Dear Musicians,

This is issue #39 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

Phone/Fax ++32 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2005, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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Here it is! Since last Sunday March 13, 2005 end of the afternoon, version 3 of Pizzicato for Windows is available. In the last months, the neswletters was less regular. It was however the symptom of an intense activity at Arpege. We were busy on the last details necessary to the publication of this new release. In this letter 39, we are pleased to present this new version 3.0 of Pizzicato, the result of a work based on two main points.

The first point is a concern to make Pizzicato follow the user's needs, such as you communicate those needs to us. Pizzicato 3.0 includes the new functions you asked the more in the past few years. The second point, considering the content of our editorial articles during these last two years, is the composition help. If you have followed our editorial articles, you will have noticed that we particularly make a point of helping you to approach musical composition. We have implicitly refered on several occasions to composition tools we were developing in the behind the scene. Pizzicato 3 comprises a new series of tools which will help you on this subject.

The Macintosh users should be reassured: we work on the new version for Mac OS X and hope to be able to publish it soon.

Versions 2 of Pizzicato Light, Beginner and Professional will remain on sale in parallel, with cheaper prices than version 3. We now have products between about 10 euros to 300 euros, offering a vast choice of musical functionalities. Of course, upgrades are possible between most versions of Pizzicato, allowing you to modulate your budget according to your needs.

Like version 2, Pizzicato 3 exists in Light, Beginner and Professional versions, in electronic version to download or in a package version with CD and printed manual. The innovations are distributed between the various versions of Pizzicato.

One of the most frequent requests was to be able to scan a score and work it in Pizzicato. We thus analyzed the market of score scanning softwares in order to see which one could combine most harmoniously with Pizzicato. Perhaps you remember our editorial article about NIFF, a file format containing the graphic characteristics of a score. So that Pizzicato can exploit the result of a score scanning software, it was necessary for Pizzicato to read such files. This function has been added to Pizzicato Professional 3. With regard to the scanning software, we selected SharpEye as being best suited to work with Pizzicato. It has in our opinion the best quality/price ratio compared to other products, and in any case it was the best of the softwares we tested. From a scanned score, SharpEye lets you generate a NIFF file, which can then be worked in Pizzicato, saving your time to encode the scores.

Pizzicato Professional allows pianistic writing of cross-staff beaming, i.e. in particular several notes connected to a beaming but not belonging to the same staff. A tool lets you very easily manage simple and multiple grace notes, graphically as well as while playing.

The encoding of triplets and other tuplets has been simplified.

A special paste function lets you merge or split voices from various staves.

An automatic saving and a backup function helps you to manage your files as well as to avoid any data loss.

The users of Pizzicato Light and Beginner will not be disappointed either: the symbols really play in MIDI and the creation of visual musical effects are now found in all versions 3. You can thus place your nuances, tempo signs, crescendo, accents and other symbols, Pizzicato will play the score by taking them into account.

A new window lets you visualize and draw the curves of volume, tempo, glissando and other effects as well as modifying the actual values of nuances, accents and other symbols placed on the score.

All versions comprise a management of measure versions. Each measure of the score may contain several versions and you can manage them during the writing of your score.

On the level of music composition, the main new tool is called the smart link. It is present in all versions, even in Pizzicato Light! It is a tool that lets you for example write a basic melody and use it anywhere else in the score with all kinds of rhythmic and melodic modifications, transposition, chords arrangement, creation of second melodies, mirror melodies... You can compare this function with a spreadsheet or a worksheet, but on the musical level. The rhythms, the notes and the chords of various measures can influence the musical content of one or more other measures and the modifications of the original data is reflected into these measures. It is a tool to work the musical content and it is thus now accessible for all budgets.

The composition tools proposed in the Professional version 3 are centered on a new window: the conductor view. It gathers the scores and gives a temporal view of their sequence. The scores can be grouped into sequences played together.

A new management of instruments makes it very easy to add and modify instruments in a score being composed.

The virtual keyboards let you configure a musical MIDI keyboard connected to the computer to play various prepared instruments. You can play chords which are then hold while you play a bass, whose notes are doubled by a 3 octaves higher vibes for example. Another area of the keyboard lets you play a melody, doubled by an oboe a sixth lower. All this while having some keys reserved for percussion instruments. Everything on one keyboard. You program the keyboard as you need it.

Combine all that with a series of rhythmic sequences for percussion and accompaniment instruments, and you get a new musical construction set which lets you create your accompaniments in an intuitive way and without much knowledge of musical theory. A step more towards music composition for everybody.

We invite you to read the details of the innovations brought by version 3 at the following page, which compares the versions 3 (Light, Beginner and Professional ) with their equivalents in version 2 :

Version 3 may be installed independently of version 2. We thus invite you to download the evaluation version through the following page:

The fully updated manual which details the new functions is also available through the following address:

We will continue the articles on music composition next month. I suggest you to download and discover Pizzicato 3 in all its aspects !

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Print your Pizzicato scores in PDF file

A file with the "pdf" extension is a document that everyone can read, print, publish on the Internet and transfer by email. Would you like to create such a file with your Pizzicato scores ? It is possible, and even for free. A user of Pizzicato gave us this information so that you can all use it, thanks to her! The software allowing this is called CutePDF. It is free software for Windows that can be installed as a printer. When you print a Pizzicato document (or any other document in Windows), select the CutePDF printer and the software asks a name for the PDF file to create.

This small jewel may be downloaded on the software editor site, which seems to be a light version of a more sophisticated software, but this light version is already very effective. The address is:

On the left of that page, you will find two links entitled Free download and Free Converter. Download and execute these two files so as to install them. The next time you restart the PC, it is in order.

Tips and advices for Pizzicato...

Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato

Delete a note or symbol?

An occasional cause of problem has remained unknown until a user precisely described to us what he was doing to delete a symbol or a note in the score and which caused a error in Pizzicato. The method to delete a symbol or a note is:

  1. Place the arrow of the mouse cursor on the head of the note or on the symbol, WITHOUT CLICKING
  2. Use the erase key (backspace key to remove a character). The symbol or the note disappears. This is explained in the manual and does not produce an error in the software.

But we had probably not enough insisted on the words WITHOUT CLICKING. Some users were clicking and holding the mouse button while using the erase key, causing an error in Pizzicato.

This small nuance probably explains crashes that did not have an explanation yet. This problem is of course not normal and has been corrected in version 3. But for users of versions 2, it is good to know this and easy to avoid.

Slowness while working on a large Pizzicato score?

Pizzicato contains an UNDO function (cancels the last operation). This implies that Pizzicato creates a copy of the measure you work each time you modify it. It is very fast and does not impede working. But when you work a very large document and execute some global operations (page layout, adding/erasing measures and staves...) Pizzicato must create a complete copy of your document, which can slow down the reaction time of Pizzicato. If you experience such a slowness, especially with an older computer, you may temporarily disable the UNDO function, through the Options menu , Global options item , at least during the global manipulations of the document.

Modifying the page layout

If you want to modify the page layout parameters in a score that is already created and has a page setup defined, do not forget to validate the Calculate check box in the right part of the page layout dialog box. It is only when this box is checked that Pizzicato will take into account the new layout parameters.

Dialog box or tool help

To find detailed explanations obout a dialog box or a tool, you can use the contextual help. Place the cursor of the mouse on the dialog box or on the tool and press on the F1 key on the keyboard. The help of the concerned lesson opens.

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

Music notation

What is music?

Music is the art of organizing sounds to make them express a message, an impression, a state of heart, an atmosphere, an emotion, feelings… It is a communication which emanates from the composer or performer and goes to the auditor.

Music is primarily transmitted by sound. All sound characteristics can thus be exploited to enrich musical communication.

Sound is an air vibration perceived by the ear. When the pianist hits a piano key, the movement creates a shock between a small hammer and a metallic string. This string vibrates and resounds in the piano. While doing so, it carries the air with it and this vibration of the air propagates all around. When this vibration reaches your ear, you get the sound feeling that you know.

The propagation of the sound is similar to the undulations that you see on the surface of a calm water when you throw a stone in it.

Characteristics of a sound

A sound vibration has various characteristics we can perceive. The first characteristic is the sound pitch. On a physical viewpoint, it is the number of vibrations executed by the air in one second. The more vibrations there is, the more the sound appears high-pitched to you. Schematically, you can compare a low-pitched sound and a high-pitched sound in the following way [...]

The second characteristic is the amplitude (loudness) or the force of the sound. The larger the vibration, the more a sound appears loud to you. Here is an illustration [...]

A third characteristic of the sound is its duration. For how long does the air vibrate? This duration is measured in seconds.

The last characteristic is the timbre of the sound. It lets you distinguish the type of instrument playing. You can easily distinguish a melody played by a piano from a melody played by a flute. Even if the melody is the same in both cases, you can at once recognize the piano or the flute. Physically, this difference comes from the shape of the vibration. For example, here are two sounds having the same pitch and the same force but they are characterized by the timbre, i.e. the shape of the vibration [...]

When you will have learned how to open a document with Pizzicato, we will listen to examples of these four sound characteristics: pitch, duration, amplitude and timbre.

Music notation

Music being a sound, the most obvious way to transmit it is to listen to it. It is indeed the most satisfactory manner to communicate music.

The most direct communication would imply the simultaneous presence of the performer and the auditor, like in a concert. The atmosphere in a concert cannot indeed be compared with listening to a disc or radio transmission. There is in this case something more than simply the sound.

Techniques currently available make it possible to collect sounds and to store them in various forms like discs, cassettes and CDs. The advantage is to be able to reproduce the music at will, to distribute it and communicate it on a large scale. These techniques transmit the final sound result of the execution of a piece of music.

When you want to transmit a musical work to somebody so that he can perceive the musical message and appreciate its beauty, a cassette or a disc will be adequate. If you want to communicate to him the contents of a musical work so that he can play it himself, the sound support only is not very practical and becomes insufficient in most cases. If it is possible for a well trained person to listen to a melody and play it back by memory, this ability is not general and remains limited to relatively simple cases. It becomes very difficult to realize as soon as the work becomes a little complicated and when you think of a one hour piano concerto with orchestra, it becomes almost impossible.

Music notation offers a more practical solution to transmit music to somebody so that he can himself play it. Its purpose is to be able to represent the contents of a musical work in a written form. In this manner, you can communicate in a precise way anything that occurs during the execution of a piece of music.

...To read the full lesson and see the illustrations, see the lesson on Music notation on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.0, a series of upgrades are available, according to the version you presently have. To know the prices and possibilities, see the order page on our site:

In the menu "You have", select the version you presently have. The page will be redrawn and will show the possible upgrades and their prices. To buy an upgrade, fill in the form and validate it.

For users who have bought a Pizzicato version 2 software between December 13, 2004 and March 12, 2005, the electronic upgrade to the equivalent version 3 is free. You will receive in the following weeks the instructions to benefit from this free upgrade. The invoice date determines whether or not you are entitled to this free upgrade.

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!