On Location : Number Repeated Measures in Finale & Sibelius

When the same bar of music is repeated over and over, it’s common to indicate the the repeated pattern in subsequent bars using a single bar repeat sign, notated with a single slash with two dots:

However, if there are more than a few of these in a row, it’s pretty easy for the performers to get disoriented without some sort of numerical reference. So, it’s common practice to indicate the current number of the repeated measures by placing a number over every other measure, or every four measures:

In some cases, the numbers appear over every measure.

Sometimes, it’s desirable to number ostinato patterns which remain written out. That is, the one bar repeat sign doesn’t replace the notation, but the iterations of the pattern are numbered above each measure, or every n bars:


Both Finale and Sibelius offer tools to help you number repeated measures for either of these situations.

more >> “On Location : Number Repeated Measures in Finale & Sibelius”

On Location : Finale & Sibelius Rehearsal Marks

“From the top ?” . . .

Image source : “The Art of Music Engraving and Processing” by Ted Ross

“Thanks for the great rehearsal marks!” isn’t the type of compliment you’ll hear from musicians at a rehearsal. But even if they don’t always tell you, musicians really appreciate it when you make their job easier by providing clear location info in their parts.

Location info helps the musicians stay in sync. Entrance cues in parts are a good example. Different barline types help to define sections. Multi-measure rests that break logically with phrases can be a location aid. Bar numbers are particularly helpful when navigating linear scores. Key changes or tempo changes can also provide location info.


Rehearsal Marks allow the members of a band or orchestra of any size to quickly navigate to a specific point in the score together, in order to master more difficult passages in rehearsal.  (It’s also easier for the conductor or bandleader to say “Take it from Letter M” than “Take it from bar 167”). Even after the piece has been mastered, Rehearsal Marks continue to provide location signposts for the players, helping them to stay oriented during performances or additional rehearsals.

Finale and Sibelius allow you to easily change the appearance of Rehearsal Marks to make them stand out in your score and parts.

Font, size and attributes can all be customized.

Both programs dynamically update rehearsal marks if you insert, move or delete them, automating the sequence of Rehearsal Marks correctly regardless of the order in which you enter them.

You can restart the Rehearsal Mark sequence at any point in the score. In Finale, choose Edit Rehearsal Mark Sequence from the Expressions menu. In Sibelius 7, choose the drop down menu for Rehearsal Mark in the Text Tab. In Sibelius 6, choose Rehearsal Mark from the Create Menu.

In both Finale and Sibelius, you can choose whether Rehearsal Marks are displayed as Rehearsal Letters, Rehearsal Numbers, or Bar Numbers.

Rehearsal marks are assigned to key shortcuts, which can be customized. Default shortcuts are “M” in Finale or “CNTRL-R” (windows) or “CMND-R” (mac) in Sibelius.

Both programs allow to you insert a non-sequential rehearsal mark if needed, and to hide measure numbers at the locations of the Rehearsal Marks.

more >> “On Location : Finale & Sibelius Rehearsal Marks”

Understanding & Improving Music Spacing in Finale and Sibelius

Note spacing on the computer is basically achieved by a mathematical formula. But music spacing is more than just notes – at any point in time, it’s a complex pairing of notes and various other musical information. Think of all of the variables that affect how the music looks on the page: stems, flags, accidentals, articulations, ties, lyrics, chord symbols… the list is a long one.

In order to give the best and most flexible results, the software’s music spacing feature should be able to provide three basic things : (a) mathematically perfect spacing (b) additional “event” spacing or “padding” in order to prevent collisions of specific objects (c) lyrical spacing, where music is theoretically spaced to fit the words instead of the words fitting the music.

If you look closely at how music is spaced by various music publishers, you’ll see that while no proportions are universally accepted, as a general rule, all of them follow similar practices.

In traditional plate engraving, music spacing is called “Punctuation”.

Even though Finale and Sibelius do a fair job of music spacing, there is definitely room for improvement. Hopefully, understanding how music spacing works in both programs will result in better looking scores and parts, regardless of which program you are working in. Of course, you may find yourself wishing for improvements you didn’t know you needed!

more >> “Understanding & Improving Music Spacing in Finale and Sibelius”

Change Stubborn Text in Finale Quickly, Easily & Globally with Finale Script

In “Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer, we looked at how we can set up a Finale document’s overall font choices using the Document Options > Fonts and the Category Designer.

Changes to the Category Designer and Set Default Music Font affect your score in real time; however, some of the text objects in Document Options > Fonts can only be set prior to starting work on your score; problematic if your score is already completed, or you need to update your House Style after the fact.

So, since some of the Document Settings don’t update in real time in Finale, how do we change the font settings for text types such as Lyrics*, Measure Numbers*, Staff Names* and Text Blocks* which we have already entered?

This is where writing a few short lines of Finale Script can help you. Wait! You don’t have to be a computer programmer. It’s really simple, I promise. And it will save you hours of work over time with minimal effort up front.

more >> “Change Stubborn Text in Finale Quickly, Easily & Globally with Finale Script”

Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer

There are two main requirements for managing Text in any notation program. First, we want to be able to define in advance how the musical and text elements will look, so that our score is following the same appearance rules throughout. This is part of what music publishers refer to as a “House Style”.  Secondly, we need to be able to “break the rules” easily for special cases (for instance, if the title is to be in an ornate font where text is otherwise a more standard serif or san-serif font.)

For existing scores, knowing how to set up defaults for Text in Finale will also help us quickly locate  font, size and attribute information about a particular string of text, and quickly make changes, if needed.


Initially, there are two main locations where we define Text in Finale. The first of these is found in Document Options > Fonts, and is the place where we determine the exact “look” of the music notation itself, as well as the default font, size and font attributes for some other Finale text.

The second “default setup” area for text is Finale’s Category Designer, where we choose the font, size, style and location of all instructional text for the piece associated with staves or systems. These categories include Dynamics, Expressions, Techniques, Tempo and Rehearsal Marks etc. Let’s take a look …

more >> “Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer”

Center Grand Pause (G.P. & other text) in Sibelius – Lines Method

Sometimes, such as when displaying “G.P.” text in an empty bar of score, it is desirable to be able to center the text between the barlines. While Sibelius doesn’t explicitly offer a “center text between barlines” feature when inputting  text, the ability to center any string of text attached to a Line makes this “centered in bar” justification possible.

In “Centering Grand Pause (G.P.) text in Sibelius – Symbols Method“, we covered a method of centering Grand Pause (G.P.) text using Symbols.

Sibelius has a “Centered Text” feature built into its Edit Lines dialog. You can immediately see this in action:

more >> “Center Grand Pause (G.P. & other text) in Sibelius – Lines Method”