Finale 25, released this last August, is one of the most successful and feature rich efforts from MakeMusic in quite awhile. The point release for Finale v25.1, announced only a couple of months later, surprised Finale users with a small number of useful new features as well as the usual incremental bug fixes.
Multiple free-of-charge releases are part of MakeMusic’s new continuous development and release initiative; e.g. they have announced that they plan to share bug fixes and new features more frequently rather than saving them up for a single larger release.
As it turns out, this free point release to 25.2 released today (12/08/16) also feels substantial, with a couple of very nice feature enhancements along with fixes for a number of bugs (some of which have been around for awhile). Let’s dive in.
Keep Octave Transposition in Concert Pitch
This has been on my wish list forever in Finale, and it’s finally here in Finale 25.2. In previous versions of Finale, octave transposing instruments like Piccolo, Contrabass and various mallet percussion like Xylophone, Glockenspiel etc would display and play back correctly in Transposing scores, but were a nightmare in Concert Pitch scores; you could easily get the music notation looking right, or playback sounding correct…
However, getting these octave transposing instruments to both display the notation at the correct octave while also playing back these instruments at the correct octave involved a convoluted workaround requiring no less than four blog posts to fully explain:
- Concert Pitch, Transposing and Octave-Displaced Instruments : A Prelude
- Octave Transposed Staves in Concert Scores with Transposed Parts in Finale
- Finale’s Clef Designer
- Finale Concert Scores @ Written Pitch : Using Nonstandard Key Signatures
(or, just download the 25.2 updater and save yourself a whole lot of time and trouble! ;^)
Needless to say, after years of convolution, I’m thrilled to finally see a greatly simplified and properly automated feature to handle octave transposing instruments in Finale.
A new menu item has been added which you’ll no doubt keep checked in your scores from here on out: Document > Keep Octave Transposition in Concert Pitch automates everything so that regardless of whether you are viewing a Transposing or Concert Score, you see and edit octave transposing instruments at their written pitch, while hearing their playback at Concert Pitch. This works in both score and part views.
Measure Number Bar
This is a nice little UI enhancement that helps you keep your place when working; especially useful when entering music from an existing source manuscript. When working in Scroll View or Studio View, Measure Numbers are now displayed at the top of the screen.
MakeMusic got the design of this exactly right. The numbers are not attached to the staves themselves, but to the top of the workspace window, so as you scroll down to edit different instruments in the score, the numbers always remain a visible reference above the music.
There is an option to turn the display of the Measure Number Bar on and off in the Preferences – New dialog:
FWIW, this feature functions as a replacement to the long-standing screen-only bar number display option in Finale’s Measure dialog which follow regular placement rules for bar numbers but do not print (and which would scroll out of sight when working in a large score unless Measure Numbers were assigned to display on every staff).
Studio Orchestra and Marching Band Tabloid templates have been added. Also, the Drum Corps and Marching Band Letter templates have been updated in Finale 25.2.
A new checkbox has been added to the MusicXML Preferences dialog box called “Use Current Document if Empty”. When checked, Finale imports MusicXML files into the document, or template, that is currently open. If Finale indicates that the current document is not empty, a new document is created.
Fixes in Finale 25.2
There is a nice long list of fixes for Finale 25.2. My favorites, though are a couple of subtle and admittedly geeky fixes for long standing issues having to do with Extracting Parts to separate files where manual edits were being lost.
The first fix is that the integrity of manual positioning of notes in extracted parts is now maintained – manual edits made while in a Linked Part no longer get blown away and revert to default positioning when the part is extracted to a separate file.
Along the same lines, Time signature settings for individual linked parts are preserved when extracting parts. Font settings and manual placement offsets are now preserved in the resulting files.
Importantly, these two fixes mean that I don’t have to restructure my workflow if certain parts still need to be extracted to separate files for any reason.
You can read up on the full list of the fixes in the Read Me file that comes with the Finale 25.2 updater.
In summary, while a few features within Finale are still quite outdated and in need of an overhaul (the Chord Tool comes to mind), it is terrific to see MakeMusic finally addressing remaining shortcomings with substantive improvements at a steady pace. The improvements since the release of Finale 25 are some of the best ever.
I, for one hope the trend continues.