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Author Topic: Replicating Finale with MuseScore 3 & 4  (Read 11542 times)


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Replicating Finale with MuseScore 3 & 4
« on: December 19, 2022, 02:25:11 AM »

Replicating Finale with MuseScore 3 & 4

Disclaimer: The goal of this guide is to get your MuseScore sheets to look like Finale-made sheets that are on the site.
To submit sheets to NinSheetMusic, you will still need sheets made in Finale/Notepad, for help with that see cacabish's work.

This guide will help you make your MuseScore sheets look as close as possible to regular NinSheetMusic sheets (made in Finale).
I will be focusing on MuseScore 4, as it is the newer MuseScore version, has more advanced engraving settings, and most importantly it has Finale's Maestro music font. However, I also compare to MuseScore 3 when there's a noticeable difference between the two.
I explain my steps in creating sheets that look like Finale, and talk about the limitations of MuseScore in this regard. At the end of the guide are resources for you to use: Score templates, style files, and plugins.

For archival's sake, here's the link to my previous findings on MU4. In it, I mostly explain the different features of MU4 and Finale, comparing them side by side and explaining what's possible, what's not, and what can be worked around. This was more a proof of concept, released around the time of the MU4 beta.

1) Display and Page Sizes
Unit Conversion
Finale displays sizes in your preferred units systemâ„¢, whereas MuseScore uses a mix of both units systems and 'spatiums', i.e. the distance between two staff lines. The latter system is often more helpful in a notational context, but makes converting sizes and standardising them less simple.
To help compare both softwares, the length of MU4's spatium, so its staff size, have to be calculated:
  • In the NSM 2019 Template file, a staff is 0.25694 inches or 6.5264 milimetres tall. Dividing by 4 gives us a MuseScore staff space of 1.6316mm, or 0.0642 inches.
  • Additionally, most elements on the sheet are affected by Finale's system scaling settings, so additionally we multiply by a factor of 77% (or 37/48, to be precise).
    Exempt from this factor are any elements not placed on, between, or around staves (such as title text, or layout options like page margins or spacers).
  • Interestingly, the math cancels out on the most part, leaving us with a much nicer factor of Finale units x 12 = MuseScore units.
    Worth noting for the exceptions listed above you may need to multiply by 48/37, and for MuseScore's spacers and similar layout-based elements you might need to divide everything by 2 (no clue why). Text is only affected by the system scaling factor, so if 'Fixed size' is unchecked in Finale you will have to slightly reduce the size of the text in MuseScore.

Page Margins
The generally recommended page margin sizes are 0.5 inches (12.7mm) on all sides, and to account for the piano brace if needed.
While these values are unenforced by the updating team, they are the ones present in the NSM template file and thus used most often.

MuseScore 4, like Finale, places the piano brace outside of the margins. Therefore we can base our values here off the template directly (0.5in=12.7mm everywhere except the left margin, which is 0.59in=14.99mm).
MuseScore 4 also has the option to place the piano brace inside of the page margins, like MuseScore 3, so it makes most sense to use 0.5in=12.7mm in this case. My templates use this option for both MuseScore 3 and 4, as it's easier to work with.

2) Engraving settings
To get the Finale look and feel in MuseScore, we need more than just Finale's music font. We also need the engraving rules and presets Finale uses, things such as text styles, object sizes, or placement/positioning options. Most of these engraving rules can be found in Finale's Document Options window, but some are scattered around various other places as well. Fortunately, MuseScore stores them all in one place, its style window. A lot of these values can be directly copied and converted from Finale to MuseScore, but due to the programs being different in certain ways I had to make certain adjustments.

MuseScore's style options are improving every update, but still are slightly less advanced than their Finale counterparts. Thankfully, almost all of the options needed for making NinSheets are near identical, so this barely affects us :)
Below I talk about some of these options, but this is by far not all of them! Anything not mentioned here should work without any noticeable difference in behavior.

Color Code
Not a problem, I just wanted to bring it up
Possible to achieve with a little work
There is a workaround/option available, however it is either annoying to do or not 100% accurate
There is no workaround available. We have a problem.
  • (Sub-) Beam Distance
    In MU4, there is no way to precisely change the distance between a beam's primary and secondary/tertiary components. Not to worry, the program does offer a 'regular' and 'wide' setting, with the regular setting coinciding with Finale's default.
    MU3 has the precise option to do this, so no differences between Finale there either.
  • Grace Note Placement
    MuseScore 4 has a customisable default setting for this, MU3 doesn't.
  • Page Numbers
    In MuseScore it's possible to set a 14pt font size for page numbers and 12pt for the mini-title (in a slightly hacky way), as per the Formatting Guidelines. However, many sheets submitted use 12pt for both instead (probably due to a change in Finale standard).
  • Repeat Dots
    MuseScore 4.0 displays the repeat dots a little too low when using Finale Maestro, which means you'll need to adjust then (or run my plugin for it) each time you add a repeat barline. MuseScore 4.1 (and MuseScore 3) uses the correct placement.
  • Beaming Over Rests
    MuseScore doesn't have an option to automatically beam over rests. This may change in a future release. For now, manually changing the beams works fine, and if you're interested I wrote a plugin to do it automatically.
  • Staccatos on stem side
    Since MuseScore 4.1 (and templates version 2.3) staccatos on the stem side center over the notehead, as is desired. For older MuseScore versions, you can either adjust each staccato marking manually, or run my staccato aligner plugin over them.
  • Rest placement
    Rests in multi-layered measures are placed closer together in MuseScore than in Finale. However, you will probably want to reposition these rests anyway (and the MuseScore defaults actually save a lot of work here).
  • Courtesy Clefs
    Finale likes placing courtesy clefs on the left side of a repeat barline, while MuseScore's engraving system places them to the right. With a few adjustments this can be changed, but you'll need to do so every time.
  • Tempo Markings
    By default, MuseScore's tempo markings look a little different to those of Finale, but it's possible to get the right look: Notehead, equals sign and number should be 9.25pt/regular, and everything else (parentheses, expressions) should be 10.8pt/bold.
    To save yourself the hassle of setting this every time, you can hold ctrl+shift and drag the finished marking into a pallette, saving it for future uses, or you can use my Tempo Creator plugin.
  • Voltas (1. and 2. Endings)
    MuseScore doesn't automatically break voltas over multiple measures. MU3 has an easy workaround for this, and since 4.1, so does MU4.
  • Slurs & Ties
    MU4 has a completely redone system for automatically placing slurs and ties, now the placement takes into account accidentals, other ties, and barlines. However, they are still less curved than in Finale and will frequently need to be adjusted.
    MuseScore doesn't yet support having different thicknesses for slurs and ties, so ties look a little thicker than in Finale.
  • Piano Brace
    Finale allows you to shape and customise the piano brace, whereas MuseScore, in most cases, does not. Unfortunately, the shape of the brace stored in the Finale Maestro font is different to what Finale itself actually uses, meaning the brace in MuseScore is slightly too wide.

3) Side by Side Comparison: Finale (left) vs. Template v2.0 (right)

4) The Templates

Using the information from above, I've created Template Files (regular MuseScore files you can load) and Style Files (engraving-rules-only files you can apply to existing scores).

Installing the template files for future access
To use the template file as a template, save it under './MuseScore X/Templates', where it will then show up under 'Create from Template/My Templates' (or, in MU3, on the second page of the score creation wizard). After you've worked through the creation settings, you'll have a sheet that is ready to go and follows the NSM Formatting Guidelines!
Alternatively, you can make a new copy of the template file every time you make a new sheet. This is the most accurate way of creating sheets, as no settings will be missed (such as customised bpm marking, instrument names, etc).

To use the style file, save it under './MuseScore X/Styles'. After that, you can load it by right clicking on a sheet's page/Load Style, or from 'Format/Load Style'.
You can apply the style file to an existing score at any time, making it a great option to convert non-finale looking sheets or to apply updates to them.

It's worth noting that both template files are set to US-Letter page size, but loading an A4 style file over them will change it :)

How to use the Templates
After loading the template or style file, you can pretty much continue using MuseScore as you already were. However, in order to get the most out of the templates' default settings, here are a few things worth remembering:

To add title text in a new score, right click on the title frame -> 'add title/subtitle/composer' (for arranger, use 'lyricist')

To add copyright text, you can either manually add copyright info to the score properties tab (project properties in MU4), or use my copyright plugin (makes including the NSM URL much easier) which is linked with the templates below.

If you haven't created a new score, you might need to make sure that the mini-title on pages 2+ sets itself to the title itself, and not to "Title". To do this, go to File/Score Properties (MU3) or File/Project Properties (MU4) and enter the desired title in the 'workTitle' field.

If you're creating a sheet using the style file, you may have to remove the 'Pno.' abbreviation from the instrument. To do this, head to staff/part properties (MU3) by rightclicking on a note /staff part properties, or by clicking the settings icon in the instruments panel (MU4). From there you can delete it.

I've also created various MuseScore plugins to make working with the templates faster, they can be found in the 'NSM Tools' folder in the GitHub repo.
You can check out my profile for other non-related (but definitely time-saving) plugins.

  • v2.3 (09/12/23):
    • Incorporation of MuseScore 4.1 style settings: Staccatos now align over the notehead
    • Rehearsal marks now match the look of Finale
    • Improved pedal sizes
    • Margins in the Mu4 templates match the new Finale templates
  • v2.2 (06/07/23):
    • Page margins have further been improved, content is now centered on the page
    • Positioning of accidentals has been adjusted
    • Improved sizes for text items such as dynamics, codas/segnos, measure numbers & volta numbers
    • Parentheses on 8va markings now 'hug' the symbol more nicely
    • (MU4 only) The dashes on 8va lines now match Finale's settings
    • (MU3 only) Fixed spacing issues concerning thick and repeat barlines
    • Other minor improvements
  • Staccato Aligner Plugin v2.0 (05/07/23):
    • The plugin now works in MuseScore 4 (and requires at least MuseScore 3.5)
    • The plugin is much less intrusive, both visually and behind the scenes
  • v2.1 (05/07/23):
    • Minor fixes to the v2.0 changes
  • Repeat Dot Aligner Plugin (05/04/23):
    • This plugin adjusts the position of repeat dots to match the desired height, as they appear too low down when using Finale Maestro/Broadway music fonts.
    • Select one or more barlines, repeats or not, and run the plugin!
    • MuseScore 4 only.
  • Staccato Aligner Plugin (04/07/23):
    • This new plugin centers stem-side staccatos over the notehead rather than the stem, as is customary in older Finale versions.
    • The plugin applies itself to a selection
    • It doesn't yet work in MuseScore 4
  • 8va Aligner Plugin (04/03/23):
    • This new plugin neatly repositions ottavas' text and line to be closer in line with Finale's standard. Select individual 8va markings or a range of measures and run the plugin!
    • The plugin detects whether va or vb is being used and adjusts the positions accordingly
    • Compatible with MuseScore 3.3 and later
    • MuseScore 4 users will need to make sure that one the template files is applied first
  • Tempo Generator v1.1 (04/03/23):
    • Editing the BPM marking after creation now affects the in-score tempo
    • Fixed mistakes in non-q BPM values
    • Improved visuals for dots in MuseScore 3
    • Minor code improvements
  • Tempo Generator Plugin (03/30/23)
    • This new plugin allows for tempo expressions, metric modulations, and BPM indications to be added in the correct format with relative ease
      (MuseScore 4 doesn't yet allow for precise enough input to do this regularly)
    • The plugin detects and replaces existing tempo markings if necessary
    • For correct formatting please to make sure that one the template files is applied first
    • The copyright plugin was updated as well so both plugins are nested in MuseScore 3
  • v2.0 (03/28/23):
    • Rescaled almost all text and engraving options to match Finale's system scaling
    • further improved tuplet settings
    • (MU4 only) added default positioning to grace notes
    • Improved default settings for composer/arranger text
    • Repositioned text on first page
    • No more text on glissandos
    • New default system spacing options
    • Improved default positions for most score-based elements, less manual adjusting required
    • Improved slur/tie thickness
    • Various other improvements
  • v1.7 (03/15/23):
    • Improved compatibility with multiple instruments
    • Improved tuplet settings
    • Other minor fixes
    • MU3 files received some changes I had previously missed
  • Copyright Plugin (02/26/23):
    • Generates copyright text in the NSM format
  • v1.6 (02/16/23):
    • Readjusted stave size
  • v1.5 (02/04/23):
    • Improved first system indent
    • Complete replacement of musescore-only text fonts
    • Automatic ottava bassa hooks
    • Tempo markings now include a pre-formatted expression option
    • Volta text now works in the MU3 templates
  • MU3 (02/03/23):
    • Added templates for MuseScore 3
  • v1.4 (12/23/22):
    • Overhauled text positioning system
    • Various other engraving adjustments
  • v1.3 (12/22/22):
    • Page numbers are now automatically the correct size
  • v1.2 (12/20/22):
    • Improved page margins + accompanying text positions
    • Cleaned up the sheet's metadata to allow for a smoother import
  • v1.1 (12/19/22):
    • Incorporation of staff size, page settings & engraving settings
  • v1.0 (10/25/22):
    • Basic formatting adjustments and use of Finale Maestro music font
« Last Edit: September 12, 2023, 10:16:04 PM by XiaoMigros »

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