Beyond Defaults : Take Control of Note Spacing in Finale

Music spacing (historically referred to  as “punctuation”) is controlled by a mathematical ratio in Finale. At any point in time, this equation determines the horizontal placement of notes and related musical objects within each measure and across each system to create the appropriate balance of music notation density on each page.

Note spacing is more than simply assigning a specific width for each note duration; a number of variables interact to affect how the final music music notation output looks on the page. These variables include stems, flags, accidentals, articulations, ties, chord symbols, lyrics and much more.

Finale’s music spacing acts on three key areas to achieve consistent note spacing results: (a) mathematically perfect spacing between notes of different durations (b) additional event spacing or “padding” of specific objects to prevent collisions, and (c) lyric spacing, where music is theoretically spaced to fit the words instead of the words fitting the music.

If you examine music  note spacing (punctuation) from various published sources, you’ll see that while there are definitely variations between publishers, as a general rule, all music publishers follow similar practices.

Historically, plate engravers of music measured widths from the left side of the characters. For instance, the distance between two quarter notes is measured by the space from the left side of the first notehead (or rest) to the left side of the next notehead (or rest).

Finale provides professional looking note spacing results by default, so that even casual users can achieve properly balanced looking scores and parts. However, as you might expect, Finale offers a great deal more flexibility and control than these defaults. You might be surprised at how much power Finale has under the hood here.

Let’s take a closer look…

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Restore Finale Customizations after Upgrade

Finale 26 is quite a bit faster in graphics performance and stability than 25, and well worth the upgrade, with quantum improvements in management of articulations, particularly.

Whether or not you choose the “replace Finale 25” option in the installer (I didn’t!), assets such as plugins, FinaleScripts, soundmaps, Device Annotation Files, Libraries, ensembles.txt etc. manually need to be copied over to their corresponding places in the new Finale 26 Application Support folders by users with any customizations they’ve added while using 25 and earlier.

Let’s take a closer look…

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Finale: Use Percussion Pictographs for Staff Names or Instrument Changes

This tutorial is also available for Sibelius.

I recently typeset a piece of music for children’s choir and percussion. The percussion part, which was on three different instrument lines, needed to be as clear and readable as possible for the kids performing. The publisher requested that we use percussion pictographs instead of abbreviated text for the percussion instrument names after the first system:


I thought this would make an interesting tutorial, useful for worksheets and other specialty applications (like my kid’s choir project). I hope you agree. Let’s take it from the left edge…

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Creating Aleatoric Temporal Boxed Notation in Finale

Q: I would like to use Finale to notate the contemporary avant-garde works I am composing. In a score with a number of instruments, How do I encapsulate a series within boxes or repeat bars for only one instrument, while the others keep playing and counting normally, without the repeat sign?

A: Finale is very flexible in this regard. Start by entering the notes for the series you would like boxed. They can be quarter notes, or duplets or tuplets of any value. The note values you choose will determine the initial series width within a bar of score, and the relative width within the part:

If you are using tuplets, it is common practice to hide their numbers. Select the tuplet tool. Click the first note of the tuplet, and then double-click the little selection box that appears in the center of the tuplet. When the dialog opens, change the appearance popup menu to “none”, and do this optionally for the shape setting as well, then ok the dialog:

If you have multiple boxed notations on different instruments down the score which use tuplets, use the Mass Edit tool to select all the affected staves in your selected region,  then go to Utilities > Change > Tuplets . . . where you can hide the tuplet numbers globally for the selected area in one pass.

As of this writing, there are several systems for notating boxed notation. To keep it simple, I will walk through one of the more common conventions . . .

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