Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN284 - Revision of 2013/05/29





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Composition Pro

Drums and Percussion





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Alternative notation

Subjects covered:

What is alternative notation? [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

Beside what we commonly call "Standard Music Notation" or "Traditional Music Notation", there are several other ways to represent music on a sheet of paper. This lesson explains how you can write it with Pizzicato Alternative Notation.

Music notation has itself evolved through time to arrive today at a quite precise set of symbols that are agreed upon so that music can be put into a written form understood by everyone. This does not mean that the current system is the best system. Indeed, several notation systems have evolved outside the mainstream of the standard notation system. As early as 1743, Jean-Jacques Rousseau presented a music notation system that was more logical and easy to use. This system has found its most common use today in China where it is called Jianpu or numbered notation and is based on seven numbers.

However, this principle can be taken one step further. The purpose is to represent the 12 notes (C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A# and B) that correspond to one octave of the music keyboard (7 white keys and 5 black keys) in a different way than the standard notation, so as to make it more easy to learn, play and/or transpose.

Pizzicato Alternative Notation offers various combinations of symbols to reach that purpose, as HMN (Hamburg Music Notation) and Jianpu (a Chinese notation system). You can also design other representations by defining the symbols and behaviour for the 12 notes.

Here is an example showing how the standard notes are written into HMN and Jianpu:

One of the advantages is that a melody will avoid the difficulty of the key signature when transposed. Transposition is done simply by adding a fixed value to the melody. In Jianpu, number "1" refers to the tonic of the scale and so a melody is the same series of numbers in all tonalities.

To learn more about alternative music notation systems, you can visit the site of "The Music Notation Project" :

or more specifically, as used by pizzicato alternative notation:

An explanation of the Jianpu system can be found here:

or here:

Displaying alternative notation in Pizzicato [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

The Alternative Notation module of Pizzicato is not part of the standard versions of Pizzicato. It can be purchased separately and will then work with Pizzicato Choir, Light, Keyboard, Beginner, Notation or Professional. The type of score that can be created and edited is dependent of the Pizzicato version.

By default, the Alternative Notation module can be purchased as itself, with no other versions of Pizzicato. In that case, the features of Pizzicato are those of the Light version (combined with the Alternative Notation features).

If you already have Pizzicato, you can simply buy the Alternative Notation module. You then receive an additional license/serial number. Go in the Options menu and select Program version/Upgrades... Then click License registration and enter the license/serial numbers and validate. The Alternative Notation module is then activated.

If you don't have Pizzicato, you can buy the basic Alternative Notation module as a stand alone program and it will offer the same possibilities as Pizzicato Light.

You can also buy a bundle of one of the above Pizzicato versions with the Alternative Notation module. The new features will be applicable within the possibilities of the Pizzicato version you choose.

The following sections of this lesson are written for users who do not know how to use Pizzicato at all, so that they can start editing sheet music in alternative notation without the need to read and study many of the other lessons of the Pizzicato user's manual. The main subjects are explained with the purpose of working with the alternative notation only. However, you will find below references to various lessons of the Pizzicato user's manual, so that you can learn more about a specific subject.

For Pizzicato users, here is a short summary on how you can access the features of the Alternative Notation module. If you don't know Pizzicato at all and simply want to edit music using the alternative notation module, skip the following and go to the next section.

Please note that you can also enter the music by using the standard Pizzicato tools as explained elsewhere in the Pizzicato manual. Pizzicato can display automatically the corresponding alternative notation version of any existing score, whether for a solo instrument or for a full orchestra (which is in fact something interesting to watch !). So you can for instance import an existing MIDI file or MusicXML file (according to the Pizzicato version you have) and display it automatically in HMN, Jianpu or other cypher based notation systems and print them or export them to PDF.

If you open the example file named BACH2-1 (located in the Music sub-directory of the sub-folder DataEN, or simply in the document manager configuration 2 (blue buttons at the top left part of the screen), you can display it as follows:

So let's start now from the beginning, with the purpose of entering the music by using the alternative notation method.

Creating a new score [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

To work with the alternative notation module, you need to open the corresponding palette. Go in the Tools menu and select the Alternative notation... item or use its shortcut which is CTRL+SHIFT+W (you can open and close it with the same keyboard shortcut). The following palette is then displayed:

When you start Pizzicato, a basic template of one page is automatically displayed with empty measures. You can use this template to enter the music, but if it does not fit the layout you want, you can simply click the New score... button in the above palette. The following dialog appears:

In this dialog, you can specify:

If you fill it in as follows:

and if you click on Create the score, you will get the following page (you may need to increase the size of the window or to decrease the zoom factor to see it all at once):

When you create a new score, Pizzicato will automatically display the page in both alternative and standard notation.

You can use the right mouse button to click in the background of the score (not inside a measure) and select the Type of notation item. You have then 3 choices:

So you can decide how you display the music. In the default mode (both), you can interact in both display systems. Note that the content of the music is the same. Editing of the music in one display will automatically adapt the other display.

Some Pizzicato versions can work with multiple scores open. In this case, you can simply close the previous score before creating a new one, as otherwise the screen will be shared by the various scores currently open.

In the rest of this lesson we will focus on the way to enter music with the alternative notation palette. You will find in the Pizzicato user's manual the other methods of entering notes by going in the Help menu and selecting one of the lessons of the Writing scores section.

Entering the music [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

You can use the zoom to increase the size of the music and have a better precision while looking at the score. You will find the "+" and "-" zoom buttons in the main tool bar above the score, on the left part.

To enter the notes directly in alternative notation, select one of the rhythmic values on the palette, for instance the quarter note:

When one of the rhythmic icons is selected, you will see the current entry point displayed in the score, as a blinking vertical line:

To enter the notes you can simply click on one of the 12 symbols of the second line of the palette:

As you enter the notes, the blinking cursor progresses to the right and jumps to the next measure when the current measure is full.

Here are the actions that you can use while entering and editing the music in alternative notation. While going through the list, use them each time to see how they work in practice.

Simply click on any of the notes of the keyboard and it will add a note at the position of the blinking cursor. If you have a MIDI keyboard connected to Pizzicato through a MIDI interface, you can also use it to enter the notes directly.

You will notice that the eighth, 16th,...notes are displayed with horizontal lines showing the same number of beams as in standard notation:

For longer rhythmic values, this notation system uses the "-" sign to show that the duration of the note is extended:

The current rhythmic value will automatically be affected by the dot, which is shown exactly as in standard notation (just to the right of the note symbol):

To enter a rest, simply click on one of the note numbers in the above palette or by using a keyboard shortcut of a note. A rest is then added instead of a note. The rests are displayed with their conventional standard notation symbols.

The content of the two voices will behave independently inside the measure.

In the chord mode, the cursor with add the note and not move to the right. Each additional note is added to that chord. To go to the next chord, simply use the right arrow key on the keyboard. This will display as follows:

Lyrics [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

You can add lyrics to existing notes by selecting the lyrics tool from the alternative notation palette:

The blinking cursor will automatically be positionned under the closest note where the cursor was, for instance:

You can then enter the lyrics as follows:

Here is an example of it:

Then simply drag and drop the lyrics to adjust their vertical position.

For more advanced use of the lyrics, like choosing the fonts, adjusting extension lines or copying/pasting the full text of the lyrics from another program, you can refer to the lesson about lyrics in the Pizzicato user's manual, in the Help menu:

Adjusting the page layout [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

The page layout is how you organize the measures and systems inside one or more pages ( a system is a set of one or more staves played together).

Let's start a new score with 2 instruments, with the New score... button and the corresponding dialog filled as follows:

Let's fill it full of notes, simply to show how the general score will look and how we can then adjust the page layout. We could get something like this:

There are two different operations to edit the page layout of a score.

  1. Adding and/or deleting measures and/or staves
  2. Rearranging the existing measures and staves

With the first operation, you determine the number of measures and instruments you need for the music you want to write.

To add and/or remove measures and staves to an existing score, select the arrow tool in the main palette (or use the shortcut which is the ESC key of the keyboard) and double-click inside the normal content of one of the measures (in standard notation, this corresponds to the area inside the 5 lines of the staff). The following dialog box appears:

The left part can be used to add, insert or remove measures and the right part is for adding, inserting or deleting staves. The measures/staves are added/inserted/deleted in relation to the measure/staff you double-clicked to call this dialog.

As a simple example, if you want to add 12 measures to the end of the score:

Note that Pizzicato Light may only handle scores that have a total of 60 measures for one instrument (or 30 measures for 2 instruments, 20 measure for 3,...). Other versions have no limitations in the number of measures.

As another example, if you now only want 12 measure in the score, you can do it as follows:

Let's have a look now at the second type of operation, where you adjust how the existing measures and staves are organized on one or more page(s).

To determine the number of measures in a system and the number of systems per page, enable the reference marks tool (shortcut is ":") on the main palette:

You will then see a set of "+" and "-" blue buttons appear to the right of each system on the page, as well as one set in the lower left corner of each page:

To use this buttons, be sure that the arrow tool is also selected in the main palette (shortcut is ESC).

By clicking a "+" button, you will add one measure to the corresponding system. However, the measure is not created. It is only shifted from the following system into the current system, so that if a system has 4 measures, when you click the "+" button it will have 5 measures.

By clicking the "-" button, you shift the last measure of the system to the next system, so you decrease the number of measures in the current system.

For instance, if you want to adjust the above page layout so that there are 4 systems of 3 measures instead of 3 systems of 4 measures, you can proceed as follows:

The same principle applies to the lower left set of "+" and "-" buttons. They are used to shift a system to or from the next page, so that you can adjust the number of systems in a given page.

Now you can also adjust the positions of the staves and systems as well as the position of the barlines. Here is how you can do this:

You can also adjust the width of the measures globally, taking into account the existing content of the measures, as follows:

For more advanced features of the page layout tools, you can refer to the following lessons in the Pizzicato user's manual, in the Help menu:

You can also change the bar lines, for instance to add repeats and the double bar line at the end of the music. For details on this, see the lesson on bar lines and repeats:

Text blocks [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

By default, with the automatic creation of a new score, there is a title, the name of the composer and a copyright notice. These are text blocks that are part of the page layout.

You can modify an existing text block simply by double-clicking on it (while the cursor tool is selected, the shortcut being the ESC key of the computer keyboard). A dialog appears that gives you full control of the text, font and positionning options:

To remove a text block, place the mouse over it (without clicking) and hit the DELETE key of the computer keyboard.

To add a new text block you can use the text block tool that is located in the main palette :

Simply click in the page where you want to add it and the above dialog box opens to create a new text block.

For more information about text blocks, see the Pizzicato user's manual:

Music symbols [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

You can add the most common symbols in the alternative part of the display. You will find them in the standard palettes of the Tools menu. They are located after the Notes and rests palette. The most important symbols are in the Main symbols palette, as shown here:

To add a symbol, select it in the palette and then click on the note to which it is related.

When the symbol is on the score, you can click it and drag it to adjust its graphic position. For instance, placing a nuance mf, an accent and a Dim. will show the following:

You can also place crescendo signs and slurs by clicking on the starting note. However, according to the way Pizzicato works to display the alternative notation from the standard notation, it is often more easier to adjust such symbols in the standard notation part of the score. For instance, a crescendo and slur in the standard notation will then be automatically readjusted to fit the alternative notation display:

You can delete a symbol by placing the mouse over the symbol (without clicking) and then using the DELETE key.

For more information about handling symbols, see the Pizzicato user's manual:

Defining the alternative notation configurations [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

By default, the HMN-Jianpu music notation system is active. Pizzicato offers 10 possible alternative notation configurations. You can modifiy them by clicking on the Options... button in the alternative notation palette. The following dialog box appears:

The upper menu is used to select the configuration that is used to display the music.

For each configuration you can define the following:

Notice that when the HMN Vertical Pitch is active in a configuration, it generally does not display chords and multiple voices adequately, as the vertical positionning varies with pitches. Voices and chords would otherwise collide with each other. This mode must be used only with a single melodic line.

The selection of the basic font is used for the time and key signatures. The Default values will set the HMN-Jianpu values to the current configuration.

The right part of the dialog defines the shortcuts that you can use for the tools of the alternative notation palette. You can see their default values here above.

A check box specifies if the piano keyboard window will (or not) display the colors and note symbols on each key.

The next check box, if enabled, will display the note symbols that correspond to the black keys of the piano in bold style so as to give a visual hint for the scale.

The Back to original setup button, will reset the 10 default configurations to their original values. Use this if you want to get back to the situation existing when you first installed the program.

Here is how a chromatic scale will look with each of the 7 predefined configurations. The last 3 configurations are free for experimental work.

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