Articulation Designer dialog box

How to get there

  1. Choose the Articulation tool icon.
  2. Click on, above, or below any note. The Articulation Selection dialog box appears.
  3. Click Create (or select an existing symbol and click Edit).
  4. If an Articulation already appears in the score, double-click the handleA small square which appears on currently "selectable" elements in the score. Handles allow you to select, edit and adjust musical elements in the score. to open the Articulation Designer dialog box.

What it does

An articulation is a one-character marking that affects only a single note (an accent, staccato, or fermata, for example). In this dialog box you can specify the character to be used for the symbol, whether or not (and how) it should be "smart" (capable of centering itself and flipping when the note stem flips), and what playback effect, if any, it should have on the note it’s attached to.

You can make excellent use of these intelligent, self-positioning markings without ever even reading the following descriptions or understanding their workings. Default documents and documents created with the Setup Wizard have articulations corresponding to the document's default music fontThe Default Music Font defines which font is used for notational elements like noteheads, rests, tablature, accidentals, key signatures, time signatures, and articulations in a document. automatically available. To see articulations available in different fonts and change the Default Music Font of your document, see Fonts. To add articulations from another font to your existing document, see Finale Libraries.

  • Articulation • [Arrow controls]. The number at the top of this dialog box is the ID number of the currently selected symbol; click the UP or DOWN ARROW to view the settings of other articulations in the current document’s library.
  • Display on screen only (do not print). Select this checkbox to prevent the articulation from printing.
  • Main • [Display]. The current articulation appears in the Main display. To choose (or change) this symbol, click Main. Finale displays every character (letter, symbol, or marking) for the selected font in the Shape Selection dialog box or Symbol Selection dialog box.
  • Main: Shape • Character. Select Shape to use a shape for the articulation, then click Main to specify the shape. The Shape Selection dialog box appears. You can create your own shapes or combine characters using the Shape Designer dialog box. Select Character to use a symbol for the articulation, then click Main. The Symbol Selection dialog box appears. Double-click the symbol you want to use.
  • Flipped • [Display]. Certain articulations, notably the fermata and marcato symbols, appear one way when they’re above a note (above note fermata or above note marcato), and upside-down (below note fermataor below note marcato) when they’re below a note. You can choose a different character to represent the upside-down version. Click Flipped to view the full palette of shapes or musical symbols in the Shape Selection dialog box or Symbol Selection dialog box. Double-click the one you want to serve as the upside-down version of the Main symbol.

    If you do so, be sure you choose Flipped Symbol from one of the two "When Placed…" dropdown menus described below.

  • Flipped: Shape • Character. Select Shape to use a shape for the flipped articulation, then click Flipped to specify the shape. The Shape Selection dialog box appears. You can create your own shapes or combine characters using the Shape Designer dialog box. Select Character to use a symbol for the articulation, then click Flipped. The Symbol Selection dialog box appears. Double-click the symbol you want to use.
  • Set Font. Click this button to display the Font dialog box, where you can specify which font is used for the articulation.
  • When placed above a note, use the: Main Symbol • Flipped Symbol. If you’ve specified both a Main and a Flipped Symbol to represent this articulation in its upright and upside-down conditions, use this dropdown menu to select which symbol appears above the note. For example, if your Main Symbol was this fermata above note fermata, and your Flipped Symbol was this one below note fermata, you’d choose Main from this dropdown menu.
  • When placed below a note, use the: Main Symbol • Flipped Symbol. If you’ve specified both a Main and a Flipped Symbol to represent this articulation in its upright and upside-down conditions, use this dropdown menu to select which symbol appears below the note. For example, if your Main Symbol was this fermata above note fermata, and your Flipped Symbol was this one below note fermata, you’d choose Flipped from this dropdown menu.

    If there’s no "upside-down" version of a symbol—which is usually the case—choose Main Symbol from both dropdown menus.

    Once you’ve specified which symbol appears above, and which below, a note, Finale places the correct symbol into the score automatically when you select it from the Articulation Selection dialog box. If the note gets transposed so that its stem changes direction, Finale automatically substitutes the inverted symbol.

  • Copy main symbol: Vertically • Horizontally. Some markings—notably the rolled chord and trill symbols—need to be variable in length. For this reason, you can select the Copy main symbol option, which provides two handles on the articulation in the score instead of the usual one. When you drag the second handle, the marking (in the case of the rolled chord and trill symbols, a single segment of a wavy line) duplicates itself as many times as necessary, allowing you to stretch the marking.

    Choose either Vertically or Horizontally from the dropdown menu, depending on how you want the symbol to stretch: Vertically for a rolled chord marking, and Horizontally for a trill. See Trills and Rolled Chords.

  • Playback Effect: None • Change Attack • Change Duration • Change Velocity. Use this dropdown menu to display and edit the settings for the three playback effects that Finale uses when playing back the note affected by this articulation. Choose each Playback Effect option from the dropdown menu, then enter values for that option in the dialog box. Choosing None disables all three playback effects for the articulation.
    • When Change Attack is selected, the attack of the affected note is shifted forward or backward in time (without changing the note’s duration). A negative number tells Finale to strike the note slightly before the beat during playback; a positive number tells it to strike the note just after the beat.

      This option is most useful in creating the rolled chord effect, which you can achieve by entering different values in the Top note value and Bottom note value text boxes. That’s because Finale ranges the attack times of the middle chord notes proportionally between the earliest and latest attacks (as specified by the values in the Top note and Bottom note text boxes), producing a true rolled-chord sound.

      If you want the chord rolled from top to bottom, enter a negative number in the Top note value text box, and zero in the Bottom note value text box. If you enter zero for the Bottom note value and a positive number in the Top note value text box, the attacks of the upper chord notes will be late—in other words, the rolled chord will begin on the beat. For a more detailed discussion, see Rolled Chords.

    • When Change Duration is selected, the numbers in the Top note value and Bottom note value text boxes represent changes in the duration of the affected notes. A staccato mark is a good example of an articulation that uses this setting. When Change Duration is selected, Finale sustains the affected note for its notated value plus the duration indicated in the Top note value text box. (If you want every note of a chord to be sustained by a different amount, enter a different value in the Bottom note value text box too.)
    • When Change Velocity is selected, the numbers in the Top note value and Bottom note value text boxes represent MIDI key velocity (volume) values. These values can range from –127 to 127, where a negative number makes the affected note softer than unaffected notes, and a positive number makes it louder. Your marking will then affect the velocity (volume) of its note; accents, stress marks, and marcato marks are good examples. (A key velocity of 0 = silent playback). See MIDI.
  • Top note value • Bottom note value. These text boxes allow you to enter specific values for increased or decreased attack time, duration, or velocity for the affected notes. The separate text boxes for Top and Bottom notes come into play when you’re attaching an articulation to a chord because a chord’s top and bottom notes can have different key velocity values or durations. Because Finale scales the key velocities or durations of any middle notes proportionally between the values in the Top and Bottom note value text boxes, it’s easy to create effects such as rolled chords.

    If you don’t need a varied playback effect in chord situations— which is likely to be most of the time—leave the Bottom note value text box empty, and enter a value in the Top note value text box; Finale applies the Top note value to the entire chord.

  • Values as percentages. When this checkbox is selected, the numbers you enter into the Top note value and Bottom note value text boxes represent percentages of the note’s notated value. For example, if Change Durations is selected in the Playback Effect dropdown menu, you could enter 50 in the Top note value text box, and the affected note would play back with only half its notated rhythmic value (as in the case of a staccato). If Change Key Velocity is selected, you could enter 150 to represent emphasis that’s 50% greater than an unaffected note (as in the case of an accent).
  • Vertical positioning: Manual • Auto notehead/stem side • Always notehead side • Always stem side • On stem • Above note • Below note. Using this dropdown menu, you can instruct the articulation you’re designing to always appear in—and maintain—a certain vertical position relative to the note or stem.
    • Choose Manual if you want to place this articulation by hand each time you place it into the score.
    • Choose Auto notehead/stem side to allow Finale to decide whether the articulation should reside on the note or stem side of the staff. For example, if the addition of a new layer forces stems to flip, the articulation will also flip to the stem side.

      auto notehead or stem side accent example

      If you manually flip the stem (L) of a note containing an articulation set to Auto note/stem side, the articulation will flip to the stem side. Revert to the default stem (SHIFT+L) to restore the articulation's original placement. (These options are called Flip Stem and Default Stem under Simple > Simple Edit Commands > Modify Entry.) Additionally, this setting automatically handles articulation placement when notes and layers are removed from staves while isolating a voice in a part. See Voicing for Staff in Part dialog box and Articulations in Linked Parts.

    • Choose Always notehead side if this marking should always appear on the notehead side of a note. If a transposition flips the note's stem, the marking remains on the notehead side.
    • Choose Always stem side for a marking that does the opposite—appears on, and always flips as necessary to remain on, the stem side of a note. (If you’ve specified a Flipped symbol, Finale automatically substitutes the upside-down symbol when the stem direction changes.)
    • Choose On stem to always place the articulation on the stem (or where the stem would be). This is mostly used for markings like tremolos.
    • Choose Above note if you want this articulation always to appear above the note, regardless of the note’s stem direction, and Below note if it should appear below the note, regardless of stem direction.
  • Center horizontally • Center over/under stem when stem side. Select the Center horizontally checkbox if, when you place this articulation into the score, you want it to center itself relative to the notehead automatically. (You can always drag it into a new position once it appears in the score, of course.) Check Center over/under stem when stem side to favor centering the articulation to the stem rather than the notehead when stem side.
  • Stack automatically. Use this option to define if an articulation automatically avoids collisions when more than one articulation is present. See Articulation Selection dialog box.
  • Always place outside staff. In one school of music-engraving thought, if a staccato mark (for example) is so close to a notehead that it would appear within the staff lines, it should be placed as close as possible outside the staff, as shown below. Select this checkbox if you want the articulation you’re designing always to fall outside the staff.

    staccatos placed outside of staff example
  • Avoid staff lines. If you want to ensure that the articulation you’re designing will never overlap a staff line, select this checkbox. Note, though, that Finale adjusts the marking so that its handleA small square which appears on currently "selectable" elements in the score. Handles allow you to select, edit and adjust musical elements in the score. doesn’t fall on a staff line. It’s up to you to adjust the handle’s position (using the Handle Positioning button) so that the symbol itself doesn’t fall on a staff line. In the case of large symbols, you may not be able to find a position that doesn’t overlap any lines, but you can use this option (and the Handle Positioning button) to place it in the best position possible.
  • Attach to top note. Use this checkbox to specify whether the articulation should be attached to the top or bottom note of a chord, so that when the notehead changes pitch, the articulation changes position accordingly. Select Attach to top note if the marking’s distance should be fixed from the top note; don’t select it if you want the marking attached to the bottom note.
  • Place stem side when multiple layers are present. This option is available when Above note is selected in the Vertical positioning dropdown menu. This allows articulations to avoid collisions with articulations in other layers when present.
  • Slur interaction: Ignore • Always inside • Auto inside/outside. Use the Slur interaction dropdown menu to choose how articulations behave when a slur is present. Choosing Ignore leaves the slur in its original position and places articulations their default distance from the notehead or stem. This can cause articulations to collide with slurs. Choosing Always inside places articulations their default distance from the notehead or stem and adjusts the positioning of the slur to surround the articulation. If Auto inside/outside is selected, articulations will move when a slur is added or adjusted.
  • Handle Positioning. Finale’s musical symbols are actually just characters in a special font. Because these characters are displayed by the invisible "handle" in the lower-left corner of each symbol, you can adjust the position of each character’s handle, so that all the positioning-sensitive options in this dialog box will work properly; generally, you only need this option to compensate for unusually large symbols (or symbols from unusual fonts); let your eye be your guide. (You don’t need to specify a handle position if you’re using the Center horizontally option.) This button displays the Handle Positioning dialog box. To find out some appropriate handle settings for various articulations, see Finale Libraries.
  • Distance from entry • On-stem distance from notehead. In this text box, specify how far you want this articulation to appear from the notehead. This distance is subject to the other settings you’ve made in this dialog box, such as Always place outside staff. On-stem distance from notehead appears when On Stem is selected in the Vertical positioning dropdown menu.
  • On-stem distance from stem end/flag/beam. This field is active when On Stem is selected in the Vertical positioning dropdown menu. When this value is adjusted, the stem end, flag, or beam is adjusted to compensate for the new space.
  • OK • Cancel. Click OK (or press ENTER) to confirm, or Cancel to discard, the changes you’ve made and return to the Articulation Selection dialog box (or to the score). If you’ve just designed a new articulation, it now appears in the Articulation Selection dialog box.

Tip: if you like an articulation, but need to vary it slightly, duplicate the articulation in the Articulation Selection dialog box, then make your edits in this dialog box.

See also:

Articulations

Breath marks

Trills

Rolled chords

Staccato marks

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