Nonstandard Key Signature dialog box

How to get there

  1. Choose the Key Signature tool icon and double-click the measure at which you want the key to change. The Key Signature dialog box appears.
  2. From the pop-up menu, choose Nonstandard.

What it does

Noteman says: For an example-based tutorial, see Nonstandard key signatures.

In this dialog box, you can create your own key signatures in any format, based on scales with any number of chromatic steps between one note and the next. Using the five dialog boxes accessed by this one, you can create up to 128 linear key formats (systems of related key signatures) or nonlinear key signatures (key signatures with any configuration of sharps or flats, and which are unrelated to any other key signature) per document. These key formats or key signatures are then available at any time within the document (or, if you save them as a Key Signatures library, in other documents as well).

  • [Scroll bar]. Use this scroll bar to scroll from one key to another in a linear key format. The standard key system is a linear key format—thus you can use the scroll bars to scroll from C to F to B flat, and so on around the circle of fifths.

    This scroll bar is inactive if you’ve specified a nonlinear key signature. By definition, a non-linear key signature is not part of a key system. Instead, it’s a key signature unto itself, so there’s no purpose served by the scroll bar.

  • Tone Center: (#) • Altered: (#). These indicators identify the tone center—the root of the key—and change as you scroll through key signatures. The Tone Center and Altered indicators are always related to C, which is Tone Center zero. The Tone Center number tells you how many diatonic steps away from C the currently displayed key is; the Altered number tells you how many additional chromatic steps away it is.

    If the key signature for G major is displayed, then, the Tone Center is 4, because G is the fourth diatonic step away from C. (The Altered amount—the amount of chromatic alteration—is zero.) If the key signature is E flat, however, the Tone Center is 2, but the Altered amount is –1. (E flat is two diatonic steps away from C, but it’s been lowered by one chromatic step.)

  • Number of Accidentals: (#). This indicator tells you how many accidentals appear in the currently displayed key signature. The number can range from –127 (signifying 127 flats) to 127 (signifying 127 sharps); these extremes are generally not recommended, as they are likely to inspire rage in your performers.
  • Linear Key Format. A linear key format has a scale composed of a repeating sequence of diatonic and chromatic steps. The normal major scale, for example, is a linear key format—in Finale, it’s called Linear Key Format 0. You can define 64 such linear key formats, and scroll through them using the Prev and Next buttons. The scroll bar, on the other hand, lets you move through the different keys within a single key format system.

    Linear Key Format 1, which you can choose by clicking the Next button, is the natural minor scale; if a key signature with no sharps or flats has been set to this key format, Finale considers A, not C, to be the first note of the scale. Because these two formats have been predefined, you’ll find that only the ClefOrd and Attribute icons are operational. Once you’ve selected Key Format 2 or higher (which haven’t been predefined), all five icons are active.

    A linear key format, however, need not proceed around the circle of fifths. You could create a system that proceeds around a circle of sixths, for example. As long as (1) the total number of diatonic steps is an odd number, (2) the scale in each "key" is formed by the same sequence of whole and half steps, and (3) both halves of the scale are formed by the same sequence of whole and half steps (like the tetrachords in a standard scale), it’s considered a linear key format, and sharps and flats may therefore be progressively added to the key signatures as they are in the standard key system.

  • Nonlinear Key Signature. A nonlinear key signature is one for which there’s no "circle of fifths"; in fact, there’s no sequence of keys at all. Whereas a linear key format is a system of related keys and key signatures, a nonlinear key signature is a single key signature unto itself, unrelated in any way to any other key signature. A nonlinear key signature can contain one sharp and one flat, for example, on any notes of the scale, and there need not be any logic to their positions.

    Because a nonlinear key signature has no related progressions to other keys, selecting the Nonlinear Key Signature button renders the scroll bar inactive.

  • Key Map. Click this button to display the Key Step Map dialog box, in which you specify how many steps you want in an octave and the distance between the steps.
  • Acc. Order. Click this button to display the Accidental Order and Amount dialog box, in which you specify which accidentals you want to appear with each progression to a new key (if you’re in a linear key format), and which lines or spaces they should appear on.
  • Tone Center. Click this button to display the Tone Center dialog box, where you can specify the tone center, or "root," of each key, as specified by each appearance of a new accidental in the key signature.
  • Acc. Octave. Click this button to display the Accidental Octave Placement dialog box, where you can specify the octave in which you want each accidental to appear, based on each individual clef.
  • Attributes. Click this button to display the Special Key Signature Attributes dialog box, in which you can specify a number of miscellaneous attributes for the key format you’re creating. For example, you can specify nonstandard symbols to be used instead of the normal sharps and flats in the key signature.
  • Prev • Next. Click these buttons to scroll from one linear key format (or nonlinear key signature) to another. Remember that linear key formats 0 and 1 have been predefined as the standard major and natural minor key systems, respectively.
  • OK • Cancel. Click OK to tell Finale that you want to proceed with your key signature selection. Click Cancel to return to the score without changing the key signature. Any key signatures you’ve already created or modified in the Nonstandard Key Signature dialog box, however, will be preserved.

See also:

Key signatures