Tag Archives: Finale

Finale 2009 – Defining Mediocrity

Continuing it’s yearly practice, MakeMusic announced Finale 2009. Basically, they are not raising the bar at all, again, with this. For $99, you finally get:

  • Engraver Slurs fixed (which really should have been fixed 5 years ago)
  • a Baritone Sax in the included Garritan sounds (plus, vintage electric piano, electric guitar, electric bass, vibraphone, handbells…and other instruments…yawn)
  • Virtual Drum Line……..yeah. Woot!
  • Improved SmartMusic Tools. Finally, TWO versions after they put in support for linked parts, they let SmartMusic support it. But it will probably be like what happened before, where Finale comes out in August, and SmartMusic isn’t updated to support the new file format for 6 months+. Oh, and you STILL are stuck with the 90s video game sounds instead of Garritan sounds.
  • Better Markings…..Something that maybe should have been added in Finale 2008.
  • Two Page Editing. Finally, a new, useful feature. But this really should have been added a long time ago.

Basically, MakeMusic hasn’t done anything new or exciting in this release. No Ideas Hub, like Sibelius has. Nothing really…..at all. Looks like I’m still going to be stuck with 2007……

Bob Florence Dies

Legendary Big Band arranger, composer, pianist, and Finale user Bob Florence died today.
From: ALEX ILES <XXXXXX@earthlink.net>
Date: May 15, 2008 6:51:24 PM CDT
Subject: [Trombone-l] Bob Florence

I am very sad to report the passing of pianist, composer, arranger
and bandleader Bob Florence. He died this afternoon after a long
illness. He was a brilliant and dedicated musician who never stopped
searching for ways to express emotions through music.

Those who knew him and his music have lost a great friend.

Best wishes,

Alex Iles”

Bob was a great guy, and I had numerous emails back and forth with him about notation and what not. He was also one of my favorite big band arrangers, with tunes like BBC and Carmello’s By The Freeway. He will be missed.
UPDATE: All About Jazz has an article about Bob’s untimely passing.
UPDATERemoved some guy’s posts about Bob who was impersonating someone else. So, if some of the comments reference it, you know why.

The Finale School

I use Finale for notation. True, I did buy Sibelius when they were offering that sweet upgrade price. But, honestly, I haven’t used it. I haven’t had the time to learn it. I’d rather spend it learning, oh, Logic Studio, or ProTools. I like to complain about Finale, cause I use it daily. I want it to be better. It is a great notation product.

Finale has been tagged with the perception that it is hard to learn. That might have been true back in 1999, but that is certainly not the case with the latest versions. For many versions now, MakeMusic has been making Finale much easier for a new user to use. Finale’s real strength is it’s power. You can tweak your music to your hearts content. Learning how to do this can be a long, lonely road.

Enter The Finale School. Matthew Voogt has put together a nice site that has a lot of videos showing how to do stuff in Finale 2007. While the video quality is not great (fuzzy when you blow it up), the content is straight forward and easy to follow. You can learn a lot of new Finale things by watching a few of the videos. Check it out.

Finale Users Defecting To Sibelius

There has been a LOT of discussion on the Finale List (which is NOT managed by the company) about the disappointment with Finale 2008. I decided to pass on 2008. To stir things up, Sibelius is offering a 50% off trade-up program.

It is sad to see so many veterans of Finale, people who have contributed tips, insights, short cuts, and what nots, finally get fed up with MakeMusic’s total lack of attention to detail. Their main complaints are the bugs that are never fixed from previous versions, and the company’s failure to finish new features, namely the Parts feature from Finale 2007. Nothing got fixed, or changed.

Two things keep me from switching to Sibelius. One, is the ability to easily convert the thousands of Finale files into Sibelius. I want to be able to just open them in Sibelius, not MusicXML crap. Just open, and it’s in Sibelius. The second thing, is being able to use Bill Duncan’s elegant engraver articulations. Honestly, the Sibelius jazz font thing just looks silly. Real silly. I absolutely love the professional look that I get using Bill’s fonts.

I suppose the third thing is SmartMusic. I couldn’t make Smartmusic exercises. That would be a problem as well.

Ok, THREE things. If they can get TWO of those working, I’ll switch.

UPDATE: 10/13/07 After some thought, the $100 price was too tempting. I ordered a copy. We’ll see if I actually use it.

Finale Productivity

When the author of the Finale Productivity package died last year, it was a shock. Bill was a great guy to email back and forth with, and I’m sorry I didn’t save every email we exchanged. He was very insightful about how things should look, and how to be clear on with music notation. Bill developed templates, fonts, and processes for Finale and sold them to people who wanted to make their music “engraver quality”. One of the last projects he completed was a Articulations font which addressed the LACK of articulations available in a traditional (ie: Finale’s Maestro) font. Bill’s articulations font looks great with Maestro, and has a complete set of articulations that one would need for any modern music notation (scoops, bends, falls). It looks great.

Then Bill left us, and it seemed his invaluable package of fonts, templates, insights, and processes would be lost.

Luckily, the rights to sell it were bought by NPC Imaging and is available here. I think Bill would be very happy to see that his efforts are living on. And I hope there will be continued work on the package in the future.

Passing on Finale 2008

MakeMusic came out with a new version of Finale. 2008. Looking at the lackluster feature list, I’m am passing on the update. Basically, the only items that sound remotely interesting are the Cut/Copy/Paste Improvements, and ScoreMerger (taking a bunch of files and putting them together). All the other stuff, the Record/Import Audio, More Garritan Sounds, New Selection Tool, Vista Compatible, Integrated Sound Libraries, Enhanced Setup Wizard, Document Styles, Colored Noteheads and Boomwhackers® Sounds, Improved Scanning, Expanded MusicXML Support, Expanded Human Playback Support, More Powerful Templates, New & Expanded, Documentation, Improved HyperScribe are not enough to warrant the price of the update. From the various discussion groups, it seems a lot of bugs still exist, and features that have problems or issues, such as 2007’s Parts, have not been addressed.

Plus, I have a suspicion that the new version saves Smartmusic files in a format that SmartMusic 10 cannot read (2007 did that from August of last year up to when when finally came out with Smartmusic 10 in April).

Pimped Out Studio

The idea, which I have had for years, was to have a digital studio where I didn’t go through reams of paper every year. I finally did it. Using an iMac, and it’s video spanning capabilities, I made a digital music stand. While the technology has been there, the costs were way too high. The costs for this was around $650+/-. $70 for the VESA Mount, $100 for the Conga stand, $300 for the monitor, $25 for the iMac video adapter, $120 for the USB foot pedal, and $6 for the plastic cover and connectors (Tap Plastics rocks). A year or two ago, this would have been a lot more. A year from now, it will be less. That’s technology for ya.

Pictures and more inside……

I have a lot of songs that I have done on Finale and on PDF, enough to fill a 3 inch binder. In fact, I have 5 such binders that I have tried to store copies of the songs so I wouldn’t need to print them out if I wanted to play them with a student. One problem with this system is finding songs. An Index? Well, I suppose, but it is a pain keeping it up to date, and flipping though a huge 3 inch binder is not fun. Plus, the Manhassette stand won’t keep raised with a full 3 inch binder on it. Then there are page turns. It was just a hassle.

Now, with the all digital setup, I can load a song up, display it on the other screen. Simple. No printing. If it is multiple pages, no problem, the 22″ monitor handles it with no problems. Three pages? That is where the foot peddle comes in. I have the X-Keys programmed (using iKey) to advance to the next page if I stomp on the right of the peddle, back a page if I stomp left, and in the center, it toggles one or two page mode. I can also do the same stuff using PDF files. So, anything I’ve scanned in I can view in the same way. It works very well so far.

The other thing is SmartMusic. It’s easier to use, though SmartMusic does not do two pages. Though it does seem to work alright if you flip the monitor around and put it into portrait mode.

Continue reading Pimped Out Studio

A Great Loss

Bill Duncan, who put together the great Finale Productivity package, has passed away. He was a great guy. I had numerous email exchanges with him, and he was very informed on the notation practices in L.A.

I’m sad. His great stuff will live on in my Finale work. His over-sized time signatures, rehearsal font, and jazz articulations. Thankfully, he was able to complete his wonderful engraver’s jazz articulation font before his death.

Bill, I’ll miss you. Thanks for the great fonts, Finale insights, and general music preparation techniques.

Finale 2007

MakeMusic released Finale 2007 a while ago. August I believe. I’ve been using it since then, and I think I can finally review it properly.

There are not a lot great new features in Finale 2007 compared to 2006. The big feature, in fact, really the only feature that is huge, is the linked parts. Though, on MakeMusic’s preview page they harp “features” such as “Authorization Improvements“, and “Improved pickups, vertical collision remover“. There are a couple of other new things I get to. Let’s dismiss the authorization thing. That is as lame as the Copyright symbol they billed as a feature in 2006. The vertical collision remover sorta works, but not really. I can’t really see any difference in the pickups as I really didn’t do much with complex pickup measure.

So, lets dive into the reasons why you’d want to upgrade to 2007…..

Continue reading Finale 2007

RIP Jazz Font

Since it first came out, I was an advocate for the Jazz Font. I still have the 3.5″ floppy that I bought to use with Finale 3 something. The disc has 1995 written on it. Anyhow, now I see it all over the place. The Jazz text font people use with other fonts. Yikes! And the music produced using the Jazz font is hit and miss. Sometimes it looks good, sometimes not (except like Warner Bros professional scores, those look great). And then there is a variation called Swing Font from the same author, and we won’t go into that goofy looking Sibelius “jazz” font….all these “hand written” fonts don’t look hand written to me anymore. I hate coming into a rehearsal and having to deal with a bad font and poor formatting. I had a rehearsal about 2 weeks ago where someone brought in a Sibelius chart that could have been 2 pages in Finale, but was 4 in that goofy Sibelius jazz font. Looked like crap.

Having been exposed to a “better way”, I’m am leaving the world of the Jazz Font. Too many people use it, and, honestly, it isn’t as cool or as good looking as it once was.

I’ve rewritten my venerable “Zinn Practice Regimen” for sax using Bill Duncan’s Finale Productivity stuff. Amazing. There is no comparison. This new version is easier to read, looks better. Hell, it’s better than some books I have bought. Mr. Duncan is currently working on some Jazz Articulations to include in his package. Scoops, falls, bends and whatnot. Looking forward to it!

It’s been a good run Jazz Font, but, alas, time for you to be retired.

James Newton Howard On Scoring For King Kong

KongisKing.net has a couple of interesting videos about the post production of the new King Kong movie. Of interest are the post production movies of weeks 4 and 5.

Amazing that he does about 2 minutes of music a day, and then the copyists come in at like 4am to write out parts for the orchestra to play in the morning. Also amazing the amount of Macintoshes used 😉 Also of note is that it appears that Finale is used, by the look of a couple of the pieces of music in the videos, specifically in the Week 4 video, about 4:21 into it. Looks like Finale using Bill Duncan’s Finale Fonts