s also common to see extra space above staves which are showing tempo or metronome marks. And finally, for vocal scores, a little extra consistent space is typically required for lyrics under vocal staves.

When creating a new score, in the Document Setup Wizard, there is an option to “Add Vertical Space”, which is great for defining a little extra space between specific staves when you are starting a project:

The actual amount of vertical space that is added here is determined by the settings in Finale’s Document Options > Staves dialog. This is also where you can control the default distance between the instrument staves themselves.


But what if I want to adjust vertical positioning of certain staves in an existing score?

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Finale Quick Tip : Align Hairpins and Other Smart Lines

The Contextual Menu for Smart Shapes makes quick work of aligning hairpins, trills and other measure – attached smart lines in your score. For instance, to align trills so their line start and end points match down the score, click and drag-lasso them so their selection boxes are all highlighted, then right – click one of the highlighted selection boxes, and select “Align Vertically” from the Contextual menu.

This tip applies to all measure-attached Smart Lines in Finale, so it can be used with hairpins, trill extensions, ottava lines, bracket lines or custom measure attached smart lines you create.

If you have the full version of TG Tools, be sure to also check out the Align-Move plugin which automates this functionality over a larger selection area.

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Finale Quick Tip : Divisi Stems Up, Stems, Down

It used to be that in Finale, if you wanted divisi stems up / down, you had to enter (or re-enter) each part in as a separate Layer in two passes, or resort to multi-step workarounds. No more. It’s a single step with the freely available JW Explode Layers plugin. And merging two Layers into one is also a single step with JW Merge. Visit the above link, and navigate to Downloads for your OS.

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Finale Quick Tip : Change Measurement Units on the Fly

Finale supports six+ different units of measurement :

  1. Inches
  2. Centimeters
  3. Points
  4. Picas
  5. Spaces
  6. EVPUs (Enigma Virtual Page Units)

While Millimeters aren’t specifically listed as an available unit of measurement in Finale, you can enter mm values when using Centimeters by simply moving the decimal point to the left (25.4 mm = 2.54 cm). 

You set the measurement unit from Preferences > Measurement Units in the Finale Menu, but that doesn’t mean you always have to think in those units. Some places in Finale, such as the Document Options and Page Format dialogs, have a handy Units popup menu which apply only within that dialog:

But Finale gives you even greater control. You can enter values in any unit of measurement in any numeric field of any dialog by simply adding the first letter of the unit of measurement after the number.

For example, if you need to “think in inches” for a moment, regardless of the current unit of measurement setting, type in “1.75i” (“i” for inches) and Finale will enter the measurement correctly, and convert the number to the current unit of measurement for you.

On the off chance you should ever need to enter a value in picas this way, the shortcut is “p0″ (“p” is reserved for “points”.)

.5i, 6s, 144e, 1.27c, 36p, 3p0 are all the same value, just entered differently

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