Back to school! Here are options for teachers / educators to present Pizzicato music software in their school /association

 

Are you a music teacher or an active member of an promoting music? You may share your students or chorists the benefits of Pizzicato music composition and notation software membership in your classrooms.

Whether you choose a high quality level formula (with a financial participation) or the free basic educational program (which offers to every student a teacher the ability to write and print simple scores plus to generate exercises and listen to the result), know that music teachers and directors who are successful with their students when they use Pizzicato share the desire that their students may enjoy the benefits of computers to construct their own musical knowledge and test it.

That said, you may have already personally convinced of the value of using Pizzicato in the classroom, but you meet one of these situations:

  • The member of boards of your music school or program hesitate to pay a musical software for financial reasons (no budget is dedicated).
  • Administrators do not want to introduce a free software in music school for reasons linked to pedagogy (they do not feel comfortable with the idea to introduce computers in the framework of music teaching).
  • Administrators do not have the opportunity to acquire computers and / or a room for installing it (a place is missing).

Here are some possible solutions to explore with the agreement (and possibly the active collaboration) the directors of the institution or you give courses or lead a musical activity:

  • Make use of public funds to acquire Pizzicato (music funds, technology funds, various educational funds)
  • Develop an activity whose profits will be used to acquire at least one computer (concert, festive dinner, tombola)
  • Talk with the local association of music parents and ask them some help in matter of fundraising

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To subscribe to the free Pizzicato educational program and to invest a little to attract the interest of students is usually a first step that only you, as a teacher, can do and generally it is welcome in schools. We have already equipped a lot of music schools establishments and we never had complaints coming from directors, because teachers who introduce our program know that they make the difference.

They generally determine the pedagogy to use. Below you will find a link with a presentation of our program and echoes that came back to us from your colleagues about the way they do, but even if there are guidelines, usually every teacher wants to appropriate the program in their way and arrange their own learning sequences.

Are you ready to invest some of your time to share with your students a free tool that will motivate them because they use computer to learn at home? Do you want to convince your board of the utility of a music software for your students? Here is the page which presents Pizzicato educational program (free version and paid versions): http://www.arpegemusic.com/music-education-software.htm and you may send any questions to: info@arpegemusic.com

 

Musically,

 

Françoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Educational Program

Music information that listeners must have and how music composers and performers can fulfill them

We know it for decades: information is a main key in society. Actually there is nothing new under the sun: education is transmission of information and it always contributed to the building of better human groups. Maybe the novelty is that more and more individuals today can erase the lacks of traditional education and complete it more easily than thousand or even hundred years ago.

In matter of music information, for the individual who is searching to complete some musical culture, interesting questions for music composers and performers to answer are:

What type of music information do people seek?
What are people’s music information search strategies?

In an accurate research (Lee and Downie), I found that users seek music information to build collections of music and for verifying or identifying works, artists, lyrics, etc.

These clear and concrete goals are reached:

  • physically (people visit friend’s places, record stores, music libraries and shops plus bars, church or sessions)
  • through the internet (people search for recordings, music files, news, music styles, etc.)

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All of this is clear and evident. Another evidence appears: professional musicians need to frequent physical places like libraries or shop and publish their sheet music on the web to be known better.

Musicians will notice that a music composition and notation software like Pizzicato can help them to publish their work themselves or to be published by a professional editor – as it already happened.

All musicians will find information related to Pizzicato at http://www.arpegemusic.com (informations like a free demonstration version and newsletters about music composition).

Musically,
Francoise Delsaux
Arpege Music
Online Marketing

Musicians and music consumption – How the musician can attract new listeners

Musicians and music consumption – How the musician can attract new listeners

Music as phenomenon linked to mental process, emotions and physiological arousal

The reason why most people take part in musical activity, be it composing, performing or listening is that music is capable of arousing in them deep and significant emotions (research made by Sloboda).

Also musical thinking offers a more direct access to mental process than speech because the manipulation of perception and recall is more central to music than it is to speech. Listening to music requires discrimination and assimilation of melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, instrumentation, etc. via a series of complex processes (study made by Hantz).

Music as a product – the purchase behaviour

Yet a few analysis has been done in matter of consumer research to explore how and why people consume music. At a scientific level, the treatment of music as a product has been relatively ignored.

Nevertheless everyone knows that music is frequently discovered through internet, radio and television before it is purchased.

Consumers may buy the latest release of a specific artist or ensemble without previous exposure in the strength of their knowledge of that artist or ensemble, even in classical music.

However, in that case, the consumer has expectations based on previous experience and recommendations given by other listeners, by music search engines or by platforms.

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What characteristics of consumers and what characteristics of music may interact to produce consumption and purchase? What can explain music preference and purchase behavior? Researchers (as Hirschman) say that music, as entertainment, lets to better cope with unpleasant situations of everyday life. A second factor, called role projection, is maybe associated to music videos and permits individuals to self-project into a particular role or character. In the third place, purchasing products helps to construct fantasies and augment reality.

How the musician can attract new listeners

If the musician, be it a composer or a performer, is conscient that all listeners desire novelty and search for it, he/she can become more confident in his/her personal abilities to reach new listeners who can become new customers. The ways to promote music are numerous today, from video, audio and sheet music sharing tools to platforms which sell music, no one can pretend that it is impossible for him/her to get some audience and revenue.

And for self publishing in matter of sheet music, a software like ‘Pizzicato Professional’ can help you. It already deserved the goals of professional musicians who wrote music pieces for national radios and orchestra or were published by some great traditional sheet music publishers.

You can discover Pizzicato at http://www.arpegemusic.com.

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online Marketing

Physiological and emotional arousals of music on composers/performers and listeners in the digital context

 

Composers and performers – their skills and their musical repertoire

In matter of music, artificial intelligence specialists help their readers to understand that the brain is the place both to give orders that create motor representations (for example singing) and perceptual representations (listening to music).

And indeed all music in practice is contained in these three words: creating, playing and listening.

Playing and listening permit to performers to increase the number of pieces included in their musical repertoire. And of course that gives both professional and amateur musicians more opportunities to play.

Computer music did not create that reality related to the fact that musicians who work more and more every day to understand music through playing associated to listening progress inevitably.

Nevertheless computer music helps musicians to reinforce both their perceptual memory and their ability to create new pieces of music.

Listeners and their emotions – music as source of well-being

It is evident that people who chose to learn music and pursue a career in that domain – and those who at adult age begin to invest most their time in it – love music, feel well-being and are sensible both to physiological and emotional arousals of music.

Now what about listeners – those who do not want to learn music or perform it? It is the same for the simple listeners than for performers, except of course that they only create perceptual representations of music, so their role is more passive in front of music.

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Their situation interests musicotherapists. These ones are musicians who acquired a sufficient knowledge in psychology and health to pretend helping people through music or showing them to explore new aspects of their personalities. Musicotherapists themselves produce motor representations to interact with their clients.

For all musicians

All musicians – composers, performers, etc. – can find an interest in music composition and notation software to create new music pieces aud augment their musical repertoire.

I will bring their attention to the Pizzicato range of products (they will be able to test the free demonstration version, discover user guides and free newsletters around music composition at http://www.arpegemusic.com).

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online Marketing

How to combine several melodies (1)

Today let us try to assemble and explain some rules regarding the way in which various melodies may be combined.

Traditionally, these rules are learned the hard way in harmony and counterpoint. Learning and applying them may take you years of practice. But I am afraid that if you work only with these techniques for years, while not also trying to compose by yourself on a free basis, you will not compose at all. But sure, you would receive a music certificate.

I have nothing against learning classic harmony and counterpoint the way they are taught in most public music schools (in fact I am doing it right now, just to take a new viewpoint on it so as to assemble the most important rules they convey). They can be learned extensively by people who want to reach a full knowledge of music. But they are only a path to composition, not a goal in themselves. So the error is maybe to consider them as the end purpose and in such a way, they can become a no through road.

In these articles, we will try to focus on practical aspects, with music composition as the main purpose. So do not consider the following as a counterpoint or harmony course, because it is not.

Counterpoint and harmony are basically a series of rules and exercises that you do step by step. In the exercises, you must apply the rules exactly and any violation is considered as an error (even if you like it when you hear it).

Counterpoint examines how two or more melodies will interact and sound correctly together. Harmony examines the way chords may be sequenced. They are complementary even if their exercises have sometimes rules that are contradictory (for instance in counterpoint, you should never use twice the same note in sequence while in harmony you may do so). Both introduce some arbitrary rules that may only find their explanation in their origin: they were designed for the human voice. For instance, some intervals are prohibited (7th in counterpoint) mostly because they were difficult to sing. The exercises are still done with the purpose of being sung by two, three, four or five human voices.

We can imagine that people who invented or contributed to counterpoint and harmony were just trying to isolate the rules of music so that others could just follow those rules and create music that sounds nice. By taking existing music that sounds good, they would then try to isolate the rules which that music was obeying. By examining a big quantity of nice sounding music, we could maybe find a set of rules that are common to all of them. However, this does not mean that another music would then also satisfy them. Inspiration and imagination are the first sources of music. And the fact that you find a music beautiful is the only valid criteria for that music, as far as you are concerned.

Rules may be used to avoid combinations of notes that “most people” would consider discordant or to advise note combinations that “most people” would consider harmonious. But the final effect of a certain note combination is often dependant upon the context where it is expressed, by the instruments that play them and also by the signification, the emotion and the atmosphere the composer is trying to establish. This means that you could take some note combination out of its context and those notes would sound poorly, while in their context, they make sense and are expressive. The point I want to make is that rules are only a guide. They are not the “music Truth”. The real “music Truth” would be “Do I like that music? Do other people appreciate that music? Does it express something to them?”. So the first thing is to keep that in mind when you study music rules. From that, we deduce our first music composition principle:

1. In composing music, personal appreciation is far superior to any rule. Rules are a substitute for pure inspiration.

This does not mean that rules are bad, they are not! This only means that if you find a musical pattern you like, then there is no need to check if it complies with a set of rules. This would be like eating something you like and then asking somebody else if you should appreciate it or not.

While learning classic harmony and counterpoint, a logical mind could be amazed about how the various rules may seem arbitrary and unrelated, even if they are applicable and useful. Here, at Arpege Music, we believe there must be another level behind all these rules. A level where all these rules could be explained and deduced from a very limited set of principles. Have these principles been discovered somewhere? I don’t know, but they probably lie in the field of acoustics and frequency analysis. What I mean is a set of basic principles that could answer all the questions in the field of harmony, melody, chords and instrumentation. Why does a melody sound well? Why do some chords combine well and others not? Why some instrument patterns in orchestra sound better than others? Why do “parallel fifths and octaves” often sound poorly? There must be a set of natural principles that could answer all these questions. When they will be found and expressed in an easily, understandable form, we will then be able to understand music from its real substance.

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Until then, let’s be more practical. We know by experience that combining notes into chords (as explained in our previous articles) gives us harmonious results. This is backed up by the rules of acoustics and harmonics. A chord is a set of notes, with some harmonics being in common. Harmonics are multiples of the main note frequency. They make up the timbre of an instrument (why a C note played on a trumpet does not sound like a C note played with a flute).

When we play several melodies together, we can observe that they will sound pretty well if their harmonic contents will have frequencies in common. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that they form a chord. We can express this principle as follows:

2. When playing two or more melodies together, their main notes should form a chord.

When we say “chord” here, we mean the most common harmonious and pleasing chords (triads, seventh,…) that have enough harmonics in common. When we say “main” notes, we mean the notes that make up the frame of the melody, the most important notes of the melody.

How do we apply that? First, you need to know how a chord is built, otherwise you will not be able to establish if the notes of your various melodies fit into an existing chord. This is probably the most difficult aspect, as it requires some practice to “see” the possible chords in the various melodies.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato music composition and notation software.

The universal method to compose music (2)

What did we found ? Oh yes, an universal method to learn how to compose music…!

So if you systematically apply – with perseverance – the 10 points listed last month, you should then be able to compose your own music and to successfully publish your CDs. Let us analyze those points in details.

Point 1 is “A regular listening to various musical styles”.

This seems elementary: if you want to compose music, first listen to music. But let us be more explicit about the reasons behind this.

A language is constructed with basic elements and those simple elements are structured into more complex forms, themselves being assembled according to various rules and practices. For the English language, the basic elements are the 26 letters. Words are more or less rigid constructions based on several letters. Phrases are structured with words and various rules apply to construct them. Phrases are then assembled into paragraphs and chapters to finally constitute book.

At each construction level, rules apply. But one observes that those rules are less and less restricting as one goes up in the construction level. For instance, when constructing a word with letters, there is little freedom. Writers sometimes create neologisms, but this is quite limited and it takes time to expand these new words into culture and finally the rule that strictly applies is to take only the words from the dictionaries. At the level of phrase building, there is much more freedom because one can combine all existing words, so long as the grammar rules are followed. These grammar rules are sometimes slightly bypassed to create style effects, as in poetry and song lyrics. When we get to the level of a book structure, rules are very general and the form is free. Rules may be found on how to introduce and present a story, but the story itself does not have rules because it comes from the writer’s imagination and it is there that the writer expresses his/her art and that his/her personality really appears.

In the case of music, a similar type of construction may be observed. Basic elements are notes, rhythmic values and various sonorities used to play (violin, piano, trumpet,…). Notes and rhythmic values are limited in numbers. Notes are combined into chords, chords progressions and melodies. Even if chords can be built in vast quantities, their numbers is practically relatively limited. These chords and melodies are combined to form a full orchestration and into various chorus, verses or symphonic movements for instance. Here also, the basic rules are more restrictive than the higher level construction rules.

What do we observe in this analysis? With the complexities of constructed forms, the associated rules become more general, less restrictive and the author’s or composer’s imagination may even better express itself. Technique becomes progressively art. In this context, we could define art as the ability to communicate a message in a form that respects the commonly accepted communication conventions by the receiver of the art work and in a form that will be appreciated by the receiver.

The expression “commonly accepted communication conventions” simply means what people may understand and accept in terms of communication. Example: grammar rules are part of the commonly accepted communication conventions. Somebody speaking by inverting all words of the phrases would be badly understood by others. He would be progressively rejected and excluded by others because one would not understand what he says. In the music area, he would not have success, because the people would not understand his music and would not buy his compositions.

This does not mean that rules need to be known explicitly by the author. Somebody who can not read or write but who can express phrases correctly is applying the commonly accepted communication conventions but without necessarily knowing the grammar rules, the verbs, the subjects, complements,… He has learned to structure his phrases by practice, trials and errors. It is like a kid learning to speak. In the beginning he is not told the correct grammar rules but he is corrected each time. He eventually is able to speak correctly by duplicating the phrases he hears and then by adapting them intuitively to what he wants to say and by combining phrase parts. He assimilates the rules without knowing them explicitly.

This is an interesting fact to note: one can assimilate a communication technique without knowing the rules explicitly, just by listening how others use it and then trying it oneself and progressively correcting the errors and the wrongly understood communications.

The method is not simply a copy of what you heard. It is an intelligent copy, taking into account the numerous phrases heard and adapting them, cutting them and combining them in a thousand ways to structure the phrase that will express what you want to communicate and that will be in a form asked by the receiver so that he can understand it. The process may be long and may need a lot of trials, errors and corrections. This learning method is based on observation and intuition, because one creates oneself unexpressed intuitive rules that are then used to express one’s communication.

So you will find music composers who do not know music rules explicitly. By practicing, listening and trying, they could intuitively assimilate the rules on which music is constructed. They are able to express themselves and may have great success in doing so.

On the other hand, you will find people who, while perfectly knowing numerous theoretical rules, did not succeed assimilating them in their musical intuitive practice and who do not compose or whom compositions do not reach people. They do not succeed in composition because in our above definition of art they did not add their own message to the technique that they nevertheless very well master. Composition becomes then a theoretical and intellectual exercise and no message is associated to the technical practice.

On this basis, ARPEGE presently develops a theoretical inspiration model for musical composition. The principles of this model are based on the fact that each musical element or musical structure may create an effect upon the auditor. This set of effects may be described as a personal musical data base. We will come back to this next month in more details.

This is why point 1 “A regular listening to various musical styles” is so important while learning music composition. By listening to various music, you assimilate new possible musical effects and they accumulate into you personal musical data base from which your inspiration will draw.

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato music composition and notation software

Sheet music of the public domain or under copyright, derivative works – some technical and legal issues resolved by orchestra and choir directors , the help of music software

Copyright, public domain, derivative works in general

The copyright is a legal framework that provides an author the right to control how his/her personal work is used, including the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, adapt, display and perform it. A copyright can protect musical works, as well as sa oftware or a database.

At the contrary, the public domain includes all works who are not protected by a copyright, for different reasons – the work was published before there was a copyright law, the copyright expired or was lost.

The legal status of derivative (= adapted) versions of public sheet music is generally a source of questionment for orchestra and choir directors because sometimes original versions of these derivative works can be difficult to find and in that case it is hard to say if the original work and/or some derivative work is/are or not under copyright.

Actually, to be protected by copyright, a new arrangement of pre-existing work must contain more than some ‘cocktail pianist variations. Something of substance must be added making the piece to some extent a new work with the old song embedded in it’ (Kraslovsky & Shemel, This Business of Music, 1995).

Sheet music and the public domain, what to do to make perform a derivative work in a legal framework

The type of questions that orchestra and choir directors plus music concert organizers must resolve before some performance is:

  • When was the sheet music written? In which country?

  • Is the sheet music a derivative work? Is it an arrangement?

  • Is the sheet music a collective work?

  • Does the sheet music include public domain elements? (ideas, melodies, titles, musical forms, etc)

For printing, as derivative works are written arrangements of an original piece of music created by a specific composer, they cannot be printed and sold as sheet music by other persons without a licence from the composer (who may charge a high fee for it or refuse to grant it). So it is necessary to ask for permission and pay a fee if the original work is not in the public domain.

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Sheet music arrangements and derivative works, the help of music software

I must indicate that composers who want to create a derivative work can find a great support by using Pizzicato music composition and notation software (http://www.arpegemusic.com) because it includes a lot of intuitive features which will help them to develop their creativity around specific pieces of music.

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online Marketing

Universal method to compose music (1)

Is it possible to learn to compose music or is it only a gift you possess or do not possess ?

This question is probably worrying more than one musician or beginner. Music must seem strange or mysterious to those who only know music by listening and appreciating it. How to line up notes, rhythms and chords to create such a harmonious set of sound ? Then you say to yourself you will never get there. STOP ! Such an attitude is just the same as asking yourself why you can not write Japanese poetry if you never learned Japanese. It is a matter of steps : to go up the ladder, you start on the first rung, not on the tenth (which would also seem impossible to reach).

ARPEGE has always answered this question in a categorical way : Yes you can learn to compose music, no matter how not talented your are. Now the practical difficulty is to design a method that will work for everybody and that would be flexible enough to:

  • embrass all musical styles (from classic to hard rock, indian music to acousmatic music,…) and all inspiration forms,
  • be accessible to any person, even without musical background

I believe such a method is possible and must be formed by a well ordered series of steps, mastered one after the other. Even if the tools of Pizzicato today are still limited compared to a “universal and ideal method”, I think that such a method, to be effective, shoud at least contain the following elements:

  1. A regular listening to various musical styles
  2. A good understanding of what sound is and how its fundamental properties influence the musical auditing impression
  3. A good understanding of the written musical language in its most common form : the music score
  4. The learning and practicing of a musical instrument, progressively in relation to the score (reading and writing of scores for the instrument)
  5. The practical study of one or more music software and also the music keyboard (if it is not your main instrument)
  6. The progressive practice of music composition, on the grounds you learned in the above steps, first based on simple and structured methods
  7. A practical study of the various music composition theories (harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, serial music,…)
  8. The listening and practical analysis of application examples of those musical theories or any other creative method
  9. A progressive development of one’s own musical universe, of one’s own composition method build on the basic understanding one has acquired from music
  10. The musical creation work itself : your career as a composer, including learning how to disseminate your music and make your compositions known.

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I don’t mean that to compose you necessarily need to learn or master all these points. Not at all. But someone who would study a practical, complete and progressive method based on all 10 points above could not help but really publish his own CDs, no matter how not talented he was before beginning. The purpose of ARPEGE is to create such a method, the Pizzicato software being the tool to reach it.

You can assume that if you really want to compose something personal and that would be well received and really have success, you will need to put the expected effort on it. The easy way does not exist. You need to work on it and persevere. Stable successes are based upon work and a full understanding of the subject, like in any other areas.

It all depends on the goal you have. Is it to entertain yourself, to impress friends, to really understand music, live it and create it, to expresse yourself through it and in full knowledge, to publish your own CDs, to become a professional composer ? Each goal is possible and valid. Just be honest to yourself : what is your goal ? Then apply the necessary method to reach it.

The point is, if you know nothing about music and you really want to become a composer and successfully publish your CDs, do not expect to reach that with a “magic wand”. An important work is waiting for you. But the path and the results will be of high value to you : you will understand music and will be able to express yourself with it.

The “Professional” or “hobbyist” aspect does not necessarily enter into consideration, because even a hobby can be practiced with the greatest care. The real question is “How much do I want to understand music and create my own music ?”. By using an easy and/or automatic composition software, you will enjoy it, you will be able to learn music and make some nice personal compositions. Such softwares may bring you a lot of things. But don’t expect the result of it to become number one in the charts or to be selected as the music of a success film.

You may also envision things by steps. Your goal may increase with your knowledge. If in the beginning you only want to better understand music and entertain yourself, do just that. If you get more involved in it, increase your goal and study music further.

Our long term project is to give you the possibility to reach those goals, with tools contained in Pizzicato (present and future releases), with more progressive, personal and specific music courses.

Next, we will look further into the 10 above points, while also orienting you to already existing resources in Pizzicato and on the Internet. Until then, take the time to define your own musical goals…:-)

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

Managing sounds to compose music

We saw the various possibilities offered by a sound card, as well as the methods used to generate sounds.

While working with a MIDI software (like Pizzicato), it is useful to select, collect, handle and play instruments sounds with which you want your scores and composition played. How ?

I suggest the use of the SoundFont standard, created by the Creative Labs and Emu companies. It is a well known sound format and you can find lots of sound libraries, some free and some to buy. Let’s see the practical steps to select your sounds, create a bank and assign them so that Pizzicato can play your scores with your sound selection.

The first phase is to select your sounds. This needs to steps : find sounds and listen to them. To find sounds, use your prefered Internet research tool (Google, Yahoo, Msn,…) and enter keywords “Free SoundFont”. You will rapidly find numerous sites with SoundFont instruments and effects. Some are good, some are bad. You must then listen to them and test them.

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For this, you can use the Virtual Sampler 3 software. You can download its demo version at http://www.maz-sound.com/index.php?show=product&id=2 Once installed, you may open a SoundFont file and listen to the sounds with a musical keyboard displayed on the screen.

When installing the software, specify that you want the “Speedsoft Midi Cables” installed. With them, Pizzicato will be able to send the notes of your score to Virtual Sampler 3. These “virtual cables” may then be selected in the Pizzicato Option menu, Midi Setup… and set in the MIDI output.

You may proceed as follows to select your sounds :

  • Add a directory in your hard disk for the sound files you download, for instance C:\SoundFonts\Download
  • Use a search engine to find sites offering SoundFont files
  • Download a sound in your directory. SoundFont files have the “.sf2” extension
  • Start Virtual Sampler 3 and click the “sf2” button in the middle of the screen.
  • Using the opening dialog, select the downloaded file
  • The sounds contained in the file appear in the main part of the screen. By clicking a sound, you may then listen to it by using the musical keyboard displayed on the screen. If the sound looks good for you, move the file to another directory, for instance C:\SoundFonts\My Sounds
  • Continue to select your prefered sounds for each instrument family you use,…
    The next step is to assemble those sounds into a personal sound bank that can be used by Pizzicato (or by any MIDI software).
  • The idea is to take each sound you have individually selected and create a unique SoundFont file (.sf2) that contains them all.

For this purpose, you may download the free software “Vienna SoundFont Studio 2” on the Creative Labs site at (http://www.soundfont.com/downloads.html ). This software lets you create a sound bank and fill it with sounds from various other banks and then save them in one unique file.

The main problem is the correspondance between MIDI and the created SoundFont file. The Vienna software lets you assign a Preset number (0 to 127) and a bank number (0 to 127). First assign all sounds to bank 0 and for the preset, respect the General Midi numbering (you can find the list at http://www.bluemax.net/techtips/Midi/Midipatchnum.htm but be aware that some user interfaces use a number from 1 to 128 and some others between 0 and 127; subtract or add 1 accordingly).

For instance, if you find a good violin sound, assign it bank 0 and preset 40 (41 minus 1 for the violin, see the list). In this way, you stay compatible with General Midi and the MIDI files you create or open stay standard on the sounds used.

If you create an extensive sound bank, for instance by adding 10 different violin sounds, keep the same preset but use other values than 0 for the bank number, while keeping the 0 bank for the default violin.

While doing this, write carefully on paper the sound table (preset, bank and instrument name), because you will need it to create a compatible synthesizer for Pizzicato.

To use the Vienna software, read the help section of the help menu. This program also helps you to create Sound Font files starting from any Wav or mp3 file.

Once your SoundFont file has been created, you need to play it with Pizzicato or a MIDI software. If you have a recent SoundBlaster card (from AWE 64 up), you may use the utility program of the card to load your sound library into the card, because the card has an integrated SoundFont player. For details, see the documentation and the online help of the card (Start, Program, Creative) to know how to load a file into your card.

If you do not have a SoundFont compatible card, you may use a SoundFont player software. Virtual Sampler 3 does this, but there are others too. Search for them on the Web with expressions like “SoundFont player, SoundFont reader”. In any case, the software must give a direct MIDI link, i.e. adding a MIDI output port in Windows so that it can be used by Pizzicato or any MIDI software.

In Pizzicato, the last step is to select the MIDI output (Option menu, Midi Setup…) which corresponds to the SoundFont compatible card or to the MIDI output going to the SoundFont player software.

For the Pizzicato Light and Beginner versions, the only possible synthesizer is the General Midi, so you need to respect the General Midi preset numbering as exposed here above.

Fot the Professional Pizzicato version, you may create a new synthesizer which answers to the various sounds assigned to the non zero bank instruments. Refer to the lesson on synthesizers on the screen help or on our site at page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual/EN630.htm Use the list you have prepared while selecting your sounds in Vienna.

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The use of the various softwares renders the task more complex and what we described here is not a simple procedure. We envision tools to create your personal SoundFont files so that Pizzicato may handle itself this sometimes complicated task of assigning presets and banks. This article was designed only to give you the main steps of the process so that you can personalize your sounds and use them with Pizzicato.

Concerning sound banks, if your needs are high regarding the orchestral instruments quality, you may orient yourself to the EW Symphonic Orchestra software which contains an impressive quantity of orchestral recorded samples. The software exists in various versions between 300 and 3000 $US. You may find information at http://www.soundsonline.com/sophtml/details.phtml?sku=EW-161 The demo files show the quality of the sound result. It seems that the software uses a personalized sample player and needs a powerful machine.

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

The various parts of a sound card

When composing, as well as playing music, the sound quality is of course very important. Let us remind that in the MIDI world (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), the sound quality is something which is not dealt with at all.

Indeed, when a note is sent through MIDI by a music software, it is only an instruction of the type “Play a C # note, with an average force, during X seconds, with a sound of trumpet”. The sound quality of the trumpet entirely depends upon the synthesizer receiving the MIDI instruction, but not at all upon the software which sent it. This synthesizer may be the one integrated in your sound card or an external synthesizer connected to your computer.

On this subject, it is useful to remind that on most sound cards, there are two distinct parts, often confused in their functions. The first part – used by most multimedia and didactic software – is the audio part. It makes it possible to read sound files of the type “wav”, “mp3”,… As such a file contains all information about the sound to play, the card can thus read this file and make it into sounds. It is also this part of the card that generates the sound warnings of Windows. This function of the card is usually automatically configured with the installation of Windows.

The other function of a sound card is the synthesizer. There are sometimes several different synthesizers according to the sound card. This module receives MIDI information and transforms them into sounds. This module is used by a MIDI software and also makes it possible to read MIDI files (.mid). The quality of the generated sounds is then directly dependent upon the quality of this synthesizer module. In other words, a $25 sound card will be much worse than an external $2,500 synthesizer! There lies the difference and one can find a large range of various sound qualities. Moreover, the taste also intervenes, the banks of sounds also having aesthetic characteristics appreciated by some and not by others, for the same price.

Thus we have two parts in the sound card : the reading of existing sounds and the sound synthesis. A sound card may contain several modules of each kind. Those two modules are electronic systems integrated in your sound card.

In addition to these electronic modules, we often find a software synthesizer. The principle is the same as the electronic synthesizer, but the sound creation is done by software, using the processor computing speed and no more by the electronic devices of the card. For a music software, this type of synthesizer is seen as a MIDI output to which MIDI instructions may be sent to play a musical score. This synthesizer computes the sound in real time and sends it to the first part of the card, as seen here above: the one that simply plays an existing sound. Therefore, a low quality sound card with a very bad synthesizer may play very nice sounds when combined to a software synthesizer playing the sounds on the audio part of the card.

Some information on how sounds are created. The first synthesizers used mathematical computing methods of the sound harmonics and could influence the sonority and the way it evolved with time. Those methods use the properties of electronic devices. It was the era of “analog” synthesizers, which contributed very much to the richness of electronic instruments. Those electronic systems are now simulated by software, with a much greater flexibility because you just need to change the software, no more the electronic devices of the card.

The other method is to use a sample table. The idea is to have real sounds in memory, recorded for each instrument : a real trumpet note is recorded and saved in a file, and this for each instrument. When the synthesizer receives a MIDI instruction to play an organ note, it finds the sample of the organ note, modifies it to adapt its pitch and velocity and then combines it with the other playing notes (mixing), because at the same time there may be notes playing with other instruments, as in an orchestration. Depending on the samples quality, we get much better sound quality, at least for natural instruments. The requested quality may go as far as sampling each note of a real piano, each with various velocity levels (speed of hitting the note) and in a CD sound quality or even more. Therefore, the sampling information quantity to treat may become very high and it is common for professional samplers to deal with hundreds of megabytes of samples. One can then reach an almost perfect quality in the reproduction of natural instruments, but one needs to pay the price for it. However, even basic samplers produce quite satisfactory sound results.

This sampling method may be implemented in two ways : by an electronic system present on the sound card or by a sampling software, often called “virtual sampler”. You can load sound samples banks into it and this sampler then behaves as a MIDI synthesizer to which a music software may send MIDI instructions to play a music score.

What is the optimum solution for composing music ? If you work at home, for you, I would say that any above method is correct, as soon as the sound quality achieves your requirements. However, if you want to easily communicate your music, personalize it, manage and distribute it, I would presently recommend software solutions. To play your compositions, I suggest to use a sampler and for sound creation (synthesis sounds to personalize your compositions), use a synthesis software that can export the sound results as samples to play on the sampler software.

In the field of sound cards and samples, there is a very interesting standard named “SoundFont”. It is like a word processing with which you can write in various text fonts (Arial, Times, Courier,…). Here the “fonts” are sounds, used to perform your music score. These sound banks may be downloaded from numerous Internet sites (some free and some to buy) and it is a method to exchange sounds. By using the same SoundFont banks on various computers and sound cards, you can get the same sound effects, which guaranties the reproduction of your music composition.

Ideally, your sound card should be SoundFont compatible, which is the case in recent SoundBlaster cards, among others. The SoundFont standard evolved from the work of Creative Labs (SoundBlaster cards manufacturer) and Emu (professional synthesizers and samplers manufacturer). Otherwise, you may use a virtual sampler software, but you need a more powerful computer (the exact power needed depends upon the size of the sample files and also the number of simultaneous notes played, be careful for big orchestrations!).

After this theoretical introduction, we will examine practical software solutions so that you can enhance the sound quality of the scores you write with Pizzicato or the playing of your MIDI files.

Let us know of any reactions on this subject, to email address support@arpegemusic.com I am listening to you and ready to answer your questions and to help you in this subject!

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

Music teachers education and aspirations – technology in schools

 

Music teachers training and career : collegiality

In some occasions, in some places, it can happen that there is a shortage of music teachers. That is why their recruitement is a main priority – with students evaluation, instruction for children and music technology.

To pursue music teaching as a career is an important decision that music students in higher education take because of remarkable teachers, experiences and events (for example the possibility to teach music younger students, concerts, competitions), parents influence and personal feelings (love of music, call to teach).

Practicing music teachers often continue to educate themselves via sessions and courses in a collegial framework. Collaboration and collegiality seem to be essential as teaching appears as a lonely profession (the teacher is alone in the classroom – not completely alone of course but alone to teach and to check the acquisition of the knowledge by the students).

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Music teachers using technology: no technology in the classroom without them

Music teachers want to feel important and involved in their professional framework, that is completely natural. For that reason, the principal plays in every place an important role of valorization and he brings information. As a lot of teachers spend time thinking, analyzing and writing about how and what they teach, the principal must help them to determine the best practice in the framework of their specific music school.

Music teachers can tailor their professional experience thanks to various development programs for music teachers. These programs are often oriented on technology, assesment, creativity and writing. In matter of music technology, as all teachers employed in national, regional or local schools mainly teach classical music, they use software oriented on the score.

The principal and a little circle of teachers generally generate new ways of learning, begin to use new tools and share them with the other teachers. And sometimes these ones share with their students. That is what I saw myself in a certain number of music schools, as I regularly meet directors and teachers to give information related to Pizzicato music composition and notation software.

In every place, I meet cultivated music principals who often already chose a tool for their own work (exams preparations, concerts in the framework of their school, personal composition work, etc), Pizzicato or another one, sometimes they have several programs.

Sometimes I also have the chance to meet a very motivated pedagog or pedagogic team really preoccupated by the diffusion of technology near youth because they know that if the students have some tool at home it will be an asset for them in the framework of music learning.

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Then I feel doing a useful task when I present Arpege Music free program for schools, teachers, students and choirs, program which offers to all actors of music education the possibility to download freely our music notation software ‘Pizzicato Light’: everyone can register without any fee at http://www.arpegemusic.com/music-education-software.htm#B4

For advanced teachers who already have skills in music technology and already master Pizzicato themselves, I recommend 8 products to write and compose music at special pricing. The complete program is presented here: http://www.arpegemusic.com/education.htm It offers exceptional discounts for very high quality software.

I hope that, discovering and presenting them, music teachers will be able to deepen, renew and share their call for teaching. In a context which sees the importance of technology, a music software like Pizzicato can partly contribute to deserve the cause of Music.

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Music education program

The three levels of approach of music composition

To contribute so that people make more music. That is the goal of ARPEGE in term of cultural contribution. I deeply believe in the aesthetic power of music and what it can bring. To create is to live. To compose is to express oneself. Each one should be able to do it in one way or another.

Let us continue our discussion about composition. We had seen that music creation could be broken up into three phases, which one could also regard as abilities to acquire to express oneself creatively in music:

  1. The methodical location of sound effects
  2. The possibility of selectively reproducing them according to what you want to express
  3. The coherent construction of musical work

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One can also consider the time dimension, the duration of the musical impression. One will find in particular in the articles of Michel
Philippot on composition, three levels of approach and appreciation of music, which I would express as:

  1. The sound effect for itself (instantaneous effect)
  2. The melody, the rhythm, the chords forming a structured musical sentence (sound effect covering up to several tens of seconds)
  3. The structured development of a complete musical work (sound effect covering a full piece of music)

With regard to the first point, by using a synthetizer, you can spend some very pleasant moments discovering the various sounds. These sounds can generate by themselves pleasant and aesthetic musical impressions. A chord of strings with a good reverberation. Some notes of such or such instrument. Some sound effects of a synthetic type. All that can contribute to express simple but effective impressions. You can also combine several sounds and the possibilities multiply, the atmospheres are built and grown rich. However, we are yet only at the first stage: considering the sound effects for themselves, apart from a more elaborate structure.

You can make a systematic exercise out of it. Discover the various sounds of your synthetizer or sound card. With a musical keyboard, have fun selecting each sound, then listen to them in the lower, middle and higher ranges of the keyboard. Locate the effects they can create, the atmospheres they release, the thought they generate. Try to play several notes one after the other, slowly or quickly. Try to play several notes of the keyboard at the same time. If you do not know about chords, test and try. See while groping whether by playing two close notes, far notes, intermediate notes, you can get a sound effect you like. write it down. Again search, combine, play, test… Do it again the next day, two days later… the repetitive side will lead you to discover elements which you did not hear the first time.

Do not neglect this simple exercise. By practising it regularly, it will help you to approach the next phase, because the various musical effects will be added to your musical “memory” and this as much as you practise it. Don’t forget that this musical “memory” will be the data base in which your inspiration will try to find elements to express your music. Fill in your data base!

An important point is to be noted as of this moment. To get an interesting and enriching effect, you need a sufficient and well balanced volume level. And this independently to the quality of the synthetizer or sound card you have. You must be able to feel the low notes make you vibrate, the sound must really go through your room. This is related to the distribution of sounds in your surrounding space. Your balance should of course be found, the level which is appropriate to you. But with little experiment, you will note that a minimal volume is required, without which the created effect is lost. The nuance is of the same level as the difference there is to listen to an orchestra during a concert or to listen to it as a background music while waiting at the post office… If post offices were equipped with a good sound system with a sufficient volume, it could become a pleasure waiting at the post office!

If you only have a simple sound card, see that you to get a cable to connect it to your hi-fi system with a sufficient volume. The generated effect will be definitely more expressive than with a 10 centimeters table loudspeaker. You will gain in motivation and musical pleasure. Of course, if you have the possibility, a good quality sound card, or even a good synthetizer will motivate you even more by considerably increasing sound quality. It is a question of balance and means.

By working this exercise regularly, without forcing yourself, at one moment or another, by search and groping, you will find some notes forming a melody, something which you like and which you would like to be able to reproduce, memorize and develop. It will be the beginning of the next phase: building a structured cell, i.e. a time sequence of several notes and sound effects. The use of a musical software will be highly advised at this step. You will be able to record this small melody on a staff, then while listening to it, you will be able to continue the preceding exercise by changing instrument and by seeking which other sound effect could reinforce or supplement the first.

Once the main melody is established and reinforced by some other instruments (start with 1 or 2), you can then develop this element. Developing is simply taking again the same element by modifying it in various ways, by adding new effects to it, while keeping a sufficient similarity so that the link remains present with the original element. These modifications can be of various natures: change of rhythm, the pitches of the notes, transformation of the melody by various formulas, time inversion, rhythmic division, change of chords, sonorities, sound effects which accompany it… Complementary themes can also be added, developed, as long as a link of some nature can connect the whole as being part of the same coordinated structure.

notes écouteur crayon

One could in some way compare this method to a writer. Before writing a book, he must initially know enough words and their exact and various significances. He must be able to build complete sentences and to connect them. Then, with practice he can build a whole story. He keeps an overall picture, a common link which enables him to design each chapter and in each one of those he can align the sentences so that the chapter expresses what it must express to contribute to the full work. It is with this global idea of his book that he can then align word after word to build his work.

Arpege currently develops software modules making it possible to apply this working method. They will be integrated in the future versions of Pizzicato (see http://www.arpegemusic.com).

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

Music software and social skills – higher education, social space, health

 

When it comes about talking around music software in relation with social skills, it is time to talk about education but also health and ability or disability. Indeed, the development of social skills supposes a good health (physical and mental) and the capacity to master emotions in presence of other people.

Searching for studies related to music software and social skills, I found 3 main types of documents:

  • Papers talking about developping social skills in music higher education
  • Articles related to music in social space
  • Researchs related to the advantages of producing and using music and computer music in the framework of autism

I just extract some interesting informations in all of that, hoping that they are useful for professional musicians and amateur musicians involved in social life.

Santitre

Higher education

Higher education is like every training place dedicated to solo learning: listening to a teacher includes silence and writing, exams suppose silence and memorization,…

That is why students appreciate participative music creation events in the framework of educational activities. They let them test their musical abilities as well as their creativity in the framework of a group. Also they can become friends with (other) like-minded people, enhance their social skills and reinforce self-esteem and satisfaction.

In such experiences, students listening and sight-reading skills as well as their ability to convey

emotions through music are enhanced. Studies show that playing in groups help them to develop both their solo and ensemble playing skills. Listening to other people permits to develop a better inner listening ability.

Social space

When the study of music has not a diploma and a career as main goal:

  • personal motivations are self-expression, recreation, self-improvement, and use of leisure time
  • musical motivations are love of music, performing for oneself and others, learning more about music
  • social motivations are meeting new people and to belong to a new group which is not the main stream of revenue (such a group can be linked to a form of spiritual life)

Generaly these situations concern adults. The benefits to these ones of engagement in music making numerous. Choirs and ensembles generate positive emotional, social, physical, and creative outcomes. Music making can also help adults move toward socio-political transformation and contributes to perceived good health, quality of life, and mental well-being.

Health

In matter of relationships between music and health, I found references to autism – and also dyslexia.

The main problem of the autist person is the lack of ability to develop social skills. So, given that a person’s self-esteem and self-image are developed through interactions with others, the autist person has to search for personal ways and codes to establish communications with people (looking at colors and all sorts of signs which somewhere have as function, in the mind of the autist person, to authorize the communication between the autist person and any other person).

As graphic arts, music may help health specialists to establish interactions and contribute substantially to the creation of some self-image by an autist person. In the United-States, some years ago, a 52 weeks active music therapy offered one 60 minutes session per week to young adults with severe autism. The target was to get them more ‘present’ than ‘absent’ during the musical activities and good results were obtained. So it seems that music can be of aid in improving autistic symptoms as well as helping autist persons to acquire some musical skills.

It says a lot about the power of music! Now, I will myself be careful and will certainly not write that technology could bring something in these situations which require a lot of humanity, visual contacts betwen persons and gestures.

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And I did not find any study related to links between physical diseases and music. It probably means that musical therapy has more to do with psychological and mental health or learning skills than physical diseases. However maybe it does not mean that music cannot help in cases of leukemia, cancer and all serious disorders more related to body. Even if music can «only» bring some joy, is not joy a very important thing? I surely missed some important documents and maybe I will search later again…

The role of software

In the framework of higher music education and adult music practice, a music software is a tool which can support students and teachers, chorists and choir directors. Indeed, students who want to pursue a career in music can use it to teach younger students and choir directors to help adult chorists to acquire some useful knowledge for the choir.

So, if you are a student/teacher, choir director/chorist, for example, you can get such a tool for free. Indeed at Arpege Music we offer our music notation ‘Pizzicato Light’ for free in download via a system of coupons (whatever is the number needed). Everyone can register freely at : http://www.arpegemusic.com/music-education-software.htm#B4

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online marketing

Music composition, rules and inspiration

Approaching music composition is a goal that lots of musicians or non musicians would like to realize. Is there a systematic method which, if followed to the letter, would make it possible for a person to compose?

Musical inspiration is not really explained by theory. It is simply the creation or combination of sounds in an original way, with a specific goal or simply for fun. If the result is appreciated by others, those can always try to explain why it sounds well, why it is well built, etc. But this “afterwards” explanation can be misleading, because one could conclude from it that the musical work could have been deduced from the theoretical explanation, whereas it is the reverse that occurred.

If it was only related to logic (whereas it is related to esthetics above all), it would be all right to assemble all musical theory rules and integrate them in a software. The computer would then be able to have inspiration. Unfortunately, its “inspiration” will be limited to copy, modify or combine the inspiration of those who, by their esthetic sense, succeeded to really create and whose works allowed to deduce rules of musical theory.

Therefore, do not fall into the trap: inspiration is above theoretical rules. In other words, if you like some measures of your musical composition, keep them even if these measures do not satisfy any theoretical rule at all. The process of music evolution is thus the following: inspiration makes it possible to create musical works. When these works are appreciated, people deduce from it some theoretical rules or musical construction systems. Then these systems and rules are studied by others. Where the latter fail, it is when they think that they will have the inspiration only by studying these systems of logic. They forget to place their share of esthetics in it, the essential source of musical inspiration and sound effects.

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Do not fall either into the opposite trap of rejecting all rules. Rules can guide you, especially when you lack experimentation in composition.

One could look at music as a succession of distinct, small or great sound effects, assembled to form a more global sound effect: a musical work. For example, the passage from a G7 chord to a C chord: it is a sound effect in the field of combination of several sounds. It produces a sound effect that the ear generally appreciates and it produces a specific atmosphere. Similarly, each sequence of two chords is a sound effect. The use of such or such rhythm is a sound effect. Combining two instruments creates a sound effect. Each one of these small effects can combine to create a larger sound effect, which is then characterized by a specific personality.

A melody is only a set of notes in a specific rhythm sequence, each one being a specific sound effect. The combination forms a melody, recognized among all others.

Thus music is a construction of sound effects sufficiently personalized so that a piece is unique and distinct from the others, while communicating what its composer wished to communicate.

The spirit of composition is thus to create sound effects to express something. Any method which produces that is a valid method. If a musician plays by ear and if, by research and work, he methodically manages to isolate the various sound effects of his instrument and if he can then selectively produce them in a sensible way according to what he wants to express, then one can say he composes music.

Let us break this into three phases:

  1. The methodical location of sound effects
  2. The possibility of selectively reproducing them according to what you want to express
  3. The coherent construction of musical work

The sound effects can be located in various ways. Listening to lots of music with an attentive ear will help you. But to do only that is likely to make phase 2 very difficult, even impossible, because you still cannot connect the sound effect to what you need to do to produce it. The practice of an instrument will be complementary, because it lets you associate the desired sound effect to the technique to produce it. Listening and playing will give you basis for inspiration, but you also need some ability to synthesize and listen so as to mentally classify and integrate the various effects your instrument can produce.

Phase 2 is more active. It implies that you have something to express, to write into music. You can start from almost anything (an emotion, a landscape, an idea, an atmosphere…). Then the trick is to find, in the sound effects you assimilated, the right combination that expresses your message and which is specific to you. It is your capacity of choice and creativity.

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Phase 3 requires more experiment and comes gradually. It concerns the ability to develop a coherent work, where every element goes well together. It is the link that will bind the ingredients. One needs a link between the various passages of your work. This link can be rhythmic, melodic or be based on combinations of sound effects. Start with relatively short pieces before writing a whole symphony.

These three phases are interdependent. Only the practice of composition will help you to refine these three phases.

The purpose of any musical rule should be to help the composer to combine sound effects while helping him to free his musical imagination and stimulate his inspiration. Three types of rules could be met, corresponding to the above described phases. And the software tool can be very helpful in this direction. The current version of Pizzicato music software (see http://www.arpegemusic.com) already offers various tools. The next versions will continue in this direction, the goal being to help you to compose.

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

Music software ‘User Experience’ (UX) – Definition and example (the case of Pizzicato music composition and notation software)

User experience in the field of music software

The words ‘user experience’ refer to musical, social, psychological and cultural processes. These ones are the main aspects of the user experience.

The user of a product is here to experience it, it is his/her wish and he/she knows it. In the case of music software, it simple means that people learn music because there is value in the process (like source of revenue, prestige, well-being, etc).

They use a software because the software offers automated tools which help them in matter of music knowledge acquisition and practice. It is as simple as that.

UX is related to psychological processes. In the case of music software, it is because new media technologies have created new territories, spaces and affects (emotion, relationships, and so on).

Finally user experience includes cultural processes. In a high-quality music software, it appears when you open a program and discover 20 sheet music models which can help you to learn 20 music styles (it is the case in Pizzicato music composition and notation software – that you can discover at http://www.arpegemusic.com).

Pizzicato music composition and notation software user experience

What could I write about our clients UX that they did not say? I let them speak about their passion for Pizzicato music composition and notation software. After that, I will give you URLs

I just reproduce 5 testimonials found between countless positive ones amongst our 13 000+ unique users:

Philip Thomas (East Dummerston, VT, United States) – Lead music engraver Oxford University Press, New York Office, 1999-2005. Currently working as a freelance engraver for the finest classical music publishers in the U.S. and Europe

“I have used the Pizzicato program for a number of years now for its extensive composition environment which I find to be incredibly fast and intuitive to work in. My flute quartet “The Wissahickon at Dusk,” which recently premiered on Maine Public Radio in the U.S., was created using Pizzicato. I enthusiastically and whole-heartedly recommend this brilliant program.

Anyone looking for affordable music notation software will find that Pizzicato has powerful and comprehensive features. But what really sets Pizzicato apart is its vast array of compostion tools which are simple to use yet profound in scope and depth. Dominique Vandenneucker has designed a brilliant program which is sure to grow in stature and popularity as more users around the world spread the word about this remarkable software.”

Blair Ashby (Denver, Colorado, United States) – Music producer and sound engineer   

“I like that Pizzicato is so different from a midi sequencer that it makes me think different about music and my compositions.  Thank you, I think Pizzicato will help me get to the next level.  I finished composing three different CDs in December and realized I was bored with my musical style so I started looking for a program which would make me think different.  I am glad I purchased yours. On Friday last week a small record label asked me for three songs and I am going to try to do the foundation work in Pizzicato.”

Zlatoje Pajcic (Hamburg, Germany) – Music composer and publisher

Pizzicato is the most modern software for: scorewriting, composing, music editing, music processing, experimenting, chord recognition, generating the score based on chord recognition and using the custom libraries, easy combining of several scores to play together on the same chord progression, very big scores with unlimited number of staves, playing ornaments and grace note, graphical editors, work with many documents at the same time, very good manual, very accurate MIDI, up to sixteen MIDI in/outs supported and much more… »

Laurent Haye (Brussels, The Heart of Europe), Coordinator at the Royal Conservatory of Music

“I use Pizzicato every day. It is an excellent tool for all musicians from the amateur to the professional. It is mainly in the domains of sheet music publishing and creation of music files that I know this program, but I am always surprised by the power of the other tools offered to the user. Honestly I just could not do without it. And thank you to Dominique who always listens to his “Pizzicatists” so that the software is developed on the basis of the requests and interests of everyone.”

Mona Lei (Switzerland, Geneva) – Composer, certified music teacher (music theory, harmony, counterpoint, etc.) educated at the Music Conservatory of Bucarest.

“While searching for a music notation software to transcribe the manuscript of one of my classical compositions, I was informed about the existence of the website http://www.arpegemusic.com, by a friend working in computers. For my first experimentations with Pizzicato I realized that it had a lot of qualities: fast access to music writing technique, practical aspect of this technique, easy to use and in the same time a real possibility to exploit musical richness.

Really, what I immediately appreciated (compared to other softwares I used before) was the natural of Pizzicato. It was like using a paper music sheet, a pencil and an eraser. The big advantage is that the further I advance in my creation, the further I can modify the structure of my work, adding or erasing measures, staves, pages, instruments, etc. I have total freedom and I feel grateful to Pizzicato for that.

Now I work without keyboard, because I compose by playing piano. Then, I transcribe and listen to the result on the computer with Pizzicato. Using this technique I recently wrote the cantate “To Jean-Sébastien” (18 minutes), a work which was interpreted in Zürich under the aegis of UNICEF by the Zürich Great Orchestra. »

Do you want to make your own opinion ? Because all our customers have their own specific course, research, wants. I would not like to reduce Pizzicato music composition and notation software as some elitist tool reserved for academics, professionals and early musicians.

I read so many mails which come from so many different personalities and situations. Their relationships with music are for many of them as their relationships with clothes, food, air, heart: in one word, essential and unique.

To test Pizzicato, the fastest way is to download the free demonstration version at http://www.arpegemusic.com/demo1.htm On our website http://www.arpegemusic.com, you will also find the complete user guides for our 13 products, more than hundred newsletters around music composition (theory/computing), dozens of tutorials, all for free.

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online Marketing

Music and sociability – Music software can help

Music benefits on social life

Everyone deserves the chance to learn and practise music. Learning music improves skills training, self confidence and also social development. It has an incredible power to change life and build communities.

For that reason, on one hand, countless initiatives encourage young people thinking at pursuing music at the level of higher education. On the other hand, music hubs foster innovation in less favoured or more general environments (public schools, associations, etc).

And there are also special contexts like hospitals or centers which work for persons with disabilities. Happily a lot of music charity associations organize a lot of events for them.

chorale et une violoniste

Music software advantages – Sharing, engraving

Software is one key to successful learning of music, because it helps communities to share music more easily and individuals to get a training to a personal tempo. And teachers appreciate it because it is familiar to the tech universe so much loved by youth. So software can deserve the multi-faceted aspects of music education.

Amongst them, Pizzicato music composition and notation software is interesting because it includes complete user guides which offer numerous exercises in matter of solfeggio and music composition. Also you can engrave your music and share it easily on every internet website, including music sharing platforms.

I will not sum up here the hundreds of pages contained in the guides, you can download the free demonstration version of the program at http://www.arpegemusic.com and make your own opinion.

If you sing in a choir or play in a band outside work, keeping music as hobby, or if you are a composer or an interpreter, 1 of our 13 products can bring you some facilities in learning, writing or composing.

You will find more information at http://www.arpegemusic.com (you will be able to download all the complete user guides for free and more than 100 newsletter about composition).

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online Marketing

Music taste in listening and composition : software are made for composers and their listeners

Music taste research framework

When you search for ‘music taste’ on the web you directly finds an avalanche of scientific documents, where music preferences are linked to18th and 19th centuries criteria like age, gender and social belongings as well as related to new important elements of 20th and 21st century life like shopping behaviour and tourism, the use of social networks, new music business models and music technology, music styles (which is not a new theme however it is now more linked to personality and individuality than before). It means that research is made in a pluridisciplinary framework.

An algorithm to link words related to taste, music sounds and music scores

I write for musicians so I will focus on musicologists and musicians points of view. Musicologists are interested in semantics and when they talk about ‘taste’ it is all about music and… catering. A paper called A composition algorithm based on crossmodal taste-music correspondences’ (Mesz, Sigman, Trevisan) investigates ‘the relations between music and a narrow and bounded domain of semantics: the words and concepts referring to taste sensations’ because for them ‘taste words’ are ‘consistently mapped to musical parameters. Bitter is associated with low-pitched and continuous music (legato), salty is characterized by silences between notes (staccato), sour is high pitched, dissonant and fast and sweet is consonant, slow and soft’.

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That research is not confined to sound in itself and includes applications to music scores. Why not? After all linking catering vocabulary to sheet music does not seem more surprising than linking it to sounds. Researchers put their heart into their work and they share that they developed and implemented an algorithm that creates flavored musical pieces. The algorithm applies a sequence of musical operations to an original improvisation, transforming it according to motives extracted from a large corpus of classic and popular songs.’ That algorithm lets to draw graphics. Specialists will read the complete research to know exactly how it works, I just mention that it is linked to MIDI files and databases (the corpus mentioned above).

Musicians tastes without catering : the case of contemporary music

Well maybe now it is time to leave the musical kitchen and think about solutions to develop taste for specific music styles ? For example contemporary music. It is not easy to develop a taste for that music because what is taught in music schools is generally music of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The reason is that educators estimate that the gap between composers and student plus listeners became too wide during the 20th century. And it is true. A specialist like Leonard Bernstein wrote a lot on that subject.

Once in 1964 a 18 weeks seminar was organized in San Diego, sponsored by the MENC (Contemporary Music Project for Creativity in Music Education). Compositional techniques were analyzed, lessons given, exercices done and students were invited to produce personal pieces.

Now it seems that it is not a frequent experience. Maybe music teachers will think about it in the future…

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Music taste and music software

It will be brief here: a professional music composition and notation software absolutely must help musicians to explore new music styles. Indeed, new taste appears during the career of a musician and even if one decides to represent one style only, having a look at other styles lets to understand better music in general.

As example of professional music composition and notation software, I will mention Pizzicato, Harmony and Counterpoint plus Alternative Notation. Pizzicato offers not less than 20 sheet music templates for 20 different music styles.You will find detailed information at http://www.arpegemusic.com (and a demo, complete user guides, …).

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Arpege Music

Online marketing

Pizzicato music composition and notation software – What kind of relationships with musicians ?

Pizzicato sheet music software was created to contribute to the enrichment of the musical art

Music software are created for musicians. They are programs which help to treat computer data so that their users can execute tasks in a more efficient way – here in the musical fieldwork. Efficient, quick, unique, smart. And for what concerns sheet music, it is about bringing page layout to perfection, composition optimization, and convenient sharing.

For example Mr. Dominique Vandenneucker, who created Pizzicato music composition and notation software more than 20 years ago, explains that its first goal was, is and will be to share with musicians the benefits of computer science in matter of music scores.

You can discover his storytelling related to his conception of Pizzicato here: http://www.arpegemusic.com/arpege.htm

And the point of view of Pizzicato users there: http://www.arpegemusic.com/utilisateurs.htm

Users describe Pizzicato as an ‘expert system’. And if you want to measure how much that opinion is justified, test the free demo at http://www.arpegemusic.com/demo1.htm

As I work with Dominique for 10 years, I precise that sharing ‘with musicians the benefits of computer science’ does not exclude at all the fact that Pizzicato can be more than (another) simple tool. All musicians would not want to and do not need to, but Pizzicato wants to facilitate the acquisition of music knowledge by beginning musicians as well as to guide more advanced ones towards the top of the musical composition art.

For example, between now 13 products, there is ‘Pizzicato Choir’. Its users, who are generally amateur chorists and persons without a real academic background, asked to Dominique if it would be possible to go further is matter of musical harmony, as they never had the occasion to learn it. And Dominique developped ‘Harmony and Counterpoint’, which is a very technical software to understand and master the rules of classical music harmony. Musicians can discover it at http://www.arpegemusic.com/harmony-and-counterpoint.htm

Pizzicato music software helps beginning musicians to enrich their social life

The fact that music programs are tools do not prevent social and health benefits. It is of course not their main goals at all and nobody would pretend that they could play the role of some ‘virtual friend’. Nevertheless i will never forget the testimonial written by a former nurse around her experience of ‘Pizzicato’. Here is what she says :

“Pizzicato is for me a source of wellbeing. At social level first, this software brought me an occupation in my life after I retired, a reason to get up from my chair and make my brain work, also an occasion to have more human contacts. Thanks to Pizzicato, I feel less isolated and more active.
At the musical level, Pizzicato helps me to learn better, to read and write music easily. I work 2 hours a day with Pizzicato on my computer. At the beginning, I was using Pizzicato Beginner 2. Then I upgraded to Pizzicato Professional 2. Now I use Pizzicato Professional 3 and the SharpEye scanning software.
The result? I encode music as a pro! I am transposing, reducing and helping our conductor to write his own arrangements on music sheets. I am also responsible of our musical library.
Finally, I mention the great quality of the Pizzicato technical support. Mr Dominique Vandenneucker, designer of Pizzicato, always responded quickly to my e-mails, with kindness and patience. I never felt ridiculous. That is why I recommend Pizzicato to everyone.”

Isn’t it surprising ? She could have considered that, because she had paid for a software, it was logically a simple tool to use but no she associated the programming work made by Dominique to her own happiness. How surprising. As a marketeer I am trained to listen to customers, here I found a friend whose testimonial still enchants me.

Now I hope that Pizzicato music composition and notation software will help you both to enrich your contribution to the expansion and the enrichment of the musical fieldwork and that it will bring you one more occasion to increase your wellbeing.

Musically,
Francoise Delsaux
Arpege Music
Online marketing

Musicpreneur and technology – Creating sheet music with software

The ‘Be known’ part in music industry

As music industry became almost completely digital, every musician on Earth knows that message: «Promote your music through social networks, video sharing tools and music streaming platforms.» However we heard that question coming from musicians who master all these tools well: ‘Do these games have an end?’ and yes they have for platforms: it is about customer acquisition and retention and as an artist, you are the ideal customer.

And even if you get ‘fans’, ‘visibility’, maybe you will not be satisfied in terms of revenue source. Maybe you will be weary of presenting your music to fans of ‘similar artists’, as one of your main goal is ‘somewhere’ to be unique. Even if you know how competition is hard, maybe you do not want to think about it during ages. Or more precisely you will have done it without seeing a consequent difference in terms of sales and booking requests – those ones leading to interviews.

Maybe it is an occasion or a sign to come back to the core of your passion. Yes marketing is an essential part of music production. There is something like a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ between production, marketing and revenues where time is what is lost. However here we would like to focus on music composition in relation with software. After all music has always been social and maybe it is time that someone has the courage to tell it.

The ‘Become a composer’ game

Marketing is one part, now another game is mentioned in that kind of disclosure: ‘Create your music on computer. Discover tools to increase your creativity. Work on sheet music that you find online. Adapt them to your needs.’

The point here is music creation with computer. And somewhere it is still new. Yes new, so new that music streaming platforms and similar tools suggest some gadgets to their users so that they can create their own sounds. Sounds and not sheet music, not composition, as the great public is more familiar with DJ music than contemporary one for example. However the fact is interesting to notice. It means that everyone aspires or longs to become a music composer.

Music has always been social thus human and the practise of music too. Nobody never wanted to play for plants or animals. The greatest theoricians of music did not wait for technology to know that they were writing to enrich the culture of their own society. They often had a limited and specific audience but they always became composers to share their passion for music. However it was not ‘at any cost’. Small specialized audience, retired masters, it was the context and for some categories of musicians, nothing changed.

Sheet music reading is a specialization. A specialization which became more common through centuries. It partly explains the current success of all music software. The first one was created at Stanford University during the years 1950. Now the composer can find more ‘mature’ products. After some decades.

‘Pizzicato’ music composition and notation software has its place amongst them. Appeared in he years 1990 and now enchanting more than 13 000 unique customers (unique both in true and figurative sense), it contains wonderful, amazing tools for the 21st century composer. My aim here is not to bring your attention to feature, because your can find complete products presentations on our website http://www.arpegemusic.com I just highlight that as a music composer oriented on sheet music, you will find at least 3 software which can be useful in your framework: Pizzicato Professional, Pizzicato Composition Pro and Pizzicato Composition Light.

I hope that you will test the demonstration version and give some feedback to your dedicated developer, Mr. Dominique Vandenneucker.

Musically,

Francoise Delsaux

Online Marketing

Arpege Music

Adults piano students – Expectations and priorities

Expectations

Expectations of adults piano students are different for each person and linked to their background : social, emotional, even sometimes medical.

Indeed, I learn near a teacher that some can even begin after a stroke as physiotherapy… But most of the time a piano course will be the occasion to think about the self : at work (to add a new skill) and/or at home (to share joy in the living room).

As nothing is more precious in the everyday life than sharing knowledge and happiness, piano appears as a wonderful way to reach them and even for some people the mastery of that beautiful and classic instrument will become a goal in itself.

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Priorities

I met Mrs. Fiona Lau at Music Education Expo (London) this year.

As a professional piano teacher (both for children and adults), she encourages to regular practice, precises that length of the lessons is increasing with more advanced skills, that it is necessary to sets targets, to work pieces hands separately first and to vary rhythms.

Mrs. Lau adds that splitting up the practice can help. For example: 20 minutes for technique and exercices + 10 minutes for sight-reading. Sight-reading is useful to train the brain and the eye to achieve continuity in playing music and it gives freedom. (More details on Mrs. Lau’s blog: http://ow.ly/y50I9)

Pedagogy or andragogy

The choice of the method (sheet music book) which will be used to learn depends in my opinion on the student regarding the fact that it is a method for children or for adults.

On one head, some teachers, as mine, insist on the fact that adults must simplify while learning. I agree, and methods for children are simple. Of course persons who do not want to be ‘treated as children’ will prefer specific methods for adults. Even if using a method for children does not mean that I learn as a child would…

For other aspects, the teacher must adapt the rhythm of the lessons on the rhythm of the learner and selects the best piece for each moment. The teacher is the specialist and is supposed to be able to suggest new sheet music to discover when the method is missing on some point. At least during the first year…

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What about the results ?

It depends on musical talents for each person. Some adults are less brilliant than highly-talented future professionals who have received a special musical gift and evolve in a context which gives priority to the art of piano but more skilled than a lot of children with no particular talent and they feel no peer pressure to assist to the course or do their homework.

So, ‘the’ result is obtained first when the adult is satisfied. Mrs. Lau, talking about exams, claims that the student must make ‘sense’ while playing musical sentences. And for me it looks like a perfect formula. She gives other arguments like: you must articulate, you must not read all the time (playing by memory is the best and lets you alone with the music). Even if I do not want to pass any exam… sense is a main target for me as well as establishing a relationship with the music itself.

I will add freedom as a main target : the more practise and sight-reading mastering are growing, the more sheet music can be chosen.

Music technology can help

As a beginner in piano, I now can say that nothing seems more difficult than repeating a piece of music at home after having ‘read’ it once with the teacher so two weeks ago I was quite satisfied when I remembered that I am selling music composition and notation software which include a (free) music course… It is a support for me in the framework of learning. (More information on Arpege Music software website : http://www.arpegemusic.com)

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Françoise Delsaux

Digital Marketing – Arpege Music

 

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