Dear Musicians,

This is issue #86 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 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2010, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

We are happy to announce the release of Pizzicato 3.5!

The preparation of this release, as well as our first presence at the international MusicMesse in Frankfurt last month, have somehow delayed our newsletter.

Pizzicato 3.5 has several new features, whether you are already using Pizzicato or if you are interested by Pizzicato. It is the result of several surveys made in the past years, formally or informally.

The page layout function has been deeply improved and is much more efficient, mainly when you modify the page layout and when you add measures and staves. You can insert BMP images as well as custom graphics. Printer and page setups may be customized per page. You may define several printing areas to place measures, which means you can create page layout for booklets and many other custom formats. You can view many pages at once on the screen. See the details at:

The document manager makes the handling of scores much easier. No need to use the Windows and Mac file opening and saving dialogs anymore. Your documents are automatically saved and visible on the left part of the screen, always available. Preview the content of a score by dragging the mouse over its icon in Pizzicato. This manager helps you to handle all the music composition resources (harmonic spaces, vectors, virtual instruments, libraries,...), whether in the conductor view or in the score or global view. Several custom areas may be defined, which helps you to handle the various composition resources more efficiently. See the details at:

Several improvements have been made in the global view, to make it more user friendly to edit all aspects of a score in the same window. Markers have been added to locate passages more easily. You can select the family and instrument directly in that window. See the details at:

A specific window displays a music typing keyboard. A real physical keyboard of the same type will be developed in the future to be used with Pizzicato. The idea is to be able to enter music very fast. Presently, this window helps to understand how this future keyboard will be working to fasten the process of entering a music score into the computer. At this step, it is an experimental tool with high potential. See the description of this future keyboard at:

Pizzicato 3.5 has been presented at the Frankfurt MusicMesse. It was the first presence of Pizzicato at this worldwide event of music. We have been able to establish potential partnerships to distribute Pizzicato in several countries. Translations should start in the following weeks and months. We will keep you informed on these new issues.

Strangely, our main competitors Finale and Sibelius were not represented this year at the MusicMesse. Some other notation software, mainly German, as well as Notion, were present. Pizzicato and the prototype of the Music Typing Keyboard, presented by his inventor Marco Aragona, were well received by the public.

For this occasion, we have published a new rapid presentation of Pizzicato 3.5. You can watch it right now on our video page :

as well as on the Arpege Music video channel on YouTube:

Pizzicato 3.5 offers now 11 different versions. The basic idea is that Pizzicato may be used to satisfy many different usages. Up to now, Pizzicato Professional has every features, Pizzicato Beginner is more limited and for general use, and Pizzicato Light is an introduction to music software and score printing. These three versions stay exactly the same, but 8 additional more specific versions are now available, some with very competitive prices. Here is a short description of them.

Pizzicato Notation contains all the notation features of Pizzicato Professional. The arranging and composition features are not included. This version is specifically targeted to users who only care about writing and printing scores.

To the contrary, Pizzicato Composition Pro contains all the tools to arrange and compose, including all the intuitive composition tools like the harmonic spaces, the music vectors, the chord analysis tool,... The music composition can be exported into MIDI, WAV and musicXML files, so that it can be further edited by other music software, as this version does not handle page layout and printing. This version is ideal for Finale, Sibelius, Notion or other music software users, as they may use the unique intuitive music composition tools of Pizzicato and then go back to their preferred notation program to edit the page layout or work the audio files.

Pizzicato Composition Light contains the main tools for composition. For a much lower price, you can use the main composition tools on 8 staves.

Pizzicato Guitar contains all the features to write guitar sheet music, including TAB or tablatures, customized chord diagrams, chord symbols. You can work up to 4 staves or tablatures playing together, for fretted instruments like the guitar, banjo, bass,...

Pizzicato Choir lets you write up to 4 staves for the choir. You will find in it most of the functions you need for choir sheet music. The page layout is free (size) and you can work with all clefs. As in all other Pizzicato versions, a library of realistic sounds is provided and you can use it to export the score into an audio WAV file.

Pizzicato Drums and Percussion is a specific version of Pizzicato for drums and percussion instruments. You can edit up to 8 staves, each one having from 1 to 16 lines. You can map the drum instruments to each line of the staff and hear them play. The note heads may be customized and various symbols help you manage the trills and other ornamentations.

Pizzicato Keyboard gives you all you need for pianistic notation or for the organ or synthesizer, including multiple grace notes, free page layout and cross staff beaming.

Pizzicato Soloist may be used to edit any score for one instrument (one staff). The page layout is free and you can add chords and most of the standard symbols found in a score. You can use this version for instance to write exercise books for solo instruments.

Upgrades are possible between these versions, as your needs increase. Moreover, several of these versions may coexist and run on the same computer.

You can consult the new detailed brochure, which contains a description of each version as well as a full table of the features available in each version:

Each version exists as a package (with a manual or installation instruction and DVD) or as a downloadable version. You can consult the price list on the order page at:

If you have Pizzicato and if your license number is greater or equal to 15589 (original version 3.3 version), you can upgrade for free. Go on the free upgrade page, in the Customer Services page on our site and fill in your license number.

If your license number is lower than 15589, upgrade prices are available here:

If you do not have Pizzicato yet, you can download the 3.5 evaluation version and explore each one of the versions explained above. When Pizzicato starts, select the version you want to test.

We wish you a nice discovery of Pizzicato 3.5!

Next month, we will go back to our systematic study of music composition.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato

Pizzicato in US and Canada
An article about using Pizzicato in a real situation
By Blair Ashby, Pizzicato representative for US & Canada, Denver, Colorado

"How do you write a song" came the question from my customer. He is an auctioneer in my studio to record a demo CD of his auctioning skills.  I suspected this was not the real question but I also suspected he didn't have the lexicon to explain himself musically. He was a new customer, referred to me by a voice coach I have worked with for the past ten years.  I had recently written a song for the voice coach to use as the musical theme to start and end all her spoken word coaching CDs.

I answered his question this way: "It's really quite easy to write a song.  One just has to know the musical parameters and then write something which fit's inside those parameters.  Let's use Kathy's theme song as an example.  She wanted something Latin, she wanted it happy or friendly, she wanted it upbeat and she wanted something memorable enough to brand her but not so catchy that it was distracting.  Thus, I knew to eliminate anything which wasn't Latin sounding, it also had to be written in a Major scale to sound happy and fun.  I knew it would not be a Rumba because that would not be upbeat enough and I knew it would only have a light or subtle melody so as not to make it too distracting.  Those were my parameters."

I then used my midi styles library and focused on the Latin section.  I entered into Pizzicato a simple I, IV, iv, V chord progression and started with the Sambas.  However, they were not quite a good fit, too bouncy and engaging.  Remember, she wants this to be theme music to "Brand" her talks not to distract from her talks.  I moved over to the ChaCha's and tried again and soon found a groove which really seemed to work for her parameters.  I played it for her later that week and she said close but she wanted something with a bit more sizzle in it.  I changed the pattern to a Salsa and she said yeah, that's more like it.

At that point, I repeated the chord loop several times to create a "verse" sounding section and then I wrote a new chord progression for the chorus starting on the V chord and followed a standard predictable pattern.  I added a horn section which carried a subtle melody and I raised the groove volume a bit in the chorus.  After two hours I had a nice song which met all of Kathy's parameters.

At this point I needed to play the song for Kathy to see if it met with her approval.  She came over, liked everything but a few small parts, which I changed on the spot, and after another 30 minutes She had a theme song which felt personal to her and I had a happy customer.  "It was really quite easy." I told him.

Here is where his real question came out, almost by accident.  He said: "Wow!, I wish I could get inspired that simply to write a song"  "Aaahhhhhhh," I said, "inspiration is different. Writing a formula song inside of set parameters is generally pretty easy.  Writing a song from my own inspiration is a much more difficult endeavor."  He looked at me quizzically and asked "What do you mean?  Why is finding your own inspiration different?..."

This is a real question I run into every day with music and artists in my studio.  Often times, when one is not a good musician or an inexperienced composer, it is hard to find the musical voice to speak from.   Crafting music from emotional or cognitive ideas can be difficult if the vocabulary is not exercised.  And conversely, when one is well exercised in this area, then the problem becomes boredom with the "same old" ideas.  Thus, I have learned some methods to try and spark the muse.

Here is some methods, some work for me some do not but they work for others.  The most important thing is to keep trying.  Thomas Edison said there is 5000 ways to make a light bulb and 4999 of them don't work.  The other cliche which is really important is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.  Often times, just the effort of continually trying makes all the difference in the world. Inspiration is frequently an effort at expression and rarely an exercise in instantaneous satisfaction.

Whether I have a starting emotional or cognitive idea or not, I generally begin with midi style patterns.  I am not a good musician and thus, my lack of instrument practice makes it a slow process to find expression in a particular instrument like guitar or piano.  However, with a midi style, I have the instant gratification of a band or orchestra.  I start previewing styles until I find a spark of feeling in something.  An important thing to understand is inspiration is a subjective experience.  Your muse may not work for someone else. Thus, when I work with styles I frequently hear things I don't feel anything from.  However, if I keep trying, I almost always find something which starts the muse moving in my mind.  Maybe it's a shaker, or a bass line or a simple piano run.  It really can be anything.  If a spark happens I grab it and build off it.

Another option (which I like to use), is to find a sound you like.  A harp, or a guitar, or a synth sound maybe, any sound can start the ball rolling.  Once again it can be anything which creates an expression in you.  I remember working on  my Christmas CD in the fall of 2008.  I was stuck on the song What Child is This?  I love that song but I could not find anything which made me feel like I was contributing my own interpretation to the vast number of times that song had been recorded.  One night I was helping my wife do the dishes, and I dropped a bunch of silverware into the sink.  You can imagine the cacophony of sounds.  Well in this case, maybe because I was looking for inspiration, I heard a pattern to the clatter.  I ran to my studio, found a sound library of kitchen sounds, and ran all the sounds through a drum pattern I which I liked.  Bingo!  The sound was perfect and the muse took hold and didn't let go until the song was finished.

If the object of your song is expressible in words, try to find a word or sentence which says exactly what you want to say.  Say the phase over and over until you have the enunciation the way you like it and then write a rhythmic pattern of notes which mimics that enunciation pattern.  Start by using just the note C to build your rhythmic pattern then, use Pizzicato's Harmonic Spaces to generate a chord progression while your listening to the note pattern you created repeated over and over.  See what happens.   Many Jazz artists I know love to use his method to start song ideas.

Try to copy a note pattern or rhythmic pattern (or both) you hear in everyday life.  I have heard that Beethoven wrote the opening notes to his 5th Symphony based on the song of a bird he heard singing, outside his bedroom window, while staying in the Black Forest.

Imagine a picture in your mind, start to feel an emotion tied to that picture.  Write a few notes or patterns, or use the many included in Pizzicato, and compare those musical ideas against that "emotional snapshot" you built in your mind.  If the notes or patterns compliment the snapshot keep it, if they don't, throw them away and keep trying.  Sometimes, you'll find something you like but then, later,  you'll find something else which supersedes the earlier idea.  Fine, throw the earlier one away and build on the new one.  Remember 5000 ways to make a light bulb...

Use the musical generators in Pizzicato to make up random ideas and then listen to see if any of them spark something.  Build a fire from the spark.

These are just a few ideas, keep what works for you and move on from what doesn't.  Cole Porter was once asked how he could just keep writing hit song after hit song.  What was his inspiration?  His reply was "If you write 40 or 50 musical ideas a day, one of them is bound to be good and the rest, I throw away".  In other words, keep trying.

I would love to hear what methods for inspiration you have which work for you.  Write me and tell me about them.  I am always looking for new ideas for myself and for my customers.  In a future newsletter, I'll share some of the ideas with the whole community of Pizzicato users so we can all benefit from them.  They call this paying it forward.

Have fun writing music with Pizzicato and good luck with finding the muse.  I look forward to hearing from you and even hearing your music.

Blair Ashby - email: Phone 303-252-1270

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

The Pizzicato Document Manager

In the left part of the score or conductor window, you can see the document manager.

This part of the window can be displayed or hidden, by using the small "D" checkbox that is visible in the tool bar of the window. It means "Document manager". Click on that checkbox. You can now only see the score. Click again on it and the document manager is shown again. By hiding the document manager, you can have more screen space to see the score you are working on.

The document manager is an important part of Pizzicato. With it, you can manage and organize your musical documents, without the need to use the standard Windows or Mac open and save dialogs.

The blue buttons shown on top of it are the various configurations. According to the Pizzicato version you have, there may be more than two configurations, but these two configurations are common to all versions.

Configuration "1" is the default document folder, named My scores. It contains all the documents you create.

When you start Pizzicato, a new document is created and is automatically named with the date and time. If you do not modify this document and exit Pizzicato, this document will be automatically deleted by Pizzicato, but if you modify the score, it will be saved and kept in the My scores folder.

A Pizzicato document is represented by a green icon. The document contains by default one score, named Score 1.

You can rename the document as well as the score, by clicking on the icon with the right mouse button and selecting the menu entitled "Change name..." which brings a small dialog to fill in the new name you want to give it.

Click now on the blue button of configuration "2". It contains 3 folders. By clicking on a "+" icon, you can display what is in the folder. For instance, click on the "+" in front of the Examples folder. You see the list of all the examples that are used throughout the Pizzicato lessons.

To open an example, click on the "+" in front of it and it will show one or more score icon. Double click on that score icon name and the score will appear in the main part of the window.

When you right-click on a folder, for instance the Examples folder, you can ask Pizzicato to open all the documents of that folder and show their score icons, by selecting the menu entitled Open documents and folders.

If you now drag the mouse over the score icons (just drag, not click), you will see that Pizzicato displays the content of that score in a new, temporary window. You can browse many score just like that and see what is in it. Moreover, if you click it and keep the mouse inside the icon, you can hear the score play.

You can learn much more about this document manager, in the lesson dedicated to it. For instance, you can add other folders and organize them on your hard disk. See the lesson entitled The document manager.

You can of course still use the open dialogs of Windows and Mac. They are available in the File menu, Open... item.

If you want to delete a Pizzicato document, right click on its green icon and select the Delete menu item. Pizzicato will ask to confirm and delete the file.

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

Adjusting the frame of the graphic copy

With Pizzicato Beginner, Professional and Notation, you can make a graphic copy of a score section, a measure, a stave,... To select the part you want to copy, you must adjust the window which contains that part so that you see only this part. For that, you can modify the zoom value, which will not modify the size of the part you copy. If you need to print the image with another program (Word, Corel, ClarisWorks,...), it is better to use a 300 DPI resolution in the dialog box. If you want to use the picture on the screen or on a website, 72 DPI will be enough. You can either copy the picture in the clipboard or to save it as a ".bmp" (Windows) or .pict (Mac) file and then use it as you like it.

The "P" and "S" boxes

The "Instruments" view (Windows menu) includes 2 check boxes named "P" and "S" for each staff. By default, the "P" box is checked. It means "Play". All the staves for which the "P" box is checked will play their notes. Disabling an instrument with this box, you can mute its notes, for example if you disable the soloist of a score, you can play it yourself.

The "S" box means "Solo". By default, this box is not checked. If you activate it for one instrument, all the others will be muted. If you activate it for some instruments, they will play their part and the others will not play. It is an alternative to the "P" box use. For example, if you work with an orchestra score and want to listen to some measures with one instrument only, check the "S" box of this instrument. Using the "P" box, you would have to disable all the other instruments to obtain the same result.

French or international note/chord names

You may select the way notes are named. Go in the Options menu, Chords library... item. You will find in the upper right part of that dialog a selection to name the notes "Do, Ré, Mi,..." or "C, D, E,...". Select your choice and click OK. The chords will then be displayed accordingly, for all documents.

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

Using clefs

Octaves numbering

As previously explained, a clef is used as a reference mark to write notes on the staff. Until now, we always used the treble clef to locate the notes:

The number to the right of each note name shows the number of the octave. Because there is only 7 different note names, octaves are numbered to differentiate amongst octaves. Remember that an octave is an interval between two notes having the same name and thus comprising 6 other notes between them.

The 8 notes here above cover the extent of an octave. This octave bears number 3. The next octave starts with the C located in the third line space and bears number 4. You can easily write the notes of octave 4 in treble clef (the last C already belongs to octave 5):

Using the bass clef

The bass clef lets you write lower notes covering octaves 1 and 2. Here is the bass clef and the notes of octaves 1 and 2: read the full text, see the lesson about using clefs on our site...

The commercial page...

EarMaster 5 - Interactive Ear Training Software

Have you ever thought about what might be the difference between a good musician and a REALLY good musician?

The answer is very likely to be Ear Training!

Ear training is the process of connecting theory (notes, intervals, chords, etc) with music (the sounds we hear). The more you will exercise to recognize this connection, the more you will appreciate playing music, because you will learn to understand what you play.

For more information, go to

You can buy EarMaster at

News, links, ... - The need for arts in our lives. Melanie Richards, sounding the alarm for the arts, demonstrates how we are denying ourselves and our children an artistic way of living, thinking, and learning, thereby creating an artificial life for them and a legacy for the future that is wanting in substance. If we ask some difficult questions about where we are as a society today and what legacy we are indeed creating for future generations, we come up short on our understanding and living of the arts, and how we expose our children to their influence. This book brings up some hard truths about how we live today, and how a true exposure to artistic living and its benefits, especially that of using process as a tool for learning, would better prepare our children for life.

Pizzicato upgrades

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.5, a series of updates are available for Mac OS X and Windows, according to the version you presently have.

If you bought Pizzicato 3.3 or 3.4, you may download Pizzicato 3.5 for free. The reference is the license number. All users whose license number is greater or equal to 15589 can update for free by going to the free update section on our website and download version 3.5. 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!