Composing with Finale Paperback – 3 Oct 2008
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About the Author
Mark Johnson is an employee at MakeMusic who has worked as a technical support representative, quality assurance technician, and technical writer for Finale and all of MakeMusic's notation products. Building off his degree in music theory and composition from St. Olaf College, Mark has experience composing, arranging, and engraving with Finale. He has authored several Finale method guides including Finale Power! and Finale 2008: A Trailblazer Guide, and continues to use and write about Finale on a daily basis."
Top Customer Reviews
If you did not mind reading a manual carefully when facing a question / problem, you would not need this book.
Not bad but too general and for an absolute beginner.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That's where Composing Music with Finale is essential - the author is a composer (interestingly enough, married to a member of the Finale application team!) who uses Finale, and he's produced a work that helps composers use Finale the way they want, in terms of human communication and action. If you are starting out with the program, I can think of no better way to plunge in productively than to go through this book example by example, only turning to the FInale tutorials when indicated. And advanced users - I have been using FInale for 15 years - will also find a great deal of value here. It's possible to skip over well-known and comfortable features in each chapter, and still discover valuable ways of doing things. The focus of the book is different than the focus of a manual, the latter is about knowing how the application functions, and the former is about using the application to notate your own music. This book does that superbly, it's informative, insightful and enjoyable written. If you're looking at this page, you need this book.
Mark Johnson works on improving Finale at Make Music, the company which produces the product. He's been writing reference books for Finale since the 2005 version, a task he takes to with relish, wit and insight.
I regard "Composing With Finale" as one member of the dynamic duo of Finale reference books, the "Trailblazer Guide" version being the other. Where the latter is aimed at the wider community of composers, "Composing With Finale" is focused more on specific styles of music one may need a tool like Finale for, namely classical and jazz scoring.
Having said that, however, this book is self-contained, packed with so much information, tips and tricks, that it would easily serve as your only reference. As with a well constructed musical composition, the sections segue nicely from the opening overture into specific sub-sections of the application's offerings, with a view to, not only explaining what can be achieved with Finale's tools, but what may be possible if you are of the mind to push them.
Issues which challenge classical composers, such as navigating a large score on a computer screen or dealing with instruments which don't make an appearance in the score immediately, are what sets this book apart from the Trailblazing series. There is a section on lead sheets, which takes you from the template set up, through melody, chord symbol and lyric additions, great for band combo or musical theater circumstances, another on choral scores and an excellent section on guitar scoring, including TAB and fretboard diagrams. Imagine printing out your song, complete with solo, TAB, diagrams etc, and, if you've never used Finale for guitar, imagine this: you write the music in a music staff, add a TAB staff and simply drag the music onto it and it creates the TAB without any problem. That is amazing and impresses me no matter how many times I use it. Anyway, that's Finale, not this book, but if you write guitar music using another app, you'll want to know about that.
The other section I gained most insight from was the 14 pages dealing with MIDI, possibly the weakest area of Finale, and the most difficult to understand, even with a background in music sequencing. The MIDI section of Finale reminds me of computer applications circa 1987. As a matter of fact (he said, with rising intensity), the now defunct sequencer "Vision", from Opcode, on a Mac Plus in 1988 provided a more intuitive MIDI experience than Finale does right now. (end of rant). Luckily, Mr. Johnson makes a good fist of explaining how to get the best out of this area of the application, meanwhile reminding us that Finale is a notation program and works very well in conjunction with your sequencer.
I imagine many Finale users, like myself, came to Finale after becoming fed up with the clumsy scoring section of their sequencer of choice, deciding that a dedicated scoring application would address all those quirky tempo/key changes that the pared down sequencer version stumbled over. For these users, the Trailblazing Guide series is really helpful, offering much more than you bargain for, but in edible amounts.
What happens in some cases though, is that your appetite for what is possible becomes whetted and a book such as "Composing With Finale" with its more classical focus is readily added to the reference library, and the possibility that your songs, ideas and/or compositions could be revisited becomes apparent. This is certainly what happened in my case. Mark Johnson uses his books to not only provide an unfolding level of understanding of Finale's potential, but as an inspirational tool in itself.
He's fun to read. He know what he's talking about.
I've written things which I wouldn't have written if not for ideas which Mark Johnson gave me in this book. There it is.