Dear Musicians,

This is issue #40 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 -
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Our last articles developed the idea that it is possible to learn how to compose music. Let us remind you the various proposed steps of our "universal method":

  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.

We have previously exposed steps 1 to 5. Once these five steps have been started, you will now need to do the big jump: start to compose music.

Composing music can take numerous forms. There is no unique method to do this, everybody may compose as (s)he wants, as long as (s)he can express what (s)he wants to express in music. Faced with an endless freedom, one is liable to be lost in the infinity of possible musical choices and compose nothing at all. The art of it will be to go one step at a time and first accept to limit the parameters taken into account so as to progressively master the ability to select in the multitude what is apt to express one's own musical expression.

You may consider two different activities in composing music. The first is to find an original musical idea and the second is to develop it. The first needs inspiration, intuition and taste. This is the pure creative part of it. There is no explanation to give: you find an idea and you like it. There is not necessarily logic behind this. Then, there is the development of this idea so as to make a full music composition. It also requires imagination, but various techniques may help you.

The two activities (creative idea and development) should be in balance to create a music composition. You will find in practically every music style, compositions written with minimum idea and maximum development, or with many ideas, but where lack of development gives you the feeling that there is no coherence in the work. Because the coherence of a piece of music is essential. Each element of the work should contribute to communicate the idea, the emotion or esthetics you want to express. This is what unifies the work and give it a unique character.

A musical idea may be a rhythm, a melody, some chords or a combination of these, that will give the starting color. Think of the 4 first notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Or the basic theme of Ravel's Bolero. Hearing those few notes make you remind the full work, but the work is constructed and developed upon these simple elements. Taking the problem on the mathematical side of it, you could say that creating a musical idea, is simply making a choice between a set of possibilities. To give you an example, let us consider all melodies of 5 notes, taken in a set of 7 notes, with only two rhythmic values. Each note of the melody has 7 possible notes and for each 2 rhythmic values, so 7 x 2 = 14 possibilities. For a 5 notes melody, there will be 14 x 14 x 14 x 14 x 14 = 537824 possible melodies... However, the constraints imposed on the notes are here very restrictive in regard to the full set of possible melodies. A melody may contain several dozens of notes, selected in sets of dozens of possible notes, each one with numerous rhythmic values. We immediately reach an enormous number of possibilities.

This vast set of possibilities could theoretically be explored in a systematic way. But a little experimentation with this will show you that many possibilities will have in themselves only a poor rhythmic or melodic value. However, with an excellent mastering of the development techniques and art, one could develop a musical idea, as bad as the first idea could be. But only some of them will let you create a really coherent piece of music, by the structure of the melody itself that will already be coherent internally. For example, the melodies in which the main notes form in themselves a chord that is quite agreeable to the ear will have more chance to produce a more interesting development. You could then define intuition as the art to select a melody that will express what you want, among the infinity of possible melodies.

But in any case, a starting creative idea does not make in itself a full art work. There comes the development. The very nature of development is to extend the original idea into time, supposing it is too short to maintain in itself interest or to express alone what the composer want to express. There are many techniques to develop. The most basic technique is to repeat the same idea several times. If the original idea is rich enough, this may indeed work for some time, but the curiosity and interest of the auditor will be rapidly blunted if exaggerated. The purpose is indeed to maintain active the attention and the interest of the listener. The failure would be that the auditor falls into boredom. Of course if it is your purpose to annoy him, just do it, but don't expect him to buy your music. When hearing some music, this is probably the goal of some composers, but more often, it is only the symptom of a lack of development technique: the composer found a music idea he likes and he stops right there. The piece of music practically repeats the same idea over and over.

You must then vary, modify, change, transpose, invert, reduce, multiply, combine, dress up, color and amplify the original theme, with the guiding principle to make the piece of music coherent and express the idea or ideas to express, so as to interest the auditor to continue to listen to your music. If (s)he finds it interesting, esthetic and at his/her emotional setup, (s)he will also be willing to listen to it again and so will buy your music to "consume" it.

Pizzicato 2 already offers you a series of advices and practical exercises to learn to compose. You may find them more particularly on page:

The new Pizzicato version 3 offers you additional tools to work the theory exposed here above. Five more lessons explain you how to use those tools in practice. You may event follow them with the demonstration version of Pizzicato Professional. They start on page:

Have a nice time!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Scan a score and modify it in Pizzicato

Do you have printed music you would like to hear, transpose or modify, without the need to encode it manually?

With the release of Pizzicato 3 Professional, it is now possible to combine Pizzicato with the SharpEye software, a powerful optical music recognition software. Here is a short guide for you

  1. If you do not yet have Pizzicato, download the demonstration version of Pizzicato 3, on page and install it by double-clicking the downloaded file.
  2. Download SharpEye at and install it by double-clicking the downloaded file.
  3. With your scanner, scan a one page printed music score as a first try. Scan it in black and white and in Tiff or Bmp file format.
  4. Start SharpEye (Start, Programs, Visiv, SharpEye 2).
  5. Select item "Open image..." from the "File" menu and select the image file saved at step 3 here above.
  6. Select item "Read" from the "Read" menu. The conversion starts. A percentage shows the progression in the lower part of the main window. Wait until the score appears in the main window.
  7. In the "Options" menu, select the "NIFF Options..." item, check the "Graphical" choice and validate.
  8. Select item "NIFF... Save" from the "File" menu and give a name to your score (with the NIF extension).
  9. Start Pizzicato (Start, Program, Pizzicato 3, Pizzicato). At startup, select the Professional demonstration mode.
  10. In the "File" menu, select item "Import a NIFF file..." and select the NIF file saved at step 8 here above.
  11. Validate the dialog that appears and your music score is displayed. You may listen to it using the button with the little yellow triangle, in the tool bar.

This is the main procedure. As the recognition level of musical symbols is not always perfect depending of the score complexity, there will be some little corrections to do. But usually, the time saved in encoding the score is considerable.

For more information:

As Pizzicato Professional 3 may be used in demonstration mode and as SharpEye may be used freely for one month, you may then try their combination before buying.

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

Corrective upgrade for Pizzicato 3

A free corrective upgrade of Pizzicato 3 is now available. It is version 3.0.1. It corrects various bugs found that could produce an error in the Pizzicato application. If you find any problem, please let us know, because we will publish corrective upgrades on a regular basis so as to satisfy the users of Pizzicato.

You may download it on page Warning, this upgrade is reserved for people who already have Pizzicato version 3.0 (demo or bought version). If you still have Pizzicato 1 or 2, this upgrade will be useless.

SharpEye Upgrade

A corrective upgrade of SharpEye, version 2.63 is available from its editor site, at You just need to download it and install it.

Generate score - MIDI Files?

The "Generate score" item of the "Edit" menu has the purpose to compute the score according to the composition blocks of Pizzicato. It was never expected to be used to transcribe a MIDI file into a score even if, in version 2, in most cases, it was acting like this. Version 3 is slightly different and it does not work for that purpose.

To import a MIDI file and display the score, you should use the File, Import MIDI file... menu. Then select all measure (Edit, Select all) and transcribe (Edit, Transcribe).

Vertical Tuplets alignement

By default, Pizzicato lets you position triplets and other tuplets at the correct vertical position. The tie or bracket must be manually adjusted. While modifying page setup or justifying or transposing, the adjustment may no more be optimal.

Pizzicato lets you automatically adjust Tuplets vertically. In the Options menu, select Justification. Check the box entitled "Automatic vertical adjustment of Tuplets" and validate. This option is valid for the open document and is independent for each document.

If you wish to activate this option for every new document you create, modify it in the starting templates (Pizzicato Beginner or Pro) found in the Pizzicato\Templates\Templates directory (version 2) or Pizzicato 3.0\DataEN\Templates\Templates (version 3).

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

Music notation examples

We will examine and listen to some examples of the notation of sound characteristics, so as to illustrate the theory learned in a previous lesson.

Note pitch - example

With Pizzicato, open the Ex001.piz file, located in the Examples folder. The following score appears:

It shows you a staff with 3 measures. The playing instrument is the piano. The sign located at the beginning of the staff is called a clef. We will explain this in the following paragraph. You can observe 9 notes distributed in the 3 measures. From left to right, these notes are placed more and more high on the staff, which corresponds to increasingly high pitch notes. Listen to the sound result by pressing the space bar. One after the other, the 9 notes are played by the computer. A small black triangle follows the play and the notes are coloured in red one after the other.

What is a clef?

The possible pitch range of notes largely exceeds the 9 notes played in the above example. In other words, it is possible to play notes much lower than the note placed on the first line of the staff or much higher than the note placed on the fifth line. As we will see further, it is possible to place additional lines on which to place higher or lower notes. Here are examples:

This technique is nevertheless limited to 3 or 4 additional lines below or above the staff, because using more lines makes the score difficult to read. By placing a clef at the beginning of the staff, the pitch of all notes can be changed. Let us see this in more detail.

We had seen that the sound consists of air vibrations. The higher the sound, the more vibrations there is and the higher the note is placed on the staff.

To locate a note on the staff, it is not enough to say that it is lower or higher than another. It is necessary to establish a precise reference on which everyone can agree. This reference is established by placing a clef at the beginning of the staff. There are several reference systems for notes and each one is marked by a different clef.

The most current clef is the treble clef (or G clef). With this clef, a note placed in the second line spacing corresponds to a sound making the air vibrate 440 times a second...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on Music notation examples 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.

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!