Beyond Defaults : Take Control of Note Spacing in Finale

Music spacing (historically referred to  as “punctuation”) is controlled by a mathematical ratio in Finale. At any point in time, this equation determines the horizontal placement of notes and related musical objects within each measure and across each system to create the appropriate balance of music notation density on each page.

Note spacing is more than simply assigning a specific width for each note duration; a number of variables interact to affect how the final music music notation output looks on the page. These variables include stems, flags, accidentals, articulations, ties, chord symbols, lyrics and much more.

Finale’s music spacing acts on three key areas to achieve consistent note spacing results: (a) mathematically perfect spacing between notes of different durations (b) additional event spacing or “padding” of specific objects to prevent collisions, and (c) lyric spacing, where music is theoretically spaced to fit the words instead of the words fitting the music.

If you examine music  note spacing (punctuation) from various published sources, you’ll see that while there are definitely variations between publishers, as a general rule, all music publishers follow similar practices.

Historically, plate engravers of music measured widths from the left side of the characters. For instance, the distance between two quarter notes is measured by the space from the left side of the first notehead (or rest) to the left side of the next notehead (or rest).

Finale provides professional looking note spacing results by default, so that even casual users can achieve properly balanced looking scores and parts. However, as you might expect, Finale offers a great deal more flexibility and control than these defaults. You might be surprised at how much power Finale has under the hood here.

Let’s take a closer look…

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Beyond Defaults : Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Finale

There are a couple of common approaches for indicating trills with specific trill-to pitches in your music score. One way is to indicate the trill-to pitch as a stemless, cue sized note in a parenthesis.

trill-to-example

This is an extremely clear and elegant way to present the trill-to information. However, for “commercial” scores, this method is somewhat labor-intensive to create in the current software, and furthermore, isn’t completely bulletproof in terms of the trill-to pitch maintaining its horizontal positioning after music spacing .

Trills containing an intervalic jump larger than a whole step are commonly referred to as “fingered tremolo”, and displayed as pairs of notes with tremolo slashes.

Another method of displaying trills, which is very common in popular and commercial orchestral music as well as film and video game scores, largely because it is so efficient for entry, is to include a flat, natural or sharp symbol above, or just to the right of the “tr” symbol. For commercial scores, you also frequently see the trill-to note indicated as an intervalic distance, like a ½ step or a whole-tone (wt).

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Restore Finale Customizations after Upgrade

Finale 26 is quite a bit faster in graphics performance and stability than 25, and well worth the upgrade, with quantum improvements in management of articulations, particularly.

Whether or not you choose the “replace Finale 25” option in the installer (I didn’t!), assets such as plugins, FinaleScripts, soundmaps, Device Annotation Files, Libraries, ensembles.txt etc. manually need to be copied over to their corresponding places in the new Finale 26 Application Support folders by users with any customizations they’ve added while using 25 and earlier.

Let’s take a closer look…

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Finale version 26 review

MakeMusic’s Finale v26 update was released  today. Their social media teasers over the last few weeks have contained the perfect buzzword for a guy like me: “productivity”.

(If you are new to Finale and anxious to get started,  feel free to skip to the last paragraph of this review. Then, head over to MakeMusic to download the free 30 day trial and check it out for yourself.)

For the rest of us, I’ll cut to the chase: for me, by far the most compelling productivity feature in this upgrade is Finale’s reworked Articulation Tool, so let’s start there.

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A Fast Way to Change Music Spacing Reference Width in Finale (With Keyboard Maestro)

One of the quirks with Finale’s note spacing  is that the very last system of a document will often have disproportionately fewer measures than the rest.

One option is to use the Fit Measures tool in the Utilities menu, but then the note spacing can be inconsistent between systems.

Finale’s Reference Spacing Width feature, found in the Music Spacing > Spacing Widths… section of Document Options, provides a solution. The setting allows you to reflow and rebalance the note spacing of  measures quickly. more >> “A Fast Way to Change Music Spacing Reference Width in Finale (With Keyboard Maestro)”

Deconstructing the Rhythm Dot – The Mathematics of Dotted Notes

Updated on  August 9, 2018 to add an addendum on tupletting pairs of tied notes.

I recently needed to figure out ways to represent dotted notes so they would appear without a dot, and in the process, I found a number of ways to break down dotted notes into smaller notes. You may never need to do what I had to do, but someday one of these techniques may turn out to be useful.

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