Today MakeMusic released Finale version 27.2, the second update to Finale v27. With this update, Finale runs natively on Apple silicon Macs, such as those with the M1 chip, for the first time. All default documents and document styles in v27.2 are now SMuFL-based (Standard Music Font Layout) so that starting a project in any style can now take full advantage of the SMuFL benefits first introduced in the June 2021 release of v27.
Of particular interest and a welcome surprise is a fully revamped SMuFL-compliant jazz default file and document style. Created in collaboration with composer, bandleader, and Finale expert user (and Scoring Notes contributor) Darcy James Argue, every setting in the default style has been overhauled per Darcy’s recommendations, and there is a new Finale Jazz Text lowercase font to complement the existing character set.
This update also includes some other improvements and bug fixes.
Of course, Jason has a new “Conquering Finale” video which covers the Finale v27.2 update in detail.
Gettin’ jazzy with SMuFL
The most noticeable new feature in Finale v27.2 is the revamped default jazz document and document style.
It’s designed to help users achieve better results while reducing the number of manual adjustments needed.
In the Setup Wizard, you’ll find the new style in the Select a Document Style > General category. It’s called Handwritten Style (Finale Jazz), and you’ll notice that “SMuFL” is confirmed in the description area. The legacy jazz, non-SMuFL style is found immediately below this one — it’s called Handwritten Style (Jazz Font), so be sure to select the correct style.
Darcy James Argue is a stickler for detail, and his influence takes many forms here. For starters, he requested the addition of lower case characters to the JazzText font — something that users have been asking for since it was first introduced by Rich Sigler back in the 1990s. It’s not just an aesthetic preference; when used in chord symbols, they make it much easier to read and understand.
Speaking of chord symbols, Darcy says:
The chord symbols in the new SMuFL Finale Jazz Font Default are all made up of individual characters (not single-character JazzChord glyphs) and can all be typed directly into the score. In fact, every chord symbol in the new library is typeable. There’s some fancy processing that allows for multiple variant glyphs to be used in the chord symbol library while preserving typability — for instance, if a user types
C(add2)the parentheses will look one way, but if they type
Cm7(b13)they’ll get a suffix with a different set of parentheses. If they type
C7(#11b9)they’ll get a suffix that uses tall parentheses and vertically stacked extensions, and so on.
So long as there is an existing match in the redesigned Chord Suffix Library (which is pretty extensive and supports a variety of chord symbol styles), users should be able to type most commonly-used chord suffixes and see a well-designed chord symbol.
Now, for the first time, users can access the “stubby” flats and sharps, the narrow parentheses, the double-height and triple-height parentheses that were used in the prefab JazzChord glyphs and use them in their own custom chord symbols. And all of these bibs and bobs from JazzChord are now integrated into Finale JazzFont, instead of a separate font.
It’s worth using the Text > Insert Symbol menu command on Finale JazzFont and taking a scroll through the list to see all the components from JazzChord that have been added.
The old single-character Jazz Chord glyphs are still there, too, for those that wish to use them.
There are also many differences under the hood in Document Options, such as tie and slur appearance, tuplet bracket appearance, margins, and layer settings. There is also a pre-programmed Smart Shape for Slash Notation (Show Other Layers), which allows you to enter rhythmic cues above or below slashes in a drum part.
But, as Darcy says, the big takeaway from this is the chord suffix library. It’s exhaustive and accommodates the many variations of chord symbol suffixes that most users would want to see. One amusing but important tidbit — in a change from the usual Finale defaults, the chord symbols in this document style are left-aligned. We imagine Darcy would have refused to sign off on this otherwise!
All in all, this is a nice improvement for a “dot” release and even further validates the work that was done to make Finale use SMuFL; it’s nearly inconceivable such a project could have been done as effectively without it.
David Cusick, MakeMusic’s notation and Garritan product specialist, told Scoring Notes that “I’m very pleased that this release delivers all of Finale’s document styles and default documents using SMuFL-compliant fonts. This makes transitioning to and using SMuFL fonts easier and more transparent for a larger part of our user base. That, along with making this update a Apple Silicon native application, will benefit users of Finale for a long time to come.”
For the first time, all Finale default documents and document styles are SMuFL-compliant. While it would have been better to see this from the first v27 release, we’ll take better late than never, here.
A related addition to the v27.2 release is a new Finale Ash font default document and Document Style. The Finale Ash font is a SMuFL-compliant, modern update to the legendary, long-unavailable handwritten Ash font, which MakeMusic says is “artfully crafted to represent the classic AshMusic font developed in 1996 for Express Music Services, Inc. by Ashley Wells.”
There’s also a new Document Style that uses the Finale Engraver font.
Universal to Apple silicon and Intel
The future of Mac is Apple silicon, and while you won’t gain anything immediately if you’re a Finale user on an Intel Mac (or a Windows computer, for that matter), you’ll still want to know that Finale is looking ahead to the next generation of computing. To that end, Finale v27.2 is the first Finale release to be natively supported on the Macs that have an Apple silicon chip
This means that you won’t need to run Finale via the Rosetta 2 translation layer and you can take advantage of faster processing speed that the Apple silicon architecture provides. This goes for the Garritan instruments that are installed with Finale as well.
Do be aware, though, if you’re using any third-party audio plug-ins that aren’t supported on Apple silicon, you will need to run Finale via Rosetta 2, using the Open using Rosetta option.
Other improvements, fixes, and availability
There are a handful of other improvements and fixes in this release. For anyone still rocking macOS11, you’ll be very happy to learn that various score markings no longer detach from their handles and “jump” vertically. This was a particularly annoying bug and we are very glad to see it fixed even though it didn’t occur in macOS 12 Monterey.
Here are a highlights of a few others:
- The Symbol Selection and Document Options dialog boxes now are alphabetized based on language.
- Finale’s Sharing user flow has been updated to reflect the mixed share state that can occur due to playlist sharing on the web.
- The Finale Mac installer no longer creates a duplicate plug-ins folder and the SmartMusic SoftSynth component no longer appears as a folder in Finder.
- Multimeasure rest symbols are now correctly aligned when using handwritten SMuFL-compliant music fonts.
- Several problems with stem connections have been resolved.
- Margins are no longer incorrect when printing on Windows or exporting a PDF on Mac.
- A number of minor user interface problems have been resolved in both the Spanish and English language applications.
Finale v27.2 is a free update for anyone who has already purchased Finale v27, and can be downloaded from your MakeMusic account, or directly through Finale, if Check for Update is selected.
For the latest information about compatibility for Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, and MuseScore, as well as links to the latest news and reviews about product releases, please see the Scoring Notes Product Guide.