Some readers may recall several posts back how I briefly talked about the notational and playback errors in the Finale music software program. The following post serves as an expansion of sorts concerning other aspects of Finale that I use when composing works for a large chamber ensemble or orchestra. I am mainly concerned here about visual presentation and editing/reduction techniques. I should also add that I am aware that some people might disagree with my approaches to these types of compositions, and that is fine.
Here is a list of issues that I have encountered when using Finale. I will probably need to divide this blog post into two parts:
How do I attempt to fix these problems? First, I usually go to the “Document” options and click “Display in Concert Pitch” That eliminates the problems of pitch notation and sounding pitch. I do this primarily for full scores. When extracting parts, which is also necessary, I revert the individual instruments back to their original pitches. I also change the look of the page with the “View” tools, which offer “Scroll View” and “Studio View.” I find these essential because they help to magnify the notes on the screen. It is possible to use the “Zoom” commands and increase or decrease the page size to focus on a given section that a composer needs to edit. The “View” options prove more helpful, though, because they are not as tedious as the “Zoom”
Writing for orchestra, for me, means revising instrumental parts before writing down a single note. To get rid of duplicates, I often write paired or grouped instrumental parts on one staff. I find this especially useful if I have instruments playing the same notes. That way, when I extract parts that look the same, all that I need to do is print multiple copies of it instead of trying to figure out which part is which. Concerning instrument playback, Finale will almost always misinterpret the overall sound quality for an orchestral or large chamber piece because it relies on MIDI. Instruments in the sound bank will sound either too generic, or at the worst, aurally displeasing (as with the “single” versions of string instruments).