This is issue #102 of the Pizzicato musical newsletter. It is intended to help you to better know and use Pizzicato. You will find in it various articles about Pizzicato, its use and aspects, but also references to the music course and links to other music related sites.
You may send us any information to publish about music (performances, festivals, exhibitions, music training sessions, Internet links,...). You may also tell us any difficulty you have with Pizzicato so that we can explain the solutions in the next issue. This letter is for you.
We hope you will enjoy reading it.
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Following our informal survey and your answers about the subjects you would prefer for this newsletter, the most requested subject was counterpoint:
Discovery and tutorial about the basics of counterpoint, a musical composition technique aiming at writing two or more melodies together.
We will then start today a series of articles on this subject, so that you can use it in your compositions.
To study a subject, it may be useful to go back to its origins. For counterpoint, the most successful book is probably the "Gradus ad Panassum" written in 1725 by Johann Joseph Fux. This book has influenced many great composers. Bach had a high esteem of it, Haydn followed its lessons carefully, Mozart had one exemplar with annotations in it and Beethoven had made a practical summary of it.
If the original manuscript is in latin, you can find the English version on Amazon and some translated version on Google book.
Our articles do not pretend to replace a full counterpoint course nor the original content of that book, but they will form a tutorial on the basic principles, applicable to the use of Pizzicato to compose your own music. For a formal counterpoint course, you can find that online, but if you are determined, reading Fux's book and doing the exercises will prove its value.
This reference book does not show as many strict rules as are found in more recent textbooks on counterpoint and it gives more importance to the examples of the masters and to the beauty of the resulting melody. It is only later, mainly for a didactic approach, that strict rules have been added. May be this is one of the reasons why the study of counterpoint has become more difficult, academic and sometimes frightening. The introduction of artibtrary rules in a subject or a too important influence of the academic authorities in power may indeed make a subject more difficult to learn and more distant from its natural foundations. This is why it is always interesting to go back to the origin, from which great masters like Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart were inspired.
The edition of the book I am using is the English translated version, The study of Counterpoint, that is the practical part of the book. The first part of the book (I could find it on Google Book in French) explains the mathematical background needed to come to the conclusions used by the practical part of the book, as they are presented here below.
1 - Classification of intervals
An interval is the measure of the sound distance between two notes. Intervals between notes are sorted here as follows:
- Perfect consonances: unison, fifth and octave, as well as these same intervals with one or more added octaves.
- Imperfect consonances: third and sixth, as well as these same intervals with one or more added octaves.
- Dissonances: second, fourth, diminished fifth/augmented fourth, seventh, as well as these same intervals with one or more added octaves.
In the above examples, the intervals are built upon the lower C in the clef of G, but the principle is valid from any other note. If you feel unconfortable with intervals, here is a page of the Pizzicato music course that explains them: www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN450.htm#J2
2 - The types of motions of the voices
When two melodies are playing together, the possible motions of notes are:
- Direct motion: both melodies are following the same direction, up or down.
- Contrary motion: the melodies go in opposite directions, one up and the other down.
- Oblique motion: one melody keeps the same note and the other goes up or down.
3 - Motions and intervals
As a first step, we will work on two voices with the same rhythmic values, so one note "against" the other. In Latin, the root "contra" means "against" and "point" was the way notes were displayed before our modern staff notation, thus the word Counterpoint, for "one note against the other".
At this level, at any moment of the melody, the voices must always form a consonance (perfect or imperfect).
Fux defines 4 rules that determine which motion (direct, contrary or oblique) may be used to go from one type of interval to the other (perfect or imperfect). These rules can be presented by the following table:
From \ To
5th / 8ve
3rd / 6th
5th / 8ve
Contrary or Oblique Direct, Contrary or Oblique
3rd / 6th
Contrary or Oblique Direct, Contrary or Oblique
This table may in fact be resumed very simply as follows:
The only forbidden motion is the direct motion when we arrive on a perfect consonance.
If you have studied some basics of harmony, you will recognize here the rules that forbid direct and parallel octaves and fifths, which result directly from this rule.
4 - Other guiding principles
Other principles are proposed to guide the motion of the voices, of which we will point out:
- Always favour intervals with imperfect consonances, except at the beginning and at the end, where a perfect consonance is needed.
- In the same voice, avoid a jump of an augmented fourth (or diminished fifth), that sounds quite bad in many cases.
Other rules may be added, but they often are related to the fact that in the past, voices were mainly sung and they had to respect various constraints for the singers. In the frame of mind that we use here, we will free ourselves of at least a part of them (for instance to avoid a major sixth, difficult to sing: Pizzicato has no difficulty to play it :-).
5 - Summary
These rules help you to combine two melodies or one melody and one counter melody, playing together. At any moment, the notes must form a consonant interval, favouring the imperfect consonances except at the beginning and at the end. To go from one note to the other in both melodies, we must avoid a direct motion when we arrive on a perfect consonance.
6 - Practical examples
Let us take the following melody:
Listen to the example...
To add another melody above it, here is one way of using the above rules.
The first note is a C. As the first consonance must be perfect (unison, fifth or octave), the note of the new melody must be either a C (unison or octave) or a G (fifth on the original C). Let us take the fifth and add a G as the first note:
Now we will favour the imperfect consonances. To add an imperfect consonance (third or sixth) on the G, we need a B or an E. Going to an imperfect consonance, we can use any motion (direct, contrary or oblique). Let us take a contrary motion and use the upper B (so a third from the G note, as we may add any octave to an interval):
For the next two notes, let us keep the third (imperfect consonance) and simply follow the same motion as the original melody (direct motion):
Let us use a perfect consonance on the next G, for instance a fifth, with D note. Then let us use again an up-going motion with 3 thirds in direct motion and let us finish with a perfect consonance for the last note, an octave. We get the result as shown below, where we have displayed the intervals of the notes with numbers, as well as the type of motion used (C = contrary; D = direct):
Listen to the example...
These choices are of course personal. At each step, you can take several possible directions. Even by respecting strictly the rules of counterpoint, the composer has still many choices left. It is the art of counterpoint. What must guide you is the expression of the melody, the resulting effect that you want to create.
Respecting the rules does garantee you that it won't sound badly, but it will not garantee the production of a nice piece of music...
Start with what you want to express and experiment. If you don't have a musical ear, simply listen to the result and try the possible combinations offered by counterpoint.
If at any point, the real effect you want to achieve does not respect the rules, then get rid of the rules, not of the desired effect! The rules are guides, not masters. You are the composer. Keep your own artistic judgement as being above any other rule.
This being said, it is also useful to test the choices given by counterpoint. Using discipline on that may often help you discover another dimension to your melody, that you would probably not have found if you had merely neglected the rules. The point is to keep the balance between "following the guide" and "deciding where you want to go ". Often, a good guide will get you where you want to go, while going on your own would have lost you in the forest.
When you compose a melody, you can then create a counter melody that goes with it. Here is another example for a melody played on the guitar:
Listen to the example...
By working with the rules as above and by playing the result step after step, here is a possible choice:
Listen to the example...
I suggest you to compose a few melodies and to apply the above principles to create a counter melody. Send me the resulting Pizzicato document and I will help you if you need it. Have a nice musical holiday !
Designer of Pizzicato
Pizzicato in US and Canada
You can always contact Blair Ashby, at Broadlands Media, Inc. for any information you need on Pizzicato and the way to use it.
Located in Denver, Colorado, Blair is the official representative of Pizzicato for the United States and English speaking Canada.
You can visit the site and buy Pizzicato directly at www.music-composing.com
email: email@example.com Phone 303-252-1270
and applications of Pizzicato...
Discover the various aspects and applications of Pizzicato
Controlling the tempo
Pizzicato provides several ways to control the tempo of a score. Except as specified in the score, when Pizzicato starts to play the score, the tempo used is the one specified in the recorder window (windows menu) for version 2, or the one specified in the dialog that appears when you press the "..." button, for version 3.
When you add a tempo symbol (quarter note= 60,... in the tempo palette), Pizzicato Professional 2 and all versions 3 execute this symbol as a tempo change and thus influence the score. These symbols modify the tempo when they are executed by Pizzicato.
Another way (available with Pizzicato Beginner and Pro) is the data modification tool (in the Edit menu when one or several measures are selected). With it you can insert orders to execute in the measures. These orders are graphically invisible but influence the playing of the score. To change the tempo from a specific measure, select this measure and call this dialog box. In the left corner, select the "Tempo" box. To the right, check the "Fix the value to" box and write the desired value in the text area.
The tempo value at a any moment is determined by the last tempo instruction executed. When starting the score, it is the recorder window value (or "..." dialog box value), but after that the tempo evolves as symbols or data modifications are executed.
When you import a MIDI file, Pizzicato reads the tempo instructions and takes the first one to initialize the score. But the file may contain many other tempo changes, which will not appear graphically. If you want to remove these tempo values, you can select the measures and call the data modification dialog box. Then select the tempo to the left and, on the right, the "Remove the data" box.
advices for Pizzicato...
Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato
Adding the fingering marks
On an organ or piano score, it is frequent to display the fingering. They are marked as little numbers (one for each finger). The purpose is to help the beginner to manage his/her fingers better. The thumb is 1 and the little finger 5. Pizzicato has a tool palette to add the fingering. In the "Tools" menu, open the "Fingering/rehearsal" palette. It includes the 5 numbers. Select one of them on the palette and click on one note head of your score. The number appears above or under the note. By clicking and moving this number on the score, you can move it vertically to adjust its position.
To add a page number, simply create a text block and enter "$1" as the page number. Select the "For all pages from page 1" option. If you write for example "Page $1", you will see "Page 1" on page 1, "Page 2" on page 2,... If you want to number the pages from another page than page 1, you must place a specific text area on each page. You can also use the "$2" text to mean the total number of pages. "Page $1 / $2" would then display "Page 1 / 2" if your score has 2 pages.
Hyphen and lyrics
Using the lyrics tool, Pizzicato automatically aligns the hyphens between two syllables to separate them between the two notes. It is thus impossible to place a hyphen to separate two syllables which would be under the same note. To suppress a hyphen, you just need to place the mouse on the left syllable and type the hyphen sign ("-") again. The hyphen disappears. Notice that you cannot use the habitual erase key for that sign.
Musical basics and access to the Pizzicato music course
The name and position of notes
Exactly as the alphabet has 26 letters from A to Z, the musical alphabet includes 7 letters assigned to the notes:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
In this lesson and the next ones, we will work on the basis of the treble clef. Here is the position of these 7 notes when a treble clef is placed at the beginning of the staff:
The name of the treble clef (also called G clef) comes from the following fact : the loop in the middle of this clef is centered around the second line of the staff, which is the line on which the G note is located.
What about the names of the lower and higher notes? The same names are used again. Higher than B, there is again C, D,... Lower than C, the names are B, A,... Here is the result for the higher notes...
...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on notes and rests on our site...
The commercial page...
EarMaster 5 - Interactive Ear Training Software
Have you ever thought about what might be the difference between a good musician and a REALLY good musician?
The answer is very likely to be Ear Training!
Ear training is the process of connecting theory (notes, intervals, chords, etc) with music (the sounds we hear). The more you will exercise to recognize this connection, the more you will appreciate playing music, because you will learn to understand what you play.
For more information, go to www.arpegemusic.com/earmaster.htm
You can buy EarMaster at https://arpegemusique.com/acheteren.php
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If you bought Pizzicato 3.4 or 3.5, you may download Pizzicato 3.6 for free. The reference is the license number. All users whose license number is greater or equal to 19000 can upgrade for free by going to the upgrade section on our website and download version 3.6. See page www.arpegemusic.com/clients3.htm. Install it and validate it with your original license/serial numbers.
Otherwise, to know the prices and possibilities, see the upgrade order form on our site:
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