Music spacing: the Finale frontier

Tutorials

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

Music spacing: the Finale frontier


Lesson 1 (basic): The Basics of Music Spacing

Venture where few have gone before… welcome to Music Spacing: The Finale Frontier! It truly is a bizarre, confusing, but ultimately fascinating corner of Finale to explore. Music Spacing is something we take for granted, but as with many things in Finale, with a little bit of knowledge, you can vastly improve your understanding of the program and likely the aesthetics of your music. In this video, I’ll cover a lot of concepts related to durational widths, and measure widths, and how and why Finale flows measures from one system to the next. But I’ll also cover some useful things to know about the types of Music Spacing at your fingertips, when, perhaps, to turn on or turn off Automatic Music Spacing, and a few other practical matters to help you understand what’s possible. Most importantly, this video will lay the groundwork for the rest of the videos in this series, so even if you’re a Finale power user, I really recommend you watch this “Basic” (I’m using that term very loosely this time) video before you get any further in this series!

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:50 Background
  • 1:27 Music Spacing Document Options
  • 2:22 Imperfections
  • 5:42 Automatic Music Spacing
  • 7:54 Manual Music Spacing
  • 10:43 Locked vs. Unlocked Systems
  • 16:38 Note/Beat/Time Signature Spacing
  • 21:47 A La Carte
  • 23:26 Loose Ends
  • 25:08 Conclusion

Lesson 2A (intermediate): Avoid Collisions of… Part 1

The basic idea behind Note Spacing is to avoid collisions. Finale gives us some flexibility when it comes to what exactly we want to be avoided. You would think everything should be avoided, but with the unique way that Finale handles Note Spacing, sometimes it’s handy to tell Finale what to avoid and what not to avoid. So in this video, I’ll talk about the concept of avoidance in Finale, and discuss in detail the right side of the list of items to be avoided in the Music Spacing pane of the Document Options. That includes Notes and Accidentals, Seconds, and Unisons. There’s a little bit more to be said about Layers as well, so toward the end of the video, you’ll get some valuable information about Layers as they pertain to Music Spacing.

Lesson 2B (intermediate): Avoid Collisions of… Part 2

In this video, we’re looking at the left column of the Avoid Collisions of… section in the Music Spacing pane of the Document Options. The concept is easy: if the option is checked, then those things avoid each other; what isn’t so obvious is why you may want to have something checked or unchecked. So, the bulk of this video helps illuminate the usefulness of each of these options. Here’s what’s covered: Articulations (1:10), Chords (4:20), Clefs (7:42), Hidden Notes (8:51), Ledger Lines (12:55), and Lyrics (14:03). I’ll also show you a handy trick using hidden notes to help solve a long-standing bug in how Finale spaces Lyrics (16:26). And finally, it’s possible to have different options checked for different measures, and I’ll show you exactly how this can come in handy (18:44).

Lesson 3 (advanced): Grace Notes

In this relatively short video, I’ll talk about all three options available for Grace Notes in the Music Spacing pane of the Document Options. There’s really not much of a reason to choose anything other than the default option for Grace Notes, but you’ll get to see what the other options do.

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:24 Automatic
  • 1:52 Keep Current
  • 2:57 Reset to Entry Offset
  • 6:04 Manually Spacing Grace Notes
  • 6:56 Conclusion

Lesson 4 (advanced): Manual Spacing

There are only three options for Manual Positioning in the Music Spacing pane of the Document Options, but, there is a LOT to know about how they interact in different ways depending on exactly how you made manual changes to your note or beat positions. Hopefully, by the end of this video, you’ll know enough not to get confused and flustered when Finale doesn’t do what you think it should do!

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:42 Overview of Manually Spacing Notes
  • 4:44 Clear Manual Positioning
  • 6:20 Incorporate Manual Positioning
  • 9:03 Copying Manual Positioning
  • 10:48 Unlinking Manual Positioning
  • 13:43 Limitations
  • 15:34 Conclusion

Lesson 5 (advanced): Measure Widths and Minimum Distances

There’s quite a bit to understanding the consequences of changing the Minimum and Maximum Measure Widths in the Music Spacing options, so a good portion of this video deals with those options and a few manipulations that you can do with them to achieve specific results. There are also two other options for Minimum Distance Between Items and Minimum Distance Between Notes With Ties that are discussed in the later parts of this video.

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:27 Minimum/Maximum Measure Width
  • 9:55 Equal Minimum/Maximum Widths
  • 13:08 Manual Measure Widths
  • 15:37 Minimum Distance Between Items
  • 17:26 Minimum Distance Between Notes With Ties
  • 18:35 Windows Only Resolution Option
  • 19:46 Conclusion

Lesson 6 (advanced): Spacing Widths – These Values:

The concept of how Finale calculates durational width is relatively easy to understand: it’s basically the Width times Scaling Factor to calculate the widths of each duration as they double. But the math is a little more complex, and the consequences of changing the variables in the equation can be pretty confusing. This video is my attempt to bring all of that math to heel and try to explain what the algorithm is doing and how changing the variables changes the look of your music in very specific ways. This all may seem rather pedantic, but if you can get even a little bit of a grasp on this, you can improve the look of your music in certain scenarios by manipulating these variables a little.

Lesson 7 (advanced): Spacing Width Table

The Duration Allotment list which can be accessed from the Spacing Width window is where you can customize the width of every single duration that you so choose! It’s one of the more ridiculously powerful things that we can do in Finale that will allow you to change the spacing algorithm with more fine detail than should even be allowed! For people that REALLY know what they want with their music spacing, the ability to do this is essential and quite unique to Finale, I believe. I will show you how the Duration Allotments work in this video, and I will also demonstrate a custom table that I created that has a variable Scaling Factor Ratio.

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 1:17 Spacing Width Table
  • 4:23 Customizing The Duration Allotments
  • 7:02 Default Width
  • 9:28 Building a Custom Table
  • 15:02 Conclusion

Lesson 8 (advanced): Music Spacing Libraries

If you make a lot of changes to the Music Spacing pane of the Document Options, it’s possible to save those changes as a dedicated Library so that you can load those settings into any other document that you want. In this video, I will show you how to do that and also show you some other Libraries that are preinstalled with Finale that you can use right away if you want to. I’ll also show you a quick demonstration of the JW Note Spacing… plug-in (soon to be built-in to Finale in version 27.3!) which will do a similar thing without the inconvenience of loading libraries every time you want to use a different type of spacing.

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:14 Saving a Library
  • 2:57 Loading Libraries
  • 3:19 Included Libraries
  • 3:31 Fibonacci Spacing
  • 4:30 Fibonacci Spacing with Edited Dots
  • 7:04 Loose, Medium, and Tight Spacing
  • 9:49 A La Carte
  • 10:58 JW Note Spacing…
  • 13:33 Conclusion

Spotlight on Patterson Note Spacing

This Note Spacing plug-in from Robert Patterson may seem rather unassuming on the face of it, but once you dig into it a little and really understand its potential, you may come to recognize that this could be a much better tool for spacing your music than Finale’s built-in Note Spacing functionality. The basic premise is that you can set different measure ranges to have different values for the music spacing “These Values:” settings. There are extra options for dealing with ledger lines, upstem flags, grace notes, clefs, and minimum measure widths which are all really handy. There’s also a set list of Lists that you can create so that you can set up different types of Note Spacing between the score and Linked Parts. AND, as if that’s not enough, there are some really useful Expression Flags that will allow the plug-in to do certain things like ignore manually spaced measures or copy the System Layouts between the Score and the Linked Parts. This is one really powerful plug-in, and with a little (or a lot) of information, this can really become a workhorse for you in your day-to-day Finale use.

Patterson Plug-ins

Patterson Plug-ins instructions

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:57 Big Picture
  • 2:30 Ledger Lines
  • 4:42 Upstem Flags
  • 5:56 Minimum Measure Width
  • 7:47 Ignore Clefs and Grace Notes
  • 9:43 Other Options
  • 12:04 Creating List Items
  • 16:51 Running the Plug-in with Lists
  • 18:24 Bonus Tip
  • 21:42 Differences in Selections
  • 23:09 List of Lists
  • 26:14 Expression Flags
  • 27:56 Skip Measure
  • 29:59 Match Score System
  • 32:12 Other Expression Flags
  • 33:00 Conclusion

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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