Dear Musicians,

This is issue #75 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 2008, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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Still with the purpose in mind to create and imagine melodies (see the last articles), we will now explore a tool introduced in Pizzicato 3.3: the music vectors.

If you receive this letter for the first time, you can access the previous articles in the archives of the site on page You will find in it several practical articles on how to compose music, with suggested exercises and practical methods to compose.

Method 3 - Using the Pizzicato music vectors to create melodies

A music vector may be defined as the general aspect of a music melody. It is like a handwritten line that would establish the form of the melody, without specifying the exact notes.

You could also compare it to a series of instructions that would describe a melody, as for instance:

Such descriptions give a general form to the melody, but there are several ways to implement them. They do not contain implications neither on the rhythms nor on the exact notes to use.

However, a music vector may also contain rhythmic specification, for instance with all quarter notes, eight notes,... or a specific rhythm that you can create.

The exact pitch of the notes is however determined by the chords and scales already present in the score you are composing. Pizzicato chooses them according to the vector shape and so that they are part of the chord or the scale currently used.

Here are two graphical examples. The blue line represents a music vector and the small horizontal bars are the generated notes. They are represented on a graph where each horizontal line corresponds to a given pitch (C, C#, D,...).

You may notice that the note start time are the closest possible to the vector curve, but according to the chord present and the note duration, this note may be further away from the curve so that it sounds good with the current harmony.

Let us see how we can apply this.

You can use the example score (Reggae with 8 chords) available at: Click on this link with the right mouse button and select "Save target as..." then save it for instance on the desktop.

In the right part of the conductor view, open the folder "Music libraries", then "Music vectors". Open the folder "Melodic structures 1 - Soloist", then open document "Melodic structures 2 and 4 measures", folder "2 measures", then "Up 1 octave". The screen should now look like this:

Icons of the type represent music vectors. Drag the vector entitled "008" and drop it on the beginning of the first measure on the first staff of the score. Do the same with vector "004" on measure 3 of the same staff. The melody staff looks like this:

When you drag and drop a vector on a measure, Pizzicato generates the notes of that vector in that measure and the next measures (according to the duration of that vector). Pizzicato takes into account the chords present in these measures and the notes are then in harmony with these chords and so with the other instruments.

As you could notice, we went into the "deepness" of the sub-folders of the "Music vectors" folder. There are indeed thousands of music vectors in the Pizzicato library, classified and sorted by various criteria. The names of the folders and sub-folders give an idea on what you will find in them and on the duration of the vectors. A folder contains then several numbered vectors, from the same family.

You will also notice that once a vector has been dropped in a measure, it is displayed at the beginning of that measure.

Here are some tips to use these vectors:

The vector system is quite simple, but it can help to design a melody based on chords and rapidly explore numerous possibilities.

Do not forget that you can always modify the notes generated by the vectors, using the score tools. In that case, you should remove the vector icon so that when you recompute the score, Pizzicato will not replace your notes by the original vector notes.

You can also create vector yourself. You can draw a curve manually in a vector and then use it in the score to see the generated melody.

As a first step, I suggest you to create a few examples of scores, using the above simple principles so that you can become familiar with the vector concept. Then, read and practice the lesson explaining all internal details of the vectors and how they are constructed or modified, on page

Have a nice time!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Using the keyboard window

The Pizzicato keyboard window visualizes the notes played in the score. You can reach it via the "Piano keyboard" item of the "Windows" menu. If you listen to a 2 staves score for example, you will see that only the notes of the first staff are displayed on the screen. The keyboard "captures" the notes coming from one MIDI channel only, by default the one of the first staff or the staff where the MIDI cursor was placed the last time. To see the notes of another staff, activate the MIDI cursor (shortcut 'r') and place it on the other staff (by clicking on this staff).

To observe the notes of 2 staves at the same time, you need to assign the same MIDI channel to the staves you want to observe. To do that, open the instruments window and disable the "AC" box for the concerned instruments. Select then the same value in the "MC" (MIDI Channel) column for the concerned staves. You will then see the notes of these staves displayed at the same time on the keyboard.

If the notes are too low (lower than the G clef lower C), the notes will not be displayed. You can change the keyboard octave by going in the "Options" menu, "Keyboard" item. In the dialog box which appears, you can determine the first octave. By default, its value is 3. Select 2 or 1 to see more octaves.

This window can be used for example to visualize the notes played on the keyboard to learn piano. Hear the piece play slowly and try to reproduce the same keys on a MIDI keyboard for example.

Notice that since Pizzicato 3.3, a guitar fret board window is also available for the same kind of application.

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

Using a non MIDI instrument with Pizzicato?

To encode notes in Pizzicato without using the mouse or computer keyboard, the only solution is MIDI. Usually, it looks like we are limited to a synthesizer keyboard, organ or MIDI compatible electronic piano and people not playing the keyboard find themselves disappointed.

You must know that various MIDI converter exist for acoustic instruments like guitar, sax, bass, violin, brass, battery,... and even the human voice. Such a converter is often specific for an instrument, but it provides a MIDI output that can be used directly by Pizzicato to encode the notes of a score rapidly.

This type of converter may be found in specialized music stores. A MIDI cable connects it to the computer and from there, any MIDI music software may use the notes played on your guitar, violin, sax,...

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 same remark is also valid for the "My Documents" Pizzicato folder. Do not move or rename that document.

Beware of utility programs that "clean" the PC, as some cases have been reported to "clean" much more thatn needed and in fact removing some Pizzicato registry or file.

Chords validity

When you place chords on a staff, they apply for all staves (which is musically logical). The symbol displays on the selected staff, but the chords apply to all staves. So, after having placed all the chords on the first staff, you can make them appear on every staff you want. Just select a staff and choose the "Edit" menu , "Chords..." and "Place the chords symbols" item. When you erase a chord on one staff, the rule is that if this chord appears in another staff, the symbol is erased but the chord is still there. When you erase a chord symbol which appears in one staff only, the chord is really erased.

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

Composing music (1)

This lesson and the following will help you to take the first steps in computer-assisted composition. You must have read and understood the lessons about the composition libraries and to have done the practical steps of these lessons. We will not explain here the practical details on how to handle the libraries. If you need it, read these lessons again.

Using the composition libraries

The lessons about composition libraries explained the practical operations of the Pizzicato composition tools. It is, in short, a division of music into basic blocks constructed with rhythms, melodies, themes and chords. These elements can be used and combined in thousand and one ways.

Now we're going to examine the use of these tools to really start composing. The suggested examples and exercises form an approach to composition more than a very well structured composition course. They give you raw material to work and show a systematic method to help you structure this raw material as you like it.

Pizzicato is delivered with several documents containing construction blocks with which you will be able to work out your first exercises. These elements are there to help you to approach the use of libraries. We will start by analyzing the contents of these documents.

Contents of the Pizzicato libraries

Start Pizzicato and open the Chords library - 1.piz document located in the Libraries folder. The main view appears as follows...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (1) 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!