Patterson Beams Plug-in

How to get there

Choose Plug-ins > Note, Beam, and Rest Editing > Patterson Plug-ins Lite > Patterson Beams.

What it does

The Patterson Beams plug-in edits beams and stems. The beam function adjusts both stem lengths and beam angles based on the staff positions of the notes and the number of notes in the beam. Wedges, white triangular space between the beam and a staff line, are also removed.

The stem function of Patterson Beams affects only stand-alone stems that receive shortened stems. These are stems pointing in the “wrong” direction, normally because they have been frozen, are attached to a chord, or are part of a multi-voice texture. Finale arbitrarily shortens stems to the short-stem length, creating an ugly transition between normal and shortened stems. Furthermore, only unflagged stems are shortened. The stem function of Patterson Beams smooths out the transition between normal and shortened settings and also includes flagged stems. (Stems with more than 2 flags are appropriately lengthened.)

The beam function works in conjunction with the Document Options - Beams (under the Document menu). The plug-in always works from Finale’s default positioning, which is different depending on the beam settings. The modal differences in behavior are most noticeable when the note closest to the beam is not an endpoint. Ultimately, you will probably still have to manually adjust some beams, but the goal of the plug-in is to automatically position the beam for a large majority of cases. If you use the beam functions of the plug-in, we recommend the following settings in Document Options - Beams: Allow Primary Beam within Space checked, Extend Beam over Edge Rests unchecked and Max Slope a multiple of 6. See Document Options - Beams.

Unsupported options

Certain options are not supported by Patterson Beams. If the plug-in recognizes a stem or beam employing an unsupported option, it skips the beam or stem without making any modifications to it. For beams, these options are unsupported only on the endpoint notes.

  • Grace Notes
  • Note Percent Reductions
  • Cross Staff Notes
  • Notes With Reversed Stems
  • Custom Stems
  • Rest At Beam Endpoints
  • Split Stem Duplicate Beams

The plug-in has only limited support for beam extensions, especially when used to create tremolos. A beam is skipped unless the primary beam is connected to the stem of at least one endpoint. Even then, processing is somewhat limited.

  • French Beams: Create • Remove. With French beaming, interior stems only extend to the first beam, instead of all the way to the eighth beam. Check French Beams, and then Create or Remove to apply or clear French Beams in the selected region upon clicking OK.
  • Ignore If Manually Edited Beams/Stems. Check this box to skip over beams or stems that have been edited by the Special Tools tool, either directly or through a plug-in.
  • Beautify Beams. Check this box to enable the beam functions and modify the beams.
  • Beams Should Never Cross Spaces. Check this box to make the slants of all beams narrow enough that they never cross a staff space. This option performs the same function as “Allow Primary Beam Within Space” in the Beams portion of the Document Options dialog box (under the Document menu). See Document Options - Beams.
  • Max. Slope Angle (Degrees/Units). If the check box is checked, the plug-in may steepen the beam angle up to the specified angle (up or down). If the check box is unchecked, the plug-in will use the Max. Slop setting in the Beams portion of the Document Options dialog box (under the Document menu). See Document Options - Beams.

    The plug-in always avoids wedges, so it uses a shallower slope when the max would cause a wedge. The plug-in determines the maximum slope amount based on the actual angle entered in the degrees text box between the beginning and ending stem tips. This choice is spacing-sensitive, so the vertical distance will be greater if the notes are widely spaced and less if they are narrowly spaced. If you specify Degrees, then the plug-in determines the maximum slope amount based on the actual angle in degrees between the beginning and ending stem tips. You can also change the amount based on a fixed distance in your current measurement units (Finale > Measurement Units).

  • Preserve Flatness. Checking this option assures that any beams that are flat in their default state remain flat after the plug-in has processed them.
  • Beams On Thirds Can Slant A Full Space. Check this box to allow a beamed third to have a slant of a full space, which is equal to the slant of the note interval. Normally, the slant of a beam must be at least 1/4 space less than the slant of the note interval. Note: Other settings, such as Max Slope and Beams Should Never Cross Spaces, may override this setting.
  • Increase Beam Thickness to Compensate for Beam Angle. Check this option to instruct Patterson beams to increase beam thickness if necessary for beam angle alterations.
  • 3-Beam Groups In Staff Can Slant Fractional Space • Only If Slant Should Be Less Than A Space. Check this box to allow the plug-in to apply beam slants as small as 1/4 space for 3-beam groups where appropriate. With default beam separation of 18 EVPU, such small slants lead to wedges, but other options either in Finale or the Patterson Beams plug-in can mitigate the wedges.

    Checking “Only If Slant Should Be Less Than A Space” tells Patterson Beams to use beam slants of whole-space increments for 3-beam groups in the staff that would have a beam slant of at least one space anyway. It is meaningless if “Beams Should Never Cross Spaces” is checked, because with this option, no in-staff 3-beam slant can be more than 1/4 space. You might choose this option if you are using Additional Separation to avoid 3-beam wedges and want to limit the times you get the additional separation this causes where it is absolutely required to avoid a flat beam.

    To ensure beams will sit, straddle or hang on staff lines, a traditional engraving practice is to increase the space between beams if the slant should be less than a space. These settings address this issue.

  • Additional Beam Separation For 3-Beam Groups. Checking this option brings up the 3-Beam Groups dialog box. Unchecking it causes Patterson Beams not to apply additional separation for 3-beam groups, but it preserves your settings if you want to re-enable them later.
  • Additional Beam Separation For 4-Or-More-Beam Groups. Checking this option brings up the 4-Or-More-Beam Groups dialog box. Unchecking it causes Patterson Beams not to apply additional separation for 4-or-more-beam groups, but it preserves your settings if you want to re-enable them later.
  • Beautify Stems. Checking this option to enable the stem function. Leaving the option unchecked causes a sudden shift from normal stem length to short stem length. The stem length values are specified in the Stems category of the Document Options (under the Document menu). If you check this option, then the plug-in adjusts the stem lengths by 1/4-space increments to create a smooth transition from long to short stem lengths.

  • Stem-Rev. Offsets: Upstem • Downstem. These values tell the plug-in where to begin transitioning to short stems, for stand-alone stems. The value is given in staff steps. Furthermore, you can control upstem and downstem notes separately.

    Tip: You might set the downstem offset to 0 or even +1 if you had text underlay that pushed up close to the staff. In treble clef, this would result in shorter stems on downstem b1's or even c2's.

  • Use Different Short Stem Length for 16ths (and Smaller) • Short Stem Length For 16th. Check this option to specify a different short stem length for notes with 2 or more flags. Depending on your music font or the style of flags used, your short stem length for unflagged and single-flag notes may be too short for notes with 2 or more flags. You can use this option even if Beautify Stems is unchecked. When you do, all flagged stems get short stem-lengths, just like unflagged stems, but no transition between short and long occurs.

    Enter a value for the minimum stem length for notes with 2 flags. Notes with more than 2 flags add 24 EVPUs (1 space) to this length for each additional flag.

  • Use This Value For Flagged 8ths Also • Only If Downstem. Check this box to apply the alternative short stem length to flagged 8ths as well as 16ths and smaller values. You might choose this option if the flag character on your music font does not permit shortening these stems as much as for unflagged notes. Check Only If Downstem to avoid changes to upstem flagged 8ths.
  • OK • Cancel. Click OK (or press RETURN) to confirm, or Cancel to discard, the changes you’ve made.

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