You are on page 1of 15

Finale 2010 - A Review

By Jari Williamsson, February 06, 2010

With this review, I'm trying to give you an in-depth discussion of the new features in Finale 2010
(compared to Finale 2009). It also contains a number of tips regarding the use of Finale 2010. The
version tested in this review is Finale 2010b.
Please note that this review is based on the Windows version of Finale 2010.
First the usual questions...
What's new?

Percussion Enhancements

Chord Enhancements

Automatic Rehearsal Marks

Enhanced Measure Numbering support

Multi-layer staff enhancements

Staff Style assignment changes

Broadway Copyist font

VST Instrument Enhancements

VST FX Plug-in Support

Enhanced Help


Transparent Handles

Improved Graphics File Support

Export Lyrics dialog box

Hyperlink support

Flash Cards and Worksheets

Other smaller additions and changes

I currently use Finale 2009. Do I have to "re-learn" something to use Finale 2009?

The handling of percussion is different than in Finale 2009. The treatments of VST instruments and of
chords are a little bit different than in Finale 2009.

Percussion Enhancements
The main difference between percussion in Finale 2010 and earlier Finale versions is that notation and
playback now are clearly separated. The Staff Attributes doesn't contain the information about MIDI
pitch for percussion sounds anymore.

In earlier Finale versions, you defined the playback note in the staff attributes. What was earlier called
"Percussion Map", is now roughly the same as a Percussion Layout - but without any playback
The Percussion Layout designer now supports whole and double-whole (brevis) noteheads (in addition
to the older closed and open noteheads). With all the playback settings removed from the dialog box,
the interface has become very straightforward. The Note Type is the most important setting in the
percussion layout dialog box, which is a huge collection of all kinds of percussion instruments you
probably will encounter. In earlier Finale versions, this dialog box was sorted by the MIDI note; now
you manually sort the order of the notes, which is of importance when toggling percussion notes on
the same staff line in Simple Entry, for example.
If you have existing notes without percussion Note Types, it's often easier to change through
the Utilities/Transpose Percussion Notes utility. Select the region where you need to change and all
the notes in the region will appear; the ones without Note Types will appear as numbers. If a Note
Type doesn't exist for the staff's percussion layout, it will automatically be added to the percussion

Tip: Notes on percussion staves without a Note Type are colored with the color used for "Unlinked
To connect the percussion to playback, you use an extra column in the Instrument
List called Percussion MIDI Map. Here you can select from the available playback setups (such as
General MIDI, Garritan Instruments for Finale, and so on). The percussion MIDI map is very simple, it
only maps between the Note Type (see above) and the playback note. Please keep in mind that you
still must set up the basic playback settings yourself; only selecting General MIDI will not set the
change the playback channel to 10 or load the appropriate VST instruments, for example.
If you want to create your own percussion MIDI map, it's very easy and straightforward using the builtin Percussion MIDI Map Editor.
If you want to overwrite the Instrument List's percussion MIDI map setting you can use the Percussion
Input Mapsdialog box to force a whole 16-channel slot to map to a specific percussion MIDI map.
However, for most situations, this dialog box can be left alone and instead use the default Match Input
Map to Output Map setting.
If a document created in an earlier version of Finale doesn't have the correct percussion sounds after
conversion, it can be reconverted using the Document/Data Check/Reconvert Percussion Note
Types utility.
There's also a new option in the Program Options (the Edit page) that controls how copy/paste works
between percussion staves and pitched staves. It will either maintain the MIDI number or the staff
When editing percussion staves, there's a very useful editing setting in View/Show/Percussion MIDI
Values. This option will display the MIDI notes within parenthesis above or below the notes on a
percussion staff. Please note that this is a display setting only, it will not print. Also, it will not display on
non-percussion staves.
In conclusion, the results of the design change (going from percussion map to percussion layouts) are:

The number of required Percussion Layouts will be far less than was the case for Percussion
Maps in earlier versions, since there will only one be percussion layout for each kind of percussion
notation needed (no duplicates needed for different kinds of playback devices).
The Staff Attributes now only consists of notation settings.

If you want to a track a problem with a percussion instrument that doesn't play or doesn't play
correctly, there are a few more places to check now, although it's very likely that the problem is in
the Instrument List or in the playback setup (and less likely that there's a problem in the staff
attributes' percussion setup).

It's very easy to enter or change percussion notes in Simple Entry now, since the Note Type is
displayed with the selected note. Move up and down in the Percussion Layout using the Up/Down
arrow keys.

Chord Enhancements
Chord input has been simplified. Instead of three different input modes as it was earlier, there's now
instead one input mode that can be used with or without MIDI:

Double-click inside the staff or on a note to get the familiar Chord Definition dialog box.

Single-click to get the old "type in score" mode.

If MIDI is activated, play the chords when ever it's needed during input.

Chords are no longer attached to notes, but attached to beats instead (similar to expressions), so
chords can for example easily be changed in the middle of long notes. When selecting a chord, the
same attachment point as for expressions will appear. When dragging a chord, the same rules as for
expressions apply to move or reattach a chord.
Chord playback has been changed. Chord now plays until the end of the measure or until the next
chord. Chord playback can be stopped by putting "n.c." ("no chord") in the score.
Since chords will no longer resize depending on the note its attached to, a few more sizing control
options has been added. One new document option is available for chord size control. Scale All
Chords by which controls the sizing for chords. The document option for setting the sizing of
fretboards has also been moved to the Chords page of theDocument Options (earlier, it was in the
Chords menu); this setting is now called Scale All Fretboards by. Both chords and fretboards can
also be resized locally with added resize options in the Utilities/Change/Chords dialog box.

Automatic Rehearsal Marks

Finale 2010 build further on the concept of categories and the first category-specific features are now
available forautomatic rehearsal marks.
To create an automatic rehearsal mark style, the expression must belong to the Rehearsal
Marks category, and the check box Use Auto-Sequencing Style should be checked.
The following numbering systems are available:

A, B, C...AA, BB, CC

A, B, C...A1, B1, C1

a, b, c...aa, bb, cc

a, b, c...a1, b1, c1

1, 2, 3, 4 ....

Measure Number

For automatic rehearsal marks to be functional, they should be attached to a metatool so they can be
added quickly and effortlessly to the score. Please note that you only have to assign one metatool for a
whole style/sequence of rehearsal marks. Finale 2010 use 'M' as the a standard metatool for rehearsal
marks in the default document setups. If you want to be compliant with that "standard", define 'M' for
your own documents as well.
To add a rehearsal mark, just insert the rehearsal mark expression using the assigned metatool.
To change a rehearsal mark letter/number, bring up the context menu for it in the score and
select Edit Rehearsal Mark Sequence. Changing the rehearsal mark to another letter/number will
cause all subsequent rehearsal marks of the same definition to be automatically renumbered.
There's also an option available in the definition to automatically hide measure numbers in measures
where rehearsal marks appear.
The automatic rehearsal mark feature is very nicely designed: It's flexible enough to allow for any
number of rehearsal numberings systems and styles in a score, it's really easy and functional to use, it
fits well within the existing expression tool design and it provides all the necessary functionality.

Enhanced Measure Numbering support

The support for measure numbers has been greatly enhanced in Finale 2010.

I guess the most important addition for many users is the ability to define separate visual measure
number appearancefor score and parts. The default setting for parts is to use the same definition for
parts as for the score, but if you need to you can define a different visual approach for measure
numbers in parts. The only settings the score and parts really shares is the measure number region
itself and what view(s) the measure numberings should be visible in.
Other notable changes are:

The User Interface for the Measure Number dialog box has been cleaned up. It's more clear
now what's the region, where the visual settings are, and so on.

Fonts and positioning can be set differently for measure numbers, when they appear to the
left of a system, in the middle of a system or in a multimeasure rest.

Enclosures are now separately defined for left-system measure numbers and mid-system
measure numbers.

Forced measure numbers can be defined to break multimeasure rests.

Measure Number positioning now also supports text Justification (Left/Center/Right), in
addition to the oldAlignment settings.

Tip: One thing you should be aware of (where the user interface isn't clear enough) is when you force
a measure number to appear in a measure (with Ctrl+click in the Measure Tool). The settings used for
this measure number are controlled by the "Show on every" settings.
This means that if you, for example, want to use a different font than the default for this kind of
measure numbers, you need to do this: check the "Show on every" box to enable the font setting
button - change the font - uncheck that same box again.

Multi-layer Staff Enhancements

There is now more control over which of the elements that should appear in other layers for each staff
(or within a staff style). You can define some elements to appear in one layer and other elements to
appear in the other layers. The screen shot here should explain it. (Please note that
the Chords and Fretboards check boxes in the screen shot are just duplicates of the settings found in
the staff attributes dialog box.)

Staff Style assignment changes

There are a number of additions to the user interface that makes it faster and more flexible to assign
staff styles to score/parts:

When adding a staff style, the staff style can be applied to the current score/part only or to
both score+parts.

When clearing a staff style, the staff style can be cleared from the current score/part only or
from both score+parts.

To make both score and parts up to date regarding where all staff styles are placed, mark a
region of music and select the Use Selected Staff Style for Score and Parts feature.

Please note that there's now also a difference when you cut out a region of music. In earlier versions,
the staff styles remained - in Finale 2010 the staff styles are cut out as well. For some situations, this is
wanted - but for other situations, this is not wanted. Since there currently is no option to force the staff
style to stay after cutting out music, you have to adjust your workflow regarding this issue.

Broadway Copyist Font

A new set of fonts are available in Finale 2010, the family of Broadway Coyist fonts designed
by Robert Pichaud. It contains the following four fonts:

Broadway Copyist - General musical symbols.

Broadway Copyist Perc - Percussion noteheads and some more musical symbols.

Broadway Copyist Text - For chords and musical instructions. Contains no umlaut

Broadway Copyist Text Ext - For text. The font contains umlaut characters.

The Broadway Copyist font is a much more traditional-looking font than the Jazz font. The dynamics
are vertically aligned along the baseline in a similar way as traditional engraver fonts and the text is not
vertically displaced as much as for the Jazz font.

Enhanced Help

The help system has been updated in Finale 2010:

It works with the default web browser.

An online mode, where an online web version of the help is loaded instead of the local copy.
This is very convenient when help texts are updated after the software release. The feature can be
turned off in the Program Options (on theFolders page) if you don't want to access the internet to
retrieve help pages.

A new simple welcome screen.

Filters where the search results can be restricted.

Tip: Make sure to read the How to use the Finale 2010 User Manual section!

VST Additions

The VST instrument window now have much more detailed volume control:

Each VST instrument slot can be balanced with other slots using its own volume slider.

There's a master volume slider that controls the volume of all the VST instrument slots.

Clip "lamps" are available to the right of the VST Instruments dialog box. This is
a very important diagnostic feature for playback volume balancing: if this lamp turns red it

indicates that there has likely been a distortion of sound since the volume was too loud. Click on
the lamp to reset the lamp.
Finale 2010 also supports VST FX plug-ins, for handling tasks like ambience or audio diagnostics for
example. Each VST instrument slot can have one FX plug-in assigned to it. The full VST output can
apply a maximum of three different FX plug-ins. Any VST FX plug-ins (that would make sense) can be
used. There's also options to temporarily bypass an effect.
The only bundled VST FX plug-in with Finale 2010 is Garritan Ambience.

Finale 2010 provides on-screen smoothing of lines and curves, with a technique called anti-aliasing. I
believe this is only a new feature for Finale 2010 for Windows, since I think Finale for Mac has this
feature since a couple of versions back.
Finale 2009:

Finale 2010:

Transparent Handles
In earlier versions of Finale, the handles appeared as white opaque boxes that sometimes covered too
much of the document's visual information. In Finale 2010, a new option is available to display the
handles as transparent.
Actually, the new handles aren't completely transparent - they are a bit shaded which makes the
handles easier to spot on the screen. It's not possible to turn this shading off, unless you switch back
to the old handles.
The transparent handles is a very productive feature which makes it possible to zoom out more and
work on bigger parts of the score. It's particularly useful when working with small objects (like
articulations or expressions) and when working with end points like for line shapes. But I also find it
helpful in tools like the Measure Tool, where the full barline now can be seen.
Opaque (old) Handles

Finale 2010 Transparent Handles

The Handle Size option has been moved to the View page in the Program Options, to the same
group as the new transparent handle option.
Tip: (For any Finale version that support resizable handles.) If you change the handle size, make sure
to make it an odd number, so the handle stays fully centered.

Improved Graphics File Support

Finale 2010 adds these file formats to its graphics file support:

For export, JPEG and PNG file formats have been added.

For import, JPEG, BMP, PNG and GIF file formats have beed added.

Tip: PNG is a excellent all-purpose graphics file format. It's space-efficient, and supports
transparency. If you need to put text inside your graphics, use a graphics editor to cut a hole in your
PNG file to let the text come through. GIF also supports transparency, but doesn't allow more than
256 colors.

Export Lyrics dialog box

The Lyrics Tool has got a small addition with the Export Lyrics dialog box. It can be used to transfer
Lyrics from Finale to another application.

The dialog box has a choice to export either all lyrics or just a selected verse/chorus/section. It's not
possible to export, for example, just all the verses.
Each chunk of lyrics gets two line feeds as separators before the next chunk.
An option is available to not include Hyphens and Underscores in the lyrics export, to clean it up for
word processing for example. (This is just an export filter option, since the lyrics export dialog doesn't
affect the lyrics in the score.)
The Lyrics can be exported to the clipboard (to paste it into another application) or to a text file (to load
it in another application). The user interface for the export dialog might seem a bit misleading, since
the ellipsis in the Copy All to Clipboard... button would seem to indicate that pressing the button
leads to another dialog. However, pressing the button instead leads to another action: it closes the
dialog box after the clipboard copying.

Hyperlink support
In the Text Tool, there's now support for text blocks with hyperlinks. You can only have one link per
text block and the hyperlink will always span the full text block.
To activate/test the link, hold down the Control key and click the text handle. (In the Windows version,
there's a visual glitch that makes the hand pointer appear to the right of the actual handle. Confusing,
but just trust the hand.)
Apparently, this feature will show up in SmartMusic (which I haven't tested). But from a Finale point of
view, the hyperlink support could be a really great feature addition if Finale would only export PDFs
complete with hyperlinks (similar to OpenOffice for example), but Finale can't do that - so I believe
opening the link from Finale using a modifier key isn't simple enough to get the feature widely used.

Flash Cards and Worksheets

Finale 2010 (since the 2010a updater) provides a few hundred exercises, available as flash cards or
work sheets. The exercises are loaded in Finale through the Open Finale Worksheet... menu item
in File menu.
The worksheets open as regular Finale files, although these files are highly specialized. Some contain
only texts, some are designed as printed 2-sided flash cards, some (the ear training) should be printed
and then played back, and so on.
The section contains these categories:
Elements of Music

Practice sheets that teach the basic musical elements.


Minor, major and blues scales - but not modes.


More detailed exercises about rhythms, which also work with SmartMusic.


Major, minor, perfect, chromatic intervals.


Triads, Major, Minor, diminished, augmented, inversions, chord puzzles, jazz



Exercises to connect matching pairs, sort elements in the correct order and so
on. Also include some bonus items like "Percy Grangerism".

Musical Words (spelling the notes for the indicated clef), Wordsearch,
Puzzle Games and
Crossword Puzzles, Musical Maze, Musical Sudoku, Classroom Flashcards,
Flash Cards
Individual Flashcards.
Ear Training

Intervals, Chords, Melodic Dictation. Each of these exercises should first be

printed, then played back to do the actual exercise.

Although it might seem that many of these files would open equally well as PDF files, it's actually great
to have them as Finale if you want to modify the exercise or if you want to translate it to your own
language. I've translated quite a few of these files to Swedish and tried them on my daughter, who
thinks it's great fun.
Tip: If you want to modify an exercise, use the Selection Tool and double-click on the element, since
it's not always clear where an object is connected (or which handle controls what object).
A problem with the worksheet feature is that it opens the exercise files as a named file, so if you're
looking for a specific exercise file a couple of times in succession you'll soon replace all the entries in
file history list with exercises.
However, the worksheets is a good display on what Finale can be used for, apart from just ordinary
music. Take a closer look at the worksheet documents to get some tips on how particular layout tasks
are handled.

MusicXML improvements
The MusicXML support has been updated to make use of Finale 2010-specific features, like the new
percussion maps, PNG/JPG support and automatic rehearsal marks.
MusicXML import has been improved in these areas:

Stems in percussion staves

Transposed instruments without key signatures

Cutaway staves

A4 and other metric page sizes

Nested tuplets

Unknown fonts as text fonts for lyrics and words

Percussion clefs in documents using the Jazz font

Major seventh and half diminished chords in documents using the JazzCord font

MusicXML export has been improved in these areas:

Endings over empty measures

Number of instruments per part

Other smaller additions and changes

There's now a very useful option available in Program Options (on the Edit page) that controls
how the default dragging behavior of anchor points should behave. Either the default will be to
re-anchor to another beat or to adjust the positioning relative to the current anchor point. Holding
down the Alt key prior to dragging will reverse whatever default functionality you choose.

Tip: When doing the basic input to a score, it's more likely that you want this option to reattach anchors to different beats than during the fine-tuning/layout phase. If you are
comfortable working with different defaults at different times, try to switch this option at
different times to best suit your workflow.

Import from old notation file formats (Encore, Rhapsody, Score) has been dropped. I think
this is very reasonable, since MusicXML is a extremely well-supported standard for notation file
exchange and dedicated converters will provide better import results than Finale's old import
filters. (Applications like Encore supports MusicXML export built-in and there are Score-toMusicXML exporters available on the internet.)
The MiBAC Jazz Rhythm Section Generator plug-in has been removed.

The Launch Window has been a bit simplified. Open Recent File is now a one-step process
(no need to push a button), and MusicXML import has its own push button.

There's an extra option for cross-platform text conversion called Automatically sync files to
Symbol Fonts list.

The Garritan Instruments for Finale includes many new instruments in the Finale 2010
The Aria Player has been updated in Finale 2010.
SmartScore Lite is now version 5 and includes a choice to select the instrumentation of the
scanned score