Dear Musicians,

This is issue #41 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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Copyright 2005, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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There are many different theoretical approaches to music composition. Each one of them tries to represent music with specific rules of logic that you may then apply to create or arrange your own music. You could consider them as substitutes for being able to simply think your ideas into music as pure creative inspiration and just write it down so it can be played. Unless you are able to do that, music theories will be very helpful to you. They may even contribute to help you become able to think your ideas directly into music.

You could think about music as if it was a multi dimensional object. To fully know music, you would need to explore and master each one of its dimensions. You would need to understand and be able to create each particular aspect of music.

A music theory explains and exposes one or more music dimension. By learning its basic logic and by application of its principles, you will acquire practical knowledge to manipulate and create music. By combining the knowledge from many different theories, you will more and more feel the real nature of music and you will stimulate and increase your musical inspiration. But this will happen only if you firmly keep in mind that those theories are only there to present one approach of music, not music itself. The theories are there to give you results, not to be learned by rote as themselves to pass an examination. You could indeed spend several years learning the various music theories as an intellectual activity, be successful in passing examinations and never compose any music at all from you own ideas. So, while you learn various composition techniques, please also compose music from your own ideas, even if they still seem clumsy because you are a beginner.

The most fundamental music theory starts from the physical sciences, from acoustics and mathematics. It tries to describe and delimit the sound waves and their properties, as they are used in music to communicate impressions, emotions and ideas. Most Western music is based upon the selection of a set of sound frequencies constructed with simple mathematical formulas. They form the notes, tonalities and scales used in most classical and modern music styles. They also form the basic structure on which chords can be built.

Right above this acoustic theory of music, you find the music notation theory, as explained in most music courses. It creates and explains how to represent music on paper, so as to be able to communicate it, to manipulate it, store it and publish it in a visible form. It explains how to represent the duration and pitches of notes, the relationship between various instruments playing together as well as the various conventions used to write a music score. It furnishes a music representation that is then used to build higher level theories.

Based upon the above theories, there is the harmony theory. It is the science of building and assembling chords from single notes, so as to make a "harmonious" global result. A chord appears whenever more than one instrument plays together (or when several notes are played together on an instrument that may generate many simultaneous notes, such as a piano). Harmony has various approaches. Classical harmony will give you many rules and exercises to compose for a choir of 4 voices, with very strict rules. Jazz harmony will put more attention on the richness of chords and how to sequence them and organize them into chord progressions that you can use while playing or while searching chords to fit a melody.

Counterpoint is the science of how melodies can be created and combined. Of course, when several melodies combine, you automatically have chords. And when you create and sequence chords, you automatically have melodies formed by the chords. But if harmony takes the viewpoint of chords, counterpoint will take the viewpoint of melodies. The two theories are complementary.

Instrumentation and orchestration will explain you the characteristics of the various instruments found in an orchestra, their pitch specification, the specificities of each one and also how to combine them harmoniously and for various composition purposes.

Then, you have several composition approaches, each one specific to an author or to a style, with many points in common and various interesting specificities. One could probably develop as many theories as there are composers. Learning and practicing some of them will give you a lot of ideas to compose your own music.

As in any other activity, the Internet becomes more and more the standard way to publish and communicate music theories and their development. So I suggest you to go to your preferred search engine and type the following keywords to find, explore and practice the various music theories:
or any other combination of these words. You will find many resources to learn and practice, many different approaches that will help you look at music from various viewpoints. But the main point is: put what you learn in practical exercises, do something with it and compose music!

Next month we will examine the last step :
the musical creation work itself: your career as a composer, including learning how to disseminate your music and make your compositions known.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

The new conductor view of Pizzicato 3

One of the new features of Pizzicato Professional 3 is the conductor view. It has been designed to be your musical desktop. As you may have multiple scores in a musical document, you will find here a tool to organize, control and play them easily in various combinations. You may open it in the Windows menu, Conductor view...

This window is divided into three main areas:

With the conductor view, you may select and play a score with the recorder buttons. But you may also group several scores and play them together. In this way, you may assemble a full orchestral score by creating little musical sequences and by arranging them together, duplicating or smart linking them (transposing, inverting your melody,...)

In combination with the prepared instruments and rhythms libraries, this view is quite practical to create rhythmic patterns visually.

See the full lesson on using the conductor view on page and compose your rhythms and arrangements.

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 3.0.2. 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.

Problems with Windows XP Service Pack 2 ?

If you have unexpected computer crashes while using Pizzicato 3 under Windows XP and its Service Pack 2, we suggest you to set Pizzicato in compatibilty mode for Windows 98. The problem is not always present because some users use Pizzicato 3 under XP SP2 without problems. To do this, right-click the Pizzicato icon and select "Properties..." then go to the "Compatibility" tab and set it to Windows 98.

The user manuals of Pizzicato now available in PDF format

You have often asked us the possibility to download the full Pizzicato documentation in an easily printable format. So we have published the PDF files of the full user manual of Pizzicato. You may download them and print them fully or partly. They are available for download at the bottom of page:

Regarding version 2, the PDF files are similar to the paper manuals sent in the package versions of Pizzicato 2. Regarding version 3, the PDF files contain the full online documentation, including the music course (489 pages for the PRO 3 manual!). PDF files may be displayed and printed with Acrobat Reader, a free software that you may download at:

Creating a pause sign that is really played

Here is how to transform the static pause sign from the tool palette into a dynamic pause sign that will influence the playing of the score (Pizzicato Professional):

1. Double-click on the pause sign in the tool palette
2. Check the "MIDI play" box, then click the "Define play..." just to the right.
3. Set the "Start" selection on "Attached note"
4. Set the fixed duration to 0 measures, 1 beat, 0 unit
5. Value = 20
6. Check the "Local change" box and uncheck the "Relative values".
7. Click OK then OK again

By placing the symbol on a note, Pizzicato will play at tempo 20 per quarter note during one beat, and this will slow down the playing of the score. You may vary the value of the tempo (20 at step 5 above) and duration (1 beat at step 4) to influence the playing of the pause sign.

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

The name and position of notes

Exactly as the alphabet has 26 letters from A to Z, the musical alphabet includes 7 letters assigned to the notes:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B

In this lesson and the next ones, we will work on the basis of the treble clef. Here is the position of these 7 notes when a treble clef is placed at the beginning of the staff:

The name of the treble clef (also called G clef) comes from the following fact : the loop in the middle of this clef is centered around the second line of the staff, which is the line on which the G note is located.

What about the names of the lower and higher notes? The same names are used again. Higher than B, there is again C, D,... Lower than C, the names are B, A,... Here is the result for the higher notes...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on notes and rests 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!