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MUSC266: Advanced Composition: Using Finale in the Music Library

A guide to using Finale in the Music Library

What is in this guide?

Example of musical notation with guitar chords in Finale

Do you want to write down your music so it looks professional? All the computers in UNC-Chapel Hill's Music Library are equipped with Finale, a music notation program (2010 version). This guide will help you get started with Finale. 


This guide is meant for beginners and is not comprehensive.

Using Finale with a piano keyboard: Speedy entry

The music library has two computers with full-size piano keyboards and several mini-keyboards you can check out for 3 hours to use with your own computer. These keyboards connect to Finale using Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI).

While you can use the MIDI keyboard for simple entry, it is even more useful for Speedy entry. In Speedy entry, you place one hand on the piano keyboard and the other on your number keypad. As you press down on your desired note, you press down on the corresponding duration, where:

  • 2=32nd note, 3=16th note, 4=eighth note, 5=quarter note, 6=half note, and 7=whole note (etc.).
  • For dotted values, press the "." key to add the dot
  • To add an accidental, press "+" for sharps and "-" for flats
  • For rests, you simply need to press the corresponding number

You can also use the Speed entry without a MIDI keyboard by clicking on a measure and then pressing the arrow keys to move the note up or down. While it takes some initial practice, Speedy entry is faster to use than simple entry.

Online tutorial and user manual

Finale has free starter tutorial online which you can access through the link below. Skills taught in the tutorial include: Finale's Setup Wizard, simple entry, layering voices, playback, adding lyrics, generating parts, and much more.

For more detailed information on using the program, you can access Finale's user manual (with a search function) from within the program by pressing the "User Manual" button.

Finale Setup Wizard

Use Finale's Setup Wizard (Under File → New → Document with Setup Wizard) to create your music file. In the Wizard, you can specify the composer, title, copyright, instrumentation, time sigature, key, tempo marking, and pick-up note, if applicable.

Basic tools

If you hover your cursor over the boxes with icons (called tools) at the top of the screen, Finale will display the name of the tools. Here's a description of some of Finale's basic tools:

  • Staff: Add more staves, change how staves are labeled, or alter spacing between staves.
  • Key signature: Change key signatures, even mid-measure.
  • Clef: Change clefs (to change a clef for the entire piece, use the Staff tool).
  • Smart shape: Create and edit slurs, "hairpin" dynamics, pedal marks, and long trills.
  • Measure: Change barline types, edit measure numbering.
  • Articulation: Mark notes with staccato, marcato, legato, etc.
  • Expression: Click on notes or measures to add dynamics, tempo markings, etc.
  • Page layout: Change size of staff systems, move staff systems around.
  • Lyric: Add lyrics to your music.
  • Tuplet: Make odd divisions of the beat, such as tuplet.
  • Chord: Insert chord symbols into your music. The jazz font scores have the best chord symbol banks.

Music Public Services Librarian

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Diane Steinhaus
Music Library

(919) 966-1113
Subjects: Music, Streaming Music

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  • Last Updated: Jan 18, 2022 4:13 PM
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