Using Microtones in Finale

For those composers wanting to use microtones in Finale, I have created the Accidentals font. (See the link in the Free Fonts section to download this).

There are a few different ways to do enable microtones in Finale – the most comprehensive yet difficult method is using the Custom Key Signature tool. The Custom Key Signature tool is one of those extremely arcane functions in Finale that seems to require a Ph.D. in cryptography to work out how to use it. Thankfully Owain Sutton posted an very clear method, as outlined below.

    Message: 40
    Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2005 06:00:17 +0100
    From: Owain Sutton
    Subject: Re: [Finale] Microtonality and Glissandos

    Ahhh, the delights of the nonstandard key signature. One of the most
    user-unfriendly features of Finale… ::deep breath:: …

    First of all, I’d start by installing the Accidentals font from here:

    Go to Document Options – Fonts – Notation – Accidentals and change it to
    Accidentals (24pt plain)

    In the Key Signature tool, choose “Nonstandard..” instead of
    major/minor. Choose ‘linear key format’ selected, click ‘next’ twice.
    Click on ‘KeyMap’, and change to 24 diatonic steps for quartertones, or
    48 for 8th-tones. Clicking on the black&white squares, you need to
    change the arrangement to:

    oxxxoxxxoxoxxxoxxxoxxxox (for quartertones)

    oxxxxxxxoxxxxxxxoxxxoxxxxxxxoxxxxxxxoxxxxxxxoxxx (8th tones)

    i.e. place three or seven ‘black notes’ where there’s an interval of a
    tone in a major scale, and one or three for an interval of a semitone.
    Click OK.

    Click ‘Attribute’. This is where you set the symbols for each
    accidental. Click on ‘Symbol Font’ and choose Accidentals (yes, you’ve
    already done this in Document Options, but it can foul up if you don’t
    change both of them).

    Click on Symbol List ID. Start off entering ‘Alter Amount’ as zero, and
    ‘Characters’ as ‘n’, to enter the natural sign, and click ‘next’. Use
    the PDF file which comes with the Accidentals font to choose which
    microtonal symbols you want, and enter ‘Alter Amount’ = 1 for one quater
    or eight step up, 2 for two steps, -1 for one step flat, and so on.
    Enter the letter name corresponding to the symbol you want for each,
    pressing ‘next’ each time. (You may also need to press ‘insert’ before
    ‘next’ – I’ve no idea why)

    (Supposedly ‘AOrdAmt’ can help make playback correct, but it’s never
    worked for me.)

    Once this is done, you can use the “+ 1/2” and “- 1/2” options in Simple
    Entry to raise and lower notes by the microtonal steps you’ve defined.

    I hope this makes some sense. And I hope I’ve not made any errors here 😉


4 Replies to “Using Microtones in Finale”

  1. Matthew, I noticed your post on microtonal accidentals. Very well done font. Have you looked at the Sagittal notation? This is an attempt to put all the requirements of microtonal notation into a single font. It is a bit of a struggle at first, but it has the attractive quality of being able to instantly see the ratio similarities between notes as the keys change. Take a look at some of the work of George Secor and Dave Keenan available at . As a composer who works in small number ratio tunings, it is a dream to work in Sagittal.

    Now if I can just get it loaded into Lilypond…

  2. Thanks Prent for the comment. I’ve known about the Sagittal font for a while. It’s an interesting website – the unusual tuning certainly adds a bit to that piece that is played when the page loads!

    I’ll put a link to it underneath my font, as well as Christian Textier’s Microtona font.

  3. hello Matthew, and Owain,

    just wanted to say THANK YOU for the beautiful font and for the clear instrux on setting up Finale to handle 1/4 and 1/8 notes. Reading ETF files generated by OpenMusic now works seamlessly, with the accidentals correctly displayed. nice,


Leave a Reply