Finale 27 – Symbol Select for Expressions, Smart Lines, and More

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:

Insert Symbol in 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.

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Understanding Finale’s Category Designer

Q: I created a “Custom” category of expressions, and exported the library to disk. When I load the library with an older Finale file, it adds the category.

However, when I load the library to a new Finale file, it adds the expressions to the “Techniques” category, rather than creating my custom category. Is this expected behavior?

A: Great question! Finale Category Designer is powerful, but require some explanation if you are exporting and importing Library files, or pasting content between scores. Here is what is going on under the hood.

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Add a2, a3, a4 playback for NotePerformer in Finale

The default Garritan Sounds which ship with Finale 26 do not support “unison” groups of reduced player configurations such as a2, a3, a4 etc., but if you are a NotePerformer user, you are in luck.

NotePerformer 3 installs a Finalescript folder containing a number of Finalescripts labeled “UNISONS – Playback to Expression”. There are scripts for a2, a3, a4, a5, a6, a7, a8, and “solo/default”, which will either restore playback to one player for a solo instrument, or the default ensemble.

These Finalescripts work by adding appropriate MIDI controllers to selected “a2”, “a3” text, thereby defining their playback characteristics.

You can use the scripts to add this MIDI Controller data each time, but it’s also easy to define these in your Finale score template so you don’t have to run the scripts each time to get this enhanced playback in NotePerformer. Here’s how…

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Finale: Understanding Expression Positioning

Expression Positioning in Finale

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!

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Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius

Q: Is it possible to make title text appear more “expanded” (as I might do in a Word doc?) My client has a specific font request, but his letter spacing looks wider than the same font on my computer, which is more “tight”: title-text-w-tracking A: This difference is due to letter-spacing, referred to as “Tracking” in typography. Tracking refers to a consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect density in a line or block of text. more >> “Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius”

Finale : Create Dashed & Dotted Cresc. / Dim. Hairpins Via Graphic Overlay

In previous posts, (1) (2), I’ve discussed Finale’s ability to create an opaque mask for text using its Enclosure Designer in order to bring text prominently to the foreground in front of a line such as a hairpin.

An imported graphic can also be used as a background mask. Note how the graphic completely masks the dotted line across its surface area in this example:


An imported TIFF graphic in Finale has an important additional ability: to display a mix of opacity and transparency. In this example, the same overlay graphic is transparent in its “white” area. Note how the solid line in the background now appears to be woven between the vertical lines of the graphic:


We can use this same ability to create a kind of “picket fence” graphic overlay for crescendo and diminuendo hairpin smart shapes that allows them to show through the graphic at regular intervals, like this:


Here’s how:

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