Aligning Piano Pedaling & Other Smart Lines in Finale

Q: I would like to be able to ‘automatically’ align piano pedal markings horizontally in my scores. The TG tool appears to be useless when it comes to these.

A: There are a couple of different approaches you can use for this in Finale.

First off, make sure you are using a Smart Shape Line rather than Articulations for pedal down, up markings. Years ago, Finale began to include these piano pedal font characters in the Articulations tool, and never removed them, even though Smart Shapes (or even the Expression tool) offered a more unified approach. By definition, Articulations are designed to align with noteheads or stems, not the staff baseline, which is the positioning you need  for a piano pedal marking.

You won’t see piano pedal markings in the main Smart Shape tool palette, but at least one style of pedal marking is ready and available to use, and Finale already has a meta tool programmed for it. From the Smart Shape palette, select the Custom Line tool (that’s the one that looks like a horizontal line with a question mark above it.) Now, hold down the “P” key (for “Pedal”), and while the key is still held down, double click and hold the mouse under the staff where you want the pedal marking to start, and drag it to the right. Release the mouse.

 In Finale, for Smart Line pedal markings to play back automatically, MIDI / Audio > Play through Audio Units (Mac) or Play through VST (PC) must be selected. Additionally, you will need to select one of the Human Playback Styles that supports “Automatic Piano Pedaling”. (Note that if you are using the “Play Finale Through MIDI” option, playback of Smart Shape pedal markings is not supported).

Please read Mike E.’s comment below for more detailed information on Human playback. Thanks, Mike!

You should end up with a pedal marking where you dragged the mouse:

Finale has a number of different piano pedal line styles available in Custom Lines.
Alt-Click (PC) or Option-Click (Mac) the Custom Line tool to access the dialog.

Once you’ve created a few of these, though, you may find that they aren’t aligned vertically under the staff at the same location:



If you have the full version of TGTOOLS, you can use the Align-Move plugin. With the Mass Edit tool, select the region you want to line up:


Now, choose Modify > Align-Move… from the TGTOOLS menu:



Once in the dialog, you want to make sure the plugin will work on objects under the staff (chose Under from the What Tab), then check Custom Smart Shapes in the Main Tab of the plugin:



The dialogs here are pretty self explanatory – the main thing is the inclusion of Custom Smart Shapes for it to work on the piano pedal lines.

If you don’t have the full version of TGTOOLS, don’t worry. There is another way, using Finale’s own Align feature.

Select the Smart Shape tool, and you will see selection handles appear for each pedal line you created. With the mouse, drag-lasso around them (you can do this on a system basis). Now, right click, and choose “Align Horizontally” from the Contextual Menu, and the pedal marks will all snap into alignment:



While the lines are still selected (the selected handles show purple), you can fine tune the vertical location for the selected group by arrowing them up or down.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it.


for James A. Goins

 See also : Finale Manual : Create pedal markings in the smart shape tool.

3 Replies to “Aligning Piano Pedaling & Other Smart Lines in Finale”

  1. An important issue with keyboard pedal playback is making sure that the staff is properly named. If your staff has no staff name, or has the WRONG instrument name, HumanPlayback will ignore the pedal markings for playback.

    If you give a staff the name of an instrument that is associated with the use of a sustain pedal, HP WILL play it properly, (generally) regardless of the Human Playback Style. So, the Standard Human Playback setting actually DOES interpret pedal markings, as does the Classical. (Jazz and Latin do not).

    You can, if you do not wish to have the staff name visible, name your staff piano, and then highlight the staff name, and with Shift+Ctrl+Alt+H render it “hidden”.

    You can also create more complex staff names using hidden text for some of the text.

    As an example, I do not name each of my violin staves “violin 1” and “violin 2”. I prefer to have the bracket with the centered name, and each staff then gets only the name “1st” and “2nd”. But with only those names, HP won’t recognize pizzicato and arco markings.
    I handle this by naming my violin staves “violin 1st” and “violin 2nd” with the word “violin” rendered as hidden text. playback is fully functional thereafter.

    Invisible items are a great way to take full advantage of Finale’s powerful playback capabilities. Knowing what to include, and what to hide, helps HP play the music as YOU want it to sound.

    1. Thanks, Mike! Great info. A quick check of the Human Playback styles in Finale 2012 shows me that only four of the Human Playback Styles do not play back pedal markings automatically on a properly named instrument: Baroque, Jazz, Latin and Samba. The rest work just as you might expect.


      1. Finale has an incredibly powerful playback engine, and I think it’s a shame that it does not get quite the credit it deserves.

        When used properly, when you take advantage of everything that Finale allows, you can get playback that easily rivals that from a DAW.

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