(pianoPed) finale basics

A collection of things we’ve gone over in class, and some things I’ve forgotten to tell you about.

setting up your document

Use the Setup Wizard for creating new documents. You can choose your page size, page orientation (portrait or landscape), choose your instruments to include, a key, starting tempo markings, number of measures, title and composer information. It’s a quick way to deal with big picture setup. Everything can be changed later, but make use of the wizard.

Setup the number of measures you need, and then use the measure tool to set proper double or final bar lines as needed. Then set any key and meter changes in the piece or passage you are notating. Having all of this setup before note entry means that you can:

  1. enter in all your notes with proper durations without having to jump in and out of speedy entry to change meters or keys, and
  2. easily see where you are in the piece relative the “sign posts” of double bars, key, and meter changes.

don’t constantly switch tools

You will work much faster in Finale if you can work within a single tool at a time, rather than constantly switching between tools. For example, if I don’t enter meter changes before entering notes, I have to stop at measures where a meter change is needed, switch to the time signature tool, change the time signature, then switch back to speedy entry. If there are a lot of meter changes, you will have a a lot of switching. But if you do all of your meter changes at once, you can stay in the tool, enter ranges for your meter changes, and progress through the piece fairly quickly.

speedy entry is your friend, your really good friend

Most people’s note entry with Finale starts and stops with the simple entry tool. While the simple entry tool is useful is you don’t have a MIDI keyboard, or you just want to enter in a few measures, all the point and clicking it requires really slows you down. And more importantly, you can do so much more editing within the speedy entry tool. Note only does speedy entry let you enter pitches from a MIDI keyboard and rhythms/rests from a numeric keypad (in combination), you also have a lot of quick editing features within speedy entry that you can apply while you’re entering notes.

  • show or hide accidental (for courtesy accidentals): the asterisk key (*)
  • break or connect beams: the slash key (/), when the cursor is on or just after the note you want to not join with previous notes, or join to previous notes
  • create ties: equals key (=) after entering a note that you want to tie to the next note (note: it can be useful to turn “Jump to next measure” off in the Speedy menu, so that you can add ties to notes at the ends of measures – where you encounter most of your ties – and then use the right arrow or right bracket key to advance to the next measure.)
  • add a dot to a note or rest: the decimal point (.) after you enter the note or rest
  • change an enharmonic spelling: number 9 key
  • change a pitch by chromatic half steps: plus and minus keys (+  - ) will raise or lower the pitch by chromatic half steps
  • reverse stem direction: the “L” key (lower case, but didn’t want it to look like an I)
  • show or hide a rest: the “o” key (the letter o), which is useful when you have more than one layer and don’t want/need rests to show in both layers
  • move rests (and notes) up or down, left and right by clicking and dragging on them. (even if you hide a rest for a layer, the other layer’s rests will be pushed up or down as if they are still there.)
  • use the caps lock key to enter in a series of notes with the same rhythmic value: hit caps lock, then the number of the rhythm duration you want, then every MIDI key pressed and released will enter a note with that pitch and rhythm

You can even enter tuplets very quickly and easily in speedy entry. Type option-#, where # is the number of tuplets grouped together (3 for a triplet). Then enter the pitch and rhythmic value for the first note. It becomes the first note of a triplet with the proper value, and subsequent notes will continue with the tuplet values until the tuplet is complete. If you are entering triplets with a quarter – eighth pattern, you can type option-1, which brings up a tuplet definition dialog box. Set the tuplet ratio, then enter notes.

use the mnemonic key shortcuts

Mnemonics refers to any device or technique that can aid memory. With keyboard shortcuts, we use some mnemonics all the time, like cmd-P for print, and cmd-C for copy. With Finale, you can assign key shortcuts to any dynamic, articulation, or expression marking. With articulations, you can enter a staccatto dot with an S, an accent with an A, a fermata with an F, etc. (all lower case letters). Dynamics are assigned to number keys, going from ffff on 1 to pppp on 0. You can look at the key assignments by selecting the tool and clicking (or double-clicking) to insert one. Look over the list, write things down if you need, then cancel. Hold the appropriate key down while clicking where you want to place the articulation, etc., and the articulation is inserted. You save time by not having to go through dialog windows and multiple mouse clicks for each insertion.

make sure you know what layer you’re in

When you have to enter notes in multiple layers on a single staff, you have to make sure you are in the right layer to edit. Most of the time, people forget to switch back to layer 1 after entering things in layer 2. Look at the lower left corner of the window to see and change layers.

cross stave passages

Cross stave passages are not basic, but you can do them pretty easily. There is a plugin that handles things now, but I prefer to continue using the way I learned.

  • Enter the notes as a layer in the staff that has the most notes in the passage.
  • Next, choose the note mover tool. Click on the measure and you will see handles (square selection boxes) for each note. Click the ones you want to move into the other staff.
  • Change to the special tools tool (it looks like a hammer). There is a reverse stem tool that looks like a cross staff pair of eighth notes. Click on the measure again for handles, and click on handles that need stems reversed. Doing so will cause the beam to shift locations with the switching of stems.
  • Still within special tools, change to the beam angle adjust tool (arrows pointing above and below a beam). The box at the beginning of a beam adjust overall height; the box at the end adjusts angle.