Having trouble with Finale's playback interpretation (Human Playback®)?

My score doesn't sound right

If your score doesn't sound like you expect it to, there is a chance that Human Playback, Finale's automatic playback processing/interpretation logic, is not doing exactly what you would like it to do.

 

While Human Playback does help enhance your score, there are situations where it may not work as expected. While it is the desire of our development team to improve Human Playback so that many of these gaps are closed as possible, they can still occur. 

 

If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to view Human Playback's efforts to interpret your score as a jump start. Fortunately, Finale gives you the tools necessary to utilize the way Human Playback interprets your score and take it further.

 

1. Apply Human Playback

The Apply Human Playback function (part of the MIDI tool menu) allows you to apply the MIDI data that Human Playback generates when playing back your score, and write it into the score. It then turns off Human Playback. This puts you in a great position to utilize the MIDI tool to edit your playback data (starting from where Human Playback left off) so you have control over playback's results.

 

For more details on finding and using this function, click here for Mac and here for Windows.

 

2. The MIDI tool

Once you have applied your Human Playback data (let it help you as much as you can!), you can use the MIDI tool to edit the playback data in your score and gain control over Finale's playback of your score.

 

The functions in the MIDI tool are among the most complex in Finale. Taking the time to read through the documentation describing the purpose of these functions will help in their utilization: MIDI tool (Mac) || MIDI tool (Windows).

 

Use the remaining sections below to explore some examples on how to use the MIDI tool to enhance playback. At the end of the day (or article I guess) not every circumstance will be covered, so familiarizing yourself with the MIDI tool and utilizing it to meet your score's needs will be most helpful in the long run!

 

Note: Don't start editing the sound of your score, until you have finished adding all the notes and markings into you score. Beginning the process of editing audio should be last per best practice. Save yourself some frustration and wait until you have your music entered before applying Human Playback and editing MIDI data.

 

One more note: Before diving into the world of Human Playback and MIDI - If you have a favorite DAW, Digital Audio Workstation, (like Logic, Pro Tools, etc.) Finale makes it easy to export your score as a MIDI file to use in your DAW. It is often easier to control playback output in a digital audio workstation, so leveraging this capability to enhance your workflow is wise.

 

Here is a user manual article on exporting MIDI files. I would recommend applying Human Playback first then exporting your file as MIDI: To export a MIDI File (Mac || Windows).

 

You can also use ReWire to slave Finale to a DAW for audio production purposes: ReWire (Mac || Windows).

 

 

If you find that parts of your score are too soft or too loud even with specific dynamic markings in place, you don't want to change the dynamic markings themselves; that could cause other parts of your score to have the incorrect volume. Instead, Apply Human Playback (select the MIDI tool | choose MIDI tool > Apply Human Playback) and use the MIDI tool to edit either the key velocity or CC#1 Mod wheel data.

 

Which MIDI data, key velocity or CC#1, do I edit? I'm glad you asked. When using the Garritan Instruments for Finale, any sustaining instruments (French Horn, Oboe, Violin, etc.) will utilize CC#1 Modulation or MOD Wheel data for playback volume; any struck instruments (Piano, Drums, etc.) will use key velocity.

  1. After applying Human Playback, select the MIDI tool (Tools > Advanced Tools > MIDI (Windows) or Tools > MIDI (Mac)).
  2. Using the MIDI tool, select the region of music you wish to edit.
  3. Choose MIDI Tool > Edit Key Velocity (or Key Velocity for Mac) for struck instruments.

    For sustaining instruments choose MIDI Tool > Edit Continuous Data (or Continuous Data for Mac). In the View Continuous Data dialog box that appears, choose 1: Modulation from the Controller drop-down menu then click OK.

  4. Return to the MIDI Tool menu and choose Set To.
  5. In the Set To dialog box that appears type a value between 0 and 127 (the lowest and highest MIDI values respectively) to set the Key Velocity or CC#1 data in the region you've selected to that value.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Test playback. You may have to experiment with these values to see what works best, so repeat the steps above as is necessary.

 

For third party VST/AU libraries, reference their documentation to see which MIDI data is appropriate to edit for their instrument types. Once you know that information, you can use the MIDI tool to edit the appropriate MIDI data.

 

 

When using the Garritan Instruments libraries, you may find that the volume of a percussion staff is too low. This is due to the default key velocity used for percussion/drum staff instruments. If you select the whole staff and use the MIDI tool to raise the key velocity of the staff as a whole, you can mitigate this issue.

  1. After applying Human Playback, select the MIDI tool (Tools > Advanced Tools > MIDI (Windows) or Tools > MIDI (Mac)).
  2. Using the MIDI tool, highlight the entire percussion staff. An easy way to do this is to click to the left of the staff between the staff name and the staff's leftmost barline.
  3. Choose MIDI Tool > Edit Key Velocity (or Key Velocity for Mac).
  4. Choose MIDI Tool > Set To.
  5. In the Set To dialog box that appears, type in a value between 0 and 127 (the MIDI value range). I would recommend starting somewhere around 100, this could take some experimentation if it is too loud or still too soft.
  6. Click OK.

After raising the overall value of the percussion staff or staves, you can then use the same procedure to raise or lower selected regions of your percussion staff depending on what is appropriate.

 

 

It is best for tempo to be set using a tempo mark expression. For more information, check out this user manual article for Windows and this one for Mac.

 

However, if Human Playback is not interpreting your score at the correct tempo, Apply Human Playback, and then use the MIDI tool to edit the tempo of the incorrect sections.

  1. After applying Human Playback, select the MIDI tool (Tools > Advanced Tools > MIDI (Windows) or Tools > MIDI (Mac)).
  2. Choose MIDI Tool > Edit Tempo (or Tempo on Mac).
  3. In the Set To dialog box that appears type in the tempo value that you wish. It uses the beat duration of the time signature for a section, so typing in 120 when a 4/4 section is highlighted means [quarter note] = 120 BPM.
  4. Click OK.

 

If you would like to manually control the linear flow of an accelrando or ritardando, you can do so using the Edit Tempo and Scale functions of the MIDI Tool.

  1. After applying Human Playback, select the MIDI tool (Tools > Advanced Tools > MIDI (Windows) or Tools > MIDI (Mac)).
  2. Choose MIDI Tool > Edit Tempo (or Tempo on Mac).
  3. Choose MIDI Tool > Scale.
  4. In the Scale dialog box that appears, type what BPM (beats per minute) value you would like the selected region to begin at into the From field, and the tempo you wish the region to end at into the To field. I usually leave the In Increments value at "1".
  5. Click OK.

You may have to experiment with the values to get the correct beginning and ending tempos, so feel free to repeat the steps above and experiment as needed.

 

 

This function can be exceedingly granular, but if Finale's automatic interpretation of your score has too much or not enough of one or a few notes's duration(s), then using this function will allow you to edit those durations note by note.

  1. After applying Human Playback, select the MIDI tool (Tools > Advanced Tools > MIDI (Windows) or Tools > MIDI (Mac)).
  2. Choose MIDI Tool > Edit Note Durations (or Note Durations for Mac).
  3. Double-click on a staff to open the MIDI editing split view (Windows) or the MIDI Tool dialog box (Mac).
  4. Handles appear on the notes either in the staff directly below split-view (Windows) or in the lower window of the MIDI Tool dialog box (Mac). Double-click on one of the handles to open the Edit MIDI Note dialog box.
  5. Add in EDU values (more details on EDUs: Mac || Windows) to the Start time and/or Stop time field(s) to alter the duration of the selected note.

Note: On Windows, you can scroll up and down the page to move a staff below the split-view pane and cause handles to appear on other staves (depicted below). On Mac, simply use the four arrow buttons in the bottom, left-hand corner of the MIDI Tool dialog box to move between staves and measures.

 

MIDISplitView.gif

 

This process may take some experimenting to get the right duration, so please feel free to repeat the steps as much as is necessary!

 

 

Sometimes, Human Playback will have problems processing markings to send keyswitch data. This can be caused by any number of factors and is not always the easiest thing to nail down. So, rather than moving around markings in your score trying to get HP to interpret them correctly, let's alter the expressions to send the MIDI data that you need.

 

A classic example of this scenario is pizz. and arco expressions. We can alter the expressions already in the score so they provide manual MIDI data to Human Playback and help it in its task of automated playback processing.

  1. Open your score (these changes are document specific).
  2. Choose the Expression tool.
  3. Double-click on the handle of one of your "pizz." markings to open the Expression Selection dialog box.
  4. The "pizz." expression should be highlighted, so click the Edit button to open the Expression Designer dialog box.
  5. Choose the Playback tab.
  6. Choose Dump from the Type drop-down menu.
  7. There are four fields in the Playback Data Dump dialog box that appears. Type in the following four values from top to bottom to manually define pizzicato keyswitch data.

3

144

5

127

  1. Click OK to close the Playback Data Dump dialog box.
  2. Click OK again to close the Expression Designer dialog box.
  3. Click Assign to close the Expression Selection dialog box.
  4. Repeat steps 2 - 10 for the "arco" expression in your score, but use these values for step 7 instead.

3

144

0

127

  1. You can now playback your file.

These values will help Human Playback know what keyswitch data to send. You can save this library of expressions (File > Save Library) to load into other documents for later use (File > Load Library).

 

If you would like a further explanation of these values that we used to define the expression, or to get a general sense of how to create such manual keyswitch data expressions, please check out this user manual article: Playback Data Dump dialog box (Mac || Windows).

 

 

You can use the Apply Human Playback function and the MIDI tool to send additional controller messages. For a list of some common controller messages and more details, check out this user manual article for Windows and this one for Mac.

 

To send controller messages, first apply Human Playback which will write HP data into your score and turn off Human Playback. Then, use the MIDI tool to send controller data. You can choose to edit continuous data by choosing the MIDI tool (Tools > Advanced Tools > MIDI (Windows) or Tools > MIDI (Mac)), and then choosing MIDI Tool > Edit Continuous Data (Windows) or MIDI Tool > Continuous Data (Mac).

  • The View Continuous Data dialog box appears, you can then choose the controller data you wish to edit from the Controller drop-down menu. You can also edit Patch Changes, Channel Pressure, and Pitch Wheel data.
  • After you have selected the type of MIDI data you wish to edit (continuous data in this case), highlight the region of music you wish to affect and then choose MIDI Tool > Set To. Edit the values in the Set To dialog box that appears to edit your controller data; click OK to apply the change to the selected region of music.

 

As with most changes done with the MIDI tool, this could take some trial and error. Please feel free to repeat the steps above as needed until you land at the desired result.

 

 

Human Playback, Finale's automated playback processing function, is designed to work with the Garritan Instrument libraries. If playback through your third party VST/AU sound library is not working as you would expect, you can Apply Human Playback to write HP's playback data to your score and turn Human Playback off. After doing so, you can use the functions of the MIDI tool to edit the playback data in your score to send the correct information to your third party VST/AU library for improved playback results.

 

Using third party libraries with Finale can be a bit challenging at first, but don't worry. Most VST/AU sound libraries have their own set of documentation that tells you exactly what MIDI data needs to be edited to control certain aspects of playback. Once you have that information, you can use the MIDI tool's functions to edit the playback data in your score.