MUS 514A / CSC 514A

Finale Tutorial

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While there are a number of notation entry methods (Simple Entry, Speedy Entry, Hyperscribe, Transcription), we will focus our attention on the most practical method--Speedy Entry, which minimizes editing.

We will examine the following aspects of Finale:

  • Main Menu options:  File, Edit, View, Options, Window, Help

  • Saving files (songs) to disk.  Please do not save to the hard drive.  Finale file extensions normally have the following suffix:  .mus

  • Main Tool Palette icons

  • Menu options with various icons.  (FYI, depending on which icon is selected from the Main Tool Palette, varying menu options are available.)

  • Entering music via MIDI music keyboard, or computer keyboard if keyboard is not available.  Accidentals, fixing mistakes.

  • Adding expression markings, lyrics, titles/changing fonts

  • Page Layout, printing

  • Entering layered music.  Hiding notes and other elements, flipping stems.

  • Entering chord symbols

  • Creating figured bass symbols

  • Creating templates

Sequence of Events

Executing Finale functions in a logical sequence will save much editing later.  If you happen to perform an edit out of sequence, it can always be corrected ... just may take more time. The sequence of events list below should prove helpful:

  1. Enter music (Scroll View)

  2. Edit music, if necessary

  3. Add lyrics, if applicable

  4. Go to Page View.  Choose desired reduction (select %, then, click in top left corner of page for dialog box).  Score reductions will vary, depending upon how many staff systems you need to get on a page.  Anywhere from 50% to 70% are common.  Later, when extracting individual parts, 85% works well for parts pages.

  5. From Edit, choose Select All to highlight all music.  From Mass Edit, select Space Music.  Update Layout (^+U).

  6. Use Page Layout to format music on the page.  You may also optimize systems, which eliminates staves with empty rests; at least one staff will always be present.  Always Update Layout (^+U) before you leave Page Layout, or you may temporarily loose some measures or staff systems ... an uncomfortable feeling!

  7. Once the layout is suitable, in Page View, begin adding expression markings, rehearsal letters, chord symbols, etc.  If you enter these earlier, you will only end up moving things around later.

  8. After every staff is "camera ready," you may extract individual parts, if necessary.  Further editing will always be involved with each part, but this feature is quite a time saver.

  9. Print, if desired, once the music is fully edited.

Main Tool Palette

Icons in the Main Tool Palette may be in just about any order.  The descriptions that follow will be left-to-right beginning with the top row.

ZOOM TOOL (magnifying glass):  Enlarges work area each time you click on screen.  To reduce size, Control-click.
HAND GRABBER (hand):  Click-dragging screen enables you to quickly move the music score diagonally, instead of using horizontal/vertical scroll bars.
STAFF TOOL (treble clef):  Double-clicking below the default staff adds an additional staff at the click point.  Clicking on staff handles (the small square) gives you access to staff names, clef selection and many other options.
MEASURE TOOL (bar line):  Each time you click on the icon, a measure will be added.  To add multiple measures, Control-click on the icon and a pop-up menu will appear.
MEASURE ATTRIBUTES TOOL (bar line with arrows):  Clicking on this icon enables you to manually move bar lines, select double bar lines, etc.  It also allows you to hide, or force, time signatures, etc., in a given measure.
KEY SIGNATURE TOOL:  ... You guessed it. 
METER SIGNATURE TOOL:  ... Right again.
SIMPLE ENTRY TOOL (straight eighth-note):  Impractical ... skip it.
SPEEDY ENTRY TOOL (speeding eighth-note):  This is the method that many professionals choose to enter music.  With practice it is quick, and, accurate!  Select the icon.  Then, click on a measure.  A rectangle will appear and you may begin entering music.

HYPERSCRIBE TOOL (slanted keyboard):  This method enables you to enter music in realtime, however, many parameters must be selected, and much editing is often required.
TRANSCRIPTION TOOL (straight keyboard):  This tool will allow you to record music as you please, then, go back and tell Finale what the rhythms are.  It can be handy for improvisations, but, again, it is not terribly accurate.
TUPLET TOOL (triplet):  This tool enables you to set specifications for various tuplets, such as where the number will appear in relation to the notes, whether you beam the notes, etc.  To use it, first hold the Control key down as you press the number 3 (if you want a triplet).  
MIDI TOOL:  ... For MIDI set-up.
SMART SHAPE TOOL (crescendo):  This tool allows you to add slurs, crescendos, trills, etc.  To slur two adjacent notes, simply click on the first note; the slur appears automatically.  To slur over several notes, double-click-drag the first note to the last note until the last note is highlighted.  Then, release the mouse.
SCORE EXPRESSION TOOL (mf):  This tool puts dynamic markings in all staves.  You can also create other score expressions, such as rehearsal letters, tempos markings, etc.
STAFF EXPRESSION TOOL (mf with whole note):  Same as score expression too, but the marking appears only on one staff.
ARTICULATION TOOL (whole note with accent):  This tool adds articulations.  If you have many articulations, create a metatool to speed up the process.  (See below.)
LYRICS TOOL (quill):  This tool creates lyrics.  The easiest method is to select lyrics at the top of the screen.  Then, click on type into score.  Then, click on the note where the lyrics begin.  Lyrics automatically advance to the next note whenever you press the space bar.
CHORD TOOL (CM7):  This tool adds chord symbols.  By clicking on a note/chord, you can enter the information manually, or simply play the chord if you have a keyboard.  Finale will create the chord symbol for you.
CLEF TOOL (bass clef):  This tool is for changing clefs during the music, rather than setting the initial clef, which is done with the Staff Tool (treble clef).
REPEAT TOOL:  This tool is used to create repeat bars and ending bars.  First-ending bars must use an overlap method, selecting the starting bracket for the first measure and the ending bracket for the last measure.  The two brackets are then aligned vertically until they blend into one line.
MEASURE NUMBER TOOL:  This tool enables you to set the default location of measure numbers, font, etc.
NOTE MOVER TOOL (car with straight eighth-notes):  This tool is used when notes must be pulled from one staff to another, as in piano music.
MASS MOVER TOOL (train engine):  This handy-dandy tool is used for a variety of purposes:  copying measures, using alternate notations, transposing, adjusting spacing, etc.
RESIZE TOOL (%):  This tool changes the size of printed music.  For single pages, you'll probably want to select 85%.  For scores, you should choose a smaller percentage.  With solo/piano music, the solo part is normally a smaller percentage than the piano part.  To adjust the percentage of only one staff, click in front of the staff--a menu will pop up.  To adjust the size of an entire page(s), click on the upper left-hand corner of the page to access the menu.
SPECIAL TOOLS TOOL (hammer, etc.):  This tool is for fine tuning occasional note spacing after you have done general spacing using the mass mover tool.  You can also change the length of note stems, select alternate noteheads, move accidentals, etc.
TEXT BLOCK TOOL (A):  This tool enables you to enter blocks of text in the music:  title, composer, copyright info, etc.  In a nutshell, select Text at the top of the screen to set the font.  Then, to specify justification, specific location, etc., select frame from the top menu, then attributes.  From here you can specify how many pages the text is to appear on, how it is to be centered, etc.  You can also set the exact horizontal/vertical location of the text in case it needs to match other parts.
PAGE LAYOUT TOOL (dog-earred paper):  Ho boy, this one can be tricky.  You'll need to do this before printing to get the finished look you want.  You'll need to resize the page (%) first.  After you select the icon, simply click on the music and you will be in the page layout menu.  You can move either individual staves or all staves, depending upon your menu selection.  After you have made your changes, be sure to "update" the layout.  Shortcut is Control-u.  Otherwise, you may lose some staff systems on each page. Eke!
OSSIA TOOL (small notes):  This tool is for creating a small single measure to indicate embellishments, etc.  Let's not worry about this one for now ...
MIRROR TOOL:  This allows you to link measures so changes you make in one measure will be automatically done in the mirrored measure.  
TEMPO TOOL (metronome):  Allows you to make subtle adjustments in tempo playback.
GRAPHICS TOOL (geometric shapes):  Allows you to place graphics, or export music as graphics.  This is quite handy if you need to import music for tests, etc.


These are tools you specify/create to speed the entry of articulations, dynamics, whatever.  For example, to create a staccato metatool, first select the articulation tool (whole note with accent).  Then, press the Shift key and the number 1 key (for example) at the same time.  You will enter the articulation menu.  Double-click the staccato mark.  You have now created a metatool associated with the number 1.  To add a staccato mark to any note, just have the articulation tool icon selected, press and hold the number 1 and click on the note.  A staccato marking will appear.  This avoids having to open the articulation menu each time.  To create a different articulation marking for number 2-9, simply press Control-[number], then double-click on the articulation that you want for that number.  Metatools can also be created in similar fashion with the Staff Expression Tool.  Just be sure the particular icon is selected.

Speedy Entry

Speedy Entry can be used with or without a synth keyboard.  The synth keyboard specifies the pitch, and the computer keyboard specifies the rhythm using the numbers across the top of the keypad.  (See Speedy Entry Commands.)  First, press the desired note on the synth, and while continuing to depress it, then press the desired rhythm (number key) on the computer keyboard.  With a little practice, you can almost enter in realtime speed using a synth keyboard.  To create a rest, simply hit the equivalent rhythmic value on the computer keypad without depressing a synth key.

Rhythmic values:  1 = 64th note, 2 = 32nd note, 3 = 16th note, 4 = 8th note, 5 = quarter note, 6 = half note, 7 = whole note, 8 = breve.

Other commands:

  • 9 = flip enharmonic (e.g., from G# to Ab).  Simply click on the measure and have the cursor(s) on the note.

  • 0 = exit Speedy Entry, or, click anywhere in a blank part of the page.

  • = (the equal sign) ties to the next note ... toggle to untie.

  • Backspace = changes the note to a single rest of the same value.

  • o (the "oh" key) = hides a note ... toggle to show.

  • p = puts "courtesy" parentheses around an accidental

  • [ (left bracket) = moves the rectangle to the previous measure

  • ] (right bracket) = moves the rectangle to the next measure

  • l (the "el" key) flips the stem in the opposite direction

  • ; (semicolon) changes a note to a grace note

  • . (period) adds a dot to a note

  • / (slash) breaks a beam between two notes (position slash on last note of the group)

  • - (minus) lowers a note one-half step

  • + (plus) raises a note one-half step

Speedy Entry is not too shabby even without a synth.  Simply use the mouse or arrow keys to move the cursor to the desired pitch, then press the number key for the rhythm.  To create a flat, use the minus key; to create a sharp, use the plus key.  To add a dot to a note, simply press the period key.

In the speedy menu at the top, you can set the preference to Jump to the next measure, if you desire.  Once the measure is full, rhythmically, the rectangle will advance automatically.  To move the rectangle manually, use the bracket keys as described above.  

To enter a triplet, first you must press Control 3 (at the same time), before entering the data.  If you are not using a synth, you must have the cursor set on the appropriate pitch first, otherwise, if you move the cursor after entering Control 3, the triplet will vanish.  (If you desire a quintuplet, for example, press Control 5.)

Layers:  If you are entering a two-part piece with different rhythms, you must enter the bottom line in Layer 2.  Select layers (1-4) at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.  I'll demonstrate.

While there is much, much more to Finale, the above should get you started.  The manuals are available for specific situations which will undoubtedly arise.

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