Steel Trappings

Software for Creating Steel Guitar Arrangements

Software for Creating Steel Guitar Arrangements - Part 4: Note Entry

May 9, 2017 • Mark PruchaEducation and Training

In the previous part, we learned how to make our document more aesthetically pleasing. In this fourth and final part, we will work on note entry to create an arrangement.

Changing the key

When we originally set up our document, we had the ability to specify the key. Currently, our arrangement is in the key of C major. For the purpose of this example, we will change it to G major. To do this, right click on the first measure and choose "key signature". Choose the desired key from the dropdown. (See picture below.)

Finale: Changing Key Signatures

Creating a pickup measure

To create a pickup measure, go to "Document"-> "Pickup Measure". A window will appear to select the duration of the pickup measure. For this example, I want my pickup measure to be two beats, so I select the half note (See picture below.)

Finale: Adding a pickup measure

Click Ok. The first measure in your arrangement is now a pickup measure.

Simple Note Entry

Choose the notes you want from the simple entry palette and place them in either the tablature or standard notation staff. If entering in the tablature staff, specify the fret number by entering a number on your keyboard's number pad. If you are using a Mac without a number pad, hold down Option + Shift and enter the number.

If you've entered notes in the standard notation staff and don't want to re-enter them in the tablature staff, simply highlight the measure(s) from the standard notation staff and drag the highlighted area to the tablature staff. A window will appear to specify the lowest fret you're going to play within the measure(s). (See picture below).

Finale: Generating Tablature Staff from Notation Staff

For this example, I chose two. Unfortunately, Finale will not always be correct as to which string and fret combination is playable. Often it will generate something that's impossible to play on the steel guitar! (See picture below.)

Finale: Showing Impossible Playing Generation

To fix this issue, highlight a fret number in the tablature staff and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to adjust the fret numbers (See picture below.)

Finale: Fixing Impossible Playing Generation

To save time, you can enter notes in the tablature staff first and then drag the measure(s) to the standard notation staff. (See picture below.)

Finale: Alternate Tablature Entry

In either case, we now have a document looking like the one below.

Finale: Measure Resolution

Chord Entry

We can enter chords over measures using the Chord Tool. Select the Chord Tool from the Main Tools Palette and click the area above a measure. (See picture below.)

Finale: Chord Labeling

Tying Notes Together

To tie notes from measure to measure, highlight the notes and hit the letter "t" on your keyboard. You can do this in both the tablature and standard notation staff (See picture below.)

Finale: Tying Notes Together

In Conclusion…

After further note entry, we have an arrangement looking like the one below.

Finale: Completed Arrangement

I hope this series has been informative to you. This series has been designed to give steel guitarists a starting point for learning the program and creating arrangements. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Learning Finale is no exception. If you have any questions, feel free leave them in the comments section or email steel trappings at: editor@steeltrappings.com.

Best of luck,
Mark Prucha

Ed. note: The Mac OSX version of Finale was used for this article. A Windows version of Finale is also available for the PC with identical functionality. Finale files are completely compatible and transferrable between versions, and the current version of Finale is backwards-compatible with previous versions.

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