JetStream Finale Controller – Introduction to Stream Deck

JetStream Finale Controller – Prologue

I remember first hearing in early 2018 that some copyists working at JoAnn Kane Music in LA were using a new type of gaming controller called Elgato Stream Deck to speed up their workflow in Finale and Sibelius (in the case of Finale, no doubt in conjunction with with some sort of Macro program such as Keyboard Maestro).

While not designed specifically for music notation, the original Stream Deck is a perfect productivity companion for Finale. Stream Deck expands on the best features of previous hardware and software controllers.

Like the XKEY system, the original Stream Deck has tactile hardware keys (there is now also an iOS version).

One advantage of the hardware version of Stream Deck for a controller is that the tactile button design allows you to keep your eyes on the music on the main computer screen as you work.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

The XKEY system allowed you to print custom graphics icons and slide them under the key covers; the idea is great for music notation, but while it’s practical, it’s not very flexible. On the other end of the spectrum, iOS apps can be more flexible with color coding and other graphical attributes for virtual buttons, but to date haven’t contained useful iconography related to music notation software. (MetaGrid has note duration icons and some other related graphics, but even this is more generic).

Stream Deck takes a completely different approach. Each of Stream Deck’s 15 keys is a fully customizable backlit LCD. (the newer Stream Deck XL hardware has 32 keys).

As an example, here are some buttons for selecting tools in Finale, showing how they might appear in a TouchOSC or Lemur layout for iOS. Users will quickly learn what these buttons do, but initially, seeing these words representing Finale tools without any additional context isn’t very clear:

Finale Tool Selection Keys in Lemur Finale Controller for iPad

But Finale users will instantly know what each of these tool buttons represent in Stream Deck, because each of these familiar icons is associated with a specific tool selection in the Finale application itself:

Finale Tool button graphics in JetStream Finale Controller
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JetStream Finale Controller – Prologue

If you have spent any time with MakeMusic’s Finale™ music notation application for Mac or PC, especially recently, you are no doubt well aware of what a powerful software tool it is.

Finale has an enormous wealth of features under the hood, but getting to some of these power tools quickly is not always straightforward or intuitive.

Finale has a few keyboard shortcuts hardwired to various tasks. For instance, number keys correspond to durations during note entry as they do with all scoring programs. However, as of Finale 26. Finale still does not offer user programmable keyboard shortcuts to access the majority of its menus and functionality.

So, historically, users of Finale have had to figure out their own solutions to speed up workflow. Finale itself offers some very powerful plugins, and two different scripting languages; FinaleScript and JW Lua designed to increase productivity.

But, how are you supposed to access all of these productivity tools quickly without something as basic as user customizable keyboard shortcuts?


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Restore Finale Customizations after Upgrade

Finale 26 is quite a bit faster in graphics performance and stability than 25, and well worth the upgrade, with quantum improvements in management of articulations, particularly.

Whether or not you choose the “replace Finale 25” option in the installer (I didn’t!), assets such as plugins, FinaleScripts, soundmaps, Device Annotation Files, Libraries, ensembles.txt etc. manually need to be copied over to their corresponding places in the new Finale 26 Application Support folders by users with any customizations they’ve added while using 25 and earlier.

Let’s take a closer look…

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Use Keyboard Maestro with Finale to respell notes quickly

Ancillary macro programs are a great way to get more productivity out of Finale. There are  macro programs available for both Windows and MacOS. I’m currently on MacOS, and use a popular macro program called Keyboard Maestro.

I’ve attached a small downloadable set of Keyboard Maestro macros I use a lot with Finale to this post that will give you a very good idea of one of the most basic things you can do with Keyboard Maestro – assigning keystrokes to menu items to save time.

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