Understanding Finale’s Category Designer

Q: I created a “Custom” category of expressions, and exported the library to disk. When I load the library with an older Finale file, it adds the category.

However, when I load the library to a new Finale file, it adds the expressions to the “Techniques” category, rather than creating my custom category. Is this expected behavior?

A: Great question! Finale Category Designer is powerful, but require some explanation if you are exporting and importing Library files, or pasting content between scores. Here is what is going on under the hood.

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Add a2, a3, a4 playback for NotePerformer in Finale

The default Garritan Sounds which ship with Finale 26 do not support “unison” groups of reduced player configurations such as a2, a3, a4 etc., but if you are a NotePerformer user, you are in luck.

NotePerformer 3 installs a Finalescript folder containing a number of Finalescripts labeled “UNISONS – Playback to Expression”. There are scripts for a2, a3, a4, a5, a6, a7, a8, and “solo/default”, which will either restore playback to one player for a solo instrument, or the default ensemble.

These Finalescripts work by adding appropriate MIDI controllers to selected “a2”, “a3” text, thereby defining their playback characteristics.

You can use the scripts to add this MIDI Controller data each time, but it’s also easy to define these in your Finale score template so you don’t have to run the scripts each time to get this enhanced playback in NotePerformer. Here’s how…

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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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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. more >> “Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius”

Finale : Create Dashed & Dotted Cresc. / Dim. Hairpins Via Graphic Overlay

In previous posts, (1) (2), I’ve discussed Finale’s ability to create an opaque mask for text using its Enclosure Designer in order to bring text prominently to the foreground in front of a line such as a hairpin.

An imported graphic can also be used as a background mask. Note how the graphic completely masks the dotted line across its surface area in this example:

fin-graphic-overlay-ex-no-transparency

An imported TIFF graphic in Finale has an important additional ability: to display a mix of opacity and transparency. In this example, the same overlay graphic is transparent in its “white” area. Note how the solid line in the background now appears to be woven between the vertical lines of the graphic:

fin-graphic-overlay-ex-w-transparency

We can use this same ability to create a kind of “picket fence” graphic overlay for crescendo and diminuendo hairpin smart shapes that allows them to show through the graphic at regular intervals, like this:

fin-dashed-hairpin-examples01

Here’s how:

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Finale Quick Tip : Number Beats for Rhythmic Exercises

If you are a music educator teaching the fundamentals of rhythm, from time to time, you may find the need to count out beat numbers over the notation to help indicate various rhythms for your students.

Sibelius has a useful plugin called “Number Beats” (found in the plugins Text category) which does this automatically, but until recently, I wasn’t aware of a similar  plugin for Finale.

The JW Pattern pluginmac | windows ) will do the job nicely in more recent versions of Finale:

  1. Select a region
  2. Choose JW Pattern
  3. Drop-down the Sequences category
  4. Choose the “Numbered Steps” task.
  5. For “Step Method”, choose Beats in measure”

 

JW-Pattern-show-beats

Finally, you can choose one of Finale’s Text Categories from the Category drop down to control the text style and placement of the resulting text.

The JW Pattern plugin is available free of charge on Jari Williamsson’s Finaletips.nu website.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Gary Gibson for contributing this tip.

~robert