Finale 2007 - A Review
By Jari Williamsson, August 09, 2006
With this review, I'm trying to give you an in-depth discussion of the new features in Finale 2007. It also contains a number of tips regarding the use of Finale 2007.
Please note that this review is based on the Windows version of Finale 2007. However, this year, I'll also mention some Macintosh-specific enhancements, since there are some significant ones in this version.
First the usual questions...
- Linked Parts
- Video Support
- Playback Control enhancements
- MIDI Tool enhancements
- Quick Change
- Vertical Collision Remover plug-in
- Latin Percussion plug-in
- Update Brackets and Groups plug-in
- Macintosh Enhancements
- Human Playback additions
- Pickup Measure enhancements
- Cross-staff Augmentation dots enhancements
- Bookmark-based Mass Edit selections
- Included Kontakt Player 2
- Other smaller additions and changes
I currently use Finale 2006. Do I have to "re-learn" something to use Finale 2007?
Yes. The menu structure has been changed. Read more about it in the Menu Changes section below.
Also, you must be aware that the minimum required operating system (on both Windows and Mac) has changed for Finale 2007, which might be of concern to you if you're using an old operating system. Read more about it in the Other Things... section at the bottom.
The first change that probably will strike a user upgrading to Finale 2007 is that there isn't any Options menu anymore. Instead, the old Options menu has been renamed to the Document menu. This pulldown menu has all the document-specific options and tools for score/part switching and data check.
However, application-specific menu items (such as the Program Options dialog box) have been moved to the Edit menu. The Update Layout Options has now been included in the Program Options dialog box.
The menu restructuring might take some time to get accustomed to, but most things are actually located at the same point as before, but just with another name for the menu.
- Apart from some redraw speed improvements compared to Finale 2006 that Mac users no doubt will appreciate, the most notable Macintosh addition in Finale 2007 is the support for Universal Binaries. For PPC-based Mac user, there will be no major change on how to use Finale compared to Finale 2006. However, for Intel-based Mac users, Finale will now also run natively on the Intel processor (compared to Rosetta emulation). But please be aware that if you rely on any third-party Finale plug-ins, these will also need to be available as Universal Binaries to work with the Universal Binary version of Finale.
- Support for horizontal mouse scrolling is now available on the Mac, for devices that can support it. For example, by using Shift+ScrollWheel or by using a device such as the Mighty Mouse.
- Fonts are now embedded correctly in EPS files (10.4 or higher is required for this).
Linked Parts is a big new addition to Finale, which affects how things are displayed, edited, printed, and much more. The score and its parts are contained in one document file, which will take up less total space on the disk compared to using multiple separate files for score and all parts. Although it's optional to actually use this feature (you can still extract parts into separate files), the user interface now provides many controls related specifically to score/parts.
In the Document Setup Wizard, there are a couple of new options related to Linked Parts. On the first page, there's now an options to set both the page size score and parts independently. On the second page, there's an added option to automatically generate parts.
There is a new text insert to simplify handling of score and parts, called Part/Score name. The score text insert is edited in the File/File Info... dialog box, the part names are edited Document/Manage Parts... dialog box. Please note that this text insert is only available for the Text Tool.
In the document window you work with one view of the document (which means score or any of its parts). If a piece of music has been selected, that same selection will appear in any of the views. There are shortcut keys defined to cycle through the parts (such as next/previous part).
TIP: Multiple parts in separate windows
To display different parts in separate windows (similar to how extracted parts can be edited), use Window/New Window when you have the document opened. That way, you'll get separate views of the same document and you can use them to display different areas of the same document (such as different parts).
New parts for the document can freely be created at any time. To split multiple parts on one score staff into different parts, there is a part creation feature called voicing. Voicing can be seen as an advanced version of the MassEdit explode feature. You can specify which of the notes from the staves that should appear in the part, and what to do with unison notes, etc.
Normally, when a note is entered in a score, it appears in the part and vice versa. For "voiced" parts, the editing must be made in the score to appear in the parts. By entering notes directly into a voiced part, it's possible to present different note material in the parts compared to the score.
The Document Options are global for the score and all its parts. However, most musical elements in the actual pages can be unlinked and relinked. An unlinked item can be moved independently, without affecting the corresponding part/score. When viewing the score, it's possible to unlink/relink an selected item to all parts. When viewing a part it's possible to relink to score. Unlinked items are displayed with a special (user-defined) color. An unlinked item can also be separately hidden in part or score. Unlinking and relinking is don by contextual menus or shortcut keys.
Music spacing is separate for score and parts, so beat chart editing is always kind of unlinked. However, it's important to keep in mind that when entering new music and having Automatic Music Spacing turned ON, adding music to a part will also modify the music spacing for the score (and the opposite).
The page layout dialog boxes have now been enhanced to be able to batch process all score and parts in one go. Similarly, when printing the document, it's possible to batch print score and/or selected parts and specify how many copies you need of every part.
It's important to note that the old part extraction feature isn't gone. Using Extract Parts to create separate files from a score can still be used, but the feature has been somewhat modified. Now you need to generate parts before you can extract them into files. Although this simplifies the user interface, it creates an extra step for users who want to work in the old fashion.
As I see it, there are 3 major problems with the current implementation of Linked Parts:
- It's not possible to unlink some important types of musical elements. The 2 most important areas where no unlinking support is available are editing made with the Special Tools and horizontal positioning of hairpins.
- Limited plug-in support. Finale currently has no programmatic support for plug-ins to process a specific part, which makes it virtually impossible to build plug-ins for batch processing all parts in a document. Hence, FinaleScript has no support for batch processing parts. Also, plug-ins can only be started from the Plug-ins menu while the score is in view. However, modeless plug-in windows and plug-ins which don't rely on that menu can still be used.
- It's not possible to create a single part that "jumps" between different staves in the score. For example, Flute 2 might sometimes appear on the same staff as Flute 1 in the score, and sometimes the 2 flutes might have separate staves - all in the same optimized score. The current voicing feature can not handle this kind of example. Under some special circumstances (such as when the score and parts has identical measure layouts) this can be worked-around, but mostly this creates an insolvable problem.
For me personally, these 3 issues are often so important to me that for many projects I'll not be able to use Linked Parts. But nevertheless, it's no doubt that the basic foundation for the Linked Parts feature is excellent and it has great promise for the future.
Finale 2007 now support for synching music with video. Synching can be made using internal synch, or by using synch by MIDI. The SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) time code is used to synch between music and the movie. The movie's frame rate can be set to an any of the five SMTPE frame rates: 24, 25, 29.97 Drop, 29.97 Non-Drop, 30.
The movie can be set to start at a certain point of the music, but it's not possible to have multiple movies for one piece of music.
In the Movie Window, movies in a wide variety of formats can be loaded. The only thing missing here is a different separate default folder for the movies. Currently, it's using the folder for the music as the default folder to look in.
When a movie has been loaded, the playback and synch to the score is extremely straightforward. The Movie Window has its own (small) set of playback controls, indicating the current position of the movie. That point can be moved backward and forward and the playback position in the score is displayed. Similarly, when current playback position for the music is modified, the Movie Window displays the position in the movie.
Playback Control enhancements
There are a couple of new features to the Playback Control. The actual elapsed time (as time with milliseconds or in frames) can now be seen during playback, and the currently played repeat can bee seen and/or edited.
When the playback region is set in the Playback Settings dialog box, the repeat pass can now be part of the playback region. For example, you can choose to start on the second repeat.
MIDI Tool enhancements
There are a couple of additions to the MIDI Tool. Many of these are related to tempo editing, which for example will greatly helping the synching with video.
- It's now possible to select partial regions in the MIDI Tool
- The tempo durations can now be made in milliseconds.
- There's a new feature for tempo editing called Fit to Time. With this function, you can set the tempo for a region to exactly fit a specific duration. Fit to Time can be used in the MIDI Tool's tempo editing mode.
Quick Change is a great new little feature, that allows you to rapidly change selected markings in the music into other ones.
When you previously had to change markings in the score, the only way was to remove the old markings and then add new ones. Now, you can select the markings you want to change, double-tap with the keyboard (using the metatool key for the new marking) and the the markings will change instantly.
The great thing here is that the positioning will often be retained at the position where you actually want the replacement to appear. The Articulation Tool also has a new positioning option to help with consistent positioning when articulations are swapped, called Auto Note/Stem Side.
When working with material that often change, this is a huge time saver. It's now available for expressions and articulations, I really hope other tools (such as tuplets and smart shapes) will also get this feature in later Finale versions!
Vertical Collision Remover
Finale 2007 includes a plug-in for spacing the music material vertically, called Vertical Collision Remover. This name might be a bit misleading, since the plug-in also space staves that don't collide. It works very much like Finale's music spacing, but instead spaces the music material vertically.
If a staff's element (note, lyric, dynamic, articulation, etc.) collides with an element from another staff, the distance between these staves are adjusted. An unoptimized score is automatically optimized by the plug-in (without notifying the user). Elements on one staff are never moved relative to the staff, the only thing that are moved vertically by the plug-in are staves and staff systems. The plug-in can independently adjust white space around staves, instrument groups or systems. You can set the white space distances as well as the minimum collision distance.
Although the plug-in might be aimed towards vertically spacing in scores, the plug-in can also be used for spacing parts vertically as well. However, remember that the part will get optimized, which might feel strange!
It's also interesting to compare old music files (tweaked by hand) with the computer-generated version of the same material. Although I prefer the hand-tweaked versions, the computer-generated versions are pretty good and certainly much much better than using no vertical staff spacing at all. The plug-in generally does a very good work in making sure the full page is used in an intelligent way.
Sometimes the Vertical Collision remover strangely adds white space to some spots for no obvious reason. I still haven't figured out if that's a bug or if it's some setting that affects it. On the other hand, I have never encountered a situation where the result is so strange that it's unusable.
Be aware that the plug-in is slow, so it might take quite some time to process a large score. And in this situation, it's unfortunate that it isn't possible to process just one page of the score. The only options is to process the whole document or a range of staff systems.
To me, the biggest problems with the Vertical Collision remover is the organization of the options in the dialog box. Sometimes, it isn't that clear how a certain combination of options will affect the final output, and some testing might be required before getting the desired result. The options are assembled on two different pages just named Main Options and More, which does nothing to help clearing up any confusion regarding the options.
But despite these relatively small problems, this is absolutely a huge time saver.
The Latin Percussion lets the user add Latin percussion instruments (complete with music) to new or existing music. This plug-in works a bit similar to the Drum Groove plug-in, But here the user can select any number of the predefined instrument for the Latin style to incorporate with the current document.
Update Brackets and Groups
The Update Brackets and Groups is a plug-in designed to solve a very Finale-specific problem: to efficiently edit groups and/or brackets after the systems has optimized.
After a score has been optimized, there's no longer any connection between the groups in Scroll View and all the different groups in Page View. And since optimization allows every group/bracket to be edited independently, there has been no efficient way to edit them as a group. With the Update Group and Brackets, groups can freely be added, deleted, moved or edited in the whole score or in a part of it. Groups and brackets can be edited on all or a selection of systems.
Update Brackets and Groups will only work on the systems that are optimized. The groups and brackets found on the optimized systems are displayed as "group styles" in a dialog window with the systems using it appearing in checked state. The Auto-Display System in Document feature will automatically display the in group in the document window when the system is highlighted in the list.
Actually, groups created in Scroll View are never referenced by the Update Brackets and Groups plug-in. This might seem like a strange approach for old-time users, but it actually provides much more power and flexibility.
TIP: A clean Scroll View
Since the Update Brackets and Groups plug-in allows you to add groups to page view whenever you need them, there's no longer any need to keep them in Scroll View if they distract the view (such as covering the staff names) in an optimized score. Only put brackets and groups in Scroll View that make sense there!
TIP: Quick Check/Uncheck of all systems
Double-click in the scope list to check all systems. Double-click again to uncheck all systems.
Human Playback additions
First of all, the old big HP Preferences dialog box has been restructured into smaller and more easily handled pieces.
But most importantly, Human Playback includes a new feature called Instrumental Techniques and Effects. The Instrumental Techniques and Effects are a couple of definitions for commonly used playing techniques, such as ponticello, pizzicato, staccato, etc. For each instrumental technique, playback effects can be connected and saved in a library.
When an effect is created, it can be set to trigger for a specific word (such as "pizz") and to be applied only on certain occasions (such as if the device name contains "GPO" or if the channel number is a certain number). Each effect can then have up to 3 different actions attached to it (such as both using controller and key switch). This way, it has finally become easy to build a library that intelligently play backs the correct sounds, regardless of the currently selected playback device.
Bookmark-based Mass Edit selections
You can now create a region by using two Scroll View-based bookmarks. In the Edit/Select Region... dialog box, bookmarks are added to the bottom of contextual menu for the measure number entry fields (right-click in the edit field in Windows, control-click on the Mac). When the bookmark has been selected from the context menu, the measure number for the bookmark is automatically placed in the entry field.
This is a small but convenient addition and it works in all tools that support region selection (MassEdit Tool, Clef Tool, Measure Tool, and so on). However, it would be even nicer if this feature was brought to other measure number fields as well, most specifically to be able to play back between 2 bookmarks.
Kontakt Player 2
Finale GPO now plays back using Native Instrument's Kontakt Player 2. For more information about key Kontakt Player 2's features, visit the official page for Kontakt Player 2.
- The operation system requirements for Finale has changed, compared to earlier versions. On Windows, only Windows 2000, Windows XP and later Windows versions are supported (older Windows versions like Win98 or ME are no longer supported). On the Mac, OSX version prior to 10.3 aren't supported.
- The cross-staff augmentation dots have been changed, so the dot no longer appears on the staff lines.
- A couple of enhancements have been made to the pickup measures. The enhancements include areas such as grace note handling and problems at part extraction.
- Enharmonic Spelling in Chromatically Transposed Staves has been changed to a more logical approach.
- Finale 2007 comes with a number of new sample files, which can be used both as demonstrations of playback setup and how to engrave in Finale.
- Support for saving to ETF has been removed in Finale 2007. This has partly to do with the fact that the Finale's file format no longer is a flat file format (compared to before the introduction of linked parts).