Preparing a Finale file for classic SmartMusic

Assigning instruments, general tips, and compatibility guidelines

A SmartMusic Accompaniment file is essentially an enhanced MIDI file. Classic SmartMusic uses the same method for displaying music notation as Finale, but there are specific requirements and limitations to what can be played and assessed. This tutorial will guide you through editing your Finale document so it is suitable for assessment and/or accompaniment in classic SmartMusic.

In this lesson you’ll learn how to:

  1. Groom an existing Finale file for export to classic SmartMusic
  2. Assign instruments for SmartMusic Accompaniment
  3. Check for compatibility with classic SmartMusic's requirements

Setting up your existing Finale document

Some of the tips below can help you prepare the best possible playback (in Finale or classic SmartMusic) as you notate the score. Other tips address the unique issues of the classic SmartMusic enhancements and limitations.

  • If your document consists of a single instrument, make sure that your formatting is done in the linked part, not the score. Classic SmartMusic uses the formatting and layout of the linked part.
  • If your document has multiple parts, note that the linked part that you are viewing when you export the SMPX becomes the default part in the SmartMusic Accompaniment file.
  • Double-check the playback of the file. Note that if your document is set to Play Finale Through VST, you must select Include Audio when creating the SmartMusic Accompaniment. Otherwise, to hear how the music will sound in classic SmartMusic, choose MIDI/Audio > Play Finale Through MIDI and play the file.
  • The playback cursor always follows the accompaniment file - the playback cursor never follows the displayed notation file.
  • Page scrolling during playback is designed to give you ample time to look ahead in the music. There are certain combinations of repeats that may not scroll properly in classic SmartMusic. A possible work-around is to resize the page using the View menu (Zoom In or Zoom Out).
  • SMPX files with both a pickup measure and a repeat to the beginning of the piece are not supported by classic SmartMusic. These files cause problems with the playback cursor and page scrolling. To work around this issue, create first and second endings that repeat from the first full measure.
  • If you have problems with scrolling playback in SMPX files that contain both a pickup measure and repeats, make sure that in the Finale file, the measure numbering starts on the measure following the pickup measure. In other words, the pickup measure should not be included in the measure numbering.
  • Check the ScoreManager to make sure none of the tracks are muted.
  • Ensemble SMPX files (a multi-staff accompaniment where individual instruments can be switched on or off) cannot display on-screen notation. Of course, you can create solo SMPX files which display the solo part on-screen and play with accompaniment.
  • If an SMPX file that displays the music on-screen uses music fonts or text fonts not available on the end-user's computer, a default font is substituted.
  • Embedded fonts and graphics are not supported in SMPX files.
  • Only single-staff instruments/voices are supported for on-screen notation, with the exception of MIDI keyboard (grand staff).
  • Remove extra or empty measures at the end of the file.
  • Tempos should remain within a range of 20-240 beats per minute for best following.
  • Ritardandi and accelerandos applied to the file will help classic SmartMusic create a smoother tempo change. See Expressions.
  • Keep tempo changes conservative to allow the musician to create their own interpretation and provide a smoother following of tempo nuances for the Intelligent Accompanist.
  • If your file is not playing back properly, try removing grace notes or repeats and re-exporting.
  • No controllers except Volume (#7), Sustain (#64), Room Select (#12), Reverb (#91) and Pitch Bend are allowed. See Continuous data.
  • Finale and classic SmartMusic understand transposing instruments and will adjust accordingly. If you wish to double-check the sounding or concert pitch, use Display in Concert Pitch in the Document menu.
  • Regardless of instrumentation, fingering charts are only shown for the solo instrument.
  • Changing instruments, changing octaves, transpositions by interval, and range checking can all result in vertical collisions on a single staff, between staves in a system, or between systems.
  • If you intend to use the Follow Me (formerly Intelligent Accompaniment) feature, you must have at least 2 staves when saving an SMPX: one staff for the solo or melody line and one staff for the accompaniment.
  • You may want to record all tracks by performing them into Finale using HyperScribe or a sequencer and avoid step-entering notes. Performing tracks adds human variation to velocities, durations and note placement which creates a more natural sounding accompaniment. To achieve a similar effect, enable Human Playback (available in the Playback Settings dialog box).
  • If you’re importing a MIDI file into Finale, make sure you save it as MIDI Type 1 (tracks become staves), so that all of the channels or tracks are separate.
  • Check the tempo playback. Many things can affect the tempo in Finale. Start with the base tempo in the expanded Playback Settings dialog box and Expression Designer dialog box.

Assigning accompaniment instruments

To assign playback instruments, classic SmartMusic looks to the instrument assigned to each staff. It is particularly important to review the instrument assigned to each staff if you are generating a SmartMusic Accompaniment from an existing Finale file, and if the file was setup for playback with a MIDI device other than Finale’s SmartMusic SoftSynth. If you choose to Include Audio when creating the SmartMusic Accompaniment, you can skip these steps.

To assign instruments for SmartMusic Accompaniment using MIDI playback

  1. Choose MIDI/Audio > Play Finale Through MIDI.
  2. Choose MIDI/Audio > Device Setup > MIDI Setup.
  3. For MIDI Out Device, choose SmartMusic SoftSynth and click OK.
  4. Choose MIDI/Audio > Reassign Playback Sounds. A warning appears asking if you want to proceed. Click Yes.
  5. Choose Window > ScoreManager. The ScoreManager appears.
  6. Click the Instrument List tab.
  7. Under the Device column, ensure that SmartMusic SoftSynth appears for each instrument. If it does not, click the dropdown menu for that instrument and choose SmartMusic SoftSynth.
  8. Under the Sound column, ensure that the correct instrument sound is selected for each instrument. If it is not, click the dropdown menu for that instrument and choose the appropriate instrument from the MakeMusic GM : Bank 0 category.
  9. When you have finished assigning instruments, be sure to play the file to review your changes before saving.

Classic SmartMusic Compatibility Guidelines

Some aspects of notation that can be created in Finale are not fully compatible with classic SmartMusic. Some of these detract from assessment accuracy, others cause problems with navigation in classic SmartMusic, others are not supported by classic SmartMusic altogether. Use the following guidelines to ensure your document is properly prepared for classic SmartMusic before exporting the file as a SmartMusic Accompaniment. If your file does not meet these guidelines, you will be prompted with the SmartMusic Accompaniment File Compatibility dialog box, which scans your file, lists all of the conflicts, and allows you to resolve them prior to saving the SmartMusic Accompaniment.

Conflict Compatibility Information
Simultaneous notes in different layers For optimal assessment results, classic SmartMusic prefers to see a single melodic line on one staff. Assessment scores of 100% may not be possible when multiple simultaneous notes occur.
Inconsistent pages For optimal scrolling results in classic SmartMusic, use one page size for all pages and one set of values for all page margins.
Inconsistent system margins For optimal scrolling results in classic SmartMusic, use one set of system margin values for systems 2 thru the end. Ideally, setting up all margins in the Page Format for Score dialog box and selecting All Pages of Current Part/Score from the Redefine Pages submenu will ensure best scrolling results.
Hidden clefs All clefs, even hidden ones, will be displayed in classic SmartMusic.
Nonstandard keys Classic SmartMusic does not support non-standard key signatures.
Ossias/Mirrored Measures Classic SmartMusic does not support Ossias or Mirrored measures.
Staff Usage: Distance From Top For optimal scrolling results during playback in classic SmartMusic, set the Distance From Top of Previous Staff value to 0 in the Staff Usage dialog box.
Page Format for Score: System Margins, Top The top system margin should equal the top value in systems 2-end. See Edit System Margins dialog box.
Hide Key Signature Staff Attribute Classic SmartMusic will still display the key signature. To successfully hide a key signature in classic SmartMusic, create a Staff Style that has Key Signatures unchecked in the Items to Display section of the Staff Style dialog box. See To create a Staff Style.
Chromatic Transposition Staves with a Chromatic Transposition in the Appearance section of the Staff Styles dialog box, must also have Key Signatures selected in the Independent Element section.
Independent Time Signatures Classic SmartMusic does not support Independent Time Signatures.

Now that your Finale document is ready for classic SmartMusic export, you must choose which type of SmartMusic Accompaniment you will create. Click here to configure audio playback for a solo assessment file with accompaniment, otherwise, click Next to review and follow step-by-step instructions for creating these accompaniment types.

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