Optimize your MusicXML Export: Best Practices for Finale Users
MusicXML allows to freely share musical notation content from one piece of software to another. However, composers and musicians are still encountering issues when importing a MusicXML score into their notation software. In this article, we give you a few tips that will help you optimize your MusicXML export from the Finale software.
5 Easy Tips to Follow
Tip 1: Upgrade to Finale v26.1
The latest available version is Finale v26.1, in which the built-in MusicXML export system is the most up to date. If you own this release you will not need to use the Dolet plug-in. Finale’s built-in export system would give better results.
In the words of Michael Good, creator of the MusicXML file format who has now joined Make Music (Finale):
“To export from Finale, you will get the best results with the latest version of Finale v26.1. We have been able to update Finale to make MusicXML export work better in ways that are not available in older versions of Finale. If you do have an older 32-bit version of Finale, use the Dolet 7.3 for Finale plug-in for export for the best results”.
Tip 2: If you are Using Older Versions of Finale, Download Dolet
Dolet® 7.2 for Finale is a 32-bit plug-in for the Finale music notation program that reads and writes MusicXML 3.1 files. If for any reason you are unable to upgrade from earlier 32-bit versions of Finale to Finale v26.1 or Finale v25 which have a built-in export system corresponding to Dolet 7, we recommend that you download the Dolet plug-in for better results.
Even if you are using Finale 2014.5, Dolet 7.2 has several advantages:
MusicXML 3.1 support
Dolet 7.2 for Finale supports reading and writing MusicXML 3.1 files for the most accurate transfers between applications.
More formatting control
Dolet 7.2 for Finale lets you import a MusicXML file into an empty document with your own specific template settings. The MusicXML import will then respect the formatting settings in your empty document as much as possible. Finale 2014.5 always opens a new document, so you always getting the formatting from your default Finale file.
Full batch translation
Dolet 7.2 lets you translate an entire folder of MusicXML files into Finale files, or an entire folder of Finale files into MusicXML files. If you have a lot of files to transfer, this is an enormous time saver.
When you install Dolet, be sure to export the MusicXML from the plug-ins menu instead of the File menu. As mentioned before, there’s no Dolet plug-in for Finale v26 and v25 because all of Dolet’s features (and more) are now included in it.
Tip 3: Export in Transposed View
Similarly to Sibelius, “It is generally best to export a score in transposed view rather than in concert pitch view” confirms Michael Good, Founder of the MusicXML. Here is how to do so:
Tip 4: Save Time by Using Linked Parts
The latest versions of Finale includes options to speed up your export. You can now include subfolders when exporting a folder of Finale files by setting your MusicXML preferences accordingly. You can export all the individual linked parts from a score by using File > Export > Linked Parts to MusicXML.
Tip 5: When best to use compressed MusicXML files
MusicXML 2.0 and later versions of MusicXML introduced a new compressed format of the MusicXML. There are 2 cases in which we recommend to use a compressed Musicxml file:
If you have graphics, Finale shape expressions, or Finale shape articulations in your file, be sure to export a compressed MusicXML file. This includes the graphics where the uncompressed MusicXML file does not.
Regular MusicXML files can be very large – much larger than the original Finale and Sibelius files, or corresponding MIDI files. This was not a big problem for using MusicXML as an interchange format, but it inhibited MusicXML’s use as a sheet music distribution format.
Using the compressed export option reduces MusicXML file sizes to roughly the same size as the corresponding MIDI files. The format uses zip compression and a special .mxl file suffix and Internet media type to identify files as MusicXML files vs. generic XML files.
Score vs parts
Finale 26.1 includes a new MusicXML export preference to “Include linked parts in compressed files”. When this option is selected, all the linked parts will be included if you are exporting a compressed .mxl file while viewing the score. When importing back into Finale 26.1, Finale will import the differences between the score and parts in page sizes and margins, system breaks, and page-attached text positions into your Finale file.
Tip 6: When using extended techniques, try to keep it simple
Many contemporary composers today are using extended techniques in their pieces, and by challenging the traditional way of notating, they also challenge the music notation software in order to achieve their graphic desires. The way that all major software import and export MusicXML, currently are not built to understand all the unique ways that contemporary composers/arrangers are challenging the software. Therefore, one would most likely miss a large amount of information when exporting this kind of piece via MusicXML such as layout, special symbols etc. If you know in advance that you will export your score via MusicXML, we strongly recommend that you keep it simple. For the best results use the notation software the traditional way.
Bonus: Free examples
Here are some samples of MusicXML files and their corresponding PDF or PNG files. Each example is available separately, or you may download them all in one zip file. All the sample files on this page have now been updated to the MusicXML 3.1 format as exported from Finale v25.5. The files were then hand-edited as needed to illustrate features that are not automatically generated by the export software.
MusicXML samples for free download