Priced at under £300, Finale 2006 is the best value pro music scoring package available for Mac users
Excellent scoring tool
Very competitive price
Advanced playback features
Integrated Garritan and Kontakt sounds
Graphical and notational improvements
Conflicts with one or two AU plug-ins
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The Finale music notation program has been around for more than a decade and, like Sibelius (issue 160), it evolved from a basic notator into a powerful package capable of dealing with complex scores, multi-timbral playback and a host of other applications.
In fact, it has already been used by composers to create scores for films as diverse as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2 and Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby. This latest version comes with a host of new features to enhance its functionality and ease of use.
Finale 2006 comes with two professional audio instruments - Garritan Sounds and Kontakt Player - which can be used to produce great sounding scores. Garritan Sounds is essentially a special Finale edition of the highly acclaimed Garritan Personal Orchestra.
It includes more than 100 studio-quality orchestral sounds, while Kontakt Player, made by Native Instruments, is a handy instrument capable of creating a more modern range of sounds. Both of these are expandable.
Studio with a view
Another handy new feature is Studio View, which enables the user to easily create and shape ideas into songs, arrangements and compositions. It features integrated sequencer controls which enable you to set volume, panning, patch and other settings for all staves, in real time, and the powerful new mixer. By clicking the Record button, you can craft melodies and try out other notes. While you're recording, you can see the notes appear on the staff and hear them played with the high quality onboard sounds.
TempoTap enables you to tap 'human' tempo changes into a score with your keyboard's spacebar and you can hear the tempo changes in your music as you tap along. Your playback nuances are automatically retained for future performances and, if you're not happy with them, you can redo them.
Other new features include textured paper backgrounds, embedded graphics, backwards compatibility with earlier versions of Finale, mid-measure repeats, automatic resizing of note heads, extra MIDI channels, and support for most VST/AU plug-in instruments made by Native Instruments.
Finale 2006 can now also add chords to your music by analysing any number of staves and placing chord symbols automatically according to your specifications. It's a neat and useful trick for inexperienced composers or others who simply want to work fast, letting the software do as much as possible!
Other new time-saving devices include a Score System Divider, which automatically inserts or removes score system dividers to mark separations between staff systems on the same page, and Auto-Slur Melismas; Finale 2006 analyses your lyrics and automatically places slurs whenever a syllable lasts for more than one note.
Other enhancements include Roll-Over Tool Tips (move your mouse over any software icon to reveal a tip on how to use it), smoother onscreen graphics, faster screen redraw, autoresizing when printing, and advanced measure numbering.
Overall, Finale 2006 is a staggeringly powerful tool. It makes scoring easy, even for relatively inexperienced musicians, and the notations it produces look as good as any professional manuscripts. It is equally at home creating jazz, orchestral and band scores as it is at notating for one instrument.
Most significantly, Finale 2006 boasts enough features (plus a few extras) to rival Sibelius 4, and yet it costs only half the price. As such, Finale 2006 has to be the best value professional scoring package available. Nothing comes even remotely close at this price! Cliff Douse
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