Dear Musicians,

This is issue #92 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

We wish you a happy Christmas and New Year time,
for you and your family. Let 2011 be a year full
of music, emotions and happiness!

Phone/Fax ++32 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2010, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

Upgrade 3.5.3

The intermediate upgrade 3.5.3 is available on the Pizzicato site. You will find in it a new dialog to help you transpose any score, the possibility to use non-latin character scripts (Hebrew, Greek, Arabic,...), a new method to enter triplets and other tuplets (much asked by users!), as well as the correction of problems that were discovered by the users. You can download it as a fast upgrade at:

Did you already vote...?

Since a few months, the development of Pizzicato can be oriented by users.

Very few of you have taken the opportunity to actively tell us what you need. I invite you to do it now. It is very simple. Go to the page:

You will find three categories of functions (basically, the easy, middle and difficult features to develop). We already selected the next features to release on a short term, according to the votes. But we need to know your opinion on a longer term.

Specifically, for the difficult features to develop (category 3), two features are fighting around the same place: score scanning included in Pizzicato and VST compatibility. Even if they will need quite some time to be developed, we need your opinion on this. Which one would you like first?

The page explains how to vote. You can vote for more than one feature (but a second vote for the same feature is ignored). Do not vote for all features, as this will not modify the global order.

I work to help you with your musical activities. Help me to understand what you need the most. I am waiting to see the vote counters go up!

Practical example of music composition - Continued

Let us go on with our composition example. You can download the Pizzicato document with the composition we worked last time at:

Right-click on that link and select "Save target as..." to save the document on disk. Please note that you can also load this document with the evaluation version of Pizzicato, so that you can make the following exercise.

We completed the first two measures for piano and strings. It is the "calm" section of the composition. To finish off this section, we can still add some percussion instruments. As the atmosphere must be calm, this addition must be pretty calm too. Most of the time, percussion instruments help to establish the time flow of music. It is not always necessary, as other orchestral instruments can establish time all by themselves. But percussion will always help in this task. In any case, it is a personal decision.

We choose to use the templates of the hi-hat (charleston) and congas. For the hi-hat, the staff template is based on three lines. The notes placed on the lower line correspond to the pedal of the hi-hat. By pressing the pedal, the player will make the two cymbals come together. The middle line is when the player hits the hi-hat with a stick, when the hi-hat is closed (the two cymbals are close against each other). The upper line is when the hi-hat is hit on the upper cymbal, when separated from the lower cymbal. On the other template, 3 congas are available. You can test each of these percussion instruments simply by adding and moving one note on the staff.

Many rhythmic patterns could be used. Here is the one I selected:

You can enter it into the score with the standard notes and rests tool.

By listening to the result, you will easily notice that the volume is much too high, compared to the other instruments. Clic on the following button, to show the various controllers (for hi-hat and congas):

Set the volume of the hi-hat approximatively to 27 and for the congas to 42.

You can of course modify this rhymthmic pattern and customize it. According to your sound card or synthesizer, you may need to modify the volumes. Let you ear orient you, so that the pattern is played but does not overload the other two instruments. Simply find the balance you like. Listen to the above example (with the Papelmedia sound library, present in all Pizzicato versions, but not in the evaluation version):

Listen to the example...

We are done with the first part of the composition: 2 calm measures.

Increase tension progressively

The purpose of measures 3 to 8 is to introduce a progressive tension in the atmosphere. We will use one of the methods proposed in our article number 89, addin a rhythmic harmonic.

Let us first duplicate measures 1 and 2 to measures 3 and 4, regarding the strings and percussions.

The idea that we will apply is to modify the structure of the melody of the piano, to make it seem faster, but however similar. Between each note of measure 3, let us add an A note (which is part of the chord) and for measure 4, a B note (part of that chord). As there is now twice as much notes, they must be 16th notes instead of 8th notes. You get the following (enter these measures with the standard note palette):

If you examine closely the original melody and the above melody, you will see that the notes are the same and a note has been inserted between each note, that is part of the chord. This process may be used as a composition method, to make a melody more rich. The melody stays monodic (one note playing at a time). However, when listening, we get the impression of two distinct lines. The first is moving quite a lot and the second has a slow motion. See for instance examples of this in Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor and you will find several various examples of this technique:

If you listen to the result, you will hear the rhythmic density has a sudden transition. There is no progressive transition. How could we make this effect more progressive? The additional notes would need to appear progressively, with an increasing power. To do that, display the velocity lane for the piano with the following button:

Pizzicato displays the velocities of each note:

All velocities are the same. The velocity of a note is a parameter that represents the "speed" at which a piano key is hit by the player, so it represents the loudness of the note.

The valocity lane helps you, by clicking and dragging slightly with the mouse, to modify the velocity of each note. You simply need to draw a small horizontal line at the height of the desired velocity, around the horizontal position of the note. So here is the work to do: create a curve, from zero to the displayed velocity, but only for the added notes (A in measure 3 and B in measure 4). Here is what you can get. You can listen to it and adjust as you please until you get the effect you want:

Here is the final result:

Listen to the example...

You can download that version of the Pizzicato document:

If we seem to progress slowly on this composition and if I take so much time to examine all this with you in details, it is because I know some of you are beginners in music composition and some of you don't dare take their first steps in composing your own music. I really want to help you and encourage you to start composing your own music, by giving you as much details and methods that can make the difference. We will go further next month.

Meanwhile, I wish you a happy Christmas and New Year season and I wish you the best for 2011, with much music in it!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

Pizzicato in US and Canada

An article by Blair Ashby, the official representative of Pizzicato for the United States and English speaking Canada.

Hello Everyone,

I have had a very, very busy holiday season so far. Part of my busyness has been self imposed (here comes some shameless commerce). I, finally, after three years of talking about it, got online. Over the next several weeks, I'll be uploading many of the songs I have worked on in the past few years. As most of my work has been for companies, I had to clear the rights to sell the songs even though they were my work. That part is done and now, I am beginning to sell the music under my name. Additionally, I have worked on several songs in the past few months which are not for my clients and I plan to sell them direct on the website. I will be uploading them too. My goal, after I get all my previously completed material up, is to compose or re-orchestrate (my favorite type of making music) and upload a new song about every 10 days. Please go to Listen to the songs I have up already (A Christmas CD I did is up), sign up for my news (I'll send a note every time I upload a new song), and send me a note about a song you might like me to redo in my style. I, actually, have more fun re-arranging and re-orchestrating old songs versus writing new songs.

In the last newsletter, I talked about introducing subtle or dramatic timing changes to make midi music sound more real and natural. This month I'll continue that thread but move over to articulations. Using a violin as an example: there are dozens of ways to generate sound from the strings. These dozens of ways are called articulations.

Now, most electronic keyboards or synths do not have articulations built into them. Thus, five different notes in a row will have the exact same attack or note start and end even though they are different notes. This is not a real representation of live instruments and musicians. Therefore, in midi, we must put some effort into making lifelike attacks, sustains and endings of notes for the enjoyment of the listener.

In Pizzicato, under the tools menu, are several palettes which have tools available to add accents to the notation. Pizzicato then translates these notation symbols into midi commands which tell the synth how to play back the note. Here is the Main Symbols Palette for example:

Thus, the staccato dot is translated to midi commands and causes the synth to play back the note with a shortened duration. However, A real musician playing that note would probably also emphasize the attack of the note giving the note a little bit of pop. In midi we can mimic that articulation by adding the staccato dot to the notation and, additionally, using the volume control (in the controller lanes of global view or the musical effects window) one can add some quick volume swells to the beginning of staccato dotted notes.


Very quickly, one can hear a much more "real" sense to the note even though a synth is the actual instrument.

The volume controller in midi is an extremely powerful tool. Just like I recommended putting slight timing changes in note passages last month, I, also, recommend putting slight volume changes in note passages or even long single notes. If the volume "drifts" slightly during a longer note or note passage, it sounds more real, more human. And when one's instrument is a "perfect" synth or keyboard, these variations can make an enormous difference.

Now, to add to the volume recommendations, I also recommend using the different equalizer or EQ filters that your keyboard or synth may have. You will have to dig in the manual a bit to find which midi CC's control the EQ but most synths or keyboards have them. These filters can generally control how "bright" or "dark" an instrument sounds. They tend to be similar to the Bass and Treble controls on your stereo. To use them, listen to a real instrument as it plays different passages. For instance: a trumpet when played softly is much darker than a trumpet played loud. As more air is blown through the horn the trumpet gets "Brassy" or bright or even, harsh sounding. Thus, to make your synth more real, during the loudest parts of a passage turn the high frequency EQ or the Treble up a bit to add a bit of that Brassy sound to the instrument. During quieter sections turn the high frequency down a bit to darken the instrument. Generally, one does not need to add or subtract too much to make a very real difference. Let your ears be your guide, when it sounds the most pleasing to you, it's right. Again, you will need to use the Musical Effects window or the Controller lanes in Global view to make these adjustments.

Another effect you can adjust for more realism is vibrato. Vibrato is literally the fluctuation of a notes pitch by small amounts sharp and flat during the performance of that note. Most professional musicians and singers utilize vibrato to make their instrument or voice more expressive or beautiful. Additionally, a well trained musician can completely control their vibrato for added expression. A note's pitch starts out solid and then as the note continues, vibrato starts to increase. Frequently, the longer the note the more the vibrato grows.

In midi, vibrato is generally very hard to get right. If you are lucky, your synth has a vibrato control built into the sound or patch. When the vibrato is built into the patch, you just slowly turn up the controller which increases the vibrato until you have the amount which is most pleasing to you. Remember to let the note be solid for a bit once the note starts then increase the vibrato.

If your synth dos not have a vibrato control, it is much more difficult to get effective vibrato. One relatively easy way to achieve some sense of vibrato is to manually draw in the pitch fluctuations on the note you want to have vibrato. It can look like this:

One must be very careful here; it is very easy to get this completely wrong. On the other hand, if you have a longer note which seems rather exposed or plain sounding, this method can achieve pleasing results. The secret is to not be perfect with your drawings of the pitch bend data. As a matter of fact, less than perfect is probably more desirable and much, much easier. I don't use this method very often. It can be rather tedious. However, on occasion, it has saved a passage that was too perfect or mechanical sounding by adding some humanity. I also don't recommend you go nuts with this. Use it only when you really need it. Otherwise you may find, you've spent all day drawing vibrato and not actually making much music.

Some small points to keep in mind for vibrato. The Clarinet and the French Horn rarely have vibrato. In classical music I don't think the Clarinet ever has vibrato and only rarely have I heard vibrato emphasized on the French Horn. In Jazz music however, I have heard the Clarinet played with vibrato many times, especially New Orleans Jazz. I say this because everyone's a critic, and if your music is going to be played in front of a live audience...

Some people also like to add a bit of tremolo to vibrato. Tremolo is just slight volume fluctuations inside of a note and, usually, tremolo is in time with the music. To my knowledge, this is not used in classical music at all but, it is used in electronic or club music a lot. Again, let your ears be the judge. If it creates the expression you are looking for than use it no matter what type of music your working on.

What I have talked about in these last two newsletters is a few of the small details which can make a good sounding piece of music into a great sounding piece of music. I strongly recommend watching the video called Playing the Score with Expression from my website or Arpege Music's website In this video, Dominique gives a vivid example of how effectively small details can make big differences.

Next month I'll talk about how professional orchestrator's and composers make their music sound absolutely lifelike. By using real instruments played by real people but all of it controlled by midi, the professional composer can keeps costs in line with the clients needs and still have amazingly real sounding music. Take a listen to the samples on my website All of the music (except the singers) I made with midi and Pizzicato can do all of it. Those secrets though, will have to wait until the next newsletter.

I wish all of you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Blair Ashby

You can visit the site and buy Pizzicato directly at

Contact Blair at: Phone 303-252-1270

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

Automatic note repeat

There is a conventional notation to repeat a note several times without writing them all. It avoids for example to repeat 16 times a 16th note. In that case, you can display 4 quarter notes each one with 4 dots above the note. The 4 dots mean that the same note must be repeated 4 times during the note value (here a quarter note, then 4 16th notes).

With Professional Pizzicato or Notation, you can create such a symbol. Here is how to do it:

In a the palette of your choice, select "New Tool..." with the right button of the mouse.

Give it a name, for example "4 16th" and click OK.

Double-click the created tool (empty place in the palette).

Click the "Create/Modify..." button.

Select tool "A" in the vectorial editor and click in the drawing area.

Fill in 4 dots and click OK.

Double-click tool "A" and select a bold font. Click OK.

Resize the gray frame with the cursor arrow tool and adjust the vertical line of the symbol (upper right square box and slide a little to the right).

Close this window.

In the positioning option mode (horizontal), select "Relative to the note".

Check the "Outside the measure" box.

Check the "MIDI play box" and click on "Define the play..."

In the type play,select "Notes sequence".

For the start, select "Attached note".

Click "Progression / content"

Do this three times:

Click"Add a note"

In the Start and length boxes, write 120 and 120

In the 4 text areas of the lower part of the dialog box, fill in respectively 4, 0, 0 and 100

Click 3 times OK to close all the dialog boxes.

To test the symbol, add 4 quarter notes in a measure and place the symbol above each one. You can adjust the position of these symbols vertically. Listen to the result : you should obtain 16 times a 16th note in the measure.

You can optimize the vertical position of the symbol when you place it (by default position). For that, you must understand how Pizzicato creates symbols. You can learn it at page:

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

Modifying the chord font

You can modify the font used for the chord symbols. Select the "Chords library..." item in the "Options" menu. In the dialog box, there is a frame called "Default symbol". Click the "Font..." button and you will be able to modify the font. In the same frame, you can modify the way in which different chords will be justified. "On the left" means that the left border of the chord frame will align itself on the beginning of the beat which marks the chord beginning. "On the right" and "In the center choice" will align the center of the chord frame on the corresponding beat. The vertical position (by default) can also be modified. The "Symbol..." button is used to adjust the chord symbol presentation, but you must keep each element of the symbol or the program will not work properly.

Measure numbers

You can display the measure numbers, by double-clicking with the arrow tool in front of a staff. In the dialog box, check "Each measure" or "Each system". You can apply this to one or more staves. When the numbers appear in the score, you can move them. In the same dialog box, you can define the first measure number. Pizzicato will use it to begin to count.

In some Pizzicato versions, a more powerful tool helps you to manage multiple rests or irregular numberings. By selecting a measure, go to "Measure parameters..." in the "Edit" menu. The "Measure numbering" frame lets you assign a given number to each measure. The measures that follow will continue the counting accordingly. You can for instance number the measures of several exercises which are on the same page, assigning number 1 to each first measure of a new exercise. To create a 5 measures rest, use the frame "Measure duration", to create a measure to count and specify the number of measures to count. While playing, Pizzicato will count these measures before playing the next one.

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


Why add symbols?

The note pitches and the rhythmic values placed in the measures indicate to the performer the note sequence he must play. A piece of music played exactly as written will seem mechanical, without life or expression.

When a composer creates a musical work, he writes of course notes and rhythms, but he will try to transcribe on the score the way notes must be played, with what expression, with what feeling the piece must be performed.

He will add various symbols on the score to describe and transmit as precisely as possible the sound effect he wants to achieve on the auditor.

When a musician will play this score, he will take all symbols into account to understand what the composer wanted to express so as to play the score in the correct state of mind.

There is a whole series of symbols influencing the way the performer will play a score. We will learn the most common symbols..


Nuances specify the sound volume the performer must respect to play the notes. Here is the complete series, forming a progression of increasingly strong sound volumes:

The P comes from Italian Piano meaning softly. The F comes from Forte and means strongly and the M comes from Mezzo and means half or medium.

Start Pizzicato and open the Ex031.piz example. It contains the following measures. Listen to them to understand the resulting sound effect :

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about symbols 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

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Pizzicato upgrades

A corrective update of Pizzicato 3.5.3 is now available for download on page:

If you already have Pizzicato 3.5, you can download the fast upgrade 3.5.3 in the second part of the above page.

If you have an older version of Pizzicato, a series of upgrades 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!