Dear Musicians,

This is issue #29 of the Pizzicato musical newsletter. It is intended to help you to better know and use Pizzicato. You will find in it various articles about Pizzicato, its use and aspects, but also references to the music course and links to other music related sites.

You may send us any information to publish about music (performances, festivals, exhibitions, CD publications, music training sessions, Internet links,...). You may also tell us any difficulty you have with Pizzicato so that we can explain the solutions in the next issue. This letter is for you.

We hope you will enjoy reading it.

We wish you a happy new year 2004.

Make it a musical year!


Dominique Vandenneucker,
29, rue de l'Enseignement
B-4800 Verviers
Phone/Fax ++32 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2003, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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It finally happened! Pizzicato is now available in English.

The project was running for several months and required many efforts. Since November, 16th 2003, Pizzicato is available in English. The software is translated as well as the manual and the music course. A total of about 500 pages and more than 1000 pictures, for three versions (Pizzicato Light, Beginner and Professional), for Windows and Macintosh.

Welcome to English speaking musicians, for whom this 29th issue of the newsletter is the first one.

This monthly newsletter is first intended to people who bought a Pizzicato license, but also for people who downloaded an evaluation version of Pizzicato or who subscribed to our newsletter on the Pizzicato Web site. It is presently sent to almost 5000 people each month.

It usually contains a leading article on a subject related to musical software, articles on the use of Pizzicato (applications, tips and advices…), excerpts from the music course and various other information. Its purpose is to facilitate the use and discovery of Pizzicato, while motivating you to make music and to progress in musical software knowledge.


Pizzicato is mainly a software based on the musical score, i.e. the standard notation of music on a staff.

It should well be realized that musical notation is not music itself, but well a means of transmitting it to others, to communicate it so that it can be played, performed, be worked or modified by others. If it was only needed to communicate it as a final result, the sound support (magnetic tape, cassette, CD…) would be sufficient. To transmit the contents of a musical work so that others can play it, this support is very limited and man developed various notation techniques that evolved to the standard musical notation, widely recognized in the world.

That does not mean that this musical notation is ideal and perfect. It has simply the advantage of being understood by a great number of people. One could doubtlessly create a new musical notation language, much more reliable, precise, natural and easier to learn than the current system.

This problem is quite similar to the human language. A language is used to communicate the thoughts and each language does it in a different way. That does not mean that a language is perfect, but it functions and people use it and know it. It is thus useful. One finds in each language many exceptions and arbitrary rules which render its learning more difficult. But the language is created by use and by the group which uses it. The case of Doctor Zamenhof, who in 1887 created the Esperanto language is interesting and could be applied to music. This language is an invented language, created by using roots common to great languages (for more information: The rules are such as to be an easy to learn and universal language. The purpose of the project is that each one can use its own language as well as Esperanto, which would then make it possible for all people of the world to communicate and be understood.

When will come the time of an esperantist musical notation …? If it had to be created, it would require to satisfy at least the following criteria:

To give a practical example of arbitrary and non natural rules, the system of tonalities could be well simplified, without reducing its possibilities. To learn how to read a score in major C # (7 sharps at the key) whereas one knows this score in major C (nothing at the key) requests a considerable effort for the beginner. Why such a useless difficulty? It is inherent to the system of musical notation and the way in which the musical keyboard is designed. In a time when a single button on any electronic keyboard (including the top-of-the-range electric pianos) makes it possible to transpose without effort in all tonalities, one can understand why young people (and less young people…) do not see the utility of the effort to learn how to play in all tonalities.

Now, the idea is not to reduce only the difficulty for idleness. The purpose is to be able to go further and to exert the efforts towards other more creative and motivating spheres by use of technical progress. Indeed, learning how to read a score in Major C # and then learning to read it in Major D flat is only an intellectual exercise and the final listener does not hear the least difference in it. Musically, nothing advanced.

The learning of chords and composition is another example. If you can structure a chord in one tonality, it requires a difficult exercise for beginners to transpose it, handle it or even play it in another tonality. In addition to the structure of the chords, it is necessary to combine the way in which sharps or flats are distributed in the staff.

The distribution of the twelve notes, with the white and black keys of the keyboard, results from natural rules based on the acoustic characteristics of sound. This system imposed itself quite naturally. Even by keeping the system of tones and half tones as it is, one could restructure it so that it is written in a much clearer and natural way.

One could then design a musical notation language which would be very appropriate to computers and new technologies in this field. A musical software could manage this notation, convert existing scores or MIDI files in both directions.

This is a field where much remains to be done. Pizzicato is entirely opened to such an approach. The future will tell us what it will be.

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

Aspects and applications of Pizzicato...
Discover the various aspects and applications of Pizzicato

Musical dictation with Pizzicato

Did you know that you can train yourself to musical dictation with Pizzicato Light ? As a reminder, the musical dictation principle is to listen to one or two measures without looking at the notes and then transcribe them into music notation. The practical application is the little melody you sing and you want to write down on paper. Pizzicato contains an exercise generator used to learn note reading on a musical keyboard connected to the computer. But this function may also be used to generate musical dictations, exactly as in a music course. You may adapt the note and rhythm difficulty to your level. Here is how you do it:

To know more about these tools, consult the lesson on keyboard learning on our site.

Tips and advices for Pizzicato...
Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato

The baroque tools on Macintosh

Some users reported a problem related to the opening of baroque tools and palettes on Macintosh. The explanation is that the type of file was bad and not recognized by the program. If you have this problem, let us know and we will email you the correct files to open with a Macintosh.

Personal code number... Summary!

Regularly, we receive questions related to a reinstallation of Pizzicato after reformatting the hard disk, reinstallation of Windows, a change of computer,... If you have such a problem, here is an orderly check list of the points to verify. The problem always solves. Just check these points, one after the other, until the problem is solved:

  1. If not yet done, install Pizzicato from your CD or from the downloaded version (electronic version). If you don't know whether Pizzicato is installed or not, do it anyway. It is not necessary to uninstall anything before, even a demonstration version. A new installation will simply replace the previous installation (but not your documents). Regarding this, see also the article on personal tools in case of a new installation.
  2. Start Pizzicato. If the license registration dialog appears, go to (6)
  3. If the dialog asking for the personal code appears, go to (7).
  4. If the welcome dialog appears and shows your license number and name, telling that the license is granted, then all is well. There is nothing else to do (except using Pizzicato...of course!)
  5. If the welcome dialog tells you that it is a shareware or demonstration version, click OK and validate the next presentation dialogs. Then select item "Program version/updates..." in the "Options" menu. The license registration dialog appears.
  6. Check the "Register license" box and fill in your license and serial numbers as well as your name. Click OK. The dialog asking for the personal code appears.
  7. Send us the identification number displayed in the top left corner of this dialog. Warning, this code is different than the serial number. We regularly receive registration forms with the serial number, or an old identification number from a previous installation, or even an old personal code. The number we need to compute the personal code is the number visible in this dialog, on your present computer. To send us this number, please use the registration form available on our site on page
  8. While waiting for your code, click "Work without the code". You will receive it very soon. Our computer system is now ready to work 24H/24 and 7days/7 and your requests are processed within 15 minutes. Even at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, you should be able to get your personal code...:-)
  9. When you receive your code, complete it in the dialog (the best is with a copy/paste so as to avoid any typing error). The minus "-" signs between the numbers must be present (do not use a space or underscore "_" because the code will be refused). Until you enter the correct code, Pizzicato asks it at each start-up of the program.
  10. However, if Pizzicato continues to ask it after filling it correctly, check if the identification number is still the same that you sent us to receive the personal code. If not, go to (7) again. Otherwise, let us know and we will help you solve the problem.

Don't loose your personal tools, save them!

With Pizzicato Professional, you can modify symbols and create personal symbols and palettes. In case you uninstall Pizzicato, you need to take care not to loose them. Here is how to do it.

If Pizzicato is reinstalled on a computer where it is already installed, select a personal installation and uncheck the option to install the tools (on Windows only; on Mac, there is no such choice because the installation asks you if you want to replace the tools and you may refuse it). Pizzicato will not copy the tools and you will keep your personal tools.

What you need to know is that the tools you create are not saved inside the score where you use them. They are saved in two files located in the subdirectory called "Misc" in Pizzicato. Those files are called "Tool.pal" and "Tool.def". In other words, if you have created several personal tools, and use them in all your scores, you are advised to save them from time to time. If you loose them (by reinstallation, change of computer or hard disk format), your scores will no more display the symbols used in them, because Pizzicato will no more find their definitions.

When you change your computer, copy those files and after installing Pizzicato on your new computer, replace the original files with them in the "Misc" subdirectory of Pizzicato.

In a future release of Pizzicato, we will improve this system so that the symbols used in a score will be recorded with it. This will make the score portable and readable even for another user who does not have you personal symbols in his(her) palettes.

The beginner's corner...
Musical basics and access to the Pizzicato music course

Key signatures

The major scale of C

The notes series from C to C is called the major scale of C. Each note of the scale is called a degree of the scale. The degrees are numbered from 1 to 7 in Roman numerals (i.e. I to VII). The last note being the same as the first (C), it is also called "degree I". Here is the major scale of C with its degrees:

As we have seen, each one of these notes corresponds to a white key of the keyboard. When a black key separates two notes, there is one tone between these two notes and if there is no black key between them, there is one half tone. The following table shows the degrees of the scale with the tones and half tones which separate them:

This succession of values (1,1,1/2,1,1,1,1/2) characterizes the major scale. In this example, the first note is C and it is thus the major scale of C.


This scale defines a context of notes called the tonality of C major. A musical excerpt written in C major uses only the notes of the C major scale, i.e. the 7 notes here above, avoiding the black keys located between them.

The principle of tonality is thus to limit the usable notes at a given moment in the musical discourse and in the same time intensifying the influence of other notes. The most significant degree in a scale is the first degree. In our case, it is the C note. The musical discourse will use this note as a point of reference.

The most significant degrees in a tonality are degrees I, IV and V. The musical sentences will be built by taking these degrees as a foundation. They will often be found on the strong beats of the measures. The musical sentences will have a tendency to move towards the first degree of the scale.

We will see that 12 different tonalities can be defined and used. Tonal music is based on using a context of notes on which melodies and chords are built. During a piece of music, the context may change to another tonality. This transition from one tonality to another is called a modulation.

In theory, in a tonal music work, it is possible to determine which tonality is present at any place of the score. Practically, this tonality system is a theoretical system used to explain how composers use the notes which are at their disposal to compose. This system is very helpful to orient a composer through his first steps, but it should not be regarded as a strict rule which one cannot transgress.

All the rules you will find in music are most of the time deduced from the observation of what sounds well in the musical works. The new composer will find in it a lot of interesting advices that can be used by him as a guide to develop his taste and musical inspiration. The error would then be to regard these rules as absolute laws and not as simple advices. When inspiration or taste indicates you another path to follow, skip the composition rules !

Let us go back to tonalities. The essence of classical music is based on the use of tonality. Most modern variety music (rock, jazz, disco, blues, funky…) are also based on tonality. Most music consumed by our modern society is thus tonal music.

There are of course music styles that completely escape from tonality and develop different composition systems. Contemporary music creates new approaches of music, of sound and of its notation. It is interesting to note that most contemporary music composers are people who have a good knowledge of the tonal system, its possibilities and limits. It could then be considered as an evolution of music towards other sound horizons. The point is to communicate this music in such a manner that it will be perceived and understood by most people. It will be the only success test of a music: does it communicate something which can be understood?

Let us see now how other scales and tonalities are defined.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about key signatures on our site...

Music on the Web...
Links related to music

The commercial page...

You have Pizzicato Light...

To discover music in an interactive way, Pizzicato Light is quite enough. With it, you can write exercises and little scores. The main limit of the program is the way you can structure the score and also the number of measures and staves you can use.

If you want to create and print custom scores, you may update to the Beginner and/or Professional versions. Consult the 5 pages which describe the possibilities added by those versions:

You will also find a table with the differences between the various versions of Pizzicato, on page

 You have Pizzicato Beginner...

The professional version could bring you the following advantages:

Consult the 5 pages which describe the possibilities added by this version:

You have Pizzicato Professional...

You just need to wait for the next version...    In the meantime, a lot of things are still to be discovered in this version and this letter will help you to do so. Ask us any question so we can answer in the next issue of this letter. You may also suggest us new functions to add in the next release of Pizzicato. We listen to the user as best as we can.

We are at your disposal.

Our purpose is to place music in everybody's hands

and to bring people to more musical creativity

Use Pizzicato and make music!