Finale

Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius

Q: Is it possible to make title text appear more “expanded” (as I might do in a Word doc?) My client has a specific font request, but his letter spacing looks wider than the same font on my computer, which is more “tight”:

title-text-w-tracking
A: This difference is due to letter-spacing, referred to as “Tracking” in typography. Tracking refers to a consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect density in a line or block of text.

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An afternoon with the students of the Pacific NW Film Scoring Program

A few days ago, I was asked to visit the students of Seattle’s Pacific NW Film Scoring Program to speak about my role as music copyist, orchestrator and music librarian for feature films and video games.

The students asked some great questions, so I thought I would post a few of them along with my answers here.

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Understanding & Controlling Staff Height (Size) in Finale

I thought it might be good to devote some time to reviewing Finale’s Staff Height (Size) controls, since this seems to be a misunderstood area of the program.

There is a reason for the seemingly unrelated numerical values which have remained in Finale’s Page Format Dialog > System Scaling since very early versions. A bit of an historical perspective may be a good place to start.

Prior to the era of computer note-setting, plate engravers (music engravers) used a system of universally accepted staff sizes. There were 8 standard staff sizes, of which 5 were in common use:

from "The Art of Music & Engraving" by Ted Ross

from “The Art of Music & Engraving” by Ted Ross

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Finale : Vertical Placement of Bar Numbers, part 2

Q: When preparing a musical theater orchestration, one of the “parts” I want to extract is actually a Piano/Vocal score, which has the piano staff and all the vocal staves. Copying standards in the musical theater world generally call for bar numbers to be on the top staff for these Piano/Vocal scores, but on the bottom of the staff for orchestra parts. Any thoughts on how you’d approach that particular conundrum in Finale?

A: In Sibelius, because Bar Numbers are individual Text Styles, this is easily achieved by simply making a copy of the Bar Numbers for Parts Text Style and then assigning it a different vertical location than the original (see Bar Number Flexibility for Score & Parts in Finale & Sibelius), where Finale’s design only offers one global position for all parts.

You are absolutely right – for master piano / conductor parts for musical theater, the bar numbers are frequently located above the staff; a different location from the other single line and braced grand staff parts, where the bar numbers are typically below.

Here is an example from the musical “Rent”:

broadway-rent

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House Style : Show A “1” Above Single Bar Rests in Finale & Sibelius

In some published works, you may have seen single bar rests with a number “1” above them:

show-1-above-single-bar-rests

This house style choice can also provide a nice touch for jazz and big band charts which favor more of a “hand written” look:

hand-written-rest

This house style choice is very easy to set this up in both Finale and Sibelius.

In Sibelius, go to (Appearance) House Style > Engraving Rules> Bar Rests and select “Show ‘1’ above bar rests”:

sib-engraving-rules-1-above-bar-rests

…and done.

In Finale, go to Document Options > Multimeasure Rests, and set the “Start Number At:” to 1 Measures. Then, check “Use Symbols for Rests Less Than”:

fin-doc-options-mm-rests

For modern charts, you will probably want 2 or more bar multi rests to display as an H-Bar rather than the old style rest symbols, which is the reason to set the value in Finale’s Symbols field to less than “2”; e.g. to only apply to one bar rests. Now, you can globally apply multi measure rests to the part or score and the number 1 will appear above all single bar rests.

That’s all there is to it.

~robert


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Note Spacing in Finale & Sibelius : Matching Music In Print

Q: While I was reading your article about note spacing in Sibelius and Finale, an interesting idea came to mind: Do you think it is possible to recreate the exact note spacing of a certain publisher from a printed page or pdf file in Sibelius?

A: Great question! I assume you are referring to punctuation (the word used to describe the horizontal spacing between music characters).

Note spacing, or punctuation,  works in tandem with the physical layout of measures on the systems / pages, which is historically referred to as “Casting Off”.

For starters, it’s worth noting that duplicating a publisher’s *exact* horizontal music spacing (punctuation) involves more than consistent numerical settings. This is partly because there have been so many different types of processes for engraving music over the years:

  1. Punched on plate
  2. Lithograph
  3. Autographed (drawn)
  4. Stamping
  5. Photomechanical
  6. Music Typewriter
  7. Acetate and Rub-off sheets
  8. Computer

…and partly because punctuation, as it turns out, isn’t necessarily an exact science, and can fall into three basic categories:

  1. Mathematically perfect
  2. Mathematically imperfect
  3. Lyrical

In addition, other factors besides notes can affect note spacing. For instance, accidentals, note flags, articulations, material in other voices etc …

However, in spite of the variations which are inherent in all of the above  processes and categories, it should be possible to closely approximate the punctuation (horizontal spacing) of a particular published piece in either Sibelius or Finale by taking some measurements and setting up your software to duplicate these.

Note that you can  even apply different rules to different sections of a score to increase or decrease spacing widths, or approximate the “mathematically imperfect” and “lyrical” punctuation categories above, or address a specific concern where some circumstance requires a special consideration. More on that in a moment…

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Finale 2014D Announced

November 3rd, 2014 : MakeMusic today announced a new 2014d update to Finale which includes a half-dozen new features, as well as a handful of bug fixes:

Of special note is a new opt-in anonymous usage data feature which will help MakeMusic better track how Finale users are working with the program, so that relevant improvements can be made more frequently and efficiently in the future:

“Improve Finale: By selecting “Yes” below, you allow MakeMusic to automatically collect anonymous information about your hardware configuration and how you use the software. With this information, we will identify usage patterns so that our designers can make informed decisions when creating future versions of Finale.

We will not collect your name, address or any other personally identifiable information, and you will not be contacted in any way. Since we have no visibility into your actual documents, there is no risk that any unpublished or copyrighted material will be accessed.

You can change this setting at any time by choosing “Help Improve Finale” from the Help menu.”

Here is a list of the features and bug fixes:

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