Dear Musicians,

This is issue #79 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

Always trying to improve Pizzicato, a corrective update 3.4.2 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.


Do you think it is difficult or impossible to compose for a symphonic orchestra if you are not fully acquainted with music theory and orchestration? If yes, the following short exercise should help you to find some hope. Read it, but most important, practice it...

This orchestral composition for everyone example may be done with the demonstration version of Pizzicato Professional 3.4. If you have the license, you will also be able to use the orchestral sound library (not included in the demo version), and this will give you a much better sound rendering.

1. Prepare the orchestral document

Download the Pizzicato document at (click this link with the right mouse button and select "Save target as..." then place it for instance on the desktop). Double click the file or start Pizzicato and go in the File, Open menu item and select the file you have just downloaded.

If you have Pizzicato Light or Beginner, you may have access to the Professional demo version through the menu Options, Program versions/updates... then by selecting the Professional demo version.

Once this document is open, you will see that it contains an orchestral score with a woodwind section (flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon), a brass section (horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba) and a string section (violins, viola, cello and double bass).

If you have a Professional Pizzicato license, you can now select the Edit, Assign virtual instruments to staves menu item. This will load the orchestral sound library so that you will get a more realistic sound result. More realistic and aesthetic sounds can obviously increase and stimulate your inspiration.

2. Explore the sounds

If you want to compose for an ensemble, take the time to listen and explore the sounds of the instruments. In order to do that, select the "Global" mode in the small menu that appears in the score tool bar (it displays "Linear" by default). Select the reference mark tool on the main palette (in the Tools menu). By clicking on the name of a staff, Pizzicato displays a small red square in the area that can be used to play notes through a MIDI keyboard or by using the piano keyboard window (in the Windows menu). By clicking on the clarinet, you get for instance:

Click on each instrument name and play some notes through your MIDI keyboard or on the keyboard window. Try to create a small melody with a few notes. Experiment, test, play, explore, take your time.

3. Harmony

Click on the "A7" button at the left part of the second tool bar of the score. The score already has an harmony, made out of 7 main chords displayed over 4 measures, as follows:

The next 8 measures reproduce twice the same series of chords.

You can of course modify these chords as you want. This progression is based on C Major: it starts and ends on C.

Check the button to color the notes according to the chords that are present.

4. Giving rhythm to melodies

We will now use the tool that lets you draw the shape of a melody intuitively and we will (in fact, you will) create musical motives for the instrumental sections (woodwinds, brasses, strings).

Let us start to define a rhythmic in common to all string instruments. In the violin staff, write two half notes in the first three measures and one half note and one half rest in the fourth measure, as follows:

The pitch you use (C in the example) has no importance, as we only specify the rhythmic dimension. As a reminder, to add notes and rests, open the Notes and rests palette (Tools menu), select the rhythmic value you want in the palette and click on the staff where you want to add it (for more details see the lesson ).

Open the Composition tool palette in the Tools menu and click on the melodic line tool .

Draw a melodic line as follows:

While dragging, you determine the approximative position of the melody, its general shape, its direction. You can free your imagination and melodic creativity.

For a better precision, you can zoom in ("+" button in the tool bar). You get for instance:

At any time, you can simply redraw the full curve or only correct a small part of it. Just click and drag to mouse to the right, over the section you want to correct and the line will be modified. You can then listen, modify again, until you really like it.

This melodic curve is called a music vector.

Do the same with the 3 other instruments (viola, cello and double bass). First, add the same rhythms, so that you keep a cohesion between the instruments. Then draw a melodic line freely. Pizzicato will place the notes so that they are as close as possible to the line and are also part of the current chord. This will help to give a good sounding effect.

Explore and modify the curves and each time, listen to it. Try with straight lines or slightly down or up directions or in fact any combination or shape you want. Orient the shapes differently from one instrument to the other.

You can also modify the rhythms and use for instance quarter notes or whole notes or any other combination to test. These tools let you explore many possibilities, but you are still the composer!

5. A solo melody

Now that the strings create the harmony of the piece, let us add a melody with the woodwinds. Set the following rhythm on the first four measures of the flute:

You can now draw a curve through these measures, still by using the melodic line tool. An example would be:

6. Generalization

You can now continue to construct your score by adding melodies and accompaniments (secondary melodies).

Do not forget to adjust each time the melody. Even if you draw the shape you want, it often does not sound so nice at the first try. You must then adjust and redraw some portion of the line here and there so as to influence the notes of the resulting melody. You can also vary the rhythm. The possibilities are endless.

So here are the main tools that you can use:

Do not err in the direction of willing every instruments to play all the time. In an orchestra, attention is often placed on a small set of instruments at a time. The attention point can be displaced from one instrument to the other. When all instruments play together, it creates an orchestral global effect where each instrument is mixed in the all and looses part of its personal expressiveness to the benefit of the full orchestra. It is only useful for specific moments but not as a continual practice.

To draw the melody, you can also reshape the rhythmic aspect and introduce some subtleties. See the details at

You can of course combine this with the selection of new instruments and the use of effects (sound volume, tempo, duration,...) as you can do in the global view. For more details about this, see

I wish you a nice discovery of these composition tools. They will help you, if you practice them, to start really expressing yourself with music, even if you are not an expert in music theory, harmony or counterpoint.

But please do not err in the belief that this is a "push-button" technique that will compose music for you all by itself. It is not!

You will need to work your music composition as much as composers who use their theoretical knowledge of music to compose. It is simply another way to approach it, another kind of tool.

But only the result is important: does your music composition express what you want? If yes, you win!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Getting the tablature from the chords progression

When you add chords, Pizzicato suggests you a chord diagram that represents the chord for the guitar. By clicking on the diagram, you can select another one or create a new one (Pizzicato Beginner or Pro).

Starting with a chord progression, you can ask Pizzicato to create the guitar tablature for it. Here is how to do it.

You will then see the chords displayed as notes on the guitar tablature. Notice that you have a rhythmic option in the dialog. By default, Pizzicato will add a chord position at any change of chord, but you may select a position at every beat or every two beats,...

You can also see at for more details about the guitar tools, tablature and chords diagrams.

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

Copying and pasting chords

With Pizzicato Professional 3, you can select chords and copy them to another position. The trick is to use the drag/drop function used in the context of music composition tools. Here is how to do it:

The chord series is then copied to the destination.

Automatically assign the sounds of the orchestral Papelmedia library (Pizzicato 3.4)

When you use the basic instruments as they are presented in the upper left tree of the conductor view (Basic instruments node), these instruments are in fact directly used in MIDI, either on the sound card synthesizer or by the Microsoft (or QuickTime on Mac) software synthesizer.

You may directly drag and drop these instruments on the score to use them in your compositions.

If you drag one of these instruments in the score while holding down the SHIFT key, Pizzicato will automatically assign the corresponding virtual instrument from the orchestral Papelmedia library. You can then benefit from the sound quality of this library. It is the same as dragging the instruments from the folder entitled Virtual instruments / Papelmedia".

See also

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

Music notation

What is music?

Music is the art of organizing sounds to make them express a message, an impression, a state of heart, an atmosphere, an emotion, feelings… It is a communication which emanates from the composer or performer and goes to the auditor.

Music is primarily transmitted by sound. All sound characteristics can thus be exploited to enrich musical communication.

Sound is an air vibration perceived by the ear. When the pianist hits a piano key, the movement creates a shock between a small hammer and a metallic string. This string vibrates and resounds in the piano. While doing so, it carries the air with it and this vibration of the air propagates all around. When this vibration reaches your ear, you get the sound feeling that you know.

The propagation of the sound is similar to the undulations that you see on the surface of a calm water when you throw a stone in it.

Characteristics of a sound

A sound vibration has various characteristics we can perceive. The first characteristic is the sound pitch. On a physical viewpoint, it is the number of vibrations executed by the air in one second. The more vibrations there is, the more the sound appears high-pitched to you. Schematically, you can compare a low-pitched sound and a high-pitched sound in the following way [...]

The second characteristic is the amplitude (loudness) or the force of the sound. The larger the vibration, the more a sound appears loud to you. Here is an illustration [...]

A third characteristic of the sound is its duration. For how long does the air vibrate? This duration is measured in seconds.

The last characteristic is the timbre of the sound. It lets you distinguish the type of instrument playing. You can easily distinguish a melody played by a piano from a melody played by a flute. Even if the melody is the same in both cases, you can at once recognize the piano or the flute. Physically, this difference comes from the shape of the vibration. For example, here are two sounds having the same pitch and the same force but they are characterized by the timbre, i.e. the shape of the vibration [...]

When you will have learned how to open a document with Pizzicato, we will listen to examples of these four sound characteristics: pitch, duration, amplitude and timbre.

Music notation

Music being a sound, the most obvious way to transmit it is to listen to it. It is indeed the most satisfactory manner to communicate music.

The most direct communication would imply the simultaneous presence of the performer and the auditor, like in a concert. The atmosphere in a concert cannot indeed be compared with listening to a disc or radio transmission. There is in this case something more than simply the sound.

Techniques currently available make it possible to collect sounds and to store them in various forms like discs, cassettes and CDs. The advantage is to be able to reproduce the music at will, to distribute it and communicate it on a large scale. These techniques transmit the final sound result of the execution of a piece of music.

When you want to transmit a musical work to somebody so that he can perceive the musical message and appreciate its beauty, a cassette or a disc will be adequate. If you want to communicate to him the contents of a musical work so that he can play it himself, the sound support only is not very practical and becomes insufficient in most cases. If it is possible for a well trained person to listen to a melody and play it back by memory, this ability is not general and remains limited to relatively simple cases. It becomes very difficult to realize as soon as the work becomes a little complicated and when you think of a one hour piano concerto with orchestra, it becomes almost impossible.

Music notation offers a more practical solution to transmit music to somebody so that he can himself play it. Its purpose is to be able to represent the contents of a musical work in a written form. In this manner, you can communicate in a precise way anything that occurs during the execution of a piece of music.

...To read the full lesson and see the illustrations, see the lesson on Music notation 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!