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I take much pride to my scores. :D

Thus thought that I could give some insights to more advanced features in Finale, with examples, etc...

IMPORTANT NOTE 1: I use Finale 2000, so some things may be updated, or outdates, but all principals remain the same! I'm sure of that! EDIT: I have downloaded Finale 2007 and everything I do, I also check to finale 2007, so it works to further versions as well...

IMPORTANT NOTE 2: All instructions are aimed at scoring and not playback. I'm pretty sure that most issues mentioned here, won't have any effect on the playback whatsoever.

I've replied plenty of times as, to not cut the flow, but I don't have time right now to continue the thread... Will edit my posts to fill in the said topics.

If anybody feels that he would like to ask something, considerably difficult to do, feel free to PM me, or post here...

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So, let's get started with something, that I particularly like :D A glissando... Like the following:


Here it is a harp, but this kind of glissando can work in any kind of instrument really. Strings, a trombone (with limited range), maybe even piano...

Specifically for the harp, I had to notate the first 7 notes (E, F, G, A, Bb, C and D), so that the harpist will know how to tune his insturment. The speed of the first seven notes, doesn't really make any difference, but it is usually 32nds as this always creates the notion of... haste.

On Finale now:

* How to extend the beam lines: Go the speacial tools -> Beam Extention Tool. clicking on the bar of interest will show to handles. Moving the right one will move the beams. But it may move only 1 of the 3. In which case you will need to double click on the grabber and choose all choices up to the 32nd. If you try to choose only the 32nd, it will move the bottom beam, but not the above.

* How to construct this wavy line: That is kinda tricky and takes effort, but I find the result very appealing to the eye, and the performers actually! In finale2000, on the expression tool -> shape (on the expression selection) -> edit No. 1 shape (the legato slur shape). In the shape design window, select the legato slur and the double click on the middle handle. It will reveal 2 new handles, each of which moves half of the legato slur. Thus you can create any corner you want with 1 turn. Combining many of these small legato slurs, creates the above glissando.

In later versions of finale (2006, for example), you do not need to enter the expression tool, but simply enter a legato slur between 2 notes. Then edit it as described above (with the exception that all handles are already visible). Combine more than 2 to create glissandos as shown.

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There are two main ways to imply a cluster, and are distinguished by the length... A short cluster (quarter, half, whole note maybe) can be shown as thus:


Example 2.1

Or a long cluster which takes a long ammount of time, shown either in bars, or seconds, which can be shown as this:


Example 2.2

So let's go to the meanings of the two examples.

Example 2.1: The said instrument (most probably a piano) will play all pitches from D to B and hold them for the duration of a half note. Note the following things:

  • The stem is there, to distinguish between a whole note and a half note.

  • the natural and sharp signs, above the note, indicates that both black and white keys are to be played. If only a natural was there, it would be a sign to play only the white keys, and simmilarly if only the sharp was there, it would be a notion to play the black key only (although in this case, it's easier to notate them ordinarily).

  • The thick line in the middle, is what indicates that this, actually, is a cluster! Without it, the said chord is just a DB chord and nothing else.

Example 2.2: Here we have a string orchestra, where the higher strings (Violins and violas), play together and are notated at the same staff, while the bass strings are seperated. The image is kinda distorted and small, and it doesn't really show, but the thick line on the first main staff grows thicker, while more instruments enter. This is a technique, first used by Penderevsky in his work "Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima".

If you notice the first staff to be found (the smaller one), it is there that the conductor (as this is the conductors score, you will never see something like this in a part really), sees which pitches enter. This is why it's not a full staff and is empty in between. simmilaraly you may notice that the first and second strings to change their pitch are not playing normal semitones, but quarter tones. Thus the need for a graphic notation is greater than ever!

How to do it in Finale:

Example 2.1:

Write the chord normally as a half note. Then go to special tools -> custom stem tool and then click on the bar of interest. Double click on the handle that will appear on the chord to enter the shape selection. Then click on create new. Drow a vertical line, with .1 width and click ok. Don't worry about not being exactly on the middle (the small circle there). Click select, to select the newly made shape. Then with the mouse move the new stem as needed to start from the top note and upwards a little.

That settled go to the shape tool -> shapes -> create new. Choose any shape and on the shape designer, choose it and delete it. Then go to the line tool and choose a thick line (.2, or .5, although I usually toy around .35 or something), and draw a vertical line of that thickness. Attach it to the cluster and then move it accordingly to have it in the middle. If needed, double clicking, will enable you to change the length of that thick line, and thus put it in perfect shape with the cluster.

Example 2.2:

The first staff, does not appear anywhere in the score apart from that page (and the next, for those who know where this is coming from).

The staves can be shortened (make them smaller) with the resize tool (%). Just click next to the staff and put it to 70-60% or something to fit your needs.

The empty spaces are just rectangulars from the shape tool, which are filled white, and their edges (lines) have 0 thickness. Note that if there are rests, usually they will bypass the "bedsheet", so the best thing to do is have a rest and hide it (o on the speedy entry).

Same to the staff named Vln. I/Vln. II/Vla. Delete all the rests, so as not to be shown and make a lengthy thick line. Attach it to the staff (as if you attach it on a note, or rest that does not show, will cause the shape to dissapear as well), and double click on it to adjust the length to perfection. Then add a second on, and a third one, etc, to create a thicker line towards the end.

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We all know what this means, I reckon. But what about the following example? :


This means that the performer must go faster and also louder (these two almost always go together in these cases).

how to do it in Finale:

First of all go to the special tool ->secondary beam angle tool and click on the bar. Then choose the leftside handles (both) and bring them down to the same level as the bottom most beam. Then choosing the right handles, move them upwards to create this scissor like sign. If needed, you may want to use the special tools -> beam angle tool to change the angle of the beam and make it better for viewing purposes...

Then go, once again to the special tool -> Note position and move all notes, to the required placement, leaving less and less space as you move forward.

The same principal applies to ritardanto(s) as well...

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Different Key Signatures/Independent time signatures

This IS playback sensetive!

It's not as simple as it looks...

No it's not! It's so damn, difficult that I have forgotten how to do it. Plus these two are completely different between them :shifty: DAMN!


Take a look at the following example:


Example 4.1

This is the right way to go with it. No matter how complicated it looks. It will weave away all fears from any performer for a possible tpyo (typo)!

This way, it is obvious that the first staff, plays on B minor, the second on D# minor and the third on D minor... Notice that this principal does not apply for orchestral scores, and for transposed instruments! ok? Deal?

This is a piano score! So the one performer might find that tricky!

Now, you may ask yourselfs (or me) why on earth go to such length and not write accidentals all the time? Well. Firstly because I was experimenting with Finale back then in 99, but mainly because if the whole piece goes like this the pianist will kill you with the 100s of accidentals in each stuff (plus all naturals to keep the score... healthy :P).

So. How to do it in Finale:

Bloody HELL! that's taught!

There are MANY steps to take, so I'll number them and hope you (and I along with you, form back in 99... wtf remembers what happened back then?) will understand!

1. first fo all, all 3 staffs must have checked the option for independent key signature, which can be found in the staff attributes on the staff tool!

2. For our purposes we use Maestro font, 18 size. n = natural, b = flat and # = sharp!

3. Go to the key signature tool -> (left click) -> other. Or double click on a bar, depends on the Finale version you're using. Your goal is to go to the key signature window.

4. now for the damn tricky part! On the right side menu, where it says "major key", choose "nonstandard".

(Non relavent step, but very interesting for those with crazy ideas):

4,5. If, on the nonstandard key signature you click on the nonlinear key signatures and then the key map button on the leftmost bottom edge, you will find a keyboard drawn. Blacking all the above boxes, will leave no sharp, blacking none, will leave all 12 sharps (!) Playing around may lead you to the queer key signature of A#, C# and G# (with that series). Have a blust if you will!

5. But back to what we were doing. Choosing nonlinear key signatures and then accidental order and ammount (2nd button from the left towards the bottom) will take you to the window where you can choose where each sharp is placed, and how many semitones up or down you want it to go. (- or +). 1 is 1 sharp, 0 is nothing! (not natural) and -1 is a flat.

6. In order to make the key signature as the example on the first staff (2 sharps and 4 naturals, you will have to set the first two (leaving all steps untouched!) at ammount 1, then the next 4 at ammount 2 (!) and the last one at ammount 0. Attempting to put 0 at the third accidental will bypass all further changes...

7. Then go to Attirbute (last button) -> Symbol List ID -> Insert (first button) TWICE. Then click on next and input the following values:

alter: 1

Characters: #

click on next and enter the following values

alter: 2

Characters: n

8. This should do it!

Apply the same ideas for the rest of the staves...

Poof! (I wasted around 1 hour to try and remember this :()

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Independant time signatures and independant tempos at the same bar

(Imagine an orchestra, where the flute plays at 80, the piano at 60 and the oboe at 75. Different places for each barline and each instrument... That's what I'm talking about)

So let's start with the simple stuff and move towards our goal (as descirbed in the above sentence :P)


Example 4.1

Here things are completely normal. No problem whatsoever. Both instruments at 60 tempo, and at 4/4. Now, notice that the one has a dashed barline, and the other a normal one. Finale 2007 has a choice to not show the barlines of any staff you require. Just go to staff tool ->staff attributes ->items to display (on the right) -> uncheck barlines. Replace the barlines with the one, given to you on the expression (mf) tool ->shapes.

For our goal, always the Flute staff does not display the barlines. Ok?


Example 4.2

Goint once more to staff tool ->staff attributes ->Independant elements and checking time signature, will enable you to change time signatures at each staff on their own! Pretty useful! But notice what happens? Automatically Finale (any version) will allign the barlines and not the notes. Thus in this instance, in the example 4.2, quarter in the flute lasts longer than the quarter in the oboe.

It is exactly the following example, written more elaborately (but for no reason):


Example 4.3

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How could we attempt to have the same tempo, and different time signature then? Like the following example:


Example 4.4

Here both instruments move at the same tempo, but have different time signatures, thus the barlines are in different places!

Now, the problem in Finale, lies that the minute you change the time signature, you effectively change the tempo as well (as shown in example 4.2).

There are 2 ways to counter that!

i. Don't change the time signature. This can be done in two ways:

Go the the time signature tool ->options. On the lower window, which just appeared, check the use a different time signature for display. And choose 3/4, there, while leaving intact the true time signature above.

This will display a 3/4 on the above staff, but in reality it will count 4/4. Just erase the barlines (as mentioned bellow example 4.1) and draw your own.

ii. Change the time signature, but make truplets, or any other combination to reach the needed tempo.

While the first method is tons easier, still this method will come in handy, so I'm mentioning it now.

Go to the time signature tool and click on the bar. Change the time signature from 4/4 to 3/4. That will screw up your notes and length of the notes, so better wait to input the notes, after you've done this change.


Pick the tuplet tool, or in speedy entry ctrl+1 (which brings the tuplet definition window). Make all notes into 4:3 (or 4/3) ratio. This means that every 4 notes, fit in the space of 3 notes. A normal triplet, is actually 3:2 (3/2), which means that 3 notes fit in the space of 2!

In the example 4.4, the first 4:3 grouping, has on the appearance number: ratio, or X/Y, and on the shape: bracket. Second grouping has on the appearance number: number and on the shape: bracket. Third grouping has on number: nothing, and on shape: bracket. The last grouping has on both choices: nothing!

Draw the barlines, and you're done!

(The sign at the end of the staff, means that the bar continues to the next system, or line. This was done with the legato tool, as described on the glissando part of the tutorial.


Example 4.5

Example 4.5 features the same time signature, but different tempo.

As you can see, the method is not vastly different really...

just notice that 75/60=5/4, which is the ratio used in the tuplet definition.



Example 4.6

Here is the combination of 2 different techniques.

The idea is to find the right ratio!

since the tempo is 75 and 60, the same ratio, should apply 5/4, but in this instance, the time signature, is 3/4 in the above staff, so the ratio needs to be 5/3.

Go figure...

More complicated rhythms and tempos are a big mess really...

But this is the way to go, generally.

notes: Playback is affected, but the accents are not. It takes plenty of tweaking to make it sound right!

Also keep in mind that Finale does not particularly enjoy ratios of the following sort: 5.6/3.4... Find full numbers to use, no matter how high... The example there would be 28/17...

See it's turning damn difficult again? Not so much from the Finale point of view, but for the maths involved and the brain twist!

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Somebody asked this to me, not so long ago, and it could be tricky to think about it yourself...

Assuming you have a huge orchestra of 23 (for example) staffs. You will probably need to have a page at 50% or around that!

Now, 50% is kinda tiny, so usually, and especially in study scores you may very well go to the page layout tool ->page layout ->optimise all staff systems. This will delete from every system the staffs that contain no note information. Beware as if you have attached lines, or shapes they maybe gone as well.

Good thus far.

so the first page with the orchestral hit (for example), has all 23 staffs. 2nd page has only 17. Now the 50% of the pages is too small! so you go about making it 60%. And it fits.

Movgin to page 3, you have 15 staffs. With the 60%, as perviously entered. And this page holds 10 bars in total. So you go about to make that 60% into a 63%. Bang! The staffs are perfect and fit nicely in the page. but something is wrong: The bars, because of the added size, no longer fit in there! And damnit! Last bar on page 3 is the one that has 2 staffs. If you take this bar out, then if you try to optimise the staff system, you will be left with 13 staffs, again too small for the page.

So what to do in Finale:

When you optimise any staff system you delete, as mentioned previously, all unused staffs. But something else happens as well.

If you go to the staff tool, instead of a handle on every staff, you will see 2!!! The first one from above, moves all the staff universally, in all pages. The bottom one moves only that staff in that page. So in each page, you can actually place your staffs wherever is needed!

It is a big hussle, but sometimes it's just worth it!

Not only for the above reasons, but maybe for 1 page and only 1 page, you could have an extra high register in the Bassoon and extra low register in the clarinet, leaving too little size to place any dynamics! Moving the staff universally would leave too much space in all other pages, while locally would resolve the matter in seconds.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Most obliged nojtje! Happy I seem to be helping!

I actually stop working on the thread, cause I run out of ideas, on difficult stuff to do on Finale. So if you, or anybody else has an idea on how to do something, or a question, or have seen something on a score and is wondering how to do it, you're more than welcome to page me, PM me, or post here... :mellow:


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I have to admit that I don't see any reason to do that... I mean, why have the stems connected with the OSSIA tool?

Either way. The OSSIA tool will create a bar, which will unafected by anything really, so it's not possible to connect anything with the note mover tool.

What you could do is to create a new staff, calling it OSSIA (for example), and shrink it at 80% with the resize tool (%). Now copying what you want on there, and using the note mover tool, should prove useful. Then you can create a white sheet with the expression tool (mf) and put it as though, to hide the rest of the staff...

But still I don't see a reason to connect the two.

If you have polyrhythmic ideas and the such, you could always create arrows from the original staff to the ossia one. Maybe that could help?

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Could you post an example please? In an image? You know how to do this right?

Because I can't really see much reason from what you're saying. I mean, in this case, if this idea is repeated, then 2 staves would be preferable... If it is 1 off, then why not play with the clefs? I mean, I doubt that none of the 3 clefs (tremble, Bass and the C in the 4th line) would prove insuficient! Plus with some ledger lines, you should be ok.

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Assuming that you have a long cadenze of 2-3 lines (systems). you want the barlines removed, and the whole thing to count as 1 bar in whole. Like this for example:


Example 6.1, My loving Life for violin duet

The wavy lines are explained on the 1st page of this thread. :-)

Now this whole thing takes up 1 system, but only 1 bar. In reality it is actually 3 bars.

In order to simplify the whole thing here is another very simple example which takes up more than one system, with the previous and next system, on the cadenza:


Example 6.2

Cadenze, supposedly, starts at bar 5 and ends at bar 12.


1. The barlines

2. The measure numbers

The barlines are really easy to remove. just go to measure tool -> measure attrivutes for measure x (by double clicking on the measure you wish to work on) -> (on the top) barline: Invisible. Job done!

while you're at it, BTW, you can also remove/delete the bar numbers on the top of the staff. So the score now should look like this:


Example 6.3

Notice that bar 8, is with parenthesis, just to show it's there and what bar number it is. You should, of course, delete that as well.

Also take hint that in the end of all system, you always close the bar (end it), and put a barline there. If there is no barline in your music, still you add a barline, or, line in this case, just a dotted one. But don't leave it without, because this means that the last bar in the system carries on to the next system and will be a big mess...

Problems remaining:

2. Measure number.

We want the Cadenza to take up 1 bar alone. But as it is obvious this is impossible in Finale. so we have to trick it into something else.

How to do it in finale

Again with the measure tool highlight the first 4 bars (drag and click). Then go to the measure menu -> measure numbers -> edit region The default region which is mentioned as "Region 1, measure 1-999 -- Display as 1-999", on the boxes bellow, change the number 999, to 4 (thus the Region will only be for bars 1-4). This will make the measure numbers to display from bars 1-4 and not further.

Then click "ADD"

On the include measure from, change 1 to 13. So the new Region (2nd one) should be from bars 13, 'till the end. Also even further down to Measure numbering. First number of Region, where it will display 13, you put 6!

Job done!


Example 6.4

And this concludes my ability to add any more images!

Mano, I will work on what you've asked me with the ossia tool (which is not the OSSIA tool, btw), but I'm running out of time now.

Will post pretty soon.

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  • 1 year later...

Here are some useful shortcuts for the keyboard to help you work faster:


  • Alt+G means press Alt and G keys simultaneously.
  • Alt, G means press Alt first, G later.
  • Alt+1/2 means press Alt and the key 1 or the key 2.


ESC (up to three times): Selection Tool

A Less Common Selection Tool Shortcuts

Up and Down Arrows:
Move measures selected to the system

above/below the current one (only when using the Selection Tool)

Alt, T, X: Text tool

Some Less Common Text Tool Shortcuts

Change Font:
Alt, X, F

Add a frame:
(values for simple frame:
Line Thickness
= 0.0012 and
Inset Text
= 0.04)




Alt, T, S: Speedy Entry

Some Less Common Speedy Entry Shortcuts

Forced display of accidental:

Tie to the previous note:

Change note to grace note:

Slash grace note:

Switch between Layers:

Tuplets: Ctrl+2/3/4/5/6/7/8
(use Ctrl+1 to define your own tuplet)

Alt, T, A: Articulation Tool

for quick use of the articulation tool: Each articulation has a letter or a number next to it; with the articulation tool selected, hold that letter/number down on the keyboard, and then click on a note and it will automatically add that articulation (for example if you hold down S it will add a staccato dot, if you hold down F and click on a note, it will add a fermata).

Alt+Shift+1/2/3/4: Switch to Layer 1/2/3/4 (the difference between that and using the "Switch Layer" shortcut in speedy entry is that with this shortcut you can jump from Layer 1 to Layer 3, while with the other one you have to go through them in order)

Alt+Shift+S: Show Active Layer Only

Ctrl+0: Choose Zoom percentage

Ctrl+[: Fit in Window

Ctrl+E: Switch between Scroll and Page views

Ctrl+M: Display the Fit Measures dialog

Alt+Page Up/Page Down: Move up or down an increment of the page

Ctrl+Page Up/Page Down: Change pages

Ctrl+Tab: Switch between projects (i.e. other files open in finale - that amazing shortcut also works in most other applications, like firefox and openoffice/msoffice)

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The way to use microtonal accidentals (quartet-tone up, sharp, three quarter-tones up, quarter-tone down, flat, and three quarter-tones down; if you find a font that supports divisions of the tone into more units, then you can use that instead, if you need so) is to create a key signature with all the accidentals you need.

1. Choose the Key Signature tool and double-click on the measures you want to have microtonal accidentals on.

2. Choose "Nonstandard.." from the drop-down menu and click the Next button until Linear Key Format 2 is listed (all five buttons below that should become active), and then click the Attribute button and change the Symbol Font to Maestro Percussion.

3. Click on Symbol List ID and click Insert six times (or as many accidentals you want, six being: natural plus sharp, flat, quarter-tone sharp, quarter-tone flat, three quarter-tones sharp, three quarter-tones flat).

Now, the Finale manual tells you to insert these values for Alter (numbers) and Characters (letters):

  • 3 l (lowercase l - for three quarter-tones sharp)
  • 2 m (lowercase m - for sharp)
  • 1 L (Shift-L - for quarter-tone sharp)
  • 0 n (lowercase n - for natural)
  • -1 j (lowercase j - for quarter-tone flat)
  • -2 b (lowercase b - for flat)
  • -3 J (Shift-J - for three quarter-tones flat)

Which will result in this kind of microtonal scale/accidentals:


If that satisfies you, then go ahead and click "Ok" until you get back to the score, and now if you raise or lower any note by half a step (Numpad + to raise and Numpad - to lower, on both simple and speedy entries) it will go through the accidentals in the microtonal order: natural (if no alteration of pitch is applied), quarter-tone sharp (if you raise the tone by half a step), sharp (if you raise the tone by two half-steps) and three quarter-tones sharp (if you raise the tone by three steps), and respectively for lowering the notes and flats.


I am personally very dissatisfied with that kind of notation, because it seems a bit absurd - I don't like the symbol of quarter-tone sharp and quarter-tone flat, mainly because they ask you to think upwards and then downwards (quarter-tone sharp is a sharp with a downwards arrow, which makes you think "oh, I go up half a step, and then I lower that by a quarter of the tone), which is too complicated when you don't have much time for the players to get used to the notation.

About microtonal notation in general, there is this really good book by Gardner Read, called "20th-Century Microtonal Notation" which discusses microtonal notation from the medieval days to the hundreds of different notations composers have come up with to solve problems of microtonal notation, and discusses the effectiveness of each symbol or group of symbols and gives you a good ground on how to think more carefully when writing microtonally.

So the way I prefer to notate quarter-tones is by replacing the quarter-tone sharp symbol (sharp with a downwards arrow) with a natural sign and an upwards arrow (which indicates that you have to play that pitch, slightly raised and makes much more sense than the sharp with the downwards arrow), and a natural with a downwards arrow for quarter-tone flat.

Thankfully, both of these symbols exist in the Maestro Percussion font (and you can find them and all the other symbols in the font by simply using the Character Map tool in Windows -if you're using Windows- which is located in Start -> System Tools -> Character Map - Or WinKey+R, "charmap").

So, if you want to create a scale that looks like that:


Follow all the steps as before, but instead of using the Alter (numbers) and Character (letters) options in the Symbol List ID dialog that the Finale manual gives, these are the ones I use (the ones that are different than before are bold):

  • 3 l (lowercase l - for three quarter-tones sharp)
  • 2 m (lowercase m - for sharp)
  • 1 k (lowercase k - for quarter-tone sharp)
  • 0 n (lowercase n - for natural)
  • -1 K (Shift-K - for quarter-tone flat)
  • -2 b (lowercase b - for flat)
  • -3 J (Shift-J - for three quarter-tones flat)

And then click "Ok" until you get back to your score, and it should be working just fine.

As you can see, the potential of such a function within finale is really great - you can use combinations of microtonal accidentals to create higher divisions of the octave (so if you wanted to divide the tone into six, you could use the natural with upwards arrow symbol for "one-sixth sharp", the sharp with the downwards arrow symbol for "two-sixths sharp", the sharp for "three-sixths sharp", the sharp with the arrow upwards for "four sixths sharp", and the natural with the downwards arrow [applied to the note above] as "five-sixths sharp"), or even create your own fonts (or use other people's fonts).

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This is a lot easier than it actually looks like (to write, that is, not to perform...). To demonstrate the cross-staving, though, I've used a much simpler example (rhythmically).

1. Write out the music you are interested in cross-staving, but: after the point where they cross (whether on the barline or within the measure), you must write the right-hand notes on the left hand, and vica-versa.

2. Using the Beam Angle Tool from the Special Tools, align the beams (height and angle) so that the beams of all the right-hand notes (i.e. the upper-staff notes before the crossing and the lower-staff notes after the crossing) are aligned, and the same for the left-hand notes (I have shown how they have been aligned with the dashed lines).


3. Now, using the Beam Extension Tool from the Special Tools, extend the beam/beams of the crossed right-hand pattern (i.e. the right-hand notes on the lower staff) to the left, until they overlap with the right-hand note on the upper staff, and if it doesn't align perfectly, fix this by using the Beam Angle Tool again and playing around with the height and angle of the beams.


4. Lastly, using the Beam Extension Tool again, extend the two left-hand beams until they are extended beyond the noteheads, but also without touching the continuous beam of the right-hand notes, like the example below - make sure it is obvious that all these notes belong together, and re-adjust the right-hand note beams to make more space so you can extend the left-hand note beams to make this more obvious, if needed.


Make sure you have entered all the material you need to enter before starting the crossing procedure, otherwise if you try to alter the notes or space them out more evenly because you didn't have enough space for dynamics, you might have to do this all over again (or some of it anyway). So do the cross-staving in the very end, once you've laid out your pages as well (so there won't be any spacing issues either).

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When working with larger ensembles, sometimes I have to move one instrument a little bit to make space for a slur, some really high/low notes from the instrument below/above respectively, or some text, but if I try to move that instrument in that system alone, it moves the instrument staff in all the other systems too, and that in turn will cause further clashes which will be unresolved because if I try to solve them, I will cause further clashes etc.

1. So, the solution to this is to go to the Page Layout Tool menu and click on Optimize Staff Systems. Uncheck Remove Empty Staves and choose the system for which you want to move a single instrument (or systems, if it's more than one).

2. Click OK and then go back to the score and choose the Staff Tool. If you click on the instrument you want to move, you will notice that now there are two small handles on the staff (as opposed to just one, before the optimization). If you use the top handle, it will function just like before the optimization, but if you use the bottom handle it will only move that particular staff/instrument for that particular system.

The safest way to do this, of course, is to finish your piece completely, with all slurs, texts, high/low notes etc (even if they are clashing temporarily), and then when you've also finished and locked your layout etc, you optimize the whole score (removing or without removing empty staves, according to your score and what you want), and then tweak the few staves where needed.

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This one's a bit tricky, and of course it's not playback-sensitive, but still it looks correct on paper and it can be performed by musicians.

(For those thinking "but who would ever write tuplets across barlines, and what's the meaning of that?!", well, you might want to check out Elliot Carter's pieces -particularly his String Quartets- and also it is as easily performed as a normal tuplet - it takes a little bit more practice to get used to not considering the barline the "end" of something and the "beginning" of something else. Two beats are two beats, regardless of whether they are both in the same measure, or they span across two measures)

In this particular example, I'll try and demonstrate how to write 5 quavers in the time of 4 quavers across a barline.

1. First, you write out the music normally, but when it comes to the point of the tuplet, think approximately how the notes are going to be divided in terms of whether they will be before or after the barline. In the 5:4 example, the first three notes will be heard in one measure (although one of them will continue on to the next one) and the other two will be heard in the second measure. Thus, in the measure that will contain more notes than it normally fits, use the tuplet tool to fit that amount of notes in (in our example, we have to fit three quavers in the time of the last beat, so we'll just make them a triplet).


2. Now, get rid of the triplet number and/or bracket by double-clicking on the number with the selection tool, then double-clicking on the handle and then, under Appearance, change both Number and Shape to Nothing.

3. Next, you have to beam the triplet quavers of one measure with the normal quavers of the other using the Patterson Beam Over Barlines plugin (Plug-ins -> Note, Beam and Rest Editing -> Patterson Plug-ins Lite -> Beam Over Barlines). Select the two measures and apply the plugin. It will look a bit awkward on finale, but when you print the file it will look absolutely perfect.


4. Next step is to create a bracket and number from scratch. To do that, create a text writing "5:4" with the Text Tool, and set the font size to 8. Also, using the Bracket Tool under the Smart Shape Tools, create the two sides of the bracket on the left and right of the number (after you've aligned the text somewhere in the middle of the 5 beamed notes), like in the image below:

5. Lastly, using the Note Position tool from the Special Tools align the notes a little bit more accurately. That is, leaving the first note of the triplet where it belongs, move the second two a bit closer to the barline with the third one being very close to the barline, and then move the two notes of the second measure a bit further away, and you're ready to go!


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Sorry to butt in like this, Juji. The above can be done by simply ignoring/bypassing Finale's note that you have put too many notes in the bar. Just write the bar with the more notes, and they shall be moved to the according place. Beam if necessary. (and this is playback sensetive actually).

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  • 1 month later...

I was looking at a score by Ed Bennett (an Irish composer) which is for voice and electronics and which is written with dotted barlines and seconds instead of measure numbers. I think this is a very nice approach to writing music that is not so tied to beats and barlines, or music that has a track playing in the background which is not approximate, and thus you have to have a stopwatch and play according to time.


In order to do that, you must first set the time signature to 4/4, at crochet=240 (so that each bar equals 1 second).

Then you select the whole document and using the Measure Tool change the barlines to "dashed".

Next, still using the Measure Tool, go to Measure -> Edit Measure Number Regions... , and at the Positioning & Display set of options, change it to "Show every [1] measures beginning with measure [1]", and at the Measure Numbering set of options, change "1, 2, 3, 4" to "Time", then uncheck "Include hours" and change the setting to Whole Seconds.

Return to your document, and voila! If you want to, you can adjust the positioning of the seconds above the measures by going to the Measure -> Edit Measure Number Regions... menu again, and clicking on the Position... button in the bottom-left corner, and then just fiddle around until you find a position you like (I personally prefer seconds to be centered with the barline).

When you input notes, don't worry about perfect rhythms because they won't be precise/feasible (the idea of using time-based measuring is to have a more free notation in the first place - freer than "a number of divisions of a second within two vertical lines, and their subdivisions"), but make sure you move the noteheads around the time-measures to make sure they correspond to their approximate location within that time frame, and also they correspond to the track (again, approximately - the performer will get used to all these things through practice). The best way to draw the track line in the extra stave below is to just draw a general amplitude shape (how loud/texturally thick it is), and also write some descriptive words ("bird singing" or "short, sharp sounds" or "very soft air breeze-like sounds" etc) so the performers will know what they are looking for.

Also, make sure you are consistent with the number of measures per line, and the number of measures per page (and make sure it is an easy-to-follow number, like 60 bars per page) so that it will make tracking of the score much more easy (so if you make it 10 seconds per line, and 6 lines per page, that's a minute per page, so if you had to jump to 3'20, you'd know that this is the third page, second system).

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 month later...

You said "go to the page layout tool ->page layout ->optimise all staff systems" to remove unused staffs on pages, but I don't have that on Finale Print music 2009.

I have:

- Allow Individual Staff Spacing

- Space Systems Evenly

- Edit System Margins

- Edit Page Margins

- Adjust Current Page Only

- Page Size

Do you know if it's possible, or what I should do? Sorry if I'm not allowed posting here, but I saw no lock so took a chance.

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