Dear Musicians,

This is issue #80 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

ARPEGE will be on holidays between 1 and 19 July
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First we would like to thank those who answered -often with much enthusiasm- to our various Pizzicato related on-line surveys and who told us what they would like to see in the future.

We received a lot of answers and it will probably take us several months to analyze all in details and to draw conclusions on the main direction to follow. We will use these results to develop Pizzicato and its functions, its site and the newsletters.

Many of you have so much ideas to develop Pizzicato that it will take years to implement them all, but I had the good surprise to notice that the functions which I had envisaged to create in priority in the future figure regularly in your requests!

Concerning the present newsletter, you gave us enough subjects for the newsletters during the next 25 years!

Most of you are quite satisfied by the contents of our newsletters.

You suggest us to talk about: composition and arrangement methods, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, more practical examples, analysis of famous works excerpt and of specific styles, as well as explanations about the Pizzicato features. There are also more isolated requests - but not less interesting! - like instrumental techniques courses, music history, compositors bios, etc.

All of these legitimate interests let us know more about what animates us around Pizzicato: musical art, musical expression.

As I do not know everything there is to know about music, I will be happy to help you regarding the approach of musical composition as well as of the various features of Pizzicato. Our leading articles will continue to focus on the didactic aspects of music composition and arrangement methods for everyone and our Aspects and applications and Tips and advices articles will continue to help you better use Pizzicato. And of course we will regularly exploit the results of the surveys to select subjects!

We also suggest an innovation here, an interactive formula. Our letters will propose an article on a more specific subject, an article suggested by you, our dear and loyal readers!

If you like to write, you can send us an article on a musical subject which interests you. We will publish each month an article among the ones we receive and the others will be published in a new section of our website. Please contact us and we will give you more information about the audience target of this letter. You can write us at

I wait for your reactions and according to them, you may become a writer in place of a reader in the next newsletter... Think about it, you will have about 40,000 readers!

And now, let us get to the point...

You want to learn how to compose, arrange and understand music. With practical examples. You want to be able to apply this to your everyday musical activities, without a lot of preliminary knowledge in music. Impossible to satisfy all these wishes in only one letter... :-) So let us start with the beginning…

Regarding to elementary music theory, i.e. how to write music on the staff, what is an eighth or a quarter note, a sharp, a key signature,… you will find in "The beginner's corner" article an answer to these questions. This part of our letter is dedicated to describing what you see on a score and to explain the link between the score and what you hear. The complete reference of this music theory course is available at

This is the ABCs of music notation. It does not approach harmony, counterpoint nor music composition but only the essence of the score and its musical language. If you do not know anything about that, I suggest you to read these lessons on line. They are easy and accessible to everyone (it starts with what is sound, the staff, the measure, the note names,…). It offers examples to listen to. You can follow it without problem using Pizzicato in demonstration version. You will then be able to understand the next leading articles of this (long) series which starts today to discover the nature of music composition and arrangement…

Composition or arrangement?

The main difference between both is that with composition you start from nothing whereas with arrangement, you start from musical materials already partially defined, as for example a melody and its chords.

But composition supposes arrangement and vice versa. To arrange a piece is to adapt it to be played with a set of instruments for which it was not adapted to. A simple melody with some chords can be arranged a thousand different ways, whether it is for a guitar solo or a symphony orchestra. This process implies creativity to construct a structured piece of music. You will need to create accompaniment voices, some rhythmic patterns and perhaps to adapt a chord here or there for a transition, etc.

To compose music is to find an idea and to develop it. The development involves arrangement, because the idea can of course at this stage be only a small air inside your head. Which instrument is going to play it? Which accompaniment will emphasize it best? This directly concerns the field of arrangement.

The required abilities for these two fields have much in common. We will no more strictly make the distinction in these articles, because both require to work the essential elements of music and to develop creativity. And this is really the purpose of our next articles.

How to approach music composition and arrangement?

Reading a score, playing an instrument or learning how to sing are activities requiring a lot of work to reach a high quality level. However, in these cases, the notes are already determined for you. This can impress the beginner. But thinking also about selecting which notes to play (as in composition), this is too much!

The idea to compose one's own music sometimes frightens even the experienced player. The composer's score is replaced with a blank sheet… How to fill it? From what elements? Which knowledge is necessary? Which criteria to use? The questions are numerous in the mind of the beginning composer.

And this can be easily understood. The infinite number of possible music forms may impress. Did you think about all the things music can express, about all its different forms? This is infinity!

Nature is like that: it offers seeming, huge and impressive complexities.

The control of these complexities supposes to fully study some simple elements that are the bases of a field. Then, by mastering these few simple elements, you can understand the mechanisms which produce this seeming complexity. For this, there are at least three steps:

Consider matter: gases, liquids and solids. They are primarily composed of elementary particles called protons, electrons and neutrons. Then look at what nature did with them: look around you now and see all the various things in the room. What a diversity, with only 3 different types of particles!

Consider light: an electromagnetic vibration of which the wavelength exactly defines the perceived colors. Now look at a nature landscape with the sun shining through a forest. What marvelous images with such a simple elementary physical phenomenon!

Consider electricity: a simple moving of electrons in matter. Then look at the computer on which you are reading this letter. If you knew the astronomical quantities of electrons that go through it in all directions, you would feel dizzy!

Many other natural phenomena follow this principle. The exact sciences of our modern time show many examples of them.

The goal of these articles is to apply systematically the above three principles to music:

We will start next month by enumerating 6 elements forming the basic music materials. Then we will examine a series of criteria which can modulate these basic elements. We will use a maximum of practical examples and of exercises to do using Pizzicato (even with the demonstration version, so that everybody can participate).

So be ready for next month's article. If necessary, I suggest you to read the reference to the music theory lessons as given above. See you soon!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato

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

Transposing a score

Transposition is a function very much used in music. The principle is to move a melody or a whole passage with accompaniment, higher or lower in pitch. The passage sounds then higher or lower than the original but keeps its original structure. The transposed melody is recognized but identified as higher or lower than the original tone.

Transposition is much used in the case of transposing instruments. These instruments have the particular characteristic that when a note of a score is read and played on them, the resulting sound is a note which is different from the note on the score. For a B flat clarinet, if the score shows the C note, the player activates the C keys on his instrument, but the final sound is a B flat!

Complicated? Indeed. It adds a complexity.

Useless? Yes and no. The advantage is to use the same keys for several instruments of the same family, considering the structure of these instruments, which are wind instruments (clarinet, trumpet, saxophone…). According to the complexity introduced, it was just moving a difficulty to another field. It is therefore subjective and relative. In any case, this situation is commonly accepted by everyone and it would be difficult to change it: all the concerned musicians should learn new note conventions, all written scores should be modified and all music courses about these instruments should be adapted. Thus it is humanly impossible. So we keep it...!

The result of such a system is that when you write for a B flat clarinet, as you hear one tone lower than what is written, the musician must read a score that is written one tone higher, in order to adjust and stay in harmony with the other instruments. There is where the transposition function is very much used.

How do you transpose with Pizzicato? There are two possible methods.

The first method is to select the measures to be transposed. If you want to transpose the whole score, you can select the Select all  item in the Edit menu. Then select Edit, Transpose... A dialog box lets you to choose the transposition interval and type of interval. See the following lesson for more details: To better understand the interval types, read the following page:

Let us take an example. You have a score for violin (which is not a transposing instrument) and piano. But you want the melody to be played with a B flat clarinet. The piano score does not have to be changed, but the melody will have to be transposed one major second higher for the B flat clarinet.

By using this transposition method, the key signature (flats or sharps at the clef location) remains unchanged. Thus some notes will bear accidentals. For example, if you have a part in C major, transposing it one tone higher will give a part in D major and thus both F and C notes will have sharps on them. You can then change the key signatures (with 2 sharps) in Pizzicato and the individual sharps will be cleared and set to the key signature.

The second method changes the key signature and transposes the whole score directly. Let us take the example of a horn in F. When it reads a C, this instrument produces an F note (a fifth lower than C). If you have a score for cello (which is not a transposing instrument) and want to make it play with a horn in F, it should be transposed a perfect fifth higher. A piece written in major C will have to be transposed in G major, therefore with F# at the key, in order to compensate for the natural transposition of the horn. You can apply a change of the key signature with the Pizzicato key signature tool and select the new key signature in the menu (G), which will add a sharp to it. Check the box "Transpose notes" and Pizzicato will transpose your score.

According to the interval of the transposing instrument, it is possible that you must modify the octave with the first method, because Pizzicato will transpose the notes to the nearest octave.

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

Courtesy key and time signatures

In Pizzicato Professional and Beginner, the Automatisms… item in the Options menu presents two options entitled Courtesy key signature and Courtesy time signature. What is the use of these options?

In a score, the time signature and the key signature sometimes change during the piece. When it occurs at the end of a staff, and to avoid the surprise of the player when his eyes "jump" to the next line, the new key (or time) signature is displayed at the end of the staff, on an extension of the lines after the last bar line, to alert the player about this change. This key (or time) signature is called a courtesy key or time signature.

Pizzicato activates these options by default, which is useful in a score.

It can also be useful to disable them when a score includes several short independent pieces, whose key and time signatures do not have continuity between them. In this case, there is no need to display a courtesy time or key signature.

To force Pizzicato to display the key or time signature at the beginning of the next staff, you can use the measure parameters function (professional version only):

Creating a chord progression in the style of…

With Pizzicato Professional, you can create an harmonic space from an existing score and its chords.

If the chord symbols are present in the score, proceed as follows:

If the score does not have the chord symbols, you can ask Pizzicato to find them from the notes. For that, use the chords analysis function as explained here:

If you have a chord sequence written on paper and want to use it in a composition with an harmonic space, create an empty score, encode the chords with the chords progression window and then proceed as explained above to get the corresponding harmonic space.

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 3.4, 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!