Finale 2004 has finally arrived for Mac OS X. But was it worth the wait? That probably depends on whether you’re a seasoned Finale devotee. Sibelius has been available for OS X for just over two years, and OS X has been steadily growing in popularity for the last year or so. So early OS X adopters may have switched to Sibelius for this reason. But many composers and musicians that I know are still using OS 9. And there are still lots of solid reasons to choose Finale – its Scroll View, for example. This lets you display the score in a continuously scrolling fashion on-screen, as an alternative to its Page view.
With its Exercise wizard, Finale is a good choice for schools, as it makes it easy to create lessons. Publishers will value features such as the Patterson Beams plug-in, which changes the beams in music to follow a specific house style. Composers and arrangers will value features such as Explode, which instantly expands music from one or two staves into full orchestrations.
There are lots of ways to get your music into Finale. Use a MIDI keyboard or the computer keyboard, or scan music using the MIDISCAN feature. Or just whistle the tune! Play any monophonic instrument into a microphone connected to the Mac’s microphone input, and Finale’s MicNotator feature will convert the audio into notes in your score. Finale can also turn a score into a Web page published on your own site or offered for sale on the Finale Showcase Web site.
Like Sibelius, Finale lets you apply playback styles including Baroque, Jazz, and Reggae and you can save a performance as an audio file. The new Drum Groove plug-in instantly creates notated drum parts in a wide variety of styles. This isn’t as sophisticated as the similar feature in Sibelius – it doesn’t let you specify intro and ending bars, for example, or fill a given number of bars – but there’s a better selection of grooves provided.
Unlike Sibelius, Finale does not include the Kontakt Player, but it is possible to use the Garritan Personal Orchestra (www.garritan.com) with Finale – although I could not get this to work on my G5.
Sibelius has lots of stuff that I would like to see in Finale, and vice versa. Nevertheless, Finale’s sheer weight of features ensures that you are getting great value for money – and Finale retails for around half the price of its main competitor.