A Finale Tip When Working With Older Files

I recently received this helpful tip from Beth Varela, MakeMusic’s Digital Marketing Manager I thought was worth sharing:

“When I need to open files originally created in a much earlier version, I sometimes run into weird behaviors (usually only when I’m going really far back like revisiting a Finale 2005 score). I open the old file, export as MusicXML, then re-import the MusicXML file (before doing any other work). Finale will think that the file was created in the newer version.

For my purposes, I find this trick works well, and I used it all the time when I worked in the customer support department solving odd support cases.”


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Finale TGTools 2.71 for Windows released

2/22/14 – Plugin Author Tobias Geisen today announced the release of version 2.71 of TGTools full / pro version for Windows.

The update is FREE and is recommended for all versions of Finale from 2010 thru 2014.

Concurrently, TGTools 2.71 for Mac has been released, which fixes the menu on German Finale versions and fixing smart shapes which could not be recognized in 2.70.

Like the Windows version, the Mac version is compatible with versions of Finale from 2010 thru 2014.

As a nice aside, Mac users may also note some cosmetic improvements in version 2.71.






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TGTools for Mac now compatible with Finale 2014

If you are a Mac user with the full (pro) version of TGTools who recently upgraded to Finale 2014; there is now a Finale 2014 compatible version of TGTools for the Mac OS (2.70).

An update for Windows users is expected soon. While version 2.61 of TGTools for Windows is compatible with Finale 2014, manual installation of the plugin is required. (The Mac OS version was non-functional, so the Mac updater was released first.)

Tobias Geisen quietly announced the update in a recent thread on the Finale forum:

“TGTools for Finale 2014 on Mac are now available on my web site as well as via the easy installation from the about menu of one of the bundled TGTools plug-ins.

A paid upgrade may come a bit later with a more dedicated adaptation.

I am open to suggestions for further improvements (by email), and also whether further development should be for Finale 2014 only or also include Finale 2012.”

tobias at

If you plan to continue to work in Finale 2012 as well as Finale 2014 (one reason might be the version of the operating system you use), note that Tobias is asking for people to weigh in on whether he should make future versions of the plugin compatible with Finale 2012, or only with Finale 2014. So, if you would want the option of using new plugin improvements which also could be used in Finale 2012, you may wish to email Tobias and let him know. Now’s the time.


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Cue The Maelstrom

This is the story of a rescue operation undertaken by people who don’t commonly find opportunities for heroism in their professional lines of work. Nevertheless in this case, their joint actions saved money and reputations and kept a large project from unraveling after years of work. 

Cue 1 : Prelude — Adagio

Licensed video games, by definition, start off with a cache of existing material: the groundwork for plot and character already laid, the tone and style somewhat pre-determined. If the video game is based on a feature film, there may also be pre-existing music from the movie score. Comparing the full listing of cast and crew for a film and a related video game on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) might awaken in the uninitiated the idea that the video game is a comparatively simple enterprise.

But that is not the reality. A licensed video game can take much longer than a film to develop—as long as 3–5 years, have a great deal more music—as much as 4–5 hours, and may be less derivative than the typical description implies. It may adapt the characters and spirit of a movie and leap off from there, acquiring extra characters, extended plotlines, and new music as the game logistics are worked out. Or the game may be slated for completely new music from the start.

Sound is added after the corresponding game levels are complete, meaning composition can start about halfway through the cycle. And no matter how limited the number of new cues, if the music is orchestral, the coordination of a large number of people will be necessary to get those cues recorded.

The creation of a score with an orchestra is a process that has operational planning demands similar to those of any large-scale, extremely intricate, synchronized operation: a university graduation, the staging of a Broadway show, a plan to shut down the opponent’s defense in a pro football playoff game. Specifically, it requires meticulously prepared instructions in the form of a musical score that gives the conductor a detailed overview and tells each performer exactly which pitches to play for how long at what tempo and dynamic and with what technique and feeling for each split second of time. It also requires that this score be meticulously performed by dozens of people and captured by sound engineers in the shortest amount of time possible to avoid astronomical costs. The professional musicians who perform the score are expected to simultaneously provide an exacting rendition of what they see on the printed pages of music they have received only moments beforehand, as well as provide an often highly emotional and dramatic reflection of the video game’s plot, expressing markedly different moods and tones as they move from cue to cue.

What follows is the story of one video game score that almost didn’t get recorded and how it was saved in the end by the dedication and professionalism of people you may not typically think of as heroes: it was saved by music industry professionals.

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Engraving for a Publisher

Q: So, what is a music engraver?

A: What sets us apart from average Finale or Sibelius users is an extreme eye for detail and a head full of notation rules, conventions, and study. An engraver will keenly assess and finesse every slur, articulation, spacing, page turn. Engravers are the difference between the notation program’s default template look and the look and feel of quality published music.

In my years engraving for publishers, I’ve worked on everything from a massive multi-volume band and string method series to jazz bands, complex percussion books, the Suzuki Method, hymnals, school band/orchestra, and handbell music. Each genre and publisher brings its own set of styles and techniques. Even within the same publisher, house styles can vary between product lines so awareness of these details is a huge part of the job. I keep style books for every product line and publisher I work with.

Two brief examples of program default vs. engraved (Finale):



Default slurs crash into staff lines, the leftmost slur will be bleed almost completely into the staff line once it’s printed, and the second two slurs give the player no useful information on where the melody is going next.


Engraved slurs’ tips and arcs clear staff lines and their direction follows the direction of the music. I prefer substantial slurs so these have been customized significantly. Finale’s default settings produce wispy curves that tend to easily get lost in the staff lines.

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On Presentation

I was fortunate to be part of the recording sessions in 1998 when Disney came to Seattle to recorded the orchestral soundtrack for the English version of “Castle in the Sky” (Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta) with members of the Seattle Symphony.  The original collaboration in 1986 between director Hayao Miyazaki and composer / conductor Joe Hisaishi for the original version of “Castle in the Sky” had been critically acclaimed, and a lot was riding on this new version of the score being recorded in Seattle.


Source: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

The director, composer and production crew had all flown in from Japan for the session, and arrived to the soundstage a couple of hours before the session. We were recording in a space with superb acoustics in Seattle known as “The Chapel”.  In an earlier life, this recording space had been the Sanctuary of the St. Thomas Catholic Monastery and is now the site of Bastyr University. Among the entourage was the Japanese music copyist for the sessions, who arrived with two suitcases containing the printed music he and his crew had prepared for the orchestra and conductor, which he had hand-carried with him on the plane.

Part of my job as the music librarian for the sessions was to set out the scores for the conductor, and the parts for the musicians. When I opened the first suitcase, I was stunned to see that each individual “book” of music for the players was carefully wrapped in rice paper, and tied with a thin black ribbon. Since I started my music preparation business in 1995, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the very best music copyists and engravers in the industry, but I’d never seen anything like this before, or since, in terms of presentation.

The scores for the conductor were also beautifully presented; hand-taped and bound with black cloth book-binding tape; one score book for each reel of the film. As the musicians began unwrapping the gift of music I had placed on their stands, I took note of the smiles and murmurs running through the orchestra.

I could see that the music copyist’s attention to detail extended to the music notation on the page as well. This was world-class music preparation and presentation!

In subtle ways, printed music notation can be the vehicle which brings the performance of a score to life. The quality of the workmanship and the presentation of the printed music can have a positive impact on a rehearsal, recording or performance.

It was certainly true for the “Castle in the Sky” score. The soundtrack recorded that day was magical.

Best wishes,


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Finale : Six of One ; ½ Dozen of the other – the Simplify Key Conundrum

When working with scores in keys of four sharps or more, it’s frequently desirable for transposing instruments such as Bb Clarinet or Trumpet to show their respective transpositions in flat keys. For instance, the key of B major concert (five sharps) will automatically display in Finale’s Clarinet or Bb Trumpet staves as the key of Db (5 flats), rather than C# major (7 sharps).

This desirable behavior happens because in the Transposition Definition for these instruments, “Simplify Key” is checked by default:


Finale’s rule for “Simplify Key” is: always show the enharmonic key signature which displays the fewest accidentals when transposed. For concert keys of five sharps or more, Bb transposing instruments will always show flat keys (which, coincidentally, many wind and brass players prefer).

However, you may have noticed that “Simplify Key” doesn’t work in four sharps concert, because, technically, the two possible enharmonic key signatures of six sharps or six flats, are equally “simple”.

That being the case, how can we coax a concert key signature of four sharps (E major or C# minor) to appear as six flats (rather than six sharps) for Bb instruments?

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