getting Finale to play your music the way YOU want it played
I've heard a number of people ask me about how I get Finale to do certain things, and how I get my Garritan libraries to sound a certain way, all from within Finale.
I thought I'd share a few of my tips.
The first thing is to create expressions that will bring out the best sound in whatever library you are using. In my case, I use Garritan libraries and a single other library called X-sample Chamber Ensemble (which, sadly, uses the Kontact Player).
Within Finale, you can create text expressions that will be interpreted by the HumanPlayback plugin (created by Robert Piechaud).
All standard expressions will be recognized and interpreted, without any programming of MIDI functions. In other words, for all standard text expressions, HumanPlayback will recognize an expression that contains absolutely no playback definition. So pizz., arco, ritenuto, accel., etc... will all be recognized.
HOWEVER, some of these expressions work best when you cheat a little.
For example, ritenuto and accel. work best when you give them a target tempo. however, when you have a lot of give-and-take in a score (rubato, if you will), you don't particularly want to be printing out a score with "rit. 80 accel 102 rit. 76 accel. 102 etc..." cluttering up your notation.
This is where invisible expressions come into play.
Generally speaking, I have a whole slew of invisible expressions predefined for tempo, for piano pedaling, and a few that are specific to the Gofriller solo cello and the Garritan Stradivarius solo violin.
Don't be shy about creating these invisible expressions. Place them all in an "invisible expressions" category if you wish, or keep them grouped with like expressions (tempo with tempo, dynamic with dynamic, etc...). However, DO create them, as many as you require. The more you use, the more natural your score will end up sounding.
Some hints on rit/accel expressions
Over-compensate when using these. In other words, if your basic tempo is 100, and you want to rit to 60, try putting a target tempo of 50, or less BEFORE you hit the 60. Most musicians WILL slow down a bit past their target tempo, or speed up a tiny bit past it, before settling in to a new tempo.
I've also found that at times, I get a better effect if I simply include a bunch of tempo changes, one on every few beats, instead of actually relying on HumanPlayback to create a smooth ritenuto or accellerando.
Be sure to have your "invisible items" displayed at a suitably light visual definition (Edit->Program Options->View->Hidden Object Shading), else your score will become a bit too cluttered to work on, even if none of this will print. I use a setting of 25% for my invisible/hidden objects.
Specific to the Gofriller Solo Cello
be sure to create a hidden text expression that switches between polyphonic mode and monophonic mode to get every last drop of expression out of this marvelous instrument. You will have to define a HumanPlayback technique (any sustaining, custom text, keyswitch, C-2 and D-2, "for text expression containing", and here I simply use Gofmono, and Gofpoly as my hidden text expressions).
This way, when you come across some double stops in your piece, HumanPlayback will not try and portamento across all of your intervals. Just put the Gofpoly text expression before your passage in double stops, then the Gofmono expression after the double-stopped passage.
I needed to redefine the values for my dynamics. I generally do not use anything softer than pp, nor louder than ff. So I set those as my mean softest/loudest. Evenly space the values to get a nice gradient from softest to loudest. I usually set mine to be softest at 30, and loudest at 115. This still leaves me a tiny bit of leeway if I REALLY want to include a ppp or a fff.
You will probably need to define some invisible dynamics as well. While a score generally uses the same dynamics for every instrument (I hate seeing scores where every instrument has a different dynamic.. it just does not work that way in the real world), VST library playback may require that you adjust some of the instrument for realism. This means that you may need to set the default volume in the Instrument List differently for each instrument. I find that the clarinets in GPO are a tiny bit louder than they should be in relation to the other woodwinds. And of course, we are all aware that no sample library can really pull off the difference in weight between a brass instrument and a woodwind.
So I often find myself setting most of my woodwinds to a slightly lower value in the Instrument List: flutes, oboes, bassoons generally to 90, while clarinets can afford to be dropped a bit further - to 85 or even 80.
My brass usually get a bit of a boost, usually set to 110 or 115.
Percussion also generally get a boost.
From this point on, you can use the same dynamic for all instruments in a section, without too much fear of unrealistic imbalances occurring.
The last thing I will add is that in Finale, you MUST use slurs (from Smart Shapes) to get a more realistic audio output. The GPO strings respond very nicely when given realistic bowings, and the woodwind and brass respond in a very realistic manner to well-placed phrase markings.
The other Smart Shape that should be your friend is the hairpin. Don't be afraid to mark swells in dynamics with hairpins.
You can also exaggerate a brief dynamic swell that is notated with only hairpins, by inserting a hidden and loud dynamic in the middle.
Again, the point of having hidden items is to allow you to use a single score for both playback and publishing.