Dear Musicians,

This is issue #34 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.


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

Copyright 2004, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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Is it possible to learn to compose music or is it only a gift you possess or do not possess ?

This question is probably worrying more than one musician or beginner. Music must seem strange or mysterious to those who only know music by listening and appreciating it. How to line up notes, rhythms and chords to create such a harmonious set of sound ? Then you say to yourself you will never get there. STOP ! Such an attitude is just the same as asking yourself why you can not write Japanese poetry if you never learned Japanese. It is a matter of steps : to go up the ladder, you start on the first rung, not on the tenth (which would also seem impossible to reach).

ARPEGE has always answered this question in a categorical way : Yes you can learn to compose music, no matter how not talented your are. Now the practical difficulty is to design a method that will work for everybody and that would be flexible enough to:

I believe such a method is possible and must be formed by a well ordered series of steps, mastered one after the other. Even if the tools of Pizzicato today are still limited compared to a "universal and ideal method", I think that such a method, to be effective, shoud at least contain the following elements:

  1. A regular listening to various musical styles
  2. A good understanding of what sound is and how its fundamental properties influence the musical auditing impression
  3. A good understanding of the written musical language in its most common form : the music score
  4. The learning and practicing of a musical instrument, progressively in relation to the score (reading and writing of scores for the instrument)
  5. The practical study of one or more music software and also the music keyboard (if it is not your main instrument)
  6. The progressive practice of music composition, on the grounds you learned in the above steps, first based on simple and structured methods
  7. A practical study of the various music composition theories (harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, serial music,...)
  8. The listening and practical analysis of application examples of those musical theories or any other creative method
  9. A progressive development of one's own musical universe, of one's own composition method build on the basic understanding one has acquired from music
  10. The musical creation work itself : your career as a composer, including learning how to disseminate your music and make your compositions known.

I don't mean that to compose you necessarily need to learn or master all these points. Not at all. But someone who would study a practical, complete and progressive method based on all 10 points above could not help but really publish his own CDs, no matter how not talented he was before beginning. The purpose of ARPEGE is to create such a method, the Pizzicato software being the tool to reach it.

You can assume that if you really want to compose something personal and that would be well received and really have success, you will need to put the expected effort on it. The easy way does not exist. You need to work on it and persevere. Stable successes are based upon work and a full understanding of the subject, like in any other areas.

It all depends on the goal you have. Is it to entertain yourself, to impress friends, to really understand music, live it and create it, to expresse yourself through it and in full knowledge, to publish your own CDs, to become a professional composer ? Each goal is possible and valid. Just be honest to yourself : what is your goal ? Then apply the necessary method to reach it.

The point is, if you know nothing about music and you really want to become a composer and successfully publish your CDs, do not expect to reach that with a "magic wand". An important work is waiting for you. But the path and the results will be of high value to you : you will understand music and will be able to express yourself with it.

The "Professional" or "hobbyist" aspect does not necessarily enter into consideration, because even a hobby can be practiced with the greatest care. The real question is "How much do I want to understand music and create my own music ?". By using an easy and/or automatic composition software, you will enjoy it, you will be able to learn music and make some nice personal compositions. Such softwares may bring you a lot of things. But don't expect the result of it to become number one in the charts or to be selected as the music of a success film.

You may also envision things by steps. Your goal may increase with your knowledge. If in the beginning you only want to better understand music and entertain yourself, do just that. If you get more involved in it, increase your goal and study music further.

Our long term project is to give you the possibility to reach those goals, with tools contained in Pizzicato (present and future releases), with more progressive, personal and specific music courses, with information on our site and in our musical information letters.

In the next months, we will look further into the 10 above points, while also orienting you to already existing resources in Pizzicato and on the Internet. Until then, take the time to define your own musical goals...:-)

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Exchanging scores between various versions of Pizzicato

If you exchange Pizzicato scores with somebody else but do not possess the same version he or she has, here are the rules that apply:

A document created with Pizzicato Professional 2 may be open by Pizzicato Beginner 2, providing that:

To be open by Pizzicato Light, more conditions apply:

With this data in mind, a teacher working with Pizzicato Professional may create scores for his (her) students working with Pizzicato Light so that they can read them. Moreover, if the computers are different (Mac / PC Windows) the next article will explain the procedure.

Exchanging Pizzicato files between Mac and PC

The Pizzicato documents are naturally Mac and PC compatible. You may exchange them, but you need to know the rules of transfer between PC and Mac. Here they are.

A Mac with a floppy disk may read or write PC formatted floppies. The reverse is not true, so you need a PC formatted disk to transfer data.

From the Mac to the PC, simply drag your Mac Pizzicato file on a PC formatted disk that you introduce into the Mac disk drive, but rename your document so that it ends with the ".piz" extension. Introduce then the disk in the PC disk drive and with Windows Explorer copy the file in your Pizzicato directory. Depending on the disk format, it may happen that the file is renamed into an 8 characters name (coming from the old DOS format). You may then rename it on your hard disk as you want (but always with the ".piz" extension). The document may then be opened with Pizzicato. If your Mac do not have a disk drive, you may do the same with a CD writer.

From the PC to the Mac, you must first setup your Mac so that it can recognize the Pizzicato document. On a PC, the type of a file is determined only by the extension, i.e. the letters following the dot in the file name. On Mac, the type of file is defined by data that can not be modified by the user. When a PC file is transfered on a Mac, the PC/Mac compatibility manager uses a conversion list between PC extensions and Mac file types. For a new application installed on your Mac, you must specifically tell the computer the correspondance with the PC extension, otherwise the file type will not be recognized. Do the following (one time operation only):

When done, the ".piz" files read from a PC floppy or CD will be automatically converted to the right Mac type so that they can be used with Pizzicato.

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

The scrolling score view

Pizzicato Beginner and Professional have a window called "Scrolling score" available in the Windows menu. The scrolling score view is a window used to display a part of the score. The notes cannot be modified by this view. When Pizzicato starts playing the score, the contents of the scrolling score view will automatically follow the measure playing. According to the size of your screen, you will see more or less measures and staves. A small red triangle indicates the current measure. This measure is the first which will be heard if you start the score.

With the space bar, when you start the score, you may observe the triangle going from one measure to the other. Observe what occurs when the first staff is finished: the triangle goes to the next line, the first horizontal area is erased and Pizzicato draws another one. During this time, you can continue to follow the staff which is playing. When Pizzicato comes to the last horizontal area, it continues to the top of the page, because this staff was updated.

This method lets you read a score without being disturbed by the erasing of already played measures and the drawing of the next measures. There is no more problem to turn a page (while turning a paper score page, there is always a moment when the performer does not see the playing measure any more and does not yet see the next measure of the score, which requires to memorize one measure and turning the page in advance). With Pizzicato, it is like somebody cutting out parts of the page while you play, so that the following page appears gradually. You then always keep control of the location where you are looking at. Let Pizzicato go to the end of the score and follow visually. To know more about this window, read the lesson

Width of a measure

Starting with the Beginner version, you may modify the measure width by using the Measures and Staves tool or the arrow tool, by clicking just to the left of the right barline and by dragging it with the mouse. When you release it, the measure is redrawn. Its content is automatically adapted (enlarged or stressed).

If you do not want its content adapted, you may do the same operation while holding down the CTRL (Control) key on the keyboard. The measure width is modified but the content does not move.

If the measure is the last one in a system, the right barline is automatically aligned on the right margin and so the above operation does not work. You may bypass this limitation by disabling the "Justify systems on page, horizontally" option in the page setup dialog box (File menu).

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

How to learn the keyboard with Pizzicato?

To learn how to play a musical score with the keyboard, we will use the following aspects of Pizzicato:

You must well understand the handling of the first four aspects. For the musical libraries, we advise you to read the composition libraries (1) lesson to have at least an outline of what they are. If later you wish to personalize the exercises and really understand what happens in this lesson, we highly advise you to read all lessons about musical composition libraries.

You must also understand the content of the main music lessons, in particular the lessons speaking about notes, rhythms and the musical keyboard layout.

  1. The keyboard learning exercises will be done each time with the following steps:
  2. You lay out the Pizzicato screen so as to see the score, the keyboard and the recorder. You select the sound to play.
  3. Using the musical libraries, you select notes and rhythms for a given difficulty level. Pizzicato generates the corresponding exercises.
  4. You ask Pizzicato to play the exercise in order to see and hear the correct way to play it.

You play it at the same time than Pizzicato, by observing the score and the keyboard window and by listening and observe if your version is the same as the Pizzicato version. You correct your performance by comparing and adjusting. Once this exercise is under control, you come back to point (2) with another exercise.

The regular practice of these steps will increase your ability to play a musical score. The rest of this lesson will explain you each step in detail...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about learning the musical keyboard 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

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:

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

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!