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[Finale] When you should or should not use the standard function “Pickup Measure”

In Finale, a pickup measure can be set at the end of the setup wizard for a new file, or in “Document Menu > Pickup Measure” for an existing file.

Many users have pointed out that there are some problems with the specifications of this standard function “Pickup Measure”. Since there is not much organized information available, I would like to summarize it in this article.

Please note that I do not deny the use of this standard function “Pickup Measure”. This has the advantage that it is easy to set up a pickup measure, and if a problem occurs, it can be modified to avoid it, so it may be better to use this under certain conditions.

1. Don’t use it: For pieces that return to a pickup measure

The problem with the standard function “Pickup Measure” is that it is achieved by hiding extra beats within the original measure.

For this reason, in a file that uses the “Pickup Measure”, even if you click the playback button and the playback counter starts moving, the caret will not move until the hidden extra beats have been all played. 

This is usually not critical, as playback will begin if you are patient enough to wait. The problem is when the caret returns to a pickup measure. In this case, playback is interrupted for the extra beat that is hidden immediately after returning to a pickup measure.

If you want to avoid this playback interruption, you can manually create a pickup measure with the Time Signature tool mentioned later on.

2. When it is okay to use the standard function “Pickup Measure”

I think it's basically okay to use it except for the above-mentioned “pieces that return to a pickup measure”. 

One thing to note is that if the pickup measure of a multi-staff piece is blank, the vertical position (time axis) of the rest that is automatically displayed here and the starting note will be misaligned.

This problem is caused by the way Finale automatically fills empty measures with “fake” rests by default, but the vertical position of these rests are not taken into account.

This problem can be solved by entering an actual rest here.

If you entered a quarter note, select it and press the “R” key to convert it to a quarter rest. 

As in this example, if you want to move a pickup measure note/rest that is a little too far to the left to the right, use the “Beat Chart” mentioned later on.

3. Solution: Setting a pickup measure using the Time Signature tool

These two problems mentioned above, regarding playback and vertical beat position, can be resolved by manually setting a pickup measure using the Time Signature tool, instead of using the standard function “Pickup Measure”.

If you are already using the standard function “Pickup Measure”, start from step (1) to cancel it. If not, start from step (2).


(1) Display the "Pickup Measure" dialog box by selecting “Document menu > “Pickup Measure” and click the “Clear Pickup” button.

(2) The pickup measure will be canceled and the measure settings become the same as other measures. (Please note that the measure number will also change at this time. This will be corrected in the final step.)

(3) Switch to the Time Signature tool, double-click the measure where you want to set the pickup measure. When the Time Signature dialog box is open, set it as shown below.

  • Set the number of beats in one measure to “1” in this example (specifies the number of beats in the pickup measure).

  • The note duration for the beat is set to quarter note in this example. (Specifies the type of note that is the unit of the pickup measure.)

  • Set the measure range to be changed to “from measure 1 to measure 1”. (Sets the range of the pickup measure.)

  • Check “Use a Different Time Signature for Display”. (This is important; this means that the pickup measure will be displayed in the same time signature as the main part.)

(4) In this example, due to the above settings, although the first measure is actually in 1/3 time, it is displayed as a 3/4 pickup measure. 

A quarter note in the pickup measure can be converted to a quarter rest by pressing the “R” key while it is selected.

(5) The horizontal position of the note/rest in the pickup measure can be adjusted using the “Beat Chart” in the same way as other measures. The beat chart appears when you switch to the Measure tool and click the lower of the two handles displayed in the right measure.

(6) Finally, double-click the pickup measure to display the Measure Attribute dialog box, and uncheck “Include in Measure Numbering”. 

Now the pickup measure is no longer counted in the measure number, it’s all set.

If a piece starts with a pickup measure, often an incomplete measure is used at the end to match the beats. In the case of this example, which has a 3/4 time signature and a one-beat pickup, at the last measure 16th you can take the following processing in the same way as before.

  • Set the number of beats in one measure to “2”. (this is the number that adds up to 3 with beat 1 in the pickup measure).

  • Set the beat note type to quarter note.

  • Set the measure range to be changed to “from measure 1 to measure 1”. (You can also select another option and specify measure 16 here.)

  • Check “Use a Different Time Signature for Display”.

(Please note that this will not be set automatically even if you use the standard function “Pickup Measure”, so set it manually if necessary.)


Setting a pickup measure using the Time Signature tool does not cause problems with playback or the vertical position of the beats, but it does have the disadvantage that it takes time to set the beats and measure numbers.

The problem of vertical beat position can be easily solved by replacing the fake rests with real rests, so if you don't care about the playback problem, I think it’s better to use the easy-to-configure standard function “Pickup Measure”.



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