Makemusic (www.makemusic.com) releases a new version of its flagship product, Finale, each year. Sometimes the advances are radical, other years less so. Finale 2012 offers users who rely on the Garritan Orchestra instruments that have shipped with the product for the last several years increased flexibility in instrument assignment, more control over the audio engine, greater implementation of the Unicode standard, a significant simplification of the score spacing function, and a printing option that, while not sexy, is the new feature I find most useful.
If you’re a power user who integrates score creation software into a fully loaded work station environment, the advancement in Finale’s audio engine may not interest you. I hit Finale after a score is completed, and therefore have little experience routing staves to the instruments from the Garritan library. However, it’s obvious that the new, highly customizable Score Manager feature will be extremely attractive to writers who need to maximize control over Finale’s internal audio play back functions. Each year Makemusic moves a few steps closer to developing Finale into a stand alone DAW for composers who need to verify the accuracy of their scores solely within this environment.
Let’s face it: spacing remains the most problematic aspect of all notation products. Allowing for fluid placement of all the symbols and articulations that make up a score is simply a difficult job for any program to handle. All of us have had frustrating moments entering a forte symbol and then having to grab and place it where we thought it was originally stamped.
I write several large orchestral works a year, and spacing of systems is an issue that I have to deal with. In 2011 Makemusic made it easier to grab individual systems and move them around without disturbing neighboring ones. The new Space Systems plug-in goes a step further. You can grab an individual page, several, or the entire score and experiment with the different spacing options… very helpful.
Most of my scores are written on a Windows 7 machine. Previous versions of Finale forced me to load Cute PDF, a free app that acts as a go between between Finale and the PDF format. This year Windows users have been given the gift of elimination- scores can be saved as PDF docs directly, and in addition to the convenience factor there’s another huge advantage: Finale 2012 uses its own page size functionality, not the computer’s, so the size of the score you output is aways correct. Save an 11 x 17 score as PDF, and you can print the PDF will print to either an 8.5 x 11 or 11 x 17 inch printer accurately.
If you use this application and are interesting in streamlining your workflow, FInale 2012 is clearly worth considering.