Entering Notes into Finale using Max MSP
Updated: Sep 12
I had a recent project where I wanted to draw notes directly into the Finale notation program by playing trombone into Max. The goal was to notate some trombone-specific playing patterns, where I was improvising on the trombone, but didn't know exactly what notes I was playing, and didn't want to slow way down and tediously write them by hand. Of course another (simpler) option would be to record my improvisation and transcribe afterward, but I thought that I could also figure out a way to convert audio to MIDI in Max and then send the MIDI to finale. I did figure out a way, it's not perfect, and didn't end up being life changing for the creation of my score, but I thought I'd share the process anyway. In these examples I'm using Max 8.3 and Finale 25.5 on MacOS Mojave. Hopefully more up to date systems aren't too terribly different.
The patch is pretty simple, here's a screen grab, with explanatory comments:
So if you're familiar with Max, this should all be fairly self explanatory.
I was filtering out high frequencies just because I was playing trombone, and didn't need them.
The delay, message combination in the middle here is key to filter out the brief artifacts that the [retune~] object often produces.
Make sure that your MIDI output is set to "from Max 1" by double-clicking on the [noteout] object with the patch locked. It will bring up this pop-up menu:
From here, the next step is to set up the MIDI input in Finale. I imagine that there's a similar process for MuseScore, Dorico, and Sibelius as well.
In Finale, navigate to MIDI/Audio > Device Setup > MIDI/Internal Speaker Setup.
That will bring you to this window:
So you can see that you need to change the input device at the top left to "from Max 1."
Now you will be sending MIDI notes to finale. Make sure that you have "Use MIDI Device for Input" selected in the Speedy or Simple drop-down, depending on which entry mode you are using.
I will absolutely not claim that this method works perfectly, or depending on your intentions, that if even works particularly well. If you find a better way to filter or route the data, please let me know! I consider it a success for my plan and the piece I was working on at the time. It led me to some realizations about the composition and music, and I ended up creating the score without trombone input, but I don't know that I would have arrived at my final result for the notation without this little rabbit hole of Max and Finale fiddling.
The piece itself is actually for trombone and a interactive Max/MSP patch. I haven't publicly performed or recorded it yet, but this is what the score currently looks like:
I'll link to a recording once it exists! (And also the patch for the actual composition).
If you're interested in using it (and please feel very free to edit and expand on it), the patch is here:
Happy Patching! Have fun, make music, and please get in touch if you have any questions, or just want to say hi :)