Category: Reviews

Finale 2002 - A Review

By Jari Williamsson, August 22th, 2001


The basic approach of this review is to look at Finale 2002 from a Finale user's perspective, and to give you in-depth information on the new features. I've also included a number of tips for existing Finale 2002 users.

Please note that this review is based on the Windows version of Finale 2002. Although the Mac version would be almost identical, some differences between the platforms might exist.

First, the standard questions...

What's new?

Major feature additions are:

  • A greatly improved Simple Entry
  • Many new features in Speedy Entry
  • A much more functional Selection Tool
  • Improved Smart Shape editing
  • New slur type that can automatically draw around notes, stems, beams, accidentals & articulations
  • The Exercise Wizard, a help for teachers to automate the creation of exercises
  • SmartFind & Paint
  • Many new plug-ins included
  • And of course, numerous smaller enhancements.

I currently use Finale 2001. Do I have to "re-learn" something to use Finale 2002?

Basically, no. Finale behaves slightly different in three tools in 2002 compared to earlier Finale versions: The Simple Entry Tool, the Speedy Entry Tool and the Smart Shape Tool. But personally I think that the new behaviour in these tools has simplified the overall use of them, and the basics in these tools are still the same.

Font Annotation

Fin2002FANBefore I start listing the brand new features, a concept that has now become extremely important in Finale 2002 has to be mentioned: Font Annotation. This feature was actually introduced in Finale 2001, but back then it was only used for a few elements in the Selection Tool.
Font Annotation is small data files that are loaded by Finale during startup and contain individual character information for a font, such as the true character boundaries. Font Annotation files are platform independent and aren't connected to any specific font rendering system (such as PostScript, TrueType etc.).

In Finale 2002, font annotation is used both for the new Engraver Slurs (to calulate how the arc of the slur should be drawn) as well as in the Selection Tool (to determine the boundaries of a selected object).

If you only use the "standard" music fonts that comes with Finale (such as Maestro, Jazz, Petrucci, Seville etc.) there's no need to worry, since Finale 2002 includes Font Annotation files for all these fonts. It even includes Font Annotation files for some of the most common text fonts.

However, if you use custom music fonts, you should also create your own Font Annotation file. Otherwise the engraver slurs will look incorrect, and the selection rectangles in the Selection Tool will display an incorrect area.
Font Annotation files can be created in Options/Select Default Fonts... (click on the Font Annotation... button). Remember to restart Finale to reload the font annotation files.

Please note that Finale 2002 defaults to the Maestro font annotation if a font has no font annotation data mapped to it.

Selection Tool

As you probably know, a Selection Tool was added in Finale 2001. But that version of the tool was of little use, since it could only be used as a "tool switcher".
In Finale 2002 however, the Selection Tool has become extremely useful. Now you can use the Selection Tool as the single tool for many editing jobs in the documents.

Most of the objects (such as articulations, text blocks, expressions, smart shapes, etc) can be:

  • Moved directly with the mouse (without switching to the specific tool)
  • Deleted
  • Modified by using the context menu for the object.

So obviously, the Selection Tool is ideal for example when you want to make small layout changes to existing documents. Just display in Page View and rearrange the objects!

Tip: Learn the shortcut key to the Selection Tool! The Selection Tool has now become an important component in Finale, so that's probably often the tool where you "want to be".

Although the enhancements are many in the Selection Tools, there are still room for improvements:

  • Measure numbers can't be selected
  • Any objects that are manipulated by the Special Tools (such as beams, stems, accidentals, ties, etc) can't be selected
  • There are currently no context menu support for notes and clefs, although these object types can be selected by the Selection Tool.

Context Menus

A feature very much related to the Selection Tool is the context menu. The context menu is the popup menu that displays when you right-click (Ctrl+click on the Mac) on an object and changes appearance depending on the context.

The context menu support has been extended quite a bit in Finale 2002. New menus has been added for some objects where no menus existed before, and many useful functions has been added to existing menus. For example, you can create/change commonly used time signatures by selecting them directly from the time signature context menu. And you can create/change both time signatures and key signatures from the measure tool.

Tip: It's now very easy to create the "correctly" beamed time signature for 3/8, 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8. Bring up the time signature context menu and select the wanted time signature from there, and Finale will automatically use the version that is beamed in groups of 3.

I would say that Finale 2002 is a huge step forward in terms of getting Finale to work in a more object-oriented way (which also makes it more consistent and easy-to-use). But one problem remains: there are never any clear distinctions between local and global properties/actions.
For example, the context menu for articulations contains 2 items: Edit Articulation Definition... and Delete. Edit Articulation Definition... work on the global definition, but Delete work on the local definition. But there is no way to change the local definition (for example to change a single staccato dot to a tenuto) and there's no separation in the menu between the global and local actions. This becomes a bigger problem in larger menus and decreases productivity in an unnecessary way.

Simple Entry Tool

Huge improvements have been made to the Simple Entry Tool in Finale 2002. It has now become a very fast-to-use and efficient entry tool.

The toolbar icons in the Simple Entry are grouped into the Eraser and 6 entry groups:

  • Duration
  • The dotted duration value
  • The accidentals tools
  • Tie
  • Tuplet
  • Grace note.

One icon from each of these 6 groups can be combined in any combinations. The mouse pointer now visually reflects the current selections in the toolbar, which makes it much easier to work with than in previous versions. Double-clicking on a Simple Entry icon will remove selections from all other icons.

The Eraser has now become a very intuitive part of the Simple Entry Tool - just click on the element (note, accidental, tie or dot) you want to remove, and it will be erased.

For tuplet passages, Simple Entry can now very well be the fastest entry method in Finale. For example, to enter a triplet just click 3 times in the score while the tuplet icon and a duration icon are selected. If you want another kind of tuplet, Shift+click in the document to bring up the tuplet dialog box.

An important change has been made to accidental entries in Finale 2002. Finale now supports absolute accidentals, which means that the intended accidental will be used regardless of the key you're working in. Use the 'S' key to put a sharp at the note, 'F' for a flat, 'N' for a natural, 'X' for a double-flat and so on. The relative accidentals are still supported, if you're used to the "old" way of entering accidentals.
The only drawback with the current implementation of the Simple Entry Tool is that you can't place editorial accidentals (you still have to use Speedy Entry for that).
[August 23th correction: You CAN place editorial accidentals in the score with Finale 2002 Simple Entry: Select a note, press 'P' to put a parenthesis on it, press 'P' once again to make it into a editorial accidental.]

Another new concept has been added to Simple Entry: Selected notes. You can now select note(s) and manipulate them with the keyboard, for example moving a note up or down with the arrow keys. If a note is selected, the modifier shortcut keys will work on the selected notes - if no notes are selected, the modifier shortcut keys will work on the toolbar icons instead.
An new setting called Select Notes on Entry is now also available, which will always automatically select the last entered note.

Tip: To learn the shortcut keys to the different tools, move the mouse pointer above a Simple Entry icon and look at the tooltip or at the status text at the bottom of the Finale window.

Tip: Pressing a Simple Entry shortcut key twice within the double-click time will perform the same action as a double-click (=select the corresponding toolbar icon exlusively).

Tip: You can get the last entered note selected even if you don't have Select Notes on Entry checked. Press the left arrow key just after a note has been entered and it will become selected (and available for modification). This is very useful for example if you accidentaly place a note at the wrong vertical position, or if you want to add an accidental to just one note.

Another setting that has been added is the Fill With Rests option. If the option is on, the measure will be filled with rests when notes in a new measure are being entered. This can for example be very useful when entering percussion or bass parts.

Speedy Entry Tool

A number of very useful new features has been added to the Speedy Entry as well:

The Speedy frame can now be resized to the identical size of the measure, which is an extremely convenient enhancement. The minimum and maximum sizes of the Speedy frame can be set, to prevent the frame from getting unrealistically resized when the document is zoomed in or out. If you for some reason want to use the old method of Speedy frame, the static Speedy frame size is still available.

Another issue that also has been adressed is that Finale now checks that the Speedy frame is fully visible on the screen. For me personally this means a huge performance boost, because in previous Finale versions I had to use the document scroll bars each times the Speedy frame reached the right side of the screen, which was extremely annoying.

Playback during note entry now works without a MIDI keyboard as well.

To be compatible with the enhanced Simple Entry Tool, Speedy now has the same set of alpha keyboard modifiers as in Simple Entry, such as absolute accidentals. For example, pressing the 'S' key adds a sharp to the note. The "old" functionality for the alpha keys are still available if Caps Lock is on.

Keys on the MIDI keyboard can now be programmed to act as some of the modifiers, for example note duration, ties, move left/right etc.

There's also an option called Auto Launch Frame, which will automatically display the frame each time the Speedy Entry Tool is selected. However, it will always display for the top left measure on the screen, and that I find more annoying than helpful, so I've turned off this feature.

Speedy Entry also has a Fill With Rests option, very similar to the same feature in Simple Entry.

SmartFind & Paint

SmartFind & Paint is a new function in the MassMover Tool, that makes handling similar musical patterns in a document easy.

Set a source region in the document to define the pattern to be copied (the pattern will be marked with a rectangle in the document). When the SmartFind later is called, you can select what elements (Slurs, Articulations, Smart Shapes, Note Expressions, Measure Expressions) you want to copy from the source to the destination. SmartFind will then search for identical rythmical patterns, which you can select to paint with the elements (or just skip).

So if your music consists of similar music patterns, but with different notes, this can be a huge time-saver.

Smart Shape Tool(s)

Some major enhancements has been made to Smart Shape Tool in Finale 2002, specially regarding slurs. Some of the new features are:

  • A completely reworked user interface (but very easy to use).
  • A new slur type that automatically avoid collisions with notes, stems & beams (and optionally, collisions with articulations). These slurs are called Engraver slurs.
  • Support for S-slurs.
  • Adjustable thickness for slur tips, for example supporting razor-sharp slur tips.
  • Separately adjustable slur widths on left and right side of the slur. (This can for example be useful to emulate hand-written slurs. See below.)
  • Crescendi/diminuendi can be forced to always be horizontal.
  • ...and more

The new user interface

Fin2002SmartShapeEditingThe user interface for smart shapes has changed quite a bit in Finale 2002. But there shouldn't be any learning curve at all, since the new interface works very similar to the rest of Finale.

Prior to Finale 2002, all selected smart shapes were represented by a big black selection rectangle. In Finale 2002, selected smart shapes instead have (diamond-shaped) secondary handles. The number of secondary handles on a selected smart shape varies between smart shape types; the slur tools have 5, crescendo/diminuendo and bend tools have 3, the rest of the tools have 2.
In the example to the right, please notice that the primary handle (which now also controls movement) for the smart shape also has been moved to the center of the smart shape. This is actually a neat feature, since you can now move a smart shape directly without having to select it in advance.

Tip: Move the mouse pointer above the different secondary handles to find out what that secondary handle will do.

Some benifits with the new interface is that it works much more like the other tools in Finale and it's more accurate (you can for example nudge any simple or secondary handle with the arrow keys). It would also be easier to expand it in the future, since the basic concept is much more intuitive.

Another thing that has to be mentioned here is the context menu for the smart shapes. The context menu was available in earlier Finale versions as well, but back then it was of very limited use. With Finale 2002, you have to know how to use the context menu for the smart shapes to exploit all the functionality of the Smart Shape Tool.
One useful addition to the menu is the "Make Horizontal" option, which will force the crescendi/diminuendi or lines to remain horizontal all the time. Unfortunately, there's no "Make Vertical" option, which would sometimes be useful for lines.

Another addition is that you can now select multiple smart shapes. This is particulary convenient when using the context menu, for example when forcing a number of hairpins to remain horizontal.
(When multiple smart shapes are selected, no secondary handles will be displayed.)

Personally, I think the smart shape interface is very good and fast to work with, but there are 2 things I miss in the current implementation:

  • Full keyboard support. Although you can nudge the handles as well as use some shortcut keys, it's not possible to navigate among the secondary handles with the keyboard, for example.
  • Ability to snap handles to guides or grids. It's possible in other handle-based tools, but currently not in the Smart Shape Tool.


A whole new type of slurs has been introduced in Finale 2002, called Engraver Slurs.
The new feature of the Engraver Slurs is that the placement is more automatic than the old slurs. They will not collide with notes, beams and stems.

Optionally, both slur types (Engraver Slurs and the old slur type) can now avoid collisions with accidentals, and they can draw "around" certain articulations (probably most useful for articulations such as staccato and tenuto) if you define the articulation as an "Inside Slur" type.

Tip: Test different default values for the engraver slurs, to find the values that work best for your music. For example, test an maximum slur angle of everything between 40 and 60 degrees. And test to lower the Maximum Lift to something like 12 EVPUs. And perhaps try to force the Slur Symmetry Percentage at something between 60% and 80%. See how the changes affect the music.

The thickness of the slur tip(s) can now be defined. If you for example want razor-sharp slur tips, set it to 0.

Its now possible to have different thickness for the left and right sides of the slur. One area where this is really useful is when using fonts in "hand-written style" (such as the Jazz font that comes with Finale). Try these settings for the Jazz font as a good starting point (in the SmartShape/Smart Slur Options dialog box):

(All values in EVPUs) H V Result using the the Jazz font
(screen shot)
Thickness Left 0 22 Fin2002JazzSlurs
Thickness Right 0 4
Tip Width 0.0394

You can mix Engraver Slurs with "old-fashion slurs" freely within the same document. If you want to use Engraver Slurs in your old documents, the following table might be helpful:

Convert your old document to only use automatic Engraver Slurs

1. Open your old document
2. Select the Smart Shape Tool
3. Open the SmartShape/Smart Slur Options... dialog box
4. Check Use Engraver Slurs. Click OK.
5. Press Ctrl+A (Cmd+A on the Mac) to select all smart shapes
6. Press Backspace (Clear on the Mac) to clear all old manual slur settings

Use Engraver Slurs only for all new slurs added to your old document

1. Open your old document
2. Select the Smart Shape Tool
3. Press Ctrl+A (Cmd+A on the Mac) to select all smart shapes
4. Right-click (Ctrl+click on the Mac) on a smart shape to display the context menu
5. Select Engraver Slur/Off to "protect" your old slurs
6. Open the SmartShape/Smart Slur Options... dialog box
7. Check Use Engraver Slurs. Click OK.

2 important things to remember about engraver slurs:

  • Engraver slurs will only reshape as long as you haven't reshaped or moved them manually. If you want to "force" an engraver slur to automatically reshape, use the Backspace (Clear on the Mac) shortcut key to quickly remove the manual slur information for the selected slur(s).
  • Engraver slurs are very dependent on the Font Annotation information to display 100% correctly. If your engraver slurs look very strange, it might be caused by missing font annotation information. In such cases, check that the folder for your font annotation files is correctly set, and that a font annotation file for the notehead font you're using really exists.

Another feature that is now fully supported is S-Slurs. No more need to use shape expressions as a work-around! S-slurs are very easily created by moving the corner control points for the slurs (the gray connector lines drawn between the secondary handles should look like an hourglass).

Exercise Wizard

The Exercise Wizard is a major new addition to Finale 2002. It's a help for teachers to quickly create exercise documents, even for an entire ensemble in one run.
If I've counted correctly, there are 643 different exercise types to choose from in the Exercise Wizard (grouped into 4 main groups: Scales, Intervals, Arpeggios and Twisters). You can select any number of exercises, bunch them together, transpose them, apply articulation pattern, assign them to any instruments, and so on. When you have completed the process you can save the exercises in an exercise file (for future modifications) and/or as a Finale document, and/or print it directly from the Wizard.
[August 23th correction: You can have up to 20 exercises per lesson, not any number as I previously stated.]

The Exercise Wizard works very similar to the Document Wizard (which also has 4 pages), but the feature set is quite different:

  • Page 1 contains settings for lesson title, the title font to use, and the page size
  • Page 2 is where you select the exercises and reorder them if necessary (see screen shot)
  • Page 3 contains settings for title, concert key and articulation pattern for each of the selected exercises
  • Page 4 contains ensemble/instrument settings and the instrument range to use (basic/intermediate/advanced). Here you can also print and save the exercises.

If you use Finale for creating exercises, it seems like you now have a very fast and efficient tool to get it done.

Resize Tool

The user interface of the Resize Tool has been enhanced with a context menu. The idea is great, but the implementation is poor.

When you right-click (Ctrl+click on the Mac) in the score, all resize alternative for that specific position will be available in the context menu. For example, if you right-click on a staff in Page View, the alternatives for staff, system and page will be available.

However, it's not much easier to change existing resized objects in the current implementation, since you still get no guidance of the current values until the dialog box is opened. For example, when right-clicking on a resized note, it's still virtually impossible to know if it's the notehead or note entry that is resized (unless the resize value differ very much from 100%). To change the resizing of a note, you might very well need 2 tries to find the correct dialog box. And for layout issues, the worst case might result in 3 tries before finding the right dialog box.
Simply adding a percent value after the context menu items (as a "preview" of the current value) would solve this problem nicely, but alas this hasn't been implemented in Finale 2002.

Misc. Enhancements

The default staff heights within a staff system can now be set as an absolute height. Prior to Finale 2002, a staff height was always 96 EVPUs (and the Resize Tool was required to change the size), but now you can set the default height within each staff system and even combine it with staff system reduction in percents.

Text Expressions can now be defined to break multi-measure rests, which is a very useful and feature logical addition.

Text Expressions can be defined to not print text between '<' and '>', so you can create expressions such as arco <cello>. This approach is too technical in my opinion, and it's also too limited - if it's used with expressions consisting of a musical font, just nonsens character will display.
A much better implementation in my opinion would be if all elements in Finale could be attached with a free-form text comment field that was automatically displayed when the mouse moved above the element.

A number of extremelly useful enhancements has been made to the Layer options:

  • Layers can be defined to not affect music spacing
  • Layers can be defined to not playback (globally)
  • Layers can be defined to not affect stem direction if all notes in a measure contains hidden notes.

When importing MIDI files, drum parts can now be automatically converted, or you can use your own percussion map during the import.

The Finale document can be saved as a SmartMusic accompaniment.

Single-instrument documents that are created in the Document Wizard can now have different left and right margins compared to multiple-instrument documents.

Windows only: When selecting fonts, a new option has been included in the font selection dialog called Include Printer-Only Fonts. Make sure to turn this option off, unless you have very good reasons not to. This can increase the opening speed of the font selection dialog boxes by huge amounts on some systems! (Printer-Only Fonts is fonts that only resides on the printer - PostScript with ATM is not printer-only fonts!)


A large number of 3rd party plug-ins are included with Finale 2002. Some of them you probably know from before, some of them are brand new.

TGTools Lite

A promotion version of the very popular plug-in collection TGTools is included in Finale 2002. The components included in Finale 2002 are:

  • Align/Move Dynamics
  • Easy Harmonics
  • Easy Tremolos
  • Menu Shortcuts
  • Smart Playback

TGTools should be a fundamental part of every Finale user's tools. My advice is to delete the lite version from the plug-in folder and download and register the "real thing" instead (if you haven't done it already):

Band-in-a-Box Auto Harmonizer

A plug-in created by the makers of Band-in-a-Box.
With it you can automatically create the extra voices for a melody. You can create between 2 and 6 voices harmony and select between numerous different styles. The extra voices can be created as extra staves or added to the exisiting melody line. The result is much more predictable if you have assigned chords to the melody line.
The user interface is very easy to use and straight-forward.

Patterson Beams

Robert Patterson's fantastic Patterson Beams plug-in is now also included in Finale 2002. It's the same plug-in that has been available on the net for some time. With it you can "beautify" the beams in the document to conform for example to the standards in Ted Ross' notation book. This is one of those essential Finale plug-in which can give your document a cutting-edge look.

As you probably know, Robert's plug-ins are also freely available for download on the net:

OpenMusic Composer Tools

Consists of these 10 new plug-ins by OpenMusic:

  • Chord Morphing
  • Chord Realization
  • Chord Reordering
  • Chord Splitting
  • Common Tone Transposition
  • Frequency Modulation Chord Generator
  • Melodic Morphing
  • Rhytm Generator
  • Tie Common Notes
  • Virtual Fundamental Generator

With the exception of the Tie Common Notes plug-in (and perhaps even the Rhytm Generator), these plug-ins are a bit different than "normal plug-ins", since you normally will not apply these plug-ins on a document intended for final printing. Some of these plug-ins are for analytical purposes, and some others are to create new sequences based on the source material.

The Rhytm Generator is an efficient plug-in to create drum patterns. Make sure to check it out!

Extract Lyrics an easy-to-use plug-in by Philip Aker. Originally, this was featured in his Text Editor plug-in, but has been extracted into a stand-alone plug-in for Finale 2002 (and is now also available to Windows users). Use it to extract verses/choruses/sections to text files.

Compatibility tips

Of course your old Finale files will be readable in Finale 2002, but here are some other considerations:

  • If you use Coda's own default files for the Document Wizard, note that some changes has been made to the articulation metatools compared to earlier Finale versions. For example, metatool keys 1 - 5 are now assigned to fingerings.
  • Don't use your Finale 2001 version of the instrument.txt file with Finale 2002. Many enhancements has been made to that file in Finale 2002 and the added functionality will be lost if you use any older version of that file.
  • Don't use your Finale 2001 version of the pagesizes.txt file with Finale 2002. The format of this file has been extended in Finale 2002.
  • Windows only: Don't transfer older versions of the [SpeedyKeys] section to the FINALE.INI file for Finale 2002! The format of this section is different in Finale 2002.

Other stuff

  • The Quickstart videos has been redone for Finale 2002. There are 20 chapters, but they cover many more subjects than before, for example: Scanning, the Exercise Wizard, Smart Find & Paint, some of the new plug-ins, etc.
  • The Quick Reference card has also been remade for Finale 2002. The "card" now contains 10 pages of information (not including cover and back page). The sections included are:

1. Main Tool Palette
2. Simple Entry Palette
3. Rests Palette
4. Special Tools Palette
5. The Shape Designer
6. Measurement Equivalents
7. Two pages of Keyboard Shortcuts (File, Edit and View Menus as well as General Commands, Hand Grabber Tool, Playback, and Zoom Tool.)
8. The Maestro Character Set
9. Simple Entry Keyboard Shortcuts
10. Simple Entry Numeric Keypad
11. Additional Simple Entry keyboard shortcuts
12. All Speedy Entry Keyboard Shortcuts (2 pages)
13. The Visual Index

August 23th Addendum

Some features I forgot to mention in my initial review:

Beam stubs (for secondary beams) can now be adjusted vertically and the angle can be changed (using the Secondary Beam Angle Tool).

Speedy can now "look back" over the barline. If you are in an empty measure with the Speedy frame, you can control the last note of the previous measure (such as adding accidental or tie, hide it, etc.). However, no true beams over barlines yet...

The "ugly" icons and graphics that was added in Finale 2001 have been replaced by much more professional-looking ones.

You can now define the default direction for slurs (Automatic/Over/Under). If you use the SmartShape/Direction menu when no smart shape selected, the default direction will instead be set. Useful for entering parts where all slurs appear above the notes, for example. This setting is document specific.

Finale, SmartMusic and Coda are trademarks of Coda Music Technology, Inc.
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Microsoft, Windows, Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows 2000 are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
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