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.

For example, let’s say you want to create an Expression for bowing behind the bridge. From the Expression Designer, select your music font (or manually change the font to a SMuFL font like Finale Maestro) and invoke ‘Insert Symbol’, then type ‘bridge’ in the search field. Boom. All the symbols you need are right there.

Or perhaps you want to take advantage of SMuFL’s various multi-segment lines, maybe to make some wacky glissandos. Create a custom Smart Line and set the line width to 0, then edit the full center text. Set the font to a SMuFL font and invoke Insert Symbol, and it is quick work to build up exotic shapes, such as this one (which uses various ‘constant circular motion’, ‘wavy line’, and ‘quasi-random squiggle’ segments):

The Insert Symbol command is available in the Text Tool, the Expression Designer, the text fields in Smart Lines, Lyrics, staff names, and part names. The only place it’s not present where I might want it is in the Shape Designer (which is too bad: the Shape Designer is one of the places it might be most useful).

The addition of one menu command is admittedly only a minor change to Finale, so I can understand why MakeMusic neglected to mention it. On the other hand, I have a feeling this will become one of those features that I use so often I will wonder how I ever worked without it!

Thanks to CJ Garcia for casually saying “I sure love that new Insert Symbol command” – I might have missed this for years otherwise!

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention that ‘Insert Symbol’ has actually been part of Finale for awhile, only it was tucked a little out of sight in the ‘Inserts’ submenu. I’m a little embarrassed that I have missed it for so long! In any case, the move into the main text menu coupled with the new keyboard shortcut is a great call on MakeMusic’s part.

Jacob Winkler is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Girls Choir, and an instructor in Finale, Sibelius, and Dorico for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program. In The Before Times, he was frequently engaged as a choral singer for film and game soundtracks, including the Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and World of Warcraft franchises. LinkedIn

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