Finale 2005 - A Review

By Jari Williamsson, August 17, 2004

With this review, I'm trying to give you an in-depth discussion of the new features in Finale 2005. It also contains a number of tips regarding the use of Finale 2005.

Please note that this review is based on the Windows version of Finale 2005.

First the questions...

What's new?

  • Tuplet Tool enhancements
  • Grace Note spacing improvements
  • Repeat Tool enhancements
  • Human Playback additions (including GPO support)
  • Engraver Spacing enhancements
  • Launch Window
  • Simple Entry Enhancements
  • Ability to copy staff lists between documents
  • SoftSynth additions
  • Document Setup Wizard additions
  • Support for recording continuous data in Hyperscribe Tool
  • New keyboard shortcuts for navigation
  • FinaleScript additions
  • TWAIN scanning support
  • SmartMusic Wizard & Add martMusic Markers
  • Finale Performance Assessment
  • Additions to TGTools Lite
  • Other smaller additions and bug fixes

I currently use Finale 2004. Do I have to "re-learn" something to use Finale 2005?

No, the basic concept is very similar to Finale 2004.


The Tuplet Tool in Finale 2005 has made it much easier to get good automatic placement of tuplets, mainly because of the new Enhanced Tuplet option.

The Tuplet Definition dialog box has been completely reworked. The new one is much easier to understand and the different options are grouped more logically. There are also numerous other new options for tuplets:

  • Placement has 3 new possibilities (in addition to the 2 old ones): Note side, Above and Below
  • The old “Ratio” has been split into 3 different options:
    X:Yq (q is a graphical representation of the note duration)
  • The old cryptic “Auto Bracket” has been replaced by 3 options: Always use Specific Shape, Bracket Unbeamed Notes Only and Never Bracket Beamed Notes on Beam Side
  • Two more options for shape control: Always Flat and Bracket Full Duration
  • Two options for tuplet number positioning control: Center Number Using Duration and Ignore Horizontal Number Offset (which should be ON for Enhanced Tuplets)
  • Avoid Staff is another new placement option

The Enhanced Tuplet option means that the tuplet is automatically positioned, it reshapes when notes are lowered/raised, the bracket avoids rests, it positions correctly for groups that include rests, it follows the angle of notes and beams (depending on the positioning options).
Generally, I think the Enhanced Tuplet option works excellent. However, please be aware that Enhanced Tuplet option also sometimes needs “good” values in other part of the tuplet definition (such as the Ignore Horizontal Number Offset option mentioned above). And it does not check for collision with other object types (such as articulations), which can sometimes require some extra work.

The tuplet contextual menu has been expanded; it now contains many useful options and actions. For many types of editing, you no longer need to open the definition dialog to modify the appearance - most of the options for placement and shape type are accessible directly from the contextual menu.

Ctrl+F can be used to flip the direction of a tuplet. Multiple tuplets cannot be selected at one time (other than by using the Change/Tuplets in the MassEdit Tool).

I should also mention that the appearance of the tuplet slur shape has not been reworked. The arc of the tuplet slur is still different when you break the slur (compared to an unbroken slur), and the output of a broken tuplet slur still doesn't look anything like a slur.

Grace Note Spacing

Historically, Finale has had many problems regarding grace notes and music spacing (especially when multiple grace notes appear in sequence), since grace notes never were part of the beat charts. In Finale 2005, grace notes now have their own set of music spacing options, so spacing of grace notes now works considerably better than in previous Finale versions. The new grace note spacing options (in the Document Options dialog box) are:

  • How to space multiple grace notes (Automatic, Keep Current spacing or Reset to Grace Note Offset). Automatic is the option you should select to use the new grace note spacing feature.
  • Distance between multiple grace notes (for Automatic grace note spacing). Unfortunately, there is no individual option to tell what distance the right-most grace note should have from the main note, so instead the Minimum Distance Between Items option will be used.

Repeat Tool

The Repeat Tool has been completely reworked in Finale 2005. The changes mainly include the user interface, not that much regarding added functionality.

The user interface changes include:

  • Almost all dialog boxes related to repeat creation and assignment have been redesigned. The dialogs and their options are not as difficult to understand as before.
  • Repeat handles are displayed for the whole document, not just for one selected measure as before.
  • The Repeat Tool now can make selections of measures, similar to the Mass Mover Tool.
  • A Repeat pull-down menu with common options/actions. The pull-down menu also includes direct access to the Repeats page in the Document Options dialog box.
  • Contextual menus, both for regions and for selected repeat handles.
  • The plug-ins “Easy repeats”, etc are no longer needed or included. This functionality is now built into the Repeat Tool. For example, to create a simple repeat without endings, just select the measures, and select Create Simple Repeat from the pull-down or context menu.
New features are:
  • A document option to automatically add a dot after the repeat numbers. A potential problem here is that if the font you’re using for repeat text doesn’t include a proper dot (for example if you use a musical font for repeat numbers), the result will look strange.
  • Possibility to assign repeats to staff lists, similar to measure expressions.
  • Option to make the playback automatically jump to nearest repeat.
  • Document option to set the maximum number of passes, to avoid infinite playback loops.
  • Text repeats now behaves correctly when they appears in multi-measure rest passages.
  • Check Repeats utility. This is a very simple but extremely useful tool! It lists the playback route of the whole document, so if there are strange setup issues regarding the repeats, you can easily spot them there without having to play back the whole piece.
  • Actions to reset bracket positioning or to align brackets vertically.
As a conclusion, the “new” repeat tool makes it much easier to create and manage repeats (and to quickly get accurate playback assignments) than before. The main problems I see are these:
  • There is no setting to automatically get a first ending repeat bracket to draw around the full repeat. You still have to manually do that.
  • When dragging bracket handles, dashed drag lines will appear on all staves, regardless if the staff should display repeats or not. This is different compared to how for example dragging measure expressions work, and it makes it unnecessarily difficult to drag/place the handles (almost impossible when multiple handles are selected).

Human Playback

In Finale 2005, a large number of additions and improvements have been made to Human Playback. One example is that Human Playback is now more flexible when it comes to situations where HP does not interpret your score as you want. Another example is the fine-tuning work that has been done to the playback interpretations, especially to dynamics.

If you want to store the modifications HP does to the document’s playback data, there’s now a separate plug-in available called Apply Human Playback. With that plug-in it’s possible to select a region of the document and process playback data just in that region. Apply Human Playback interprets the document in an identical way to how Human Playback would, the only difference is that HP only plays the interpretations back and ApplyHP modifies the playback data in the document without playing back. So you can now set the Human Playback style to None and still get Human Playback to interpret some (or all) playback aspects in your document. ApplyHP also includes options to delete the playback interpretations it has made to a region.
A productivity problem with ApplyHP is that there is now way to save a “set” of options to use it later on. For example, if one set of documents only should process glissandi with a specific style but others only should process something entirely else, there is a lot of clicking in different dialog boxes before you can proceed.

There is a new dialog box, called HP Preferences. In this dialog, you have all kinds of different options that control how the end result should sound (such as GPO support, what type of hairpin playback styles, trill speed, fermata length, and much more). In this dialog box, you can also control what HP should behave regarding existing user MIDI data (ignore, incorporate or don’t use HP for that type of data).
Another feature here is to be able specify the kind of “room” the music should sound in (Large Room, Small Hall, etc). If your MIDI device supports it, changing this can make a lot of difference for the end result.
Please note 2 things here:

  1. The settings in the HP Preferences dialog box are stored in global prefernces. They are not stored in the document.
  2. HP and ApplyHP have their own set of HP Preferences, although the looks of the dialogs are identical. So if you for example make changes to the HP version of the dialog, the ApplyHP version of the dialog remains untouched.

Human Playback now includes a simple form of checking for channel conflicts. It sometimes warns for channel conflicts even though there might not be any conflicts and it will not find channel conflicts that appear if channel changes occur later on a staff. However, it’s much better to have this safety net than not.

Human Playback (and Apply Human Playback) now supports Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO), a popular instrument sample library for symphonic instruments (based on the Kontakt player).
Please note that GPO is a separate product – it’s not included in Finale 2005. And also be aware that GPO demands a lot of resources from the computer, a minimum of 1 GB RAM is required as well as a fast processor. For more information about GPO, please refer to
The GPO support in Human Playback includes the use of the wheel controller to control the volume of volume-based instruments (such as wind instruments and strings) – which is how GPO interprets dynamics - and balancing volume-based instruments against velocity based instruments. Please note that Human Playback does not include support for “GPO-style slurs” (using MIDI controller #64). Instead, Human Playback play back slurs as for other MIDI devices: by extending the end of a note the slightly past the start of the next note. The Human Playback way doesn’t sound as good the GPO method of playing back slurs, but the difference in quality isn’t huge.
Also note that auto-panning will not work when you play back to GPO, since panning is then controlled from GPO. The Reverb Room Type is another setting that is controlled by GPO (through Ambience in GPO Studio).

TIP: How to use GPO efficiently with Human Playback.

  • Set up Finale’s MIDI Setup dialog box to the instructions in the GPO documentation. However, Match On/Off should be OFF (the screen shot in the GPO documentation might show something else).
  • In Finale’s MIDI Thru dialog box, set it to Smart.
  • Do not use the default orchestral setups included in GPO Studio unless you have huge amounts of computer RAM. Loading unused instruments wastes lots of computer resourcers. Instead, load just the instruments you need and save it to a gpo file with a name that matches the Finale document name.

Engraver Spacing Enhancements

A number of new options have been added to allow for greater control of how the music will flow across the staff:

  • In the Measure Tool, there are options to selectively add/remove extra space at the beginning/end of measures. (To remove space, set it to a negative value.)
  • In the Document Options dialog box, there are options to globally add/remove extra space between Clefs and Key Signatures, between Clefs and Time Signatures and between Key and Time Signatures.
  • Also in the Documents Options dialog box, there are two options (called “Gutters”) to globally control how extra space at the beginning of measures should be treated if the first note of the measure has a tie or accidental.

These new options simplifies many engraving situations, such as inserting graphical time signatures, entering “bar-less” music, get a “static” left side of each measure (regardless if the measure starts with accidentals or not), and much more. The only options I really miss here is that there is no way to automatically specify extra spaces at the beginning/end of each staff system.

TIP: How to create a non-standard (graphical) time signature.

  1. Create the time signature that will be displayed as an expression. On the Measure Positioning page, set the Expression Alignment Point to Right. Set the Measure Alignment Point to Start Of Music. Fine-tune the vertical positioning if your expression requires it.
  2. Select the Measure Tool
  3. In the Measure Attributes dialog box, hide the time sig for the measure by setting it to Always Hide.
  4. In the same dialog box, add the additional space you need for the expression in the Extra Space at Beginning field
  5. Add the graphical time signature as a measure expression

TIP: How to easily create cadenza-like passages (without barlines) that space correctly.
  1. Select the Measure Tool
  2. Hide the barlines within the cadenza passage
  3. To remove the “gaps” around the invisible barlines, select all measures in the passage except the first one, open Measure Attributes dialog box. At Extra Space at Beginning enter –24 (the negative value of the Before Music in the Document Options), and press OK.
  4. If required, adjust the measure number regions around the cadenza region.
  5. Respace the cadenza passage

Launch Window

The Launch Window is a single window, which incorporates all the different startup possibilities and startup dialogs displayed in earlier Finale versions. When you first start Finale 2005, that window is what you’re going to see. (The Launch Window is set as the default startup action, although you can as before change the startup action to something else.)In the Launch Window, you can find all the tasks to open existing files/templates or to access the different wizards to create the document type you want. And there’s now no separate dialog boxes popping up at startup for the tip-of-the-day or quickstart videos. Instead, these things are included in the launch window. A shortcut key (Ctrl+Shift+N) has been assigned to quickly access the Launch Window.

All in all, the launch window is an excellent way to make the startup procedure in Finale more efficient for all kinds of users. The only problem with it is that the visually “cute” window makes it a bit difficult to quickly find the button you’re looking for.

Simple Entry Enhancements

The Simple Entry Tool in Finale 2005 comes with 3 new functions:

  • Flip spelling enharmonically – A crucial addition if you use the MIDI keyboard to enter notes with Simple Edit.
  • Add note expressions – Similar to how articulations are added in Simple Entry in Finale 2004, this function allows you to add expressions directly in the Simple Entry Tool by using metatools.
  • Flip ties – flipping ties are done with Ctrl+F if you use the default keyboard shortcut set.

Even though these 3 additions are very useful and welcome, this is not a major upgrade of the Simple Entry Tool. There is still no way to insert notes into existing music without using the mouse, and Simple Entry does not support entry of such common musical elements hairpins and slurs.

Simple Entry now also includes three pre-defined shortcut sets if you don’t want to create your own:

  • Default shortcut table (the standard Finale 2005 set)
  • Finale 2004 shortcut table (the default shortcuts for Finale 2004)
  • Laptop shortcut table (intended for use with laptop computers).

Copy Staff lists between documents

Staff Lists are now copied between documents, so elements that are attached to staff lists do copy. The names of the staff lists are maintained and unnecessary duplicates of staff lists aren’t appearing in the destination document.

SmartMusic SoftSynth

Some small additions/changes has been made to the SmartMusic SoftSynth, compared to the Finale 2004 version:

  • External GM SoundFont files can now easily be loaded, instead of using the default one. The reference to the SoundFont file is not stored in the document; it’s instead stored as a program preference setting.
  • The default sound font has some instrument replacements, such as for the harpsichord (patch #7) and the grand piano (patch #1).
  • The default sound font now includes GM marching band percussion sounds, including the sounds for lots of different bass drums, cymbals, march snare drums, tenor drums. Human Playback also includes a new setting to play drum rolls exactly to be used with the marching band percussion.

Document Setup Wizard

A couple of new additions have been made to the Document Setup Wizard:

  • Instead of having to select all the individual instruments you need in a score, the new Document Setup Wizard has the ability to provide an ensemble that already contains those instruments. It’s also very easy to modify the pre-defined list of ensembles, to make it match your most common ensemble types. This is an excellent addition to the Setup Wizard that makes it more effortless to setup a score.
  • One more sorting order of the instruments – sort in Marching Band sort order.
  • On the last page, there’s a new option: Go to Document Options After Finish. What this option does is to automatically open the Document Options dialog box once the Wizard has created the document. I personally don’t understand why this option has been included (is it so difficult to hit Ctrl+Alt+A?), and in my opinion this option just clutters the user interface.
TIP: If you need an ensemble that doesn’t 100% match an already saved ensemble, select an ensemble from the list that is a bit “larger” and reduce it by removing the instruments you don’t want. When you proceed, answer No on the question asking if you want to save the ensemble (to preserve the original ensemble).

Recording Continuous Data in Hyperscribe

In the Hyperscribe Tool, you can now record any continuous MIDI data. Although the most common way to use it probably will be to record pedal changes, it can record any other type of continuous data, such as MIDI controllers.

The dialog box to enable recording of such data (located at HyperScribe/Record Continuous Data...) of is very straightforward and can also be used to filter just some kinds of continuous data. The filtering options available are:

  • Channel Pressure
  • Controllers (all or up to 4 selected ones)
  • Patch Changes
  • Pitch Bends

Keyboard Shortcuts

A couple of extra shortcut keys have been added for general document navigation:

  • Zoom in and out now can be used with the keystrokes Ctrl+= and Ctrl+-. I personally find the alternative version Ctrl+NumPadPlus and Ctrl+NumPadMinus much more intuitive.
    One general problem with keyboard zooming quickly becomes apparent when starting to use the keyboard shortcuts for zoom in/out – Finale references all zooming on the top left corner of the current viewpoint. This feels very wrong and counter-productive – the only logical thing would be to zoom towards the center of the viewpoint. However, this is not what currently happens.
  • You can now navigate left and right in Scroll View, browsing one screen at a time. The shortcut keys are the same as for browsing one page at a time in Page View (Ctrl+PgUp and Ctrl+PgUp).
    There is no keyboard shortcut added to browse one measure at a time.
  • A new feature, Fit Width (which resizes the view of the document page to the width of the document window) has Ctrl+] as the keyboard shortcut. Unfortunately, not a good choice for many international keyboards.
  • Fit in Window now has Ctrl+[ as a shortcut. Also a problematic choice for many international keyboards.


A few new features have been added to FinaleScript. Most notably:

  • The ability to add and delete staff styles in the document
  • Execute menu items (using the syntax: execute menu item “<menu item text>”). This might be especially usable in the Simple Entry Tool, where you can use it to add/modify notes etc. For example, the following script will enter a ascending diatonic scale spanning eight 8th notes:
Simple Entry Tool
Eight Note
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"
execute menu item "Caret Up Step"
execute menu item "At Caret Pitch"

TWAIN Scanning support

If you have a TWAIN-supported scanner (most scanners supports this), you can now automatically scan pages in Finale 2005 to get them translated by SmartScore Lite into a Finale-compatible format. The main benefit compared with “manual” scanning (as in earlier versions) is that Finale will automatically set the dpi and color depth to settings that will be the most suitable for music recognition software.

Mac users: This is a Windows-only feature.

SmartMusic Wizard & SmartMusic Markers

Finale 2005 includes tools to save Finale documents into SmartMusic Accompaniment files.

The SmartMusic Accompaniment Wizard can help you set up a document that is intended as a SmartMusic accompaniment. This wizard is basically a slightly modified version of the Document Wizard (where you also set the solo instrument). The wizard can also be used to open existing Finale files.

In the Edit menu, there’s a new feature called Add SmartMusic Markers, where you can add all the different markers (and adjust their sensitivity) that SmartMusic might need. This tool is very straightforward and easy to use. It’s also very easy to get a good overview of all the different markers in a file. (SmartMusic markers are stored in the file as non-printable text expressions.)

Finale Performance Assessment

Finale 2005 also includes the Finale Performance Assessment application, and the FPA Wizard, which will help you to create files for FPA. However, the FPA and the FPA Wizard is beyond the scope of this review.

TGTools Lite

3 more plug-ins from the full version of TGTools has been included in the “lite” version for Finale 2005:

  • Modify Rests
  • Process Extracted parts
  • Smart Split Point

Other small things...

  • Some small additions have been made to the Text Search and Replace plug-in. Most notably, the ability to search text in Text Repeats and Staff Style names.
  • The user interface of the Staff List dialog box has been somewhat modified. The check boxes to set top/bottom staves are now located in the list where the staves also are listed, giving the dialog box a bit more “clean” look.
  • Show Active Layer Only has been moved. It’s now in the Options menu, to more clearly group it with the items that are saved in the document.
  • The contextual menu for the Time Signature Tool has a few new additions:
    - 2/2 (beamed as 4/4)
    - 5/4
    - 5/8 (available both as grouped in 2+3 and as 3+2)
    - 7/8 (available both as grouped in 3+2+2 and as 2+2+3)
  • The hyper threading problem on fast processors that could cause problems with the SoftSynth should now automatically be handled.
  • The speed issues cause by the automatic updates of hyphens and word extensions (introduced in Finale 2004) is now much improved.
  • The Measure Attributes dialog box has been redesigned to make it more logical when working on a range of measures.