… music notation tips & tutorials by experts in this field.
Author: Jacob Winkler
Jacob Winkler is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Girls’ Choir, and an instructor in Finale and Sibelius for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program. He is frequently engaged as a choral singer for film and game soundtracks, including the Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and World of Warcraft series.
Finale 27 introduced a powerful new feature that is easy to overlook, especially since MakeMusic hasn’t mentioned it in any of their marketing materials.
In almost every place you can add text in Finale, there is now an ‘Insert Symbol’ command added to the text menu:
Note that this command has the shortcut Cmd+Opt+Shift+S on the Mac (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S on Windows).
Invoking that command will bring up the new and improved Symbol Select window, including the category sidebar if you are accessing a SMuFL font. So why is this such a big deal? Because it makes actually using the ~2600 symbols in the SMuFL spec much easier.
I have been spending a lot of time lately working in the JW Lua plug-in for Finale (here’s a shameless plug for the JetStream Finale Controller), but I have also been falling in love with Dorico. I’m very excited about the fact that Dorico also uses the Lua scripting language as the basis of its macro system.
If you are not familiar with how Dorico’s macro feature works, there’s another Of Note post you can read here to get you started. Of special importance is the location of the generated scripts, and the necessity to rename the userscript.lua file in order to access it from the menu.
Finale’s Shape Designer is a built-in vector drawing program that can be used to address all sorts of little notational problems. It crops up in all sorts of places:
Expression Tool – Select “Shape” from the bottom of the Expression Designer.
Articulation Tool – Select “Shape” for the main and/or flipped symbols
Custom Arrowheads – This is available when designing a Smart Line, or when adding a line from within the Shape Designer itself (see below).
Executable Shapes – This can be found under the Playback tab of the Expression Designer.
Clef Designer – Accessed through Document Options. Choose “Shape” instead of Character:
Multimeasure Rests – Accessed through Document Options. The multimeasure “H” shape is actually a set of three lines grouped together: By ungrouping these you can adjust the thickness or appearance of your multimeasure rests.
Custom Stem Tool – Double click a note’s editing handle to bring up the shape selection box.
Here is a brief overview of some of the things the Shape Designer can do, along with a few examples of ways I’ve used it recently.
I recently had to retire my trusty 2007 Macbook due to lack of Dropbox support for OS X Lion (10.7). I ran into an unexpected snag with the Macbook Air I bought to replace it, though: the most current OS X operating systems do not support older versions of Finale, but a number of orchestrators I work with still use Finale 2011 and Sibelius 6.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this dilemma in the form of virtual machines.
A virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of a computer operating system. This operating system could be a different operating system (such as Windows OS running inside the Mac OS) or, in this case, an older version of the same operating system (e.g. two different versions of the OS running on the same computer).
I used Finale for years knowing that there were all sorts of options in the Expression Designer for how the Expression should get positioned, but without necessarily understanding what all the different terms meant, or how they would actually affect the resulting position of the Expression. Looking at dropdown menus like these tended to make my eyes glaze over:
I have come to appreciate the power of understanding how these settings work and setting them properly. The more things naturally pop into the places I want them to by default, the less time I spend adjusting them by hand later!
Sometimes knowledge and wisdom get lost, only to be rediscovered later. I recently stumbled across some old Finale Tips and forum posts that offer some useful tools for working with lyrics in Finale that deserve some attention again!