Previously, I did a post on how to create chord symbols from notation that isalready entered in Finale. In this post, I address manually typing Chords into Finale and getting the correct chord suffix and playback.

There are two parts to a chord symbol:

The root and/or the root and altered bass. This is represented by the capital letter. For example a C major triad would be entered as:  C
A C major triad with G in the bass would be entered as C/G where the slash indicates an altered bass note.

The second part of the chord symbol is the chord suffix or extension of the chord. For example, if you want to indicate a C dominant 7th chord, it would be entered C7. There are many, many types of chord suffixes and different ways they are notated in popular music. It is not uncommon to see a chord such as C7(#9#11) or Cmin7(b5). To make it more confusing, there are a variety of ways composers and arrangers notate the same chord. For example a minor triad could be entered Fm, Fmin, or F-.

There are two reasons to be sure that you enter the chord root and suffix using the right syntax in Finale. Namely, it will look correct and Finale will play back the correct chord. There is a basic playback option that Finale has built in when chord symbols are entered. This can be turned on or off by selecting the Chord tool and checking or unchecking Chord Playback in the Chord menu. This basic chord playback is designed to be used as a  reference when composing with chord symbols. I often turn this off when I add a piano and/or guitar part to an arrangement.

Typing Chords into Finale

Next, let’s go through the process that I use the majority of the time to enter chords: typing them into the score.

  1. Choose the Chord Tool by clicking the icon in the Main Tool Palette or choose it from the Tools menu.
  2. From the Chord menu, check to be sure Manual Input is selected. In earlier versions of Finale, there is a “Type into the Score” option. In 2012, the only option is Manual input.
  3. Go to the staff where you want to enter the chord symbols and click on a note or rest in the bar.
    THE ARROWS or POSITIONING TRIANGLES:  When entering lyrics or chords, Finale displays 4 arrows on the left of the staff. These are for aligning the chords. The left most arrow controls the base line for all staves in the piece, The arrow second from the left controls the baseline for this staff only for the entire piece. The third arrow from the left controls the baseline for this system only and the 4th from the left controls the position of the next chord to be entered. So, drag these arrows with care!
  4. Type the root – a capital letter. In this example, I want to enter  a D major 7 chord, so I enter a D.
  5. Finale has a library of chord suffixes that are loaded each time you create a file. In order to get the correct look and playback, you must be aware of these suffixes. To see the chord suffix library, enter the root and then type colon (:) zero (0), so it looks like:  D:0 and press return/enter. This brings up the chord suffix library. You can click on the suffix and enter it into the score. However, what I would do is get familiar with the syntax of the chord suffixes so you can just type them in to save time. The syntax has to be exact!
  6. What will happen if you type in the suffix that does not exist? For example, if you type F- (F followed by a dash) instead of Fm or Fmin for an F minor triad,  since these are the only two suffixes in the standard Finale chord suffix library and minus has not been included,  Finale will give you an error message: 
  7. Type No and go back and review step 5, above to see what suffix is in the library. The reason is if you click Yes to the above dialog box, you will be asked to enter the playback for the chord. It is a bit confusing and I had to review the Finale Documentation to get this to work. If you do nothing, the minus suffix will play back as a major triad, not minor.  So, my recommendation is to click no and go back and review what suffixes are already in the library for that particular chord.

Chord Font Libraries

Finale comes with several custom chord libraries. These are chosen when you start a new score using the Setup Wizard in the Ensemble and Document Style window. If you click Hand Written, the chord font will be unique and include more popular and jazz type of chord suffixes.

If you select Handwritten in Finale 2012, you will get an entirely different chord suffix font set. Enter a root of a chord and then colon and zero to see the library.

TIP: You can use the metatool numbers to enter chords that you use frequently. For example, if you want to use the diminished 7 marking with the 0. You can enter the root followed by colon (:) 150 and press return. This will also enter the suffix.

3rd Party Chord Libaries

Finale has been around a long time and lots of composers have created their own custom chord fonts. An excellent list of these options is available in the Appendix of the Finale User Manual

TIP: Want to enter chords with something other than letter names?  You can, by choosing the Chord Tool and from the Chord menu choose Chord Style and one of the options. Refer to the Finale manual for more information on fonts. 

For more information on chord entry, consult the Finale User Manual.