Use Keyboard Maestro with Finale to respell notes quickly

Ancillary macro programs are a great way to get more productivity out of Finale. There are  macro programs available for both Windows and MacOS. I’m currently on MacOS, and use a popular macro program called Keyboard Maestro.

I’ve attached a small downloadable set of Keyboard Maestro macros I use a lot with Finale to this post that will give you a very good idea of one of the most basic things you can do with Keyboard Maestro – assigning keystrokes to menu items to save time.

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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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Rebarring in Finale : 5/4 becomes 3/4+2/4

Q: Here’s the “easy” problem: I have a score in 5/4. It’s always the same grouping 3/4 + 2/4. I would like to convert all the 5/4 measures into two measures of 3/4 and 2/4, separated with a dashed bar line. I tried the JW Meter and Rhythm plugin & TG Tools but I didn’t find a solution there. Maybe I can create a FinaleScript for it?

I hope there’s an answer out there I missed. Regardless, I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

A: Thank you. It’s a great question, and it would be the perfect type of task for a plugin to automate, I agree. You are correct that there are currently no available plugin solutions for this. It is possible to do manually, although depending on the complexity of your score, the solution is somewhat involved. Here’s a how-to breakdown.

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How to Create Stemless + Stemmed / Beamed Sections in the Same Finale File

Q: I compose music for Psalms from scripture. The format typically has a REFRAIN or ANTIPHON of 4 to 10 measures of metered (4/4, 6/8, etc.) notation, with stemmed notes and standard notation of quarter notes, eighth notes, repeat signs, etc.

Music example © Mark J. Stenson

When that short section is done, the music for the longer verses uses a “chant like” un-metered melody, usually without stems on the note values. For example, the start of an “unmetered” section below  is made up of sequential bars of 10/4 and 11/4, with the time signatures and stems hidden; giving the impression of “un-metered” notation.

However, when I try to take the stems off of the notes in the un-metered measures, all of the notes lose their stems, including the original 4 measures of metered music.

My current “work-around” is to merge the contents of the two different Finale documents as a graphic. There must be a way to show both a stemmed section and an unstemmed section in the same Finale file?

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Is Music Preparation Part of Your Required Curriculum for College?

I recently heard from my old friend and colleague Sean McMahon.  He and I go way back; we worked together on more than a few hectic feature film score schedules back in the day.  Sean is currently on the faculty at Berkelee College of Music in Boston, and wanted to get my perspective on music preparation at the college level. I thought I would share our correspondence here.

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