Dear Musicians,

This is issue #60 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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The Pizzicato demonstration videos are now finished and are available on page:

A total of 2 hours and 47 minutes of video, where the main Pizzicato functions are explained with real and practical examples. Ten videos show you the notation, page setup and recording functions and six other videos show you the tools about intuitive composition. By watching these videos, you will understand how Pizzicato can help you. They also give you a fast introduction to the program and let you work for most cases without the need of the user manual.

You may also download the corrective update of Pizzicato 3.2.2 on the update page:


We start this month a series of articles to explain what intuitive composition is really and what is the intuitive composition environment offered to you by Pizzicato. But first, let us focus on some theoretical aspects, so as to better understand the tools and their musical context.

What is music composition?

It is expressing with music what you feel, your emotions, your deep feelings, your ideas, your dreams.

A music composition may often be described by a melody developing itself on harmony with an accompaniment. These three items (melody, harmony and accompaniment) may take any original form. But let us try to discover what are their common attributes.

A melody is a sequence of notes with rhythms. Each note has its frequency (its pitch, high or low) and its duration. A singing human voice or a monodic instrument (that can play only one note at a time, like the flute, the trumpet,...) can play a melody. We exclude from the definition the playing of two notes together at this point.

If you play the same note again and again with a precise rhythm, changing or repeating itself, it is still a melody. It is a sequence of notes, even if they are all the same.

Another factor is the sound color of the notes. Played by a flute, a harp, a human voice or a clarinet, a melody can be recognized, but its sound color is different and adds artistic and esthetic interest.

For the above-mentioned instruments, it is possible to play and recognize most known melodies. It is because the tone quality of the instrument is determined and the sound frequencies can change. These instruments often have very precise mathematical relationships betweens the component parts of their sounds.

If you take a percussion instrument like the bass drum, it is no more the case and you have only one sound per instrument, with mathematical relationships between its frequencies that are quite different. Often, these instruments have a dominating frequency, but they are used to add a rhythmic value to a composition more than a melodic value.

However, if you play a repeating bass drum pattern, we can still conceive it as a rudimentary melody, even if it has only one note.

What is an accompaniment?

It is simply one or more secondary melodies. An accompaniment may be really melodic (instruments playing various different notes) or only rhythmic (bass drum, maracas pattern, ...).

The melody is different only because it forms the main attention and interest center. Often the melodies of the accompaniments are simpler or more repetitive, but it is not necessarily always the case. In the Art of the Fugue, Bach demonstrated that each melody can be played for itself and that all these melodies smartly placed together form a piece of music where the main melody and the accompaniment become not dissociable.

So a music composition is made out of one or several melodies. Simple, isn't it?

But you cannot just compose five independent melodies and just play them together. Most of the time the result is quite horrible. Here comes the use of harmony and counterpoint.

If I remember well my music history courses, the first forms of music were single melodies, sung alone or together (each singer playing the same melody). Then came counterpoint to create different melodies that could be played at the same time. Harmony and the chords theory also developed and we could then design more and more sophisticated set of melodies.

But all comes from the melody. And to combine several melodies together, we started using counterpoint and harmony.

Counterpoint is the art of combining melodies in their respective and independent evolution. Harmony is more focused on studying the instantaneous or static value of a chord, learning how to create a set of notes that sounds well, but also how to move from one set of notes to another set of notes and to sequence chords.

A set of notes that sounds well at a given time is called a chord. Each note of that chord can be seen as a unique note, in a static way. But each of these notes may also be considered dynamically as part of a melody that evolves independently through time and the combination of them creates the chord. This is the main difference between harmony and counterpoint. We will include both under the term "harmony" here.

Harmony is the art of combining several melodies to create an harmonious composition. If melody and accompaniments are quite real (you can play them), harmony is more abstract. You can not hear the harmony without hearing the voices that creates it. It is a method of combining several sounds together harmoniously.

We can finalize the above definition as: a music composition is made out of one or several melodies combined harmoniously. The questions now become how to create melodies and how to combine them harmoniously. We have some work for the next articles.

Meanwhile, I suggest you to watch the videos on intuitive music composition: You will already find some answers...

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Encoding notes with Pizzicato

With Pizzicato, you may enter notes in various ways:

The efficiency of each encoding method largely depends upon the complexity of the score. For a simple score, where the same rhythm happens over and over or with a simple rhythm, you may enter notes very fast with a music keyboard. But as the score complexity increases, as the rhythms become more various and complex, the efficiency of the use of a music keyboard decreases. Inversely, if the score becomes too complex, you will even lost time using the music keyboard because you will need to make lots of corrections after the real time recording.

You may find further explanations on the following pages :

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

Recording several voices on the same staff

Using the musical keyboard, you can record several rhythmic voices on the same staff. Here is how:

For more details, see the lesson presenting the real time recording (

MIDI file impossible to transcribe in a legible way?

Some MIDI files are recorded "freely", i.e. without regarding to a metronome. The performer sits in front of the keyboard and begins the recording while playing freely, without any metronome or fixed tempo. For instance, this is sometimes the case for Chopin scores and generally for all pieces that must be played quite freely so as to avoid breaking down the natural of the piece. In this case, the computer records the MIDI data, referring to its own metronome, which is thus different from the performer tempo reference. Beats do not correspond together. It is then impossible to create a logically written score, musically speaking. Therefore, it would be necessary to relocate the beats in the MIDI file. We will examine this question for some future release of Pizzicato.

Pizzicato exits without warning after a few minutes?

If you start Pizzicato and after a few minutes Pizzicato exits without warning, this is caused by one or more missing files in the installation.

This may happen specifically when you reinstall Pizzicato or an update and that you install it in a different directory than the original one. By double-clicking a Pizzicato file, Windows do not take the right version of the program and a confusion results from it.

To solve the problem, simply reinstall the program while taking care that it is in the right directory (you should keep it in the default directory which is "C:\Program Files\Pizzicato 3").

The error is sometimes to install it in a sub-directory "C:\Program Files\Pizzicato 3\Pizzicato 3".

Check also that you do not have several Pizzicato 3 installation directories, so as to avoid confusion between several installations.

Finally, do NEVER modify the names of Pizzicato internal files, like the application file "Pizzicato.exe" or other files included in the Pizzicato folders (except of course your own documents), because it can also produce the same effect: Pizzicato exits without warning after a few minutes.

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 3.2, a series of updates are available for Mac OS X and Windows, 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!