Finale Tip : Quickly Delete Duplicate Unison Notes in the Same Layer

Jack Butler: “Gonna rip these walls out and, uh, of course re-wire it.”
Ron Richardson: “Yeah, you gonna make it all 220?”
Jack Butler: “Yeah, 220, 221. Whatever it takes.”

from “Mr. Mom”, 1983 

Sometimes, after certain editing operations, or when importing a midi file, you’ll wind up with doubled unison notes with shared stems in a single layer:

While there are some cases where doubled unison notes (on the same stem / layer) are appropriate, it’s more common to see either stems up / stems down divisi in two Layers, or single noteheads, with technique text indicating “a2” throughout the particular unison passage, like this:

Fortunately, there are several solutions for eliminating duplicate unison notes appearing in the same Layer in Finale:

  • Finale’s Explode Music Tool
  • TGTOOLS Process Extracted Parts Plugin
  • JW Chord Manager . . . Plugin

Let’s take a look at how each works :


For many years in Finale, this was the only method available for removing unisons (more than one note at a time). While no longer the recommended approach for deleting unisons in the same Layer (it’s not as fast as the plugin solutions below), I’ll include steps so you have an overview of how this dialog works, as it has other uses:

  1. Highlight the region with the doubled unisons.
  2. Type the number “2” to open the Explode Music dialog.
  3. Set “Split Into” to 1 Staff.
  4. Check “One Note Per Staff”.
  5. For Extra Notes, check the “Discard” radio button
  6. Place Music Into Existing Staves
  7. Make sure the highlighted staff is selected in the popup menu.
  8. OK

Be careful you aren’t discarding non-unison notes!


Offering a quick, one step solution to removal of unison notes in the same layer, this plugin from the full TG Tools plugin suite has shipped with the last couple of versions of Finale. Although the name of this plugin would indicate that it limited to editing extracted parts, it works equally well in score or parts views to remove unnecessary unison notes, among other things.

Highlight the region with doubled unison notes. In your plugins menu, locate Plugins > TG Tools > Process Extracted Parts, which ships with Finale 2011 and Finale 2012, and run the plugin. As with the Explode Music method above, make sure you aren’t discarding non-unison notes.

If you have the full version of TG Tools, you’ll find it in the Parts submenu of the plugin.


The most recently available solution (and my personal favorite) is the free JW Chord Manager . . . plugin by Jari Williamsson. From Jari’s website, choose Downloads and then navigate to the plugins download section for your OS.

JW Chord Manager is my current go-to solution for deleting unisons, because unlike the other two solutions, the plugin acts only on unisons in the highlighted region – e.g. it leaves all other intervals untouched. (Generally what I’m looking for).

In addition to deleting the unisons, version 1.04 or later of this plugin also gives you the option of converting unisons to octaves, up or down in one step (rather than deleting them), which might be useful in certain circumstances:

Finally, as mentioned above, there are cases where you *want* to indicate unison divisi, but show it as stems up / stems down in two layers. As mentioned in an earlier post, creating divisi stems up, stems down in two layers from notation in a single layer, whether unisons or any other interval is quick work with the JW Explode plugin.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it.


Are you aware of another solution for deleting unison intervals appearing on the same staff / layer? Let me know!

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