This is issue #33 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.
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We have seen last month the various possibilities offered by a sound card, as well as the methods used to generate sounds.
While working with a MIDI software (like Pizzicato), it is useful to select, collect, handle and play instruments sounds with which you want your scores and composition played. How ?
I suggest the use of the SoundFont standard, created by the Creative Labs and Emu companies. It is a well known sound format and you can find lots of sound libraries, some free and some to buy. Let's see the practical steps to select your sounds, create a bank and assign them so that Pizzicato can play your scores with your sound selection.
The first phase is to select your sounds. This needs to steps : find sounds and listen to them. To find sounds, use your prefered Internet research tool (Google, Yahoo, Msn,...) and enter keywords "Free SoundFont". You will rapidly find numerous sites with SoundFont instruments and effects. Some are good, some are bad. You must then listen to them and test them.
For this, you can use the Virtual Sampler 3 software. You can download its demo version at http://www.maz-sound.com/index.php?show=product&id=2 Once installed, you may open a SoundFont file and listen to the sounds with a musical keyboard displayed on the screen. When installing the software, specify that you want the "Speedsoft Midi Cables" installed. With them, Pizzicato will be able to send the notes of your score to Virtual Sampler 3. These "virtual cables" may then be selected in the Pizzicato Option menu, Midi Setup... and set in the MIDI output.
You may proceed as follows to select your sounds :
- Add a directory in your hard disk for the sound files you download, for instance C:\SoundFonts\Download
- Use a search engine to find sites offering SoundFont files
- Download a sound in your directory. SoundFont files have the ".sf2" extension
- Start Virtual Sampler 3 and click the "sf2" button in the middle of the screen.
- Using the opening dialog, select the downloaded file
- The sounds contained in the file appear in the main part of the screen. By clicking a sound, you may then listen to it by using the musical keyboard displayed on the screen.
- If the sound looks good for you, move the file to another directory, for instance C:\SoundFonts\My Sounds
- Continue to select your prefered sounds for each instrument family you use,...
The next step is to assemble those sounds into a personal sound bank that can be used by Pizzicato (or by any MIDI software). The idea is to take each sound you have individually selected and create a unique SoundFont file (.sf2) that contains them all.
For this purpose, you may download the free software "Vienna SoundFont Studio 2" on the Creative Labs site at (http://www.soundfont.com/downloads.html ). This software lets you create a sound bank and fill it with sounds from various other banks and then save them in one unique file.
The main problem is the correspondance between MIDI and the created SoundFont file. The Vienna software lets you assign a Preset number (0 to 127) and a bank number (0 to 127). First assign all sounds to bank 0 and for the preset, respect the General Midi numbering (you can find the list at http://www.bluemax.net/techtips/Midi/Midipatchnum.htm but be aware that some user interfaces use a number from 1 to 128 and some others between 0 and 127; subtract or add 1 accordingly). For instance, if you find a good violin sound, assign it bank 0 and preset 40 (41 minus 1 for the violin, see the list). In this way, you stay compatible with General Midi and the MIDI files you create or open stay standard on the sounds used.
If you create an extensive sound bank, for instance by adding 10 different violin sounds, keep the same preset but use other values than 0 for the bank number, while keeping the 0 bank for the default violin.
While doing this, write carefully on paper the sound table (preset, bank and instrument name), because you will need it to create a compatible synthesizer for Pizzicato.
To use the Vienna software, read the help section of the help menu. This program also helps you to create Sound Font files starting from any Wav or mp3 file.
Once your SoundFont file has been created, you need to play it with Pizzicato or a MIDI software. If you have a recent SoundBlaster card (from AWE 64 up), you may use the utility program of the card to load your sound library into the card, because the card has an integrated SoundFont player. For details, see the documentation and the online help of the card (Start, Program, Creative) to know how to load a file into your card.
If you do not have a SoundFont compatible card, you may use a SoundFont player software. Virtual Sampler 3 does this, but there are others too. Search for them on the Web with expressions like "SoundFont player, SoundFont reader". In any case, the software must give a direct MIDI link, i.e. adding a MIDI output port in Windows so that it can be used by Pizzicato or any MIDI software.
In Pizzicato, the last step is to select the MIDI output (Option menu, Midi Setup...) which corresponds to the SoundFont compatible card or to the MIDI output going to the SoundFont player software.
For the Pizzicato Light and Beginner versions, the only possible synthesizer is the General Midi, so you need to respect the General Midi preset numbering as exposed here above.
Fot the Professional Pizzicato version, you may create a new synthesizer which answers to the various sounds assigned to the non zero bank instruments. Refer to the lesson on synthesizers on the screen help or on our site at page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual/EN630.htm Use the list you have prepared while selecting your sounds in Vienna.
The use of the various softwares renders the task more complex and what we described here is not a simple procedure. We envision tools to create your personal SoundFont files so that Pizzicato may handle itself this sometimes complicated task of assigning presets and banks. This article was designed only to give you the main steps of the process so that you can personalize your sounds and use them with Pizzicato.
Concerning sound banks, if your needs are high regarding the orchestral instruments quality, you may orient yourself to the EW Symphonic Orchestra software which contains an impressive quantity of orchestral recorded samples. The software exists in various versions between 300 and 3000 $US. You may find information at http://www.soundsonline.com/sophtml/details.phtml?sku=EW-161 The demo files show the quality of the sound result. It seems that the software uses a personalized sample player and needs a powerful machine.
Designer of Pizzicato.
and applications of Pizzicato...
Discover the various aspects and applications of Pizzicato
Musical dictation with Pizzicato
Did you know that you can exercise yourself to musical dictation with Pizzicato Light ? The principle of the musical dictation is to listen to 1 or 2 measures without seing the notes and transcribe them in musical notation. The practical application is the little melody you sing and you want to write down on paper correctly.
Pizzicato has an exercise generator to help learning the reading of notes on a musical keyboard connected to the computer. But this function may also be used to generate musical dictation, exactly as in a music course class. You may adjust the difficulty level for notes and rhythms. Here is how to do it:
- Start Pizzicato and open the "Keyboard learning 44.piz" file in the "Libraries" folder.
- Double click "Exercise" and the score window appears.
- The lower view contains 16 melodic items "Melodies 1 to 15 and chromatic melodies") and 20 rhythmic items (1 to 20). To create a new exercise, drag a rhythm item and a melody item into the first score measure. A new exercise is created and appears on the score.
- By dragging again the same item, a new exercise is generated because these items represent difficulty levels and rhythm sets that the computer may then combine in a thousand ways.
- In the "Window" menu, select "Sequencer...". Zoom this window so that it hides the score view. The sequencer window contains the same 12 measures, but visible as 12 little blocks so that you can not see the notes value.
- You may drag a rhythm and a melody into the first block. Pizzicato creates an exercise.
- In the "Window" menu, open the Recorder window.
- Check the "Mtr" (metronome) box. By pushing the START key (yellow arrow), Pizzicato plays starting from the first measure. You may stop it with the STOP key (blue button) and then try to write what you heared on paper. Listen to it several times if needed.
- To start from a given measure, click this measure (which then becomes highlighted) and click START.
- You may print music paper by printing the page that appears when launching the program.
Once done with the dictation, close or move the sequencer Window and the correct notes are displayed on the score window. You may then correct and start again. With the same or another difficulty level. Have a nice time !
To know more about those functions, read the lesson on learning the keyboard ( http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual/EN720.htm )
advices for Pizzicato...
Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato
Using a non MIDI instrument with Pizzicato ?
To encode notes in Pizzicato without using the mouse or computer keyboard, the only solution is MIDI. Usually, one thinks that we are limited to a synthesizer keyboard, organ or MIDI compatible electric piano and people not playing the keyboard find themselves disappointed.
You must know that various MIDI converter exist for acoustic instruments like guitar, sax, bass, violin, brasses, battery,... and even the human voice. Such a converter is often specific for an instrument, but it provides a MIDI output that can be used directly by Pizzicato to encode the notes of a score rapidly.
This type of converter may be found in specialised music stores. A MIDI cable connects it to the computer and from there, any MIDI musical software may use the notes played on your guitar, violin, sax,...
Truncated dialogs on Windows XP
If you select big fonts under Windows XP, it may happen that some Pizzicato dialogs get truncated in their lower part. This problem will be corrected in a future release. If this happens, do the following :
- Go to the control panels of Windows
- Double click the display item
- Select the Appearance tab
- Modofy the font size to "Normal"
Musical basics and access to the Pizzicato music course
Bar lines and repeats
The various bar lines
The bar lines seen until now are vertical lines delimiting the measures on the staff.
To terminate a score, a thin bar followed by a thick one is placed on the last measure:
To separate several distinct parts of a score, a double thin bar may be used:
It is often used during a key signature change or between the various sections or movements of a score.
In some types of music (especially contemporary), one does not separate the staves in measures. The staff is seen as a support for notes, but the concept of time slicing in equal durations is no more used. Performance is often much freer or follows other criteria specified by the composer.
It is common to play several times some sections of a music score, such as for example a chorus or a theme which is played twice. One could simply write the concerned measures twice, but it would be a loss of space and useless work.
Let us take the simplest case. A given number of measures must be played twice. To specify that, a special bar line is placed on the left of the first measure of the passage and on the right of the last measure of it. They are repeat bar lines. Here is a practical example:
The measures from 2 to 5 (i.e. the measures located between the two repeat markings) must be played twice. The musician who reads this score will thus play the measures in the following order:
...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about bar lines and repeat on our site...
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: www.arpegemusic.com/partition1.htm
You will also find a table with the differences between the various versions of Pizzicato, on page www.arpegemusic.com/differences.htm
Have a look at our new order page, with updates at low prices. Click here to find out...
You have Pizzicato Beginner...
The professional version could bring you the following advantages:
- Printing may be done in all sizes (page layout zoom)
- Symbols (nuances, tempo, trills, effects,...) are performed through the sound card or synthesizer
- You may easily extract the parts of an orchestral conductor score. The page layout of parts, including multimeasure rests, is much easier.
- Tools to write and hear percussion instruments
- The possibility to modify and create new graphic and MIDI symbols
- Chord analysis and chord finding on a melody
- Tools to help you compose music
- C and percussion clefs
Consult the 5 pages which describe the possibilities added by this version: www.arpegemusic.com/partition1.htm
There is also an electronic upgrade for a very interesting price. Click here to find out...
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 users 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!