Dear Musicians,

This is issue #70 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 2008, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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We are happy to announce the publication of Pizzicato 3.3. This version was in preparation since August 2007 and there was a lot of work involved with it. It contains tools for the guitar, a new music composition tool called the music vector, a MusicXML import/export function, as well as a series of little functions and modifications asked by the users. Let us see in more details the main points of this new version 3.3.

Pizzicato opens its doors more widely to guitarists. The tablature is now possible so that you can write the notes on a tablature staff. A tablature is a 6 lines staff (one for each guitar string). Notes are written on it with or without the rhythm, but the note head is replaced by a number, showing which fret should be used to play that note. It is a much more intuitive notation as it is related to the physical action that needs to be done on the guitar to hear the note. So it is quite popular in the guitar world.

Pizzicato can also transfer notes between a normal staff and a tablature staff. You can associate a normal staff to a tablature so that when you write notes in one of them, Pizzicato fill in the other one automatically.

A new tool palette is available in the Tools menu, with several graphic and sound symbols specific to the guitar.

The guitar chords diagrams are also managed by Pizzicato, with a customizable library and with a special function that can generate chords diagrams according to specific position criteria. You will find a description of the Pizzicato 3.3 guitar tools in the new manual on page

The MusicXML file format is more and more used by music software. What is its purpose and advantage? The MIDI file was before that the only practical way to exchange pieces of music between different music software. A music software would export its document as a MIDI file and the other one could then import that file.

The problem was that the MIDI file is only designed to contain information about the real time performance of the notes and not specifically about how the notes are laid out on paper. Most information regarding page setup, graphic symbols, enharmonies (F# or Gb ?), titles and annotations,... were all lost through a MIDI export/import operation. All page setup was to be done again.

The first attempt to create a file format containing all graphical information of a music score was done following a collaboration of various music software editors. It was the "NIFF" file format. For some reasons, it was not widely adopted. Later, the MusicXML file format was created and it became a standard file format, used by more and more music software as a way to exchange music documents. Pizzicato 3.3 is now able to exchange MusicXML files. All Pizzicato 3.3 versions export documents in MusicXML format, but only Pizzicato Professional 3.3 import MusicXML files.

If you are using SharpEye (music score scanning program) in combination with Pizzicato Professional, you can now use the MusicXML file format that SharpEye can export, replacing advantageously the NIFF files that sometimes were subject to errors. On Mac, the SmartScore scanning program can also export in MusicXML.

For the users of Finale, Sibelius and other music sofware, here is now a path to/from Pizzicato Professionnal. You can work with several software and transfer your music documents between them with very little work. With MusicXML, you can also exchange scores with friends who are using different music software than yours. Just transfer the file in MusicXML.

In our previous editorial (number 69), we explored the concept of vectorial music composition. It was not without intent, as this new version of Pizzicato 3.3 offers a new music composition tool called the music vector. It is at least a new step toward the ideal purpose exposed in our previous article, even if a considerable work is still to be done to reach that ideal.

A music vector is a melodic generator, based on several specifications that you decide. You can for instance draw a free graphic curve and see it become a melody when it is applied to existing scales and chords.

Thousands of predefined music vectors are available in the library and can be dragged into the measures of the score to see the generated melodies. This applies as well for soloist melodies, multiple arpeggios and secondary voices for 1 to 5 instruments. They are very easy to use. Music vectors can also be created by you and form a powerful tool for music creation and experimentation. See the page

In the subject of chords and their combinations, you will find in Pizzicato 3.3 a new harmonic space library and a powerful harmonic progression generator that lets you decide very simple specifications and then discover all possible chords sequences that fit them. See the page

A tool helps you to manage custom chords and scales so as to determine how the score arranger will create the arrangements and generate the vectors. You can define your own scales and chords based on intervals and drag them into the score to hear the influence they have on an arrangement. See page

Pizzicato 3.3 is now compatible with Windows Vista (and of course still works on Windows 2000 and XP). For Mac users, it is now delivered as a Universal Binary, optimized for the new Intell Mac and working fine with Mac OS 10.5.

You will find the other modifications brought by Pizzicato 3.3 on the page This page will also tell you what new function is present in which Pizzicato version (Light, Beginner or Professional).

The Pizzicato 3.3 update is free for the license numbers greater or equal to 12159, corresponding to an original 3.1 or 3.2 Pizzicato version. The buyers of the original Pizzicato 3.0 (licenses lower than 12159) Beginner and Pro have the opportunity to buy an upgrade with a reduced price on our site.

For free updates (licenses starting at 12159), see the page and for buying your upgrade, see page

I wish you a nice time discovering the new functions of Pizzicato 3.3 !

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Assigning colors to notes

Pizzicato Beginner and Professional 3.3 have an automatic color assignment function, based on the note name, the note frequency or the guitar fingering.

Select the measures you want and go in the Edit menu to choose the Assign colors to notes... item. A dialog box lets you assign colors to notes in four different ways:

If the Save choosen colors checkbox is checked, your color selection will be saved for the next call to this dialog. You can then customize the color table for note names, note pitches and fingering.

Notice that when you right-click a note (ALT+clic on the Mac), you can edit the playing parameters of that note and the same dialog proposes an individual color selection for that note. This is also valid for Pizzicato Light 3.3.

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

Using the metronome

Pizzicato 3.3 has an additional parameter for the metronome. In the Options menu, select the MIDI Play options... and you will find the definition of three notes for the metronome:

To enable the metronome for a given score, click on the "..." button of the score window tool bar and check the metronome check box.

Reduced score size - Pizzicato Beginner 3.3

The default notes and staves in Pizzicato Beginner are sometimes considered a bit too large. So as to reduce this limitation of Pizzicato Beginner, Pizzicato Beginner 3.3 has now two available sizes, 100 % and 85 %. The selection is done in the File, Page setup... dialog box. The free selection of the size is still reserved to Pizzicato Professional.

Upbeats and incomplete measures - Pizzicato 3.3

Often, the first measure of a score contains less beats than the others. The music starts for instance on the last beat of the first measure and this is called an Upbeat. This measure is usually written as such, without filling the measure with rests. A 4/4 measure that would only contain one quarter note should be played and displayed as a one beat measure. There are other cases, for instance when repeat signs are crossing a measure boundary, where a measure should be displayed and played with a different number of beats than the natural content of that measure.

Pizzicato Professional gives a full control over the measure parameters, but with Pizzicato Beginner and Professional, an easy function can be used to handle that situation. Here is how to create an incomplete measure:

This measure will then be played correctly.

If you go again in the above menu for that measure, you will see that the Incomplete measure or upbeat menu item is now checked, which means that this measure has an incomplete duration. To reset the measure to its real duration, just use that menu again.

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


The purpose of MIDI

MIDI means Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Its purpose is to transmit the actions executed with a musical keyboard in a digital form.

It is a universally adopted language to exchange musical information between synthesizers and computers.

When you hit a note on a musical keyboard, the keyboard immediately sends a message to its MIDI output. This message communicates for example that the C-3 note has just been pressed. When you release the note, another message is instantaneously sent to express that the C-3 note is released.

If a pedal is connected to your synthesizer, the fact of pressing or releasing this pedal also sends a MIDI message expressing this action. Similarly, when you move a lever located on your keyboard, it also generates MIDI messages.

In other words, each action executed by the performer on his keyboard is translated and instantaneously sent as a MIDI message to the devices connected to it by a cable.

These standard MIDI messages only contain numbers which characterize the type and the content of the message. Those numbers are instructions which command a synthesizer what to play and how to play it. It is not a sound which goes through a MIDI cable, but only a set of instructions used to control a musical synthesizer.

When the computer wants to play a score on a synthesizer, it simply sends the necessary MIDI instructions to it, and the synthesizer produces the sounds, not the computer. The computer simply replaces the performer.

Therefore, the sound quality depends only of the synthesizer which executes the MIDI commands. MIDI does not have a "sound quality". A MIDI message simply gives the order "Play this note!" and the synthesizer executes it with its capabilities.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about MIDI on our site...

Music on the Web...
Links related to music

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.3, 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!