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Using Notation Software: Finale, MuseScore, and Sibelius

Getting Started: Choosing an Entry Method



While the program has many advanced methods for doing various tasks, if you're a beginner, there are three main ways to enter notes in Finale: Simple Entry, Speedy Entry, and using the Hyperscribe Tool.


Simple Entry: One note at a time

(the point and click method)

It’s the most intuitive way of entering notes, but it can also take the most time. Simple Entry is good for making quick fixes and attending to small details. One way to speed up the process is by adding your computer keyboard to the mix. Included in this guide are some of the most handy keyboard shortcuts to shave some time off your note entry and help reduce the confusion that comes from switching between palettes and tools. (See Speedy Entry for a faster way to get large amounts done) 


Speedy Entry: Using a Midi keyboard to select pitches

(but not playing it in time)

Tired of finding the note names on the keyboard? Wish you could make use of your piano skills? Come to the music library and use our MIDI keyboards to speed up your note entry. This method is great for efficiently entering notes and then adding the details in later with Simple Entry tools. Speedy Entry allows you to select the pitches on a MIDI keyboard and lets you more quickly enter phrases instead of one note at a time. You do need to have a basic understanding of a piano keyboard layout for it to work for you.


Hyperscribe: Using a MIDI keyboard to play your composition in real time

(then going back to fix what the computer got wrong)

This allows you to use a MIDI keyboard to select pitches & note durations, but be warned, you have to be very exact in your playing and will likely have to go back and clean up what you wrote. The computer will enter whatever you play, even if you think you're playing a half note, it may interpret it as a double dotted quarter. This is a fast method, once you get used to it and is good for composers looking for a program to dictate as they improvise. However, it takes a lot of practice, very good keyboard skills, and will always require clean-up after the notes are entered. 


Simple Entry

Begin by selecting the Simple Entry Tool or double-click a note head – this will overwrite anything after the caret/cursor that appears. Select a rhythmic duration from the palette along the side and line your mouse up on the staff and click the pitch you want. Simple, but time consuming. Check out the Most Used Keyboard Shortcuts to make this go much faster. To exit Simple Entry mode, click the Simple Entry icon on the top palette, or press Escape once or twice on your computer keyboard.

Speedy Entry

To get started, select the Speedy Entry button on the top toolbar and then open the Speedy menu to make sure the option “Use MIDI device for input” is checked.

Hold down pitches on the MIDI keyboard and select rhythmic duration from shortest to longest using 1-8 on the computer keyboard. The shortest duration (64th note) is 1 and the longest duration (breve/double whole note) is 8, which puts a quarter note in the middle of the numpad on 5. To enter a rest, don’t press any keys on the MIDI keyboard and choose the duration using 1-8. You can enter a series of notes with the same rhythmic duration if you turn on Caps lock. To enter a triplet, press Control+3 on the computer keyboard and then select the pitches on the MIDI keyboard.

Hyperscribe Tool

Before you start, select Quanitzation from the Hyperscribe menu at the top and choose the smallest note division in your piece, and then the computer will round everything at most to that smallest division. This will help reduce the exaggerated rhythmic typos that occur from human playback. Click in the document to get a metronome beat and after a 2 measure count off start playing on the MIDI keyboard. Click anywhere in the document to stop.