Dear Musicians,

This is issue #38 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 and we wish you a happy year 2005 !


Dominique Vandenneucker,

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We take up now the 4th point of our general check list to become a composer: "The learning and practicing of a musical instrument, progressively in relation to the score (reading and writing of scores for the instrument) ".

If you play a musical instrument, it will help you to stimulate your musical inspiration. Why?

By learning to play an instrument, you get accustomed in establishing the relationship between something to express (in the form of a thought, a concept, an emotion,...) and the result of it : the sound effect generated by your physical action on an instrument. With practice and experience, it will become a new way to express yourself musically. As a comparison, we could say that your intuitive expression will find practical ways to express itself through the numerous technical gestures you have acquired and made yours in the practice of your instrument.

It becomes a new way to express yourself, a new channel to communicate. Coming back to our analogy with the spoken language, you could never become a writer without learning the language itself. As a young child acquires more and more new words (beginning with the technical activity of pronouncing them correctly, then writing them), he learns to express himself better and better. It does not mean that he would not have ideas to express before knowing the words to express those ideas. Indeed, he sure experiences various emotions and concepts much before he can express them with nice sentences - the love he feels from and to his parents, the pain he may experience, the joy of playing,...

So it may be for your musical expression. You may feel emotions and concepts that you want to express musically, but lacking too many "musical words" in your dictionary, you fail to express them adequately and you feel disappointed, as the child would be when he cannot express himself to his satisfaction.

The practice of an instrument will help you to fill your musical dictionary with musical words. But please select an instrument you really like to hear and play! And take great care to select the various scores and exercises so that you really enjoy playing them, even right at the beginning! Learning to play an instrument only for the sake of the technical aspects of it will not help you at all in acquiring musical expressions that your inspiration could then use as a composer.

Remember our music composition modeling: the association of a musical structure to a concept, an emotion, a feeling to form your personal musical data base that your creative inspiration may then use, combine and change to express your ideas. If you endlessly play exercises to acquire the technical perfection and if you never really enjoy what you play, it will only become an intellectual activity. The musical structures you play won't mean nor represent anything to you - as a concept, an emotion,... - and there will be no corresponding entry in your personal music data base. You will not relate what you do (physical gesture) with the result of it (what the music you play may express, represent or evoke).

So the method you use to learn an instrument may have a great impact on your future abilities as a composer. Select a learning method that you really enjoy, right at the beginning. It does not mean that each aspect of the technical training will be very enjoyable. According to the instrument of your choice, there are some difficult steps that will need your full technical attention, at least until the moment when you master them. But it definitely means that the best method that could be designed to help people learn an instrument would be a method built so that the student really enjoys what he plays, I mean musically enjoys it.

By learning to read a score in relation to your instrument, you open yourself to playing all kinds of music, exactly as learning to read gives you the potential to acquire the knowledge contained in all the books written in that language. It also helps you to associate the written musical language with each record of your personal data base, so that it will become more easy and natural for you to write your music when you compose. The written musical language will become much less abstract and the relation it has to the expressed music will become more obvious and natural to you.

We have stressed that by regular listening to various styles of music, you could feed your musical personal data base. But by playing yourself an instrument, it even goes further. You not only associate "something to express" with a "musical effect to express it", but now you also include in it the way to produce this musical effect - that is the physical actions you take to produce it. It is a more active way to fill your musical dictionary with ways and means to adequately communicate what you want with music.

The next point says "The practical study of one or more music softwares and also the music keyboard (if it is not your main instrument) ".

If you play the flute and if you only intend to compose music for flute soloist, then you have all you need to express yourself and to compose for flute. But if you envision composition in a wider sphere, including several instruments or even a full symphonic orchestra, then you will need some tools to help you in the composition process. Of course, if you are so bright that you can hear inside your head all instruments and compose all in your head and then write it on paper and be sure about the sound result it will produce, great! Just do it! Or may be you are so rich that you can rent the services of a professional orchestra to test, try and play your scores while you compose. I personally cannot do that. So for people like me, hopefully there are now other ways to compose and be sure about the sound result.

Working with music softwares is of course the most powerful tool available to the musician. There are now softwares to write a music score, play and print music, create very nice sound results (including very real symphonic orchestra) in full quality, mix and arrange in audio, scan and recognize printed scores to play them, singing softwares (yes!), softwares to mix music with real time video and finally burn a CD/DVD with the result or create an mp3 file. With a powerful PC, it is now virtually possible to create a orchestral film music score in full quality, at home. Something that ten years ago would not have been possible except in a professional studio with real musicians. So why isn't everybody composing music? Something is still missing...

The tools, even if they help, don't make the genius! The knowledge to use the tools efficiently, to know which tools to buy with the budget you have, when to use each tool and why and above all, the knowledge on how to compose music and express yourself. This is what is lacking for everybody to compose efficiently, at least for everybody who would like to compose.

If you don't know very much about music software, we suggest you to start with Pizzicato. Why? Because Pizzicato was designed right at the beginning to meet that goal: make music available to everybody, not only to the professional (who however will find in Pizzicato a lot of very powerful tools). So you will find in Pizzicato a full course to not only use the Pizzicato tools efficiently, but also to learn the basic music theory and practice with a music course. By following the full Pizzicato course, you alternate lessons about musical concepts and lessons on how to use those concepts with the Pizzicato tools, so that you exercise yourself with them. The full course is available to everybody, even if you only have the demonstration shareware version of Pizzicato. It starts here:

The best way to test and express something with an instrument is of course to play the instrument itself. You then have a direct observation of the final result. But it would mean that a composer writing for an orchestra would be able to play each of the instruments. And even then, he would need to be able to play them all together to test and hear the final result (except if he has his own orchestra). This is why we suggest that if your main instrument is not the keyboard, you at least learn the basis of how to play the keyboard. You do not need to become a virtuoso at the keyboard, but to be able to play some chords and melodies quite easily. In this way and with the help of a music software, if you want to compose for several instruments you will be able to easily create and test various musical sequences. You have then a direct observation of the result.

There is an action cycle that is quite important in composing music. This cycle could be roughly described as follows:

  1. You have an idea (a melody, some chords, some rhythms, or simply a concept, an emotion,...)
  2. You develop it into a form that can be played or communicated
  3. You hear the result, see if it expresses what you want
  4. You correct it and then go back to 1.

The faster the cycle the best it is. A pianist who composes on his instrument has a very fast cycle. Knowing his keyboard, he goes easily from 1 to 2 as he plays it. 3 is then immediate because he hears what he plays, so he can correct it and play it again. A full cycle may happen in a few seconds. If you are not a pianist, you can also compose for the piano, but the cycle is longer if you do not have a way to hear the result of the composition. Now you take some student of the 19th century who was learning how to orchestrate. Months, even years could pass before he could hear an orchestra play his music. So he had to be very smart and study a lot of music theory to compensate for this long feedback delay. It had to be right the first time, otherwise they possibly could not have another chance.

Playing yourself an instrument also helps you realize step 1, because you can develop an intuitive way to let your inspiration directly influence the gestures you do on your instruments. You kind of "pass the ideas directly to your hands" and hear the result. Step 1, 2 and 3 become instantaneous and you can then decide if it fulfills what you want to express and then keep it or throw it away. This is a very fast composition cycle.

This is why we encourage you to learn the basic technique of the musical keyboard, because with the help of a software, you will then be able to transpose this cycle for almost every instrument you want to compose for. It will greatly accelerate the full composition cycle if you compose for a band or an orchestra.

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

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

How to make the written chords play?

With Pizzicato, you can write chords symbols on the score. To hear those chords, they must be transcribed on a staff, which is quite easy to achieve. Add a new staff that will receive the notes of the chord. Then select this empty staff and go the the "Edit" menu, "Chords...", "Convert chords into notes...". A dialog appears, giving you several options on the notes that will be used, rhythms... Type F1 (or the Mac Help key) to have a full explanation for these options or consult the user manual in the help menu, in the lesson regarding the chords symbols. When you click on OK, the notes appear on the staff. Note that you can also create a bass line on another staff. Use the same dialog and within the usable notes, select only the bass, in a low range (C-1 to G-2 for instance).

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

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

Composing music (4)

In this lesson, we provide you exercises to stimulate inspiration by creating melodies, rhythms and instrumentations. We will use the chords progressions made during the previous lesson. You can also use progressions from the Chords library - 3.piz document located in the Libraries folder.

Melodies and rhythms

A melody is a succession of notes played by an instrument. A melody is often made by musical sentences alternated with rests. We often speak of a voice, by analogy with the singing human voice. With each note of a melody, a rhythmic value is associated and specifies the duration of the note.

Just as for a chord, a melody will use the notes of a tonality at a given time. When several voices are played together and with different notes, they form a chord. The notes of a chord can indeed be played by different instruments.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (4) on our site...

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!