Finale Tips – Custom Transpositions

Today’s Finale tip has to do with transposing instruments, namely the Bb & Eb instruments.

For some reason, Finale’s threshold for sharps is a little high. It will automatically switch a Bb instrument to flats if the key signature is higher than 4 sharps (E, C#min). For the Key of E, however, we’re stuck with 6 sharps. For Eb instruments, it happens in the key of A or F#min. Some people prefer to display the key as flats; if you are one of those people, or you’re engraving for someone who is, here’s how to get it done:

In order to get the Bb/Eb part to display flats instead of sharps, we have to perform some “black magic”, and it’s slightly different depending on the situation. There are 2 ways to do it:

1. If the key doesn’t change throughout the piece

This is the easier/simpler of the two. All it involves is changing the rules of the transposition on each stave, and in effect making a “custom” transposition”. There are 2 numbers we need to change: the first is the interval, the 2nd the key adjustment. The interval just moves the notes up and down. The key adjusts the number of sharps and flats relative to the current key signature. Finale transposes by some mathematical equation that adds up to 11, with the center being 0 (I think).

SO, in the staff attributes, click the “Select…” after “Transposition”. When the Staff Transpositions dialogue box appears, select “Key Signature”, “Simplify Key” should already be checked, now enter the following numbers:

Bb Treble: Interval -2, Key -10 Bb Bass Inst: Interval 9, Key -10
Eb Treble; Interval -1, Key -9 Eb Bass Inst: Interval 13, key -9

2. If the key changes or moves around throughout the chart/piece

The downside to creating a custom transposition is that it now translates EVERY key change that way, so something as simple as F becomes Gbb major, and that’s just freaky. So, let’s say you only need to be in the Key of A or E for a few bars, then it’s right back to simple ol’ F major; what to do?

Remember the settings from above, because they’ll be used here as well, only in the form of a custom Staff Style. Under “Staff”, select “Define Staff Styles…” and create a new one. Every box should be unchecked, so do it if it isn’t, or if you duplicated it from another; select the transposition tab as you did above, and apply the settings above. Use as necessary.

*one slight wrinkle, the last time I used this, I ran into difficulty copying notes from a non-transposing staff to the staff-style-transposed staff, which was easily fixed by re-applying the staff style. While it isn’t perfect, it will get you where you need to go.

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