Billed as ‘the world’s best-selling music notation software’, Finale 2006 has been adopted by leading music publisher Hal Leonard and prestigious music schools such as Juilliard. It has also been used to score award-winning movies such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Spider-Man 2.
Finale’s main purpose is to let you prepare a music score on your computer, edit it, and then print the full score, excerpts from it, or parts for the band or orchestra members to play. One of the great things about Finale is the number of ways you can get your music into the score. The most basic is the Simple Entry Tool. Choose a note value from the palette of icons and just click notes onto a stave or enter notes from your computer keyboard. The Speedy Entry Tool lets you enter music even more quickly, with one hand on a MIDI keyboard and the other on the numeric keypad. If you feel more comfortable playing a keyboard, Finale’s HyperScribe Tool is the one to use. You can play along to a metronome click or tap on a foot pedal to create your own tempo - speeding up or slowing down at will. But what if you play a conventional acoustic instrument such as a clarinet or saxophone? Don’t worry, Finale can handle this too. Hook up a suitable microphone and Finale’s Mic-Notator feature will transcribe monophonic acoustic music into notes in your score!
Those more interested in using Finale as a notation-based pseudo-sequencer will appreciate the playback and MIDI editing capabilities. The Human Playback features let you impart a style, such as Reggae or Jazz, while the MIDI Tool lets you attend to the details. These features are great for getting you started, but if you’re serious about producing a MIDI version of your score, transfer to a proper MIDI + Audio sequencer, such as Logic or Pro Tools. Finale has no MIDI Timecode sync and the MIDI recording and editing features are basic.
The newly integrated Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) sampled sounds are a welcome improvement over the standard synthesized sounds. Even better, Finale’s new Studio View provides individual volume sliders, Solo, Mute, and Record buttons, pan knobs and instrument selector controls to the left of each stave. The staves are all presented in a scrolling view across the page. These controls are duplicated in the audio Mixer, which also has Master controls comprising a volume slider, reverb dial and room-size dial.
The best news for me is that Finale 2006 now lets you use several of the popular Native Instruments plug-ins, including Kontakt, so you can make use of the VSL Opus 2 orchestral library, for example. This, along with the new Studio and Mixer features, undoubtedly helps give it the edge over the competition.