MainStage 3 is a widely-used app, primarily by keyboardists and performers onstage and in the pit. There are two good reasons to connect Finale to MainStage:
The first is to take advantage of the wide sonic palette and powerful capabilities it offers at a very low price point. If we’re writing for the Musical Theater pit, we should be scoring for state-of-the-art professional tools like MainStage 3.
The second is, MainStage offers DAW-level control over mix elements, much more powerfully and flexibly than the tools available in Finale. It’s like a DAW extension for Finale.
There’s a System Utility Driver known as IAC (for Inter-Application Communication) that routs MIDI between applications on the Mac. That Driver is key to making this possible.
The essential steps to follow are:
- Create IAC Devices
- Save Banks in Finale
- Set up IAC Input/Output in Finale
- Set up IAC Input in MainStage 3
- Add Instruments in MainStage 3
- Route Audio in MainStage 3
- Use SoundFlower to record your Finale/MainStage 3 mix
1. Start: Audio/Midi Setup
Open Mac>Applications>Utilities>Midi/Audio Setup, double-click the IAC icon, activate IAC (checkbox- “Device is Online”)
Create an IAC port (“bus”) for each Sample Player instance or Multi to be used (MainStage Instrument, Aria Player, Kontakt, etc). Rename them as you go, one for each Finale “Bank” in your score setup.
2. Prepare Finale Banks for Use in MainStage
Set up your score as usual, with the sounds you’d like to use in MainStage. For instruments you’d like to play back using MainStage sounds, put them in a dedicated bank in the Score Manager.
In Finale:Mid/Audio>Audio Units Banks & Effects… click the pencil icon next to an instance of Aria Player. The player opens up, where you’ll be able to save the current bank configuration for opening later in MainStage. Save your Multi(s) in Kontakt for recall in a similar fashion (consult Kontakt documentation if needed).
3. Set Up Finale for IAC Output
- Set Finale to play through Midi (Midi/Audio>Play Finale Through Midi)
- Go into Midi/Audio>Device Setup>Midi/Internal Speaker Setup…
- Select Playback to: Midi System
- Add your IAC devices to the list – they’ll show up in the dropdowns
- Set the playback device in Finale>Window>Score Manager to the proper (labeled) IAC bus for each instrument in the score
- Assign instruments to be played back by MainStage sounds to their own Bank in Finale
- Verify that unique MIDI channels are assigned for each staff (16 per Bank).
4. Route Finale Midi into MainStage 3
- Open a new Concert.
- In Layout mode, create or configure a new Keyboard for each Finale Bank and assign its corresponding incoming Midi Port (from Finale banks). Banks could be instance(s) of Aria Player or other AU or VST Players such as Kontakt. Also add a keyboard to receive midi to play MainStage built-in sounds from Finale. Make sure you have a keyboard for every IAC instance you’ll be using.
- Create a new Patch.
- Add Instrument aux Channel Strips corresponding to each Finale Bank. Choose the desired midi input source (IAC bank) as the input
- Add the desired Player as an Instrument Insert.
Also note that you can mix different software instruments in the same Patch, including MainStage’s own instruments.
The effect, when you’re finished, will be a really complex, multi-handed robot pianist playing a single multi-routed patch, making all the sounds in the entire musical score.
5. Configure the Sample Players in MainStage 3
You’ll need to load your desired sounds manually from within each Sampler or Synth instance in MainStage, being mindful to have the midi channel for each sound match the assignments in your Finale Score Manager.
– If you’ve saved a Multi in Aria Player or Kontakt ahead of time, you can load the preset – but be sure to check the midi input assignments.
6. Route Audio Instrument Output from each Multi-Instrument Sampler into MainStage 3
- Click the + at the bottom right of the channel strip hosting your Aria, Kontakt or other player to create “alias” strips; they’ll receive audio from the player you’re setting up on discrete stereo pairs
- Double-click the Instrument name in the original strip to open it.
- Assign audio output for each instrument to successive pairs, matching the Input assignments of the alias Control Strips. Each added Alias strip will auto-increment audio channel pairs to the next available stereo pair. The original strip is 1-2; then the alias strips are 3-4, 5-6, etc. up to a possible 15-16.
7. Record Your Mix with SoundFlower
MainStage 3 is a sophisticated multi-input sample module – a live mixer for live performance. To capture its audio output – and to record your Finale mix – you need to route its output to a recording application on the Mac. We use Audacity.
In order to do this, you’ll need to install SoundFlower on your Mac. Then:
- Route audio outs from MainStage 3 to SoundFlower (2 ch)
- Route Audacity (or whichever app you’re using) audio ins from SoundFlower (2ch).
A new Finale Playback Device with DAW Power
As you develop your Finale score you’ll have access to all of your previously existing libraries plus a whole new palette available in MainStage 3, with confidence that these sounds will be usable in the theater.
You’ll also be able to route every instrument independently to effects, adjust panning and levels with much greater control over your mix than you enjoyed in Finale alone.
You will also have the elements in place to be able to modify your MainStage Concert file for delivery to the keyboardist in the pit along with the score and parts you’ve created for a faithful reproduction of your score in a live setting.
Please feel free to get in touch with us for assistance or consultation with setup for performance of your score.