Noteman says: See Tutorial 3: Auditioning your score and Tutorial 8: Playback for step-by-step tutorials on playback in Finale.

In Finale, you can playback using any internal or external MIDI synthesizer, or any VST device installed on your computer, including Finale's included library of high-quality Garritan sounds.

In addition to the sounds used for playback, Finale can play your score several different ways: as recorded during a HyperScribe session, using Finale’s built-in Human Playback technology, or based solely on the notes, rhythms, and dynamics exactly as they appear in the score - and any MIDI data added deliberately with the MIDI or Expression Tool.

Playing your music

Configuring playback sounds

The sounds Finale uses are either MIDI (a SoundFont like Finale's SoftSynth, sound card synth, or external MIDI device) or VST, which are professionally recorded sound samples that make your music sound like a live performance. Using MIDI for playback is a good way to make the most of your computer's resources. They require little RAM and load instantly, making them ideal for quickly auditioning playback as you work with a score in progress. To use MIDI playback, choose MIDI/Audio > Play Finale Through MIDI. If you need the highest-possible sound quality, use VST playback. These sounds require more computer resources, especially for large scores, but offer performance-quality sounds and additional features. For example, if you use Human Playback with the included Garritan VST sounds, Finale includes playback of performance markings automatically (such as changing from arco to pizz.). To use VST playback, choose MIDI/Audio > Play Finale Through VST.

Noteman says: See the Garritan Personal Orchestra & Human Playback Tutorial for details regarding the use of Human Playback with Garritan sounds (including the full version of Garritan Personal Orchestra).

Human Playback vs. recorded MIDI data

When you record music using Transcription Mode, HyperScribe, or when you import a MIDI sequencer file, Finale captures the expressive data including key velocity data (how hard you struck the keys), MIDI continuous data information (the pitch wheel, and other controllers and wheels), and tempo fluctuations. If you “capture” this data before transcribing the performance into notated form, Finale retains it even after the performance has been turned into notation, and can play it back—nuance for nuance—at any time. However, if a score was not recorded from a live performance, you can still listen to Finale’s interpretation which was designed to replicate a live human performance. This feature is called “Human Playback.”

Noteman says: IMPORTANT! To playback a piece using recorded MIDI data, or if you want to include any adjustments to playback added with the MIDI tool or Expression tool, first set Human Playback to None. Human playback overrides all other MIDI information. See To specify playback parameters. The Human Playback Preferences dialog box allows you to select what types of data you want Human Playback to ignore or incorporate. You can also enable or disable human playback by region by adding expressions defined for Human Playback On and Human Playback Off in the playback tab of the Expression Designer dialog box.

Human Playback, which applies to playback by default, generates a MIDI performance far more sophisticated than a straight MIDI performance. This method of playback is designed to read the MIDI data from a score, interpret additional markings, and replicate a human performance during playback. Finale intelligently interprets markings such as tempo indications (i.e. “accel.” or “rall.”), hairpins, tremolo markings, harmonics, and more. You may notice other subtle changes as well, like a slight ritardando at the end of a piece, or an increased volume applied to a solo staff. Because an accurate performance of notated music heavily depends on the style, Finale offers several style choices, including Romantic, Classical and Jazz, to more accurately interpret the score. See Playback Settings dialog box.

When Finale plays back without Human Playback enabled, it responds to any custom musical markings you’ve placed in the score, such as staccato or accent marks, dynamics, and MIDI patch and channel indications. Human Playback interprets default markings automatically, so no further intervention is needed. For details on creating your own playback-intelligent symbols, see Articulations, Expressions.

If you plan to transcribe your real-time performances or use Finale as a notation-based “sequencer,” then it’s important to understand the distinction between a playback of the score and a playback using the captured MIDI data. A number of Finale functions apply to one or the other kind of playback only; the MIDI tool is a good example. Many of its options are specifically intended for the editing of the captured MIDI data, just as you would edit the raw MIDI data of a performance in a sequencing program.

Finally, remember that the notated score and the captured MIDI data aren’t completely independent. Suppose you hadtranscribed a performance with the Transcription Mode in an earlier version of Finale and captured the MIDI data. When you play the piece using the captured MIDI data (with Human Playback set to None), you’ll hear it played with your original “feel”—volume, tempo, pedaling, and so on. Yet you can edit the transcription by changing notes, transposing, adding dynamics or other playback expressions—and you’ll hear the edited music play back with the captured MIDI data still intact.

For instructions on capturing performance data, see To import a MIDI file.

Troubleshooting audio playback