Reimagining Finale Chord Suffixes

I already can hear many advanced Finale users balking at this idea, but hear me out.
I’ve been using this system for about 6 weeks, and it has become quite fast and quite innate.

A jazz composer or copyist might have 75-100 chord suffixes in their library. In some cases chord suffixes are used for other symbols making the suffix library even bigger. (Scale Names, Interval Labels, Harmonic Analysis labels)

The question becomes — What is the fastest method to input chords from a large Finale library?

You can type them, but with larger suffixes this is hardly speedy. E♭MA13(♯11) requires 15 keystrokes (if you include the shift key).

MIDI input is good for triads, but becomes a problem for more complex harmony.

You can use the Bb:## method, but only if you know the slot number of ALL your chord suffixes.

Rather than memorizing each index number, I propose a system to code all of the suffixes using a 1-3 digit code that matches the grammar of chord symbols.

Here’s the leap of faith:
A 3 digit coding system will require 999 chord suffixes in your library.
Most of these suffixes will be blank placeholders. (more on this later)

Disclaimer
This code system has no impact on your actual chord suffixes, only where they are located.

I’ll be using my chord suffix language in this post, your’s might be different.

You might prefer maj/min or MAJ/min or +/- etc.
That’s up to you. This post is about indexing where those suffixes live.

Chord Suffix Selection Dialog


The Chord Code System

The code system requires thinking of chord symbols in 4 steps:

1 – ROOT
A note name and any accidentals

2 – CHORD QUALITY
MA, MI, 7,9,13, ° etc

3 – NUMBERS & SYMBOLS
7, 9, 13, ♭9, ♯11, etc

4 – ALTERNATE BASS NOTE
Slash chords(if needed)

The Root is typed in as usual.
(I have some shortcut methods for roots which will appear in a future post)

The Chord Quality is the first digit of our code.
You could use any system you want, but here’s mine:

(It might help to visualize the keypad as you think
through this system.)

•7,9, or 6 chords have codes that starts with that digit
•13 chords begin with ‘8’ (anything relating to 13ths will be the ‘8’ key throughout this coding system)
•MA chords begin with ‘2’
•MI chords begin with ‘3’
•MI7(♭5) chords begin with ‘5’ (anything relating to ♭5ths will be the ‘5’ key throughout this coding system)
•Chords containing ‘sus’ will always begin with ‘4’
•Diminished chords will always end with a ‘0’ for example the code for °7 is :70

For chord extensions, we need to visualize a second pattern on the keypad.

♭9 = keypad ‘2’
♯9 = keypad ‘3’
♯11 or ♮11 = keypad ‘4’
♭5 = keypad ‘5’
♯5 = keypad ‘6’
7 = keypad ‘7’
♭13 or ♮13 = keypad ‘8’
9 = keypad ‘9’

Keypad 1

Alternate bass notes are added in the traditional way by typing the Slash – Note eg. /B♭

Let’s take a look at some typical chords and their individual codes.

E♭MA13(♯11) = Eb:284
1 – Type the root, followed by a colon Eb:
2 – The chord quality begins with MA, so the first digit will be ‘2’
3 – for 13, type ‘8’
4 – for ♯11, type ‘4’

G7(♭13♯9) = G:783
1 – Type the root, followed by a colon G:
2 – The chord quality begins with 7, so the first digit will be ‘7’
3 – for ♭13, type ‘8’
4 – for ♯9, type ‘3’ (While we’re here, I’ll point out G7(♭13♭9) is G:782)
It is also possible to use both G:783 and G:738 to access G7(♭13♯9) with a small hack.
More on that later.

F♯13sus(♭9) = F#:482
1 – Type the root, followed by a colon F#:
2 – Any chord with ‘sus’ will begin with ‘4’
(this is contrary to chord symbol theory, you need to think backwards for sus chords)
3 – for 13, type ‘8’
4 – for ♭9, type ‘2’

A°(MA7) = A:270
1 – Type the root, followed by a colon F#:
2 – For MA, type ‘2’
3 – for 7, type ‘7’
4 – All diminished chords end with ‘0’
(this is contrary to chord symbol theory, you need to think backwards for dim chords)

DMI6/9 = D:369

B♭MI9(♭5) = Bb:59

F74-3 = F:437

C13(♭9) = C:82

Setting Up The Chord Library

The chord Library will require 999 suffixes, most of which are blank placeholders.

The placeholders are created as Chord Suffixes using hidden text.

(The Number box in the Chord Suffix Editor tops out at 255, so a bit of extra work is involved to create the blanks.
I used a macro to populate most of these place holders)

Once the placeholders are in, move your existing suffixes to the correct slot, deleting any place holder that is no longer needed.

Keep in mind, any new suffix will bump the slot of everything after it. If you add a new chord in Slot 10, the old #10 becomes #11. The old #800 becomes #801 etc. Deleting obsolete placeholders is crucial.

Duplicate Chord Suffixes

There are usually enough empty slots to account for some user typos while entering.

For example, G7(♭13#9) is code :783
Luckily, slot :738 is available, and a duplicate suffix can be placed there.

Sort of.

Finale will delete exact duplicate chord suffixes in certain situations (ex. when saving a chord library). In order to include a “duplicate” suffix, a small variation needs to be inserted.

I’ve been adding a period at 1pt/hidden text at the end of these “duplicate” suffixes.
I’ll never see it, it won’t affect spacing, and if I type G7(b13#9) instead of using the code system, the original suffix will be selected. But Finale thinks it is a different suffix and won’t delete it.

There are a few instances where the reversed code is not available, especially with sus chords.

The Goal Is Speed.

While it might seem excessive, this system works and works fast. In fact, I tried a Keyboard Maestro Palette system to to reflect the keypad options, but Keyboard Maestro is too slow to keep up.
I’ll acknowledge there are some chords that fall outside this code system, but most of the common symbols work well.

I look forward to hearing all the reasons why this is a terrible idea.

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