Beyond Defaults : Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Finale

There are a couple of common approaches for indicating trills with specific trill-to pitches in your music score. One way is to indicate the trill-to pitch as a stemless, cue sized note in a parenthesis.


This is an extremely clear and elegant way to present the trill-to information. However, for “commercial” scores, this method is somewhat labor-intensive to create in the current software, and furthermore, isn’t completely bulletproof in terms of the trill-to pitch maintaining its horizontal positioning after music spacing .

Trills containing an intervalic jump larger than a whole step are commonly referred to as “fingered tremolo”, and displayed as pairs of notes with tremolo slashes.

Another method of displaying trills, which is very common in popular and commercial orchestral music as well as film and video game scores, largely because it is so efficient for entry, is to include a flat, natural or sharp symbol above, or just to the right of the “tr” symbol. For commercial scores, you also frequently see the trill-to note indicated as an intervalic distance, like a ½ step or a whole-tone (wt).

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Finale Quick Tip – Hook Direction of Default Smart Lines

Q: I can’t get the hook on the dashed Smart Shape line to turn down instead of up in Finale. Any suggestion?

A: The hook direction (above or below) with the default smart lines is dependent on whether it is entered initially over or under the staff. If you enter the line under the staff, the hooks will automatically reach *up* toward the staff. If you enter the line over the staff, the hooks will reach *down* toward the staff.

For special cases, you can use this trick to create a Smart line with the hook facing the opposite direction: create the Smart Shape on the “wrong” side of the staff and then drag it above or below.


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:


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:


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:


Here’s how:

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Finale Quick Tip : Align Hairpins and Other Smart Lines

The Contextual Menu for Smart Shapes makes quick work of aligning hairpins, trills and other measure – attached smart lines in your score. For instance, to align trills so their line start and end points match down the score, click and drag-lasso them so their selection boxes are all highlighted, then right – click one of the highlighted selection boxes, and select “Align Vertically” from the Contextual menu.

This tip applies to all measure-attached Smart Lines in Finale, so it can be used with hairpins, trill extensions, ottava lines, bracket lines or custom measure attached smart lines you create.

If you have the full version of TG Tools, be sure to also check out the Align-Move plugin which automates this functionality over a larger selection area.

Create Parenthesized or Bracketed Hairpins in Finale

Finale has a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating Custom Smart Shapes. You can create a line shape of any thickness, make it solid, dotted, dashed or even invisible, control its start and end locations and add hooks, arrows or text to either end of the line and / or to the center.

Hairpin crescendo and decrescendo are sometimes bracketed (parenthesized) by publishers to show that they were added later by the editor – e.g. not in the original composer’s manuscript:


These types of brackets can also be used for other reasons; for instance to show that the marking is optional or implied.

In Finale, crescendo and decrescendo smart shapes have controls for line thickness and opening width, found in Smart Shapes > Smart Shape Options, but unlike the shapes available in the Smart Line Selection dialog, there is no obvious way to add a parenthesis to the start and end of these defined hairpin Smart Shapes.

So, how would we create this type of Smart Shape in Finale?

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Controlling Symbols, Hooks & Dashed Extension Lines in Sibelius & Finale

Q: I am currently studying Elaine Gould’s “Behind Bars” and on page 30 she states: “Terminate the octave transposition with a corner”. In Finale, octave lines seem to automatically end with a corner whereas in Sibelius the line finishes as a vertical stroke which the writer advises to avoid.

How can I make a proper corner at the end of the extension line in Sibelius, if at all possible?

A: Both Finale and Sibelius by default use line strokes rather than shapes to create both the horizontal extension line and the vertical end “hook” for the Octave up and Octave down symbols and other lines.

Both programs also allow the use of a Symbol to end a line, so you can end a line with an  arrowhead, corner or any other shape. The advantage of using vector lines for this is that it allows the engraver to precisely mate the line width of the extension line and the hook very precisely so that the line and hook appear to be an extension of the same line.

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