A Special Tools investigation in Finale


This video series is part of Conquering Finale, a regular feature on Scoring Notes, with new installments released periodically.

A Special Tools investigation

Click the links below to be taken to the appropriate video for each tool:

Lesson 1 (intermediate): Special Tools Introduction and Overview

This introductory video will take a look at some of the general basics of using the Special Tools in Finale. The 18 sub-tools will all behave differently but there are some common functions related to how the handles work, Layers (4:46), Contextual Menus (6:02), Removing Manual Adjustments (7:10), and Linked Parts(8:30). After watching this video, you will be well prepared to take on the subsequent videos which will cover the sub-tools individually.

Lesson 1.1 (intermediate): v27.3 Update: Special Tools in Voiced Linked Parts

The third maintenance update to Finale 27 brings new functionality to allow Special Tools to be available for use in Voiced Linked Parts. Mostly. There are still a few limitations and quirks, so this video will walk you through all of those specifics. The implications of these changes is vast as it now makes it a lot easier to use Voiced Linked Parts to show individual parts that share staves in the score. There’s also a vaguely related hack that I learned recently that I demonstrate in this video that allows you to flip enharmonics in Voiced Linked Parts! (7:44)

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 1:42 Background
  • 3:16 The Small Details
  • 6:04 Notehead Position Hack
  • 7:44 Enharmonic hack for Voiced Linked Parts!
  • 9:46 A Couple of lingering bugs
  • 11:16 Conclusion

Lesson 2 (intermediate): Note Position Tool

We get things started in the Special Tools category by diving straight into the Note Position Tool, which as you might guess, positions notes in a measure. Other than the basic functionality of moving note entries left or right, there’s a lot to understand about how note positioning relates to Layers (2:46), attached items (3:30), Linked Parts (5:05), and Staff Styles (6:40). I’ll also explain the Note Position Tool’s cross-functionality with Speedy Entry (7:20) as well as the differences between Note Positioning, Beat Positioning, and Notehead Positioning (9:59). Finally, I’ll take a quick look at one function in JW Change… (14:28) which will allow you to change the horizontal positions of notes in a mass selection.

JW Plug-ins at Notation Central

  • 0:00 Using the Note Position Tool
  • 1:58 Removing Manual Adjustments
  • 2:46 Layers
  • 3:30 What Gets Moved
  • 5:05 Linked Parts
  • 6:40 Staff Styles
  • 7:20 Cross functionality with Speedy Entry
  • 9:59 Note Position vs Beat Position
  • 12:41 Grace Notes
  • 13:58 Note Position vs Notehead Position
  • 14:28 JW Change…
  • 16:27 Summary

Lesson 3 (intermediate): Notehead Position and Note Shape Tools

Once you learn the Notehead Position Tool and the Note Shape Tool, you will know pretty much all you could possibly need to know about noteheads in Finale! The Notehead Position Tool (0:34) allows you to make positional adjustments to individual noteheads, whereas the Note Shape Tool (12:26) allows you to change the characters of the noteheads themselves. Oddly, you can kind of do both things with either tool. You can also change the size of the notehead with either tool as well (5:32). There’s a lot of nuances with these tools, so this video is pretty exhaustive but well worth it if you want to really understand what’s possible with noteheads in Finale. I’ll also cover a few ways to adjust these things in a mass selection with either Utilities Change… (16:46) or JW Change… (18:05).

JW Plug-ins at Notation Central

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:34 Notehead Position Tool
  • 6:14 Notehead Settings Window
  • 7:45 Notehead Size
  • 12:26 Note Shape Tool
  • 16:46 Utilities Change… Noteheads
  • 18:05 JW Change… for Noteheads
  • 19:44 Summary

Lesson 4 (intermediate): Accidental Mover Tool

The Accidental Mover Tool’s main function is to allow you to adjust the horizontal position of any individual accidental. But, the Accidental Mover Tool is so much more than that! You can also make vertical adjustments if you tell Finale to allow vertical adjustments (2:47), you can change the relative size of your accidentals (5:32), and you can even change the character or the font of any accidental (5:57). All of this will be covered in the first half of the video, in the second half, I’ll discuss how this tool interacts with Linked Parts (9:50), how to make changes in a mass selection with JW Change… (11:59), and finally, I’ll throw in a little technical discussion about Finale’s inability to kern accidentals on chords and how you can do that manually (14:10).

JW Plug-ins at Notation Central

Lesson 5 (intermediate): Stem Length Tools

The Stem Length Tool and the Beam Stem Adjust Tool are the two tools that will allow you to lengthen or shorten any stem. The Stem Length Tool (0:41) works on unbeamed stems and the Beam Stem Adjust Tool (6:37) works on beamed stems. These tools will not only allow you to change the height of the stems but they’ll also allow you to change the horizontal placement of stems. These tools are unlinkable allowing different stem lengths between score and part. I’ll also discuss some of the mass change operations in JW Change… related to stems (9:47).

JW Plug-ins at Notation Central

Lesson 6 (intermediate): Stem Direction Tool

The Stem Direction Tool provides a simple toggle allowing you to flip any stem upwards or downwards. It’s a rather simple tool, so I decided to take this opportunity to explain a few other things about the three states of a stem’s direction in Finale: Frozen Up, Frozen Down, or Default. I’ll also show you the Utilities:Stem Direction item which will allow you to flip stems in a large selection (5:30), and I’ll show you what’s going on with stem direction as it relates to Layers (7:21) and Linked Parts (8:40).

Lesson 7 (intermediate): Double/Split Stem Tool

The Double/Split Stem Tool will allow you to put two opposing stems on any note. This can be done on unbeamed (0:38) or beamed notes (3:00). This tool does have some limited usages though because double or split stems can be achieved with more flexibility using Layers.

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:38 Basics of Split Stems
  • 2:17 Rests
  • 3:00 Split Stems on Beams
  • 4:07 Double Stems with Chords
  • 7:53 Summary

Lesson 8 (advanced): Custom Stem Tool (and Forked Stems)

Finale allows you to replace the standard stem on any note with a custom stem which you can create as a shape (1:05). This, of course, means taking a romp through the Shape Designer! I’ll give you some useful tips on creating stems with the Shape Designer and demonstrate a ridiculous-looking stem in the process. In addition, I’ll also show you how to create forked stems (12:03) with the Custom Stem Tool, as it’s, unfortunately, the only way to do this in Finale.

Lesson 9 (intermediate): Beam Angle and Reverse Stem Tools

The Beam Angle Tool will allow you to change the height or the angle of any beam in your music (0:34). The Reverse Stem Tool will flip the stem from one side of the notehead to the other (2:54). Normally, you wouldn’t want to just reverse a stem like that, but in conjunction with the Beam Angle Tool, you can create beams that go in the middle of a passage of notes that are at the outer extremes of the staff (5:13). With these tools, (and the Note Mover Tool), we can also create Cross Staff beaming (6:50). I’ll show you how to do that the manual way, but then I’ll also show you how to use the TG Tools Cross Staff… plug-in to do this much more quickly (8:57).

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:34 Beam Angle Tool
  • 2:54 Reverse Stem Tool
  • 5:13 Using both tools together
  • 6:50 Cross Staff Beaming
  • 8:57 TG Tools Cross Staff…
  • 11:57 Summary

Lesson 10 (intermediate): Broken Beam and Secondary Beam Break Tools

The Broken Beam Tool will allow you to reverse the direction of a beam stub, (the short beam resulting from a dotted rhythm) (0:26). There is a function in JW Change… that will allow you to do the same thing in a mass selection (2:59). The Secondary Beam Break Tool will let you break your secondary beams pretty much wherever and however you like (5:53). There are options for breaking through certain rhythmic values and breaking only certain rhythmic values. You can get some really wild-looking beams this way, as demonstrated later in the video!

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:26 Broken Beam Tool
  • 2:59 JW Change… for Beam Stubs
  • 5:53 Secondary Beam Break Tool
  • 11:49 Summary

Lesson 11 (intermediate): Beam Extension, Secondary Beam Angle, and Beam Width Tools

The Beam Extension Tool will let you extend the ends of your beams left or right (0:26). There’s some trickery involved with getting the secondary beams to extend as well (2:05), so this video will help sort that out. In addition, there are some very good practical uses for this tool that I demonstrate (4:37). The Secondary Beam Angle Tool will let you change the height or angle of the secondary beams, (16th beams and smaller) (8:45). This is the tool we will use to create feathered beams in Finale. And finally, the Beam Width Tool will quite simply change the width (thickness) of any given beam (11:20).

Patterson Plug-ins for Finale

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:26 Beam Extension Tool
  • 2:05 Extending Secondary Beams
  • 4:37 Practical Examples
  • 7:29 Fixing TG Tools Easy Tremolos
  • 8:45 Secondary Beam Angle Tool
  • 11:20 Beam Width Tool
  • 13:34 Summary

Lesson 12 (intermediate): Tie Tool

The Tie Tool has a couple of major functions: it allows you to simply flip your ties (0:54), and it allows you to adjust the positioning of your ties (3:04). You can adjust a tie’s ends, its arc, and its overall position with this tool. In addition to that, there are certain properties that can be switched on and off like avoiding staff lines, breaking for time or key signatures, or whether the tie goes outside or inside the notes (8:26). I’ve also included a couple of bonus tips here related to ties. The first has to do with resetting what I consider a poor choice of default behavior for ties in chords (15:17), and the second is what to do with ties in 1st and 2nd endings (16:37). And finally, I’ll cover the Utilities:Change:Ties… window (18:35), and give you a brief introduction into Patterson’s Tie Mover plug-in (19:39).

Patterson Plug-ins for Finale

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:29 Basics
  • 0:54 Flipping Ties
  • 3:04 Simple Tie Adjustments
  • 4:41 Advanced Tie Adjustments
  • 7:43 Contextual Menu
  • 8:26 Tie Alterations Window
  • 15:17 Bonus Tip
  • 16:37 Ties in 1st and 2nd Endings
  • 18:35 Utilities:Change:Ties…
  • 19:39 Patterson Tie Mover…
  • 21:14 Summary

Lesson 13 (intermediate): Dot Tool

Finale’s Dot Tool will simply allow you to adjust the position of augmentation dots. It will also let you adjust the spacing between multiple dots. There’s not a whole lot to this tool, but I do provide some insight into dots as they relate to Layers (5:22) and cluster chords (6:24). And finally, I’ll show you what can be done to dots with JW Change… (9:22).

JW Plug-ins at Notation Central

Lesson 14 (intermediate): Special Alterations Filter

All of the adjustments you make with the Special Tools are considered Special Alterations, and those Special Alterations have their own category in the Copy/Paste Filter. This means that it’s possible to copy and paste without those alterations (0:48). That category also exists in the Clear Items window as well making it possible to simply clear all of those Special Alterations (3:38). And it’s of course possible to copy and paste only the Special Alterations from one selection to another without changing the pitches in the target measures (5:06).

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:48 Special Alterations Filter
  • 3:38 Clear Special Alterations
  • 5:06 Copying Special Alterations Only
  • 7:25 Summary

Listen to the podcast episode

On the Scoring Notes podcast, David MacDonald and Philip Rothman talk with Jason Loffredo about preparing music for the world of musical theatre and his Conquering Finale video tutorial series, which can help you better master that sophisticated software, whether you’re a new or long-time user. Listen now:

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
Conquering Finale with Jason Loffredo


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