Dear Musicians,

This is issue #95 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 2011, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

I am happy to announce the release of the intermediate version 3.5.4 of Pizzicato!

Those of you who regularly consult the user's voting page (see ) already know which features were going to be released in this version.

In addition, we have also corrected various points and problems that you submitted to us these last few months.

Let us go through the main new features and see how they will help you using Pzzicato, with some practical examples.

Page layout options

Three additional options are available in the page layout dialog box. You can lock all the text blocks associated to the pages, during a new page layout computation. You can also ask Pizzicato to leave the number of measures per system untouched, as well as for the distances between staves of a system that you may have changed manually.

When you decide to change the printing zoom in the page layout, Pizzicato should recompute the page layout for the pages. These additional options help you to keep the work you did in the score.

When you display the reference marks (shortcut ":"), you will see that the green area (the internal margins) may be moved manually with small square handles in the two opposite corners (upper left and bottom right). While moving them, Pizzicato will adjust the systems on the page.

Repeat wizard

Pizzicato uses a simulation system for the playback of the repeat bars. Until now, you had to specify manually the various passages and jumps to measures, so that the playback would be correct.

We have now developed a wizard that will compute these in most cases automatically. Just place the repeat bars and signs and the wizard computes the passages. We also added a few repeat signs in the graphic symbol palette:

Let us take the following example:

In the bars and repeat dialog box (that you can call on any measure of the score), click on the "Wizard..." button. Click on "Apply" and Pizzicato will compute the right sequence of measures and displays it:

Click OK and Pizzicato will be able to play the right sequence. You can also customize these sequences if you need to.

Partial selection of measures

Here is the most requested of these features... The possibility to select one or more parts of measures, consecutive or not, to copy/paste or to apply operations like transposition or other operations found in the Edit menu of Pizzicato.

You will find the details on how to use this selection mode in the Readme354.pdf file, as well as in the user manual:

Here are some application examples:

You can drag and drop it elsewhere in the score, for instance like this:

You can then modify them, for instance transpose them (here a fifth down):

You can Cut (Edit menu) them then Paste them on the lower staff, which is a separation of two voices that are on the same staff:

You can then move this rectangle horizontally (shifting the notes in the measure) and/or vertically (transposing the notes):

Dialog box for drums and percussion

For the versions of Pizzicato that handle drums and percussion (Pizzicato Drums and Percussion, Notation, Composition and Professional), a dialog box now helps you to easily and intuitively assign drum instruments to the lines of the staff. It was already possible with the older versions, but the information was in various dialog boxes and was not quite intuitive. Here is a simple example on how it works, to get the following:

To call the new dialog box, double-click before the staff, which calls the staff characteristics dialog box. Click then on the Drums map... button.

The dialog appears and by default there is an empty staff. To the right, click on the "+" button to add an instrument. You get the following:

Under the staff, in the Instrument played frame, select the instrument Snare drum. On the second keyboard, you can specify the note that is displayed on the staff (the C).

Below that, you can select the note head that will be used for the note, as well as a color if you want to. Select for instance the red color.

Then click again on the "+" to add the bass drum, with the blue color. Then add a cymbal and specify the cross shape for the note head. You get the following:

Check the box called Use this drums map then click OK. Do not forget to select a drums set instrument in the instruments window (Windows, Instruments menu item).

If you now enter notes on the staff (using the three pitches defined here above), the colors and note heads will be automatically assigned and the playback will play these instruments. You can customize the drums template, save it and use it each time you need it.


If the original Pizzicato version that you bought was version 3.3 or later, this upgrade is free. We have created an installation file that only installs the new files so that it is quite fast to download and install. You can find it here:

You will find in the main folder (in Applications on Mac or in My documents in Windows), a file called Readme354.pdf, with all the details about the new features.

Don't forget to look at the features proposed for the future and to influence them by voting on page:

We invite you to download this new version and to use its new features!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

Pizzicato in US and Canada

Hello Pizzicato Users,

I have been extremely busy in the studio writing songs and composing for customers these last few months, so I owe the readers who have been following my articles an apology. I am sorry for the delay getting this article written.

In the previous two articles, I explained some ways that one can make synth instruments sound more realistic and thus, have a greater emotional impact. I promised at the end of the second article to expose some of the secrets professional composers use to make good sounding music in a very short time frame. Frequently, when one is writing for companies, TV shows, or movies, one has a very short time frame to get a lot of music written and one doesn't have time to massage every note into achieving the most realism. However, if you enjoy TV shows, movies or company videos you have probably noticed that the music usually sounds quite good or even real.

When writing music which uses acoustic instruments, there is rarely the budget for hiring live musicians. However, the producer wants real instruments in the music because they are so expressive. To achieve that realism and stay on budget, composers must use every tool available in the midi world to it's fullest and do it quickly. Thus, a whole industry has developed which caters to this need with midi controlled instruments called sample libraries. Sample libraries come in all sizes and prices; a small one can be a couple of hundred MB up to very large ones being hundreds of GB or even a TB (terabyte). A sample library is really a recording of individual notes played by a real human in many different ways to create a library of articulations to re-create the sound of the instrument. The quality is amazing and usually not noticeable by the listener. Last year a major business newspaper hired a good midi programmer to recreate a Beethoven Symphony. The journalist then gave three real recordings and the midi version of that symphony to four classical music critics and asked the critics to figure out the midi version. Only one guessed it correctly and even he admitted he guessed. The other three were amazed they could not tell the difference between the midi version and the live recordings of the symphony.

In my studio I have about 2 TB of sample libraries, including the majority of the instruments by EastWest, dozens for Kontakt 4 (Kontakt is a Sampler, an instrument which can play many different sounds at one time inside of it) and another dozen or so stand alone instruments like Vienna Symphony Library, Real Strat, Real Guitar, Trilogy, Dimension Pro and, for Drums, BFD 1 and 2. All of these instruments are VST (Virtual Studio Technology developed by Steinberg) and require a host program to launch them in. I generally use Cantabile or Sonar as my VST host. That means I start Sonar, connect Pizzicato to Sonar via virtual (software only) midi cables and then launch a sample library instrument inside of Sonar and allow Sonar to be the mixing board for many instruments at one time.

Good sample libraries try to capture the many nuances of an instrument and then create a way for the composer to play those nuances as needed for expressing a realistic performance. These nuances are called articulations. An articulation is just a fancy word for saying the many ways to sound a note from a real instrument. For instance: a Violin can be up bowed, down bowed, plucked, short bowed, long bowed, bowed soft or hard, notes can be separate or run together, etc. There are probably fifty different ways to sound a note from a violin. A good library will capture most or all of those articulations.

To switch between the different articulations generally two main methods are used. Velocity, which in midi means how fast or hard one hits a note, and key switching. Key switching uses notes which the previously mentioned violin can't play to switch articulations. So, in Pizzicato I developed a tools palette which triggers one of these unplayable notes. I then place the symbol right before and above the violin note I want to affect. Here is an example: .

The red Art means articulation, the blue D#1 in the note being triggered by the symbol, the arrow point signals where it is being played at in the midi timeline. Thus, if D#1 is a Staccato sound and C0 is a Legato sound, the staff plays a D#1 but the composer doesn't hear it because it is too low for a Violin to play, the sample library though, hears the note and realizes it needs to load up the Staccato sounds and then play the B and the C in the Staccato way before it plays the F in a Legato manner. For an example of the power of key switching listen to the sample I have on this page (the sample is a little lower on the page and called Dark Isle mp3 Sample):

These libraries require extensive programming and very fast computers and hard drives to function smoothly. Additionally, the inside work of the software is much more complicated than my simple description here but, those things are still cheaper than real musicians so I am able to meet my clients time and budget needs. Additionally, Pizzicato is brilliant at midi programming so it makes this work much, much easier.

One other secret is midi styles. Here again, Pizzicato is a fantastic tool for this work. Develop a chord progression then place a midi style or pattern in the measures under the chord progression. Check the little box with a C beside it and Ta Daaaa! The pattern or style is now playable using notes in the chord progression. On this page is a video giving a much more clear explanation of this method: Go to the section titled "Intuitive Music Composition Tools" and then choose the second to last video called "Using Styles to Compose Music" Additionally, you can read in the manual about how to use styles here: I use styles all the time. They provide a fast way for me to generate a rhythm guitar part or a simple string bed to lay a melody on top of or even a complicated piano part when I need it. Here is a sample from the song The Ashokan Farewell which I did on a Celtic CD. The acoustic guitar part is all a midi style using an acoustic guitar sample library for the guitar. Additionally, all the Uillean Pipe and Celtic Fiddle articulations are triggered via keyswitching:

Sample libraries are an excellent way to get fantastic, realistic results for music when budget and/or time constraints are an issue or when you just want your music to sound as lifelike as it can get without hiring real musicians. Pizzicato is a fully functioning Midi Sequencer as well as a premier notation program. So for a composer, like myself, who prefers notation but needs all the functionality of midi programming to meet my clients needs, Pizzicato is an excellent tool to work with. Next month, in part four of this trilogy :-) on professional composing, I'll talk about the midi programming and midi orchestration I am doing right now on a new project I'm writing called "The List".

Feel free to email me with any questions or observations you have, I love to hear from you. Have a great time composing with Pizzicato.

Blair Ashby

You can visit the US/Canada site at

email: Phone 303-252-1270

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

Musical dictation with Pizzicato

Did you know that you can train yourself to musical dictation with Pizzicato Light ? As a reminder, the musical dictation principle is to listen to one or two measures without looking at the notes and then transcribe them into music notation. The practical application is the little melody you sing and you want to write down on paper.

Pizzicato contains an exercise generator used to learn note reading on a musical keyboard connected to the computer. But this function may also be used to generate musical dictations, exactly as in a music course. You may adapt the note and rhythm difficulty to your level. Here is how you do it:

To know more about these tools, consult the lesson on keyboard learning on our site.

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

16th notes in short notation

It is sometimes useful to simplify the notation of a measure including for instance a lot of 16th notes. Let us see the case of a 4/4 measure with the C and G alternated in 16th notes. This measure can be written in the form of C and G half notes beamed with a 16th note beam. Here is the process to follow (warning, the MIDI play will not follow):

In other cases, you can adapt this to 32nd notes for instance.

Specifying the colors of notes

The "Graphic options..." item of the "Options" menu lets you select between three color modes for notes. Under the title "Use of colors", you may choose between:

Pianistic notation: cross staff beaming

In piano scores, it is frequent to use the 2 clefs (G and F) to write the playing of a single musical passage. Technically, this means that the same rhythmic voice (which is normally written on one staff) will be written over 2 staves. Here are some examples:

In these measures, using two staves is done to make it easier to read the notes with the 2 clefs. The lower notes would have been difficult to read in the G clef. But these measures only include one rhythmic voice (as Pizzicato defines the rhythmic voice).

To write this type of measures with Pizzicato, you need to understand that the notes always belong to one of the two staves. Here we have chosen the upper staff to place the notes, but it could have been the lower staff also. It is better to use the staff which contains most of the notes.

Once a note is written in a staff, you can drag it to the other staff, but this is only a graphic effect: the note always belongs to its original staff. It means that the justification of the rhythmic voices is still made on the basis of the content of the original measure.

For more details, please see the page

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

Composing music (1)

This lesson and the following will help you to take the first steps in computer-assisted composition. You must have read and understood the lessons about the composition libraries and to have done the practical steps of these lessons. We will not explain here the practical details on how to handle the libraries. If you need it, read these lessons again.

Using the composition libraries

The lessons about composition libraries explained the practical operations of the Pizzicato composition tools. It is, in short, a division of music into basic blocks constructed with rhythms, melodies, themes and chords. These elements can be used and combined in thousand and one ways.

Now we're going to examine the use of these tools to really start composing. The suggested examples and exercises form an approach to composition more than a very well structured composition course. They give you raw material to work and show a systematic method to help you structure this raw material as you like it.

Pizzicato is delivered with several documents containing construction blocks with which you will be able to work out your first exercises. These elements are there to help you to approach the use of libraries. We will start by analyzing the contents of these documents.

Contents of the Pizzicato libraries

Start Pizzicato and open the Chords library - 1.piz document located in the DataEN / Music folder. The main view appears as follows...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (1) 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

Pizzicato on Facebook

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Pizzicato upgrades

A corrective update of Pizzicato 3.5.4 is now available for download on page:

If you already have Pizzicato 3.5, you can download the fast upgrade 3.5.4 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!