Friday, April 11, 2008

(Re)Learning Finale, Part 2: the initial gripes.

(read Part 1 first, if you like)

The Title

Well, crap.

Right off the bat, I ran into an annoying bit. The title of the movement I'm working on is ВЕЛИЧАНИЕ ИЭБРАННОЙ (The Naming and Honoring of the Chosen One). As I don't have a Cyrillic keyboard and my Russian is a little rusty, I went for the Character Map and laboriously chose the sequence of characters, being very careful to match them to the original text. You may imagine my surprise when instead of my beautifully concatenated characters, ?????????? ????????? appeared when I pasted the title in. ????????? does not make me happy.

After messing around, trying to get the alt+numpad ascii codes to work instead (they don't), I searched the MakeMusic forums (thanks, guys!) and found my solution. It turns out that Finale does not and has never supported Unicode fonts. This means that all of the standard codes that define particular characters past the first 256 just plain-old-do-not-work. The only way to get past this, apparently, was to download a clipboard converter. This would take the gibberish (to Finale) and translate it into something it could recognize (in this case, the Cyrillic subset of Times New Roman).

I was not best pleased that my initial foray was being rebuffed so vigorously. It took something like 45 minutes to figure this whole business out. Remember, this was typing the title.

The Tempo

My second order of business was to put in the tempo marking. This was my second mistake. I've posted a picture of the required tempo at right. I'll grant you that it isn't the simplest of tempi, but still, not something that should be the cause of a major headache. Blithely pressing forward, I attempted to create the sign in the text edit box, only to find that I couldn't even make two beamed eighth notes with the font EngraverTextT. Undaunted, I went for the manual, which proceeded to instruct me to make an extra staff, compose the needed notation, make it into an ossia measure, then hide the scratch staff. To me, this sounded like an unnecessary hassle and one that would precipitate more hassles down the road with extracted parts.

As it turned out, the ossia tool has apparently been neglected over the last decade as staff styles have developed (Thanks again, forum guys!). The ossia tool is amazingly crippled. Not only can't it deal with more than one bar of music at a time, it doesn't display ties. I'll repeat that last part. It doesn't display ties. Since my fancy-pants tempo mark needed a tie, and the whole reason I was messing with this extra-staff business was to get a tie, the fact that it arbitrarily doesn't display ties left me feeling bemused and wondering more than ever what I got myself into.

At this point, I threw up my hands and faked it. I simply made the text expression with two quarter notes next to each other. On the Piccolo and Violin I staves, I added two whole rests as symbols to make the beam. Since I didn't see the hanging tie character in any of the fonts I looked at, I went back to a Sibelius font I knew and defined a new symbol. The resulting hodgepodge looked fine, but extracting parts would be a misery.

What do you know? Learning is fun!

As I was typing this, however, I am a couple more days into this project and have wrestled with the text editor a bit more. I have discovered Finale's wonderfont: MaestroTimes. It includes such fun characters as a small 1 over a small 2, for easy staff names. It also includes many different beamed notes for assembly in the text editor, not to mention the coveted hanging tie symbol. Armed with my new knowledge, I was able to quickly whip up the needed tempo mark with virtually no hassle at all.

It seems like the documentation hasn' t been updated materially in a very, very long time. Even so, I can remember back to when I was learning the program for the first time. It told me to define tempo marks "q = 60", where "q" was in the Petrucci font. This invariably ended up with a gigantic quarter note and tiny text. I cannot imagine what was going through their minds when they recommended that approach. To this day, I still see amateur work done in Finale with that enormous quarter note.

I will chalk this all up to a learning experience instead of any significant flaw in the program. I was eventually able to achieve all of the graphic components I required. Next time: I discover a bug that nobody has ever talked about before. Ever.

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