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 26.2

Finale has released the latest maintenance update to Finale 26; version 26.2.

Since introducing Finale 26, which had several major new features, much of the focus of development has gone into technical improvements under the hood; admittedly, unglamorous architectural work designed to bring Finale into the future.

This means that while you may not see much change on the surface with this point upgrade, the underlying code is being updated dramatically.

According to the Finale Blog article from October of this year, senior manager of the Finale product development team Jason Wick stated: “The architectural work that we’ve been doing modifies hundreds of thousands of lines of code and those changes are investments in the long-term viability of Finale.”

The Finale 26.2 point release is a continuation of MakeMusic’s “long game” trajectory. For instance, on Mac, this update ensures that Finale v26 is compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina.

Nearly all of what is going on with this update is laying the code base groundwork for future, larger improvements and features. This will mean that significant new features will be easier to implement in the future.

Performance

In working with Finale 26.2 over the last couple of days on Mac, while I can’t provide any scientific evidence to back it up, it seems more responsive overall to me than the previous Finale 26 versions.

Library / House Style Improvements

Finale’s libraries now retain more information. A subtle, but nice enhancement to Finale 26.2 are the inclusion of Page Format for Score and Parts as well as Guides when you export / save a Library.

Finalescript

FinaleScript’s import options commands now import all associated options.

ARIA Player

Finale’s ARIA Player has been updated to v1.959 in the full Finale installer. if you would like to download the update directly, the ARIA Player v1.959 installer is available in the MakeMusic Download Library

Patterson Beams Plug-in

The Patterson Beams Plug-in has been updated to so that grace notes and resized notes appear more elegantly. Stem lengths and beam angles look like they would at full size, and place themselves more appropriately within the staff lines.

Installers

The various Finale installers for the application, Aria player and on Mac ReWire are now compliant with current OS security protocols. Finale users on both platforms can be more confident that their software install is safe and stable.

On Mac, for instance, Finale executables such as ReWire now comply with Mac notarization standards. The Apple notary service is an automated system that scans the software for malicious content, checks for code-signing issues, and provides alerts to any potential problems.

I’ve been using the update in my regular work on Mac now for a few days, and everything is really stable on Mac (which as a professional user as you can imagine is very important).

I’m also please to report that v26.2 is excellent with my (free) JetStream Finale Controller, which you may have been hearing will be released this year.

Summary

In summary, my recommendation is to update. Finale 26.2 is a free maintenance upgrade for all Finale 26 users, which is paving the way for future functionality and power.

Related

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:

01-perc-inst-name-pictographs

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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