I’ve been searching for information on how to notate microtonal music in Finale and get it to play back properly. Since it’s hard to find good documentation on this, I wanted to share my findings. (As a side note, I’ve come across a number of forum posts by people saying they only want to do microtonal notation and they don’t care about playback. Really?) Here’s the easiest approach that I’ve found so far, working with Finale 2012:
Step 1: Create a Nonstandard Key Signature with your preferred number of subdivisions of the octave, and assign accidental symbols as you like. The best explanation of how to do this I’ve found is in this PDF by Ere Lievonen.
Step 2: Set up the Aria player that comes with Finale to use a Scala file that defines your tuning. For this, you’ll need a recent version of the Aria player, since Scala integration seems to be a newer feature. The basic process is as follows:
- Set MIDI/Audio->Play Finale Through Audio Units
- Open this dialog: MIDI/Audio->Audio Units Banks & Effects
- Click the pencil icon for Bank 1 to open the Audio Unit Viewer
- Select Settings from the tabs on the right and look for the area labeled Tuning
- Import your chosen Scala file
That’s it (for this summary, at least).
Of course, if you only want to experiment with nonstandard tunings that have 12 notes per octave, you can skip Step 1 and go right to Step 2, selecting your Scale file in Aria Player. There are a couple of Scala files included in the Aria installation, and you can download many more at the Scala site. The neat thing is that if you do want more than 12 notes per octave, Step 1 and Step 2 work well together: if your nonstandard key signature has, say, 24 notes per octave and your Scala file has 24 notes, they’ll be matched during playback. (This is how it should work, of course, but until I tested it tonight I wasn’t sure it actually would work.) You can get any one of those 24 notes to play back properly by applying the appropriate accidental as you defined in Step 1. It’s no longer necessary to use the older technique of creating pitch bend expressions.
I’ve just begun playing with this and will update this post as I learn more.