Music Notation With Finale

Finale Rhythm-Chart

In this Finale Notation training video you learn how to create a rhythm section chart that looks handwritten, with slashes, rhythmic notation, chord symbols, first and second ending, rehearsal numbers, and more.


Music Notation With Finale

Creating a customized score in Finale

In this Finale tutorial I show you how to create this 8 bar contemporary music score featuring a rhythm section, a staff with a 3 part polyphonic vocal arrangement, flute, violin and cello.

It features the following Finale topics:

  • Fit Measures
  • Adding instrument staves with the score manager
  • Entering music with the Speedy Entry Tool
  • Entering dynamics and smart shapes
  • Entering polyphonic music into one staff with layer 1 and 2
  • Copying individual layers,
  • exploding music onto separate staves
  • Copying music
  • Using staff styles to create slash notation, rhythmic notation, one bar and two bar repeats,
  • Adjusting the layout of your score
  • Customizing measure numbers
  • Entering rehearsal measure numbers
Music Notation With Finale

Change Chord suffix

How to change a chord suffix in Finale?

Finale let’s you customize pretty much everything. This includes of course chord symbols.

In the following video tutorial I show you how we can change a chord’s suffix, specifically the suffix for major-major seventh chords.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial.

(If you have any questions please use the command field below.)

Music Notation With Finale

Spacing Staff Systems

How to space and organize staves and staff systems in Finale

In Finale, spacing staff systems and staves on the page is one of the most important things you do when preparing your music for print.

Finale’s page layout tool and staff tool help you do just that. You can move your staves and systems around without limitations. There are many different approaches to it, and in the following video tutorial I show you the most important ones.


Music Notation With Finale

Page Layout in Finale

Being able to create a nice page layout in Finale is one of the most important skills you can ever have when preparing your music for print.

There are many things you need to know before you master the kraft of laying out a score and part in Finale. I hope the information provided in this article will help you!

Locking 4 bars per system

One of the first things I like to do when working on a score is locking a fixed amount of bars in for all the systems. Finale let’s us do this in seconds. Klick on the play button below to find out how.

Resize page to fit two systems onto one page in a Finale score

See video tutorial below!

By reducing the page size we can easily fit more than one multi-staff system onto a page in your score.

NOTE: We are actually not changing the page boarders, in other words we are still ending up with the same page size. Instead, we reduce the size of each element on the page, including the staves, text, and everything else.

Let Finale do this

Sorry, but unfortunately we can’t just tell Finale to fit two or more systems onto the page by itself. We need to do this manually. There is also some guess work involved, but with some experience you will be able to finish the job quickly.

There is an other way!

You can also achieve this by reducing the staves’ hight and size, instead of reducing everything that’s on the page. This will show you this in an other post, an other day. For now let’s just stick to the plan.

There are two places where you can change the page size

There are two places where we can make page size related changes in Finale. In the PAGE FORMAT FOR SCORE Dialog box which can be opened from the document window, or – with the layout tool active – you can open the RESIZE PAGE dialog from the layout menu.

What’s the difference

The difference is, that when you make changes in the PAGE FORMAT FOR SCORE dialog box, any future pages you create by adding more measures to your score will automatically have those settings. In contrast, using the RESIZE PAGE dialog from the layout menu will only apply to the pages you have already in the score. This can be useful when you want to change the layout of some pages but not all of them in your score.


Related post: Spacing Staff Systems

Music Notation With Finale

Finale Lyrics Tool

How to Click-assign lyrics with the Finale Lyrics Tool

When you already have the lyrics in your computer as editable text, you can easily input them into your score with Finale’s lyrics click-assign feature. This may save you lots of time!

In this video tutorial you will learn

  • How to copy the lyrics into the Lyrics Window,
  • How to select a lyrics section,
  • How to click-assign the lyrics,
Music Notation With Finale

How to Enter Dynamics in Finale


Lern how to enter Dynamics in Finale with the Expression and Smart Shape Tools

This video tutorial shows how to enter dynamics with Finale’s expression and smart shape tools.

Learn how to

  • Click assign a dynamic using the predefined key commands
  • Draw crescendos and decrescendos with the smart shape tool
  • Pick a dynamic from the Expression assign dialog box.
Music Notation With Finale

Finale’s Hyperscribe Tool for Real-Time Recording

This post includes a free video tutorial


About Finale's Hyperscribe Tool for Real-Time Recording

General Considerations

When you want to play music into Finale in real-time, thus using it like a sequencer, you must use the so called Hyperscribe tool for that. 

The Hyperscribe tool works fine for relatively simple rhythmic figures, but when you are playing more rhythmically complex music, the tool’s limitations become obvious very quickly. 

Finale - unlike some sequencer programs with a score editor - doesn't display your performance in a musical fasion automatically. Instead, it displays your performance mathematically correct in accordance to the quantization settings you defined manually. In other words, It doesn't use any smart algorithms that would enable it to make the music look good on its own. For example, Finale can also not detect whether you have a tendency to play behind or in front of the beat, like e.g. Logic does, hence your performance has to be extremely accurate for Finale to display it correctly when playing mixed note values like 16ths, 8ths, and tuplets in the same bar. Thankfully, we can re-trancribe any part of the performance using different quantization settings.

The Pros and Cons of the Hyperscribe tool


  • Let’s you play along with your music recording in real time
  • A quick way to enter simple music
  • Let’s you re-transcribe any bar of your recorded music
  • Records the key velocity and note length precisely as you played it for playback purposes
  • You can use the MODIFY RESTS plugin to make the music look easier


  • Can not intelligently (automatically) quantize the music to make it look good, thus depends on you telling it the quantization settings that makes your real time performance look good
  • Not possible to re-quantize and re-transcribe less than a bar
  • No key commands for the Quantize Settings and Re-transcribe menu commands
  • No way to save and recall presets of quantization settings

It’s complicated – But there is a better way

Although we can re-transcribe the music with different quantization settings for different bars (re-transcribing unfortunately works only for an entire bar), editing the music by changing the quantization settings is nowhere nearly as easy as it is with even the cheapest sequencer program. For example, there is no quick way to change the quantization settings. You always have to open the quantization settings dialog box (there is no key command for that!), make the changes, then close the box, and then select re-transcribe from the midi/audio menu (there is no key command for that either). Unfortunately, Finale does not allow you to create and save your favorite quantization settings. 


The better way

If you really like to input more complex music by playing it in real time, I recommend you go with a sequencer instead. For example, Apple’s Logic is a million times better when it comes to displaying and editing midi data. With just a few adjustments Logic displays your music as you would expect, and if you need to make a few changes Logic’s piano and score editors allow you to do so quickly and easily. Once your happy with the way your music is displayed, Logic lets you run the <fix the displayed note positions and durations> command to convert the displayed music into midi data, which you can then export as a midi file and import into Finale. Working like this saves me lot of time!

Tips for cleaning up your performance

Simplify the look of your performance with the “Modify Rests”> simplify plugin



Swing Notation

If you are a jazz musician you will be happy to learn that you can play your music with a swing feel when recording with the hyper scribe tool, and make Finale display it in regular swing notation.

All you have to do is enter the correct quantization settings, so finale displays swinging 8th notes as regular 8th notes, and 8th note tuplets as tuplets.

Use the following quantization setting:

Smallest Note Value = 16th

Space Notes Evenly in Beat

Music Notation With Finale

Speedy Entry Tool – Article and Video

Finale’s Speedy Entry Tool

Why I Prefer The Speedy Entry Tool

(Scroll down to find the video)

The Speedy Entry tool is still my favorite tool when it comes to writing music in Finale. Yes, you can play music into Finale in real time with the , or you could use the Simple Entry tool. To me, the Speedy Entry tool is still the easiest and fastest way to enter more complex music in conjunction with a musical keyboard, especially when you are composing and arranging straight into Finale.

Playing music into Finale may be ok for very simple music. However, when the music is more complex you probably will spend more time cleaning up the mess than you would have spent entering it with the Speedy Entry tool in the first place.

The Speedy Entry tool has also one huge advantage over the Simple Entry tool. When you click a staff with the Speedy Entry tool you get to hear the instrument that’s associated with that staff. That’s really important when you are composing or arranging right in Finale.

This said, I think the Simple Entry tool is great when you don’t use an external midi keyboard, which is unthinkable for me. The Simple entry tool may also be fine for music copy work on the go.

Important thinks to check out when working with the Speedy Entry Tool

Check out all the Speedy Entry menu entries. There is a lot of stuff you can check and uncheck to make it behave the way you prefer. Be sure you also open the Speedy Entry Options dialog box where you can further customize it.

What to do when the midi keyboard doesn’t respond

Besides making sure your keyboard is physically connected to your computer, there are two places you need to check in Finale in case that your keyboard doesn’t work:

A. In your Midi/Internal Speaker Setup settings where you can select your keyboard (you find it in the Midi/Audio menu),

B. in the Speedy Entry Menu where “Use Midi Device For Input” needs to be checked.

How to input music with the Speedy Entry Tool

Click on the play button in the image below to play the video tutorial. It shows you how to input music with the Speedy Entry Tool and a midi keyboard. This video is all about how to input rests and notes. I will create more videos with more advanced music examples soon.


Finale And Logic working together Music Notation With Finale

Exporting Parts as Audio files in Finale

This video tutorial on exporting parts I speciffically created for my Fundamentals of Arranging class at Columbia College Chicago.

At the time, some of my students had problems when they transferred their Finale file from the lab computer to their own computer. What happened was that they couldn’t hear the tracks play anymore. Possibly because their version of Finale’s playback sample library was different from that on the lab computers.

Anyway, in this video tutorial I show how they can get those parts to play back again, by creating new staves and then simply copying the music into those new staves.

In the video I also show who you can export the individual staves as audio files.

See, Finale has a great playback engine that incorporates all the dynamics, many of the text expressions, phrase marks, tempo markings, and much more. I use this for example to create nice sounding demos of my score by exporting each part for further processing it Protools or Logic.

Make sure you spend some time exploring this workflow. It’s well worth your time.