Page layout made easier with JW Fit Music for Finale

Tips

Finale users know that Jari Williamsson’s plug-ins are practically essential for working efficiently in Finale. His latest creation, JW Fit Music, is another valuable tool that will make page layout easier and quicker, automating several steps to get good results.

JW Fit Music, Jari says, “distributes the music evenly into a specific number of staff systems across a region. It’s a plug-in particularly suited for part layout.”

Wait, you might say — doesn’t Finale already have a “fit music” feature? Well, yes (it’s at Utilities > Fit Measures), but it’s quite rudimentary; it’s basically suited to laying out music on a “grid” for very regular patterns like four bars per system, and not much more.

JW Fit Music, on the other hand, is a rather sophisticated tool for both Mac and Windows that can do the following:

  • Reflow all measures across a complete page spread, until a planned page break
  • Reflow the measures in a specific section
  • Split systems into more systems
  • Merge systems into fewer systems
  • Change the start/end measures of systems

The plug-in treats each measure and multimeasure rest as a separate layout unit, called a “cell”. The layout algorithm treats one multimeasure rest as equal to a measure.

Let’s see it in action.

Here’s the final movement of a flute part that has not yet been formatted, or “cast off” to use the term in Elaine Gould’s music preparation treatise Behind Bars.

There are two main considerations here:

  1. The music begins on page 7, so a good page turn must be found at the end of that page;
  2. This will be printed as a booklet; for the music to spill over to page 9 for only a few systems would be a waste of an entire extra sheet of large-format paper. (Keep this in mind especially if you are formatting string parts that are reproduced many times!) It’s better to keep the part to 8 pages if possible.

Quickly scanning the music, I see a logical page turn at the end of bar 71, which currently resides on the second system of page 8:

So I’ll make a selection including everything up to and including that bar:

And then run JW Fit Music to get this result for page 7:

A few minor nudges to expressions may be necessary, but with one click this is a very reasonable arrangement of the bars on the page.

On to the rest of the music:

Another run of JW Fit Music:

And the result:

If bar 136 was just a metronome mark, we’d be fine, but we must deal with the longer tempo text. A quick move with the down arrow would suffice, but we’re having such fun with JW Fit Music, let’s run it again:

Our result:

In the documentation for the plug-in, Jari says that “after the basic measure layout has been settled, use Finale’s Space System plug-in and JW Space Empty Rests plug-in for final adjustments on the page.”

I would love it if the plug-in could take it one step further and actually change the number of systems on a page to whatever is desired — making it a true “fit music to page” tool. Finale can do this somewhat awkwardly through Page Layout > Space Systems Evenly… , but being able to select the music through JW Fit Music and automatically get the correct number of systems per page — with evenly spaced staves — would add gravy on top of what is already a very useful plug-in.

JW Fit Music is available for free (donations accepted) from Jari’s Finale Tips site on both Mac and Windows. Install the plug-in by following the instructions on the download page.

Comments

  1. Jon Burr

    Great! Thanks for the heads-up, Philip!

  2. Marcus Anthony

    Though it is amply illustrated by the examples that follow, “fitmusic14.jpg” is not currently loading when I view the article. (Firefox, running on Windows 10.)

    1. Philip Rothman

      Marcus: Thanks for letting me know. The file seems to have totally gone missing and I can’t find it anywhere. For the moment I’ve removed the reference to it in the article.

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