Dear Musicians,

This is issue #78 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, 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 2009, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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Read all previous editorials on page

A corrective update of Pizzicato 3.4.1 is now available. You can download it from our site. This update corrects various problems that have been signaled by users. If you have already downloaded the full version with the sound library, you may simply download and install the small size version, as the sound library is unchanged.


The new Pizzicato global view is designed to help you enter music and create a score arrangement easier. It offers also an easy to use composition environment, to handle notes and rests, instruments, chords, characteristics and sound effects as the volume, balance,...

It is independent from the composition tools and so is available in Pizzicato Professional as well as in Pizzicato Beginner. Here is a practical approach and I suggest you to try it now. You can follow the example with Pizzicato Professional or Beginner, with a license or with the evaluation version that you can download from our site.

Start Pizzicato (or the demo version). By default, you see a piano score. In the tool bar, you can see a menu entitled "Page":

Click on this menu and select "Global". The global display of the score appears:

It is similar to the linear mode, but each staff has a tool bar that enables displaying various aspects of the music. Let us see some examples.

Click on the icon in the tool bar just above the first staff. This icon displays a graphic note editor, where notes appear as small lines (use also the zoom menu in the upper tool bar and set it to 150 % for instance). Pizzicato displays:

The names of the notes are displayed on the left part and the four beats of the measures are shown as vertical red lines (the gray lines are the 4 divisions of each beat). You can enter music with the notes and rests in the measure, from the tool palette (in the Tools menu) or simply by drawing the notes as small lines in the graphic area. The pitch of the note is determined by the vertical position of the line and the start and duration of the note are determined by the horizontal position and length of the line. By drawing for instance a line at the vertical position of G 3, between the second and third beats, Pizzicato displays that note in the measure, with the correct rhythmic value for that measure:

If you do not master music notation very well, this music entry mode can help you very much. The note is determined by the line in which you place it. The beginning of the line and its horizontal length determine the starting beat of the note as well as the note duration. In this case, it is a quarter note starting on the second beat.

Try this for a few minutes by adding new notes. Once a note has been drawn, you can move it around by clicking and dragging it.

You can also move a note in the measure and see the corresponding lines updated in the graphic view. It works in both directions.

Here is an example:

By the way, here is a new function in Pizzicato 3.4: by clicking a note in a measure and moving it outside the measure (to the right or to the left), the note is deleted. It is a quick way to remove a note from a measure. It is very practical when you enter music. It also works in page or linear mode.

Click now on the first icon to display the note velocities:

In the area that appears, a small vertical line is associated to each note. The velocity represents in fact the speed at which the note is struck on a musical keyboard. The faster you hit the key, the louder the note will sound. This parameter is specific to each note and only influences the beginning of the note.

Just by clicking and drawing in that area with the mouse, you can modify the height of the vertical lines associated to the notes and so the velocity curve inside the measure. For instance, draw the following shape:

Listen to this measure with the note velocities following the vertical lines. This tool helps you to graphically specify the way notes are played.

We have seen that the velocity is specific to the start of the note. In other words, if we have a long note (a whole note or many whole notes tied), the velocity will not change during that note, as velocity is defined only for the beginning of the note.

How could we then create a progressive crescendo for a string ensemble for instance? Add a whole note in the next measure and then click the second icon, which displays the instrument volume. The volume is similar to the amplifier button that increases or decreases the sound volume. It is independent from the notes themselves and may be used to adjust the loudness of notes at any time in that staff. In this volume area, you can freely draw a curve with the mouse to specify the way the volume will evolve inside the measure and this independently from the notes starting points. Draw for instance a curve like this:

Click on the to display the instrument window and select the strings family and the "Strings (ensemble)" instrument. Then play the score with the button to hear the crescendo effect.

By combining the velocity and volume effects graphically, you can adjust the exact playback of the measure, at least concerning note loudness and attack.

It is even more precise and user friendly than simply adding nuances, accents, crescendo,... with the graphic symbols found in the tool palettes.

You can display these effects for one or more staves, simply by using the corresponding icons.

As far as I know, Pizzicato is the only software to display in the same window such a combination of the score, the graphic editor, several effects, chords, an editable audio track as well as all the other controls available in that global view. It can help you to save time and gives you all the controls you need as a visual and intuitive interface to work a score, an arrangement or composition.

To understand all the aspects of this new view, I suggest you to read the lesson about the global view at You will find many other tips and advices to work easier, as the selection and display of chords, the audio tracks, the selection of the staves displayed and/or played,...

To enter the score of an arrangement so as to make it sound good, including the various effects, this view is ideal. It gives you a visual control on each parameter, without the need to open and close several windows. In Pizzicato Professional as well as in Pizzicato Beginner. Use it!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Assigning virtual instruments anywhere in the score

A virtual instrument is a collection of information that a software (here Pizzicato) may use to produce directly the sound of an instrument, without the need of an external synthesizer or the synthesizer of the sound card.

The instrument may be the exact reproduction of a real instrument (violin, flute,...) or may be a purely artificial sound.

The software creates the audio signal directly and sends it to the sound card. This permits the exact reproduction of a sound on any computer, as opposed to the MIDI playback where the sound quality and final result depends on the external music material or the kind of sound card you have.

Pizzicato 3.4 offers a sound library called Papelmedia (under license) which is installed with any licensed version of Pizzicato.

By selecting the Edit menu, Assign virtual instruments to staves... Pizzicato will assign the virtual instruments corresponding to the instrument selection found in the instruments window. Pizzicato can then play the score by using the Papelmedia sound library. This is possible with all Pizzicato versions (Light, Beginner and Professional).

The virtual instruments are visible on the score if you enable the reference marks tool (its keyboard shortcut is ":"). When Pizzicato assigns a virtual instrument, it is visible at the beginning of the first measure.

With Pizzicato Professional, you can assign virtual instruments anywhere in the score, for instance to change the sound at any point in the score (legato strings, pizzicato strings, slow or fast strings,...). To assign an instrument, you just need to drag it inside the measure, where it should start to play.

You will find the Papelmedia library in the Conductor view. Open it from the Windows menu. In the upper left tree, open respectively the folders Music libraries / Virtual instruments / Papelmedia. You will find several folders sorted by family and types. Just click an instrument and drop it in the destination measure.

You may also import any SoundFont file in the My library folder. Click on this folder with the right mouse button and select Import a SoundFont file... Once imported, you can drag and drop the instruments it contains directly into the measures.

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

Deleting a note or rest

Since Pizzicato version 3.4, you can delete a note or rest from a measure, just by clicking on it and dragging it out of the measure, to the right or to the left. Click, drag and release the mouse and the note or rest disappears. It is quicker then pointing the note or rest and then using the delete or backspace key.

Playback of virtual instruments - Interrupted sound

According to the number of instruments playing together and the density of notes in the score, the processing power of a given computer may not be enough to play it all in real time. To avoid this problem, Pizzicato has a buffered playback function. This means that the sound of measures may be computed by Pizzicato in the background and stored in memory buffers. When Pizzicato plays the score, it plays the measures back from the buffers. You can in fact combine real time playing with buffered playing and select which instruments play in real time or not. You can of course also combine these virtual instruments with standard MIDI instruments.

Even if your computer is slow and does not have too much memory, you will be able to create an audio WAV file with the quality of the sound library. In future versions of Pizzicato, we will work on the speed and optimization of the audio playback functions in real time, so that more and more computers will be able to play all instruments in real time.

To select the audio playing mode, click on the "..." button in the score window tool bar. The dialog that appears show a popup menu called Audio playing mode. This menu has three possible choices:

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

Composing music (4)

In this lesson, we provide you exercises to stimulate inspiration by creating melodies, rhythms and instrumentations. We will use the chords progressions made during the previous lesson. You can also use progressions from the Chords library - 3.piz document located in the Libraries folder.

Melodies and rhythms

A melody is a succession of notes played by an instrument. A melody is often made by musical sentences alternated with rests. We often speak of a voice, by analogy with the singing human voice. With each note of a melody, a rhythmic value is associated and specifies the duration of the note.

Just as for a chord, a melody will use the notes of a tonality at a given time. When several voices are played together and with different notes, they form a chord. The notes of a chord can indeed be played by different instruments.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (4) on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.4, a series of updates are available for Mac OS X and Windows, according to the version you presently have.

If you bought Pizzicato 3.2 or 3.3, you may download Pizzicato 3.4 for free. The reference is the license number. All users whose license number is greater or equal to 12794 can update for free by going to the free update section on our website and download version 3.4. See page Install it and validate it with your original license/serial numbers.

Otherwise, to know the prices and possibilities, see the update order form 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!