MakeMusic releases Finale 2014.5

11/17/15 : Today,  following numerous teasers on the @finaleofficial twitter feed in the last few days, MakeMusic has released an incremental, but significant update to Finale 2014 they have dubbed “2014.5”.  Although this is a maintenance update to Finale 2014, the installer leaves your original Finale 2014 application in place, allowing you to have both Finale 2014 and Finale 2014.5 installed at the same time. (You’ll have to redo your Finale workspace preferences and install any 3rd party plugins for this version, but in my opinion, well worth the few minutes this will take.)

Finale 2014.5 has a new installer framework for both the Mac and PC, which should provide a more pleasant install experience for most users. For instance, on the Mac, the installer no longer throws up a message asking if you want to open a file from an unidentified developer.

On the Mac, the splash screen and dock icon have a modern, minimalistic flat look:


A number of plugins have been updated. For instance, plugins which do not apply to Linked parts are now properly disabled when editing a linked part.

In addition, a few plugins have been removed because they have finally become actual features; a welcome addition. For instance,  Apply Human Playback is now part of the MIDI tool menu, and the Change Noteheads utility has been updated to include the functionality of the depreciated Change Noteheads plug-in.

Finale is no longer restricted to playback at 44.1 kHz and can play at any sample rate supported by the selected audio output device. Additionally, some safeguards have been built in so that Finale should seamlessly switch to another output device rather than crashing when you remove an audio device while FInale is open.

There have been some updates to MusicXML and new support for EPUB3 for export. Finale now includes a template and a FinaleScript to create large print music for people with visual impairments according to the Modified Stave Notation (MSN) standard. There are clearly labeled typeset and handwritten versions of the Latin Percussion styles.

It appears that the Mic Notator feature for transcribing audio performances has been removed, but you can still record an audio track into a Finale document.

Finale 2014.5 has added a few very useful new features. One of my favorites is the new Automatic double barlines before key changes feature. This is found in Document Options > Barlines. So nice to finally be able to have double barlines automatically appear properly before all key changes in a score!


This is yet another feature that depreciates a plugin, in this case the Automatic Barlines plug-in has been removed. And, I was pleased to see that this global feature can be overridden in individual measures by choosing a new Barline style from the Contextual menu on a case by case basis. However, it’s a bit strange that, at least on the Mac, the regular Measure Attributes dialog does not also override the global setting.

Another favorite addition of mine is Reorder staves. You may remember Reorder Staves appeared as a feature in an earlier version of Finale for a short time but was pulled because there were some catastrophic problems with it. I haven’t had a chance to give this a complete workout yet, but judging from it’s reappearance,  MakeMusic’s programmers figured out what was wreaking havoc with the feature, which allows you to change the vertical order of multiple staves and groups at the same time. Assuming the feature is now fully vetted, I know I am going to be using this a lot.


If you create Smart Music content, you will no doubt appreciate the improvements in audio quality as well as some new interface options for both automatically and manually correcting possible issues.

MakeMusic is also included an update to 10.5.8 of its scanning software with Finale 2014.5; called SmartScore X2 Lite. According to the read me file, this update offers improvements in recognition of beams, augmentation dots, tuplets, and other musical elements.

Finale’s online user manual has been significantly updated with an all new navigation structure, and a better search feature. In terms of accessibility, I’ve always felt that Finale’s “available anywhere” user manual was superior to the user guide of its nearest competitor (e.g. a static PDF file), and one of the additional improvements to this update is that it is designed to format nicely on a variety of mobile devices like a tablet or smartphone, so it can be referenced anywhere from mobile browsers. Great to see MakeMusic forward thinking here.

Finally, while admittedly not as sexy as new features, I think many Finale users will really appreciate the long list of bug fixes in this update for both Mac and PC. A number of crashing issues which users were experiencing with Finale on the newest Mac operating systems El Capitan and Yosemite operating systems have been fixed.

One of my favorite bug fixes is a long standing issue with Parts that have slashes in their names (e.g. Piano / Vocal). These now can be saved properly as PDF files. Also, notably, efforts have been made to improve Finale’s performance. If you are a Finale user who has been experiencing slow performance in 2014, you  will no doubt find the results of my colleague Philip Rothman’s benchmark tests of interest.

Particularly if you are a longtime Finale user as I am, I know you are going to appreciate all of the work that has gone into this update.

If you are a registered Finale user, you’ve probably already received an announcement of this update with a download link, or will very shortly. New users can visit the Finale Product Page to download Finale 2014.5 for your platform.


1 Comment

Simple (but Powerful) FinaleScripts

FinaleScript™ can be used to create fairly complex changes to your score, but you can also use it to do simple tasks like call a single menu item quickly and easily. Since FinaleScripts can be mapped to keystrokes, you can use this to fill in the gaps in MakeMusic’s own shortcuts.

Many people use macro programs like Keyboard Maestro or QuicKeys, but for certain tasks, FinaleScript can call menu items directly without the need for a third party macro program. A number of FinaleScripts are included with Finale to get you started, and the scripting language is cross platform.

Many Finale users use a combination of third party macro programs and Finalescripts to boost productivity. One example: the Mac version of QuicKeys has the ability to trigger macros via MIDI input. LA Orchestrator / Conductor / Bandleader Tim Davies combines this feature with another third party program called TouchOSC for the iPad, as shown in the Extreme Australian Orchestration video on his blog deBreved.

Here are some examples of simple to moderate FinaleScripts that I have found useful in my own work.


On the Mac, some programs can call up preferences by pressing Cmd+, . This shortcut is missing on the Windows version, so I programmed my own with FinaleScript:

// start FinaleScript
Menu Item "Preferences"
// end FinaleScript

I check both “Show in menu” and “Use shortcut” boxes, and assign the script to Ctrl+, as shown below:


Swap Layers

This next FinaleScript is very simple, and actually more direct than performing this action via the Finale menu.

To swap the contents of two layers, you ordinarily select “Edit/Move Copy Layers,” and check the appropriate boxes for layers 1 and 2 (note that these selections are not saved, so you need to check the boxes each time you perform this operation during your Finale editing session).

The following Finalescript automates what was previously a cumbersome sequence in a single step without requiring that you open the dialog:

// start FinaleScript
swap layers 1 and 2
// end FinaleScript

On my Windows computer, I assign this Ctrl+Alt+L. On my Macbook, I use Cmd+Opt+L.

Display in Concert Pitch

Because I flip back and forth between transposed and concert pitch quite often, I decided to create a Finalescript shortcut for this. Very straightforward; I simply assign this short script to Ctrl+Shift+T (Cmd+Shift+T on my Mac), making it consistent with Sibelius’ Transposing Score shortcut:

// start FinaleScript
Menu Item "Display in Concert Pitch"
// end FinaleScript

Clear Lyrics

As anyone who has ever managed to shift lyrics such that there is more than one lyric assigned to the same note can tell you, lyrics in Finale can be temperamental, and sometimes the best thing to do is to clear them out and start over!

This slightly more involved script brings up the “Clear selected items” dialog box and sets it to only clear lyrics. It assumes you are working in the Lyrics Tool and want to return there when you are done… If that is not usually the case you may want to remove the last line.

To use the script you would first need to change to the Selection Tool (ESC) and select a region, then run the script. I have it bound to Ctrl+Shift+Alt+X (Cmd+Shift+Opt+X on my Mac); I think of it as a variation on the “cut” command.

Here is the script:

// start FinaleScript
Menu Item "Clear selected items"
Press "None"
Radio "Lyrics"
Press "OK"
Lyrics Tool
// end FinaleScript

While this script is for clearing lyrics, there is no reason you couldn’t create a variation of this script to clear, say, “Articulations”…

Choosing Tools

The last line of code above “Lyric Tool”, shows that FinaleScript can change tools by simply typing the name of the tool in a script, which you can call with a keyboard shortcut. Very handy.

If you work cross-platform, like I do, you can use Finalescript to make the shortcuts between the Windows and Mac platforms more consistent.

Redefine Pages: Super Update Layout

I think we are officially leaving the realm of “simple” scripts with this one, but the function it is performing is still essentially a simple function. I actually use this script all the time, especially as I get into formatting.

When you make changes to either the “Page Format for Score” or “Page Format for Parts” dialog boxes, you must “redefine” the pages before those changes take effect. I got tired of changing to the Page Layout Tool and invoking the menu and dialog box every time I wanted to tweak my layout, so I created what I think of as my “Super Update Layout” script. “Normal” Update Layout is bound to Ctrl+U ( ), so I bind this to Ctrl+Shift+U (Ctrl+Shift+U on my Mac, as Cmd+Shift+U is already taken with “Update Layout”).

// start FinaleScript
Page Layout Tool
Menu Item "Selected Pages*"
Dropdown "All parts and score"
Type "1" near "Page:"
Radio "Left and right pages"
Press "OK"
// end FinaleScript

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

(2) Comments

Finale Concert Scores @ Written Pitch : Using Nonstandard Key Signatures

This post builds on concepts presented in these previous tutorials:

The solution of creating custom clefs for octave-displaced instruments works great for film scores where the convention is to not use key signatures. However, the first time I tried this technique on a project that did call for a key signature I realized that it was a little problematic for the glockenspiel. Other instruments like piccolo and contrabass still work fine because I simply replace the clefs that already displace by an octave, but because the glockenspiel displaces by two octaves, I ran into problems with the key signature being displayed in the wrong place on the staff.


The particular score I was working on was destined to be a transposing score, so I could have just viewed and played back the glockenspiel that way. However, when arranging or orchestrating,  I like to turn on Display In Concert Pitch until I’ve entered all the notes, and I find all of those ledger lines extremely frustrating. Also, it is not at all inconceivable that I might want to create a concert-pitch score with a key signature and hear the samples on playback.

For modern concert pitch orchestral scores, it is common practice for octave transposing instruments such as Piccolo, Glockenspiel, or Contrabass to be shown at written pitch. This practice holds for both keyless scores and scores with a key signature.

Call me crazy for thinking it should just work… Hopefully the good folks at MakeMusic will offer an option for modern clef display and playback in the near future!

There is a solution that works in the meantime, however, which is to use a Nonstandard Key Signature, allowing you to specify the octave at which the accidentals in the key signature are displayed. Nonstandard Key Signatures are often viewed as one of the most cryptic and arcane areas of Finale, but the actual process of setting up custom key signatures for the Glockenspiel is really not hard, so let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in!



First, make sure you have your custom glockenspiel clef set up, according to these instructions. I use Clef 15 for this, which is by default a “blank” clef, but it actually has the same default settings as a treble clef. Here’s a screenshot showing my Clef Designer settings:


With the Key Signature Tool, insert a key change and select “Nonstandard” from the dropdown list. Note that there is some discrepancy between versions in how the buttons in the Nonstandard Key Signature dialog box are named, but not in their layout or functionality. For the rest of the post, I will refer to first the Windows name and then the Mac name in parantheses, for example ClefOrd (Acc. Octaves).


There are two types of Nonstandard Key Signatures, linear and nonlinear. Linear Key Format means that the key has a repeating sequence of diatonic and chromatic steps, and this is what we want. You choose which Linear Key Format you want to use with the “Prev” and “Next” buttons. (e.g. as you press these, you will see the number value  following the “Linear Key Format” text in the dialog change.)

Linear Key Format 0 is hard-coded as a major scale, and Linear Key Format 1 is hard-coded as a natural minor scale. It is important to note that Linear Formats 0 and 1 are not editable. When these Key Formats are selected some buttons are grayed out, but even though it appears you can edit the settings of the other buttons any changes you make to them do not get saved! In fact, if you choose Nonstandard Key Signature and then choose Linear Key Format 0, if you exit out of the dialog boxes and then look at the key again, you will see “Major” in the dropdown list, as if you had never selected Nonstandard Key Signature.

We are going to set up Linear Format 2 as a major scale, as Linear Format 3 as a natural minor scale.

It’s pretty obvious that the Nonstandard Key Signature dialog boxes have never been a widely used area of the program. There are cryptic names and tiny individual dialog boxes that require you to hit “Prev” and “Next” buttons rather than letting you enter everything into a neat, consolidated matrix. Once you get past those limitations, though, it’s really not too bad. Select Linear Key Format 2 and get to work!


Sidebar: Feel free to skip this if you just want the settings to enter, but here’s a little background in some of the odd conventions in the Nonstandard Key Signature editor.

  • “Unit” refers to the accidentals in a key signature, in the order they are added. Positive numbers are the sharps, negative numbers are the flats. So in a major scale “Unit 2” would be C# (the second sharp added in the circle of fifths), and “Unit -2” would be Eb (the second flat added).
  • “Step” refers to the staff position, with C as 0:
Note Step
C 0
D 1
E 2
F 3
G 4
A 5
B 6


The KeyMap (Key Map) and AOrdAmt (Acc. Order) settings should be left at their default values.

For our major key, the only thing we actually need to change from the default settings are the ClefOrd (Acc. Octaves) settings. Once here, you need to find the settings for your custom glockenspiel clef with the top set of Prev/Next buttons (remember mine is set to 15). The default values for clef 15 are for the standard treble clef, so every single accidental in every key signature will display two octaves too low. Now step through all the “Units” including the negative ones (you may want to start out by pressing the bottom “Prev” button until you get to Unit -7) and add 2 to the octave field each time.


For reference, the default numbers for the major keys are:

Unit -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Octave 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0

Here is what the Glockenspiel clef values should be:

Unit -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Octave  2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 3 3 3 2 3 2

That’s all there is to it! You can change your tonic by adding/removing sharps and flats with the vertical scroll bar the same way you do with a “normal” major key.


A Minor Variation

Let’s now add another custom key signature for minor keys. Start by choosing Linear Key Format 3, and make the exact same changes to the ClefOrd (Acc. Octaves) section we made to Linear 2. To change where Finale identifies your tonic, though, you also need to edit the ToneCnt (Tone Center) settings, so click the ToneCnt (Tone Center) button.

In this dialog box, you tell Finale what note (identified by step) is considered the tonic for any given number of “Units.” For example, in C major there are no sharps or flats, so for “Unit 0” the “Step” is 0. The settings for “Unit 3” would be for a key signature with three sharps, or A major, so the “Step” is set to 5.

For our minor key we need to change the “Step” value so it is a third lower (or two “steps”) for each Unit value. Like we did in the ClefOrd (Acc. Octaves) box, click the Prev button until you get to Unit -7, then step through and enter these values:


Unit -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Step 5 2 6 3 0 4 1 5 2 6 3 0 4 1 5

That’s it, you’re done! You can now use these custom Nonstandard Key Signatures in the place of normal keys, and in conjunction with your custom clef your glockenspiel will always display and play back correctly in score and parts, regardless of the setting of “Display in Concert Pitch.” Remember to save your custom key signatures and clefs in a Library for safekeeping!

One final note:  Use normal key signatures everywhere else in your score and set the key signature independently for the glockenspiel in its Staff Attributes, or within a Staff Style.

This was a long post diving into a pretty obscure area of Finale, and if you made it this far you deserve a reward: A Finale file with the custom glockenspiel clef and key signatures already set up, with further instructions on how to save these as a library for use in your other projects. Enjoy!



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


would you like to comment?

Finale: Tricks with “Specify Voicing” in Managed Parts

I’ll confess that despite using Finale for about 20 years there are some areas of the program that I’ve been reluctant to dip my toes into. One of those areas is the Specify Voicing setting in Managed Parts, which in my initial experiments seemed too quirky to be effective. However a recent conversation with Robert convinced me that it was probably worth looking into again (when Robert says something like “The Specify Voicing feature in Finale’s Managed Parts is a huge productivity tool in Finale which I use all the time” I tend to sit up and  take note!).

As a quick recap, Specify Voicing gives you options for splitting a single staff in an orchestral score into multiple parts. For example, you might put two flutes on a single staff for the score, but each player still only receives either the flute 1 or the flute 2 part. In this case, you would typically set up the Flute 1 part to display the “Top Note” of “Selected notes from one or more layers,” and layer 1 in “Measures Containing Multiple Layers.”


Flute 2 would be set to display the bottom note, and layer 2 in multi-layer measures.

With these settings:

  • Any time there is a single note in a single layer (with nothing else in other layers), it will display in both parts
  • Any time there are two simultaneous notes in a single layer (with nothing else in other layers), it will put the top note in flute 1, and the bottom note in flute 2
  • Any time you have any entries in more than one layer, it will put the contents of layer 1 in flute 1, and layer 2 in flute 2

One of the problems that crops up with Specify Voicing is when you want to have some passages where both players are in unison (a2 or tutti), but other passages where only one player is playing. With the above settings, the tutti passages will display correctly, but in order to force a passage into only one part you need to specifically address the other part.

In his post titled “Hide Notes to Create Multi-Rests in Voiced Linked Parts Using a Staff Style” Robert shows how to put rests in, say, layer 2 and then use a Staff Style to have them display as blank notation so that they will be handled correctly when creating multimeasure rests. But while I love Staff Styles as much as the next guy, I do find it challenging juggling too many of them at the same, so I was wondering if there was another way to achieve the same effect…

more >>

1 Comment

Hide Notes to Create Multi-rests in Voiced Linked Parts Using a Staff Style

In orchestral scores, it is common to combine two similar instruments onto a single staff:


Text indicators like “1”, or “2” are used to show when a specific player plays a particular portion of the line. Following a passage where one player rests while another plays, a directive like “a2″ or “tutti” shows that both / all players play the same line in unison from that point. By default, these text indications appear in both the score and parts, making it easy to identify who plays where.

Note the hidden text expression “both”. This technique serves a useful purpose, which I’ll explain in a moment.

In Finale, we can use the Specify Voicing feature of “Manage Parts…”, to control the part appearance so that the Clarinet 1 notes show up in the proper part. To do this, Finale offers flexible rules for how the Clarinet 1 notes are selected for display in the part.

For instance, if the Clarinet 1 and 2 notes are different, but in the same Layer, we can make sure that Clarinet 1 is always assigned the top note and Clarinet 2 is assigned the bottom note. If a measure contains multiple layers, as in the second measure above, we can always display Layer 1 for Clarinet 1 and Layer 2 for Clarinet 2. Here’s an example of the Clarinet 1 part:

more >>

1 Comment

Display Instrument Names Differently Between Score & Parts in Finale

There is a visual style preferred by many composers and orchestrators in which instrument group names are shown bracketing two or more staves, with numbers (1., 2. or I., II.) rather than individual instrument names showing for the specific instrument staves:


This is a nice presentation, which clearly shows how the orchestration is organized with a minimum of clutter. The method to create Multi-Stave Groups like the above in Finale, as well as a cool variation for group name display are covered in this post by my colleague Jon Senge.

However, while this works great for the score, it’s quite another thing if you are also creating the parts, because there are no longer unique identifiers for each instrument. When you get to the parts phase, you first have to figure out which staff goes with which instrument, and once you do, you have to manually type in each instrument name in the Linked Parts! Ideally, the instrument names should remain in the template for parts. So, how can we do this?

more >>

(2) Comments

Finale Page Layout Advancements & Plugins | JW Copy Part Layout…

Back before there was such a thing as computer notation software, commercial music copyists working with pen and ink used a technique called “Advancing the Layout”.

To illustrate, I’ll use French Horn parts in an orchestral score. In this hypothetical score, there are a lot of commonalities between the four horn parts:

  1. The four horns always enter together.
  2. Horns are in unison for a good portion of the score.
  3. Rhythms are generally homophonic when they are playing chords.
  4. They share a common transposition.

To advance the layout, common elements such as Page Text, Key and Time Signatures, Rehearsal Marks and other System Text, Barlines, Repeats, Endings are laid out in ink on the page. Next, any common unison passages are copied into the chart, as well as any common rests for homophonic chord passages.

The copyist then takes this “master page”, which functions as a partially filled-out template to the photocopier and runs copies so that the notes for each part can be filled in. As you can imagine, this technique of capitalizing on the commonalities within the parts saved hours of work, back in the day.

Before photocopiers, the ozalid process was used to reproduce music for commercial recording sessions and concerts.

These days, because of the way Finale automatically applies music spacing as you go, the page layout can change dynamically as music is entered into your score. A byproduct of this is that user attention to page layout is typically at the end of the workflow rather than the beginning. This reorganization of workflow is not a bad thing as long as you are, in fact, paying attention to the page layouts at some point!

In more recent versions of Finale, the business of having to ink different notes into a copy of a parts template, or copy and paste notes from the score into a separate part staff or file during the part creation stage has largely been replaced with Linked Parts; specifically the “Voicing” feature in the Manage Parts… dialog. You can enter diads or triads in a line of score, and then for any given part, choose rules for Finale to select which specific notes from that staff will display for that part.

However, even though we can control which notes go where using this dialog, the page layout for the parts themselves is not addressed in the Manage Parts dialog.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to create the layout for Horn 1 and then copy that layout to the other Horn parts so we don’t have to recreate this page layout manually 4 different times? Turns out, there is a plugin for this very task.

Enter the very useful “JW Copy Part Layout…” plugin by Jari Williamsson. Once you have manually created your layout for the first part, with the second (or subsequent) part frontmost, run the plugin. The dialog looks like this:


The plugin displays the name of the Current (open) Part which will inherit the new layout. You select the part  you want to copy the page layout from in the instrument list.

Note there are a couple of useful options in this dialog besides the Copy Layout button. If you have sections where the Multi-measure rests are not identical you can uncheck the “Multi-measure Rests” option so that the majority of the layout will still be copied. You can then manually adjust the layout of the region with the differences manually.

You can switch to a specific part while the plugin dialog is forward by selecting a part, and then clicking the “View Selected” button. This will bring the selected part forward. Note that the “Current part:” name will then change in the dialog, allowing you to Copy the Layout from any other selected part in the dialog.

JW Copy Part Layout is free (donate to the developer if you would like), and works with Finale 2012 or newer. You can download it here: Mac | Windows.

For Finale 2011 and earlier, you can use the Transfer function of the full version of the TGTools plugin suite to copy locked measure groups (measure layout) as well as system margins and attributes between parts..


(2) Comments