Dear Musicians,

This is issue #105 of the Pizzicato musical newsletter. It is intended to help you to better know and use Pizzicato. You will find in it various articles about Pizzicato, its use and aspects, but also references to the music course and links to other music related sites.

You may send us any information to publish about music (performances, festivals, exhibitions, music training sessions, Internet links,...). You may also tell us any difficulty you have with Pizzicato so that we can explain the solutions in the next issue. This letter is for you.

We hope you will enjoy reading it.


Dominique Vandenneucker,

29, rue de l'Enseignement

Phone ++32 -
Support ++ 32 -
Fax ++32 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2012, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

A new tool is available, for programmers (beginner and professionals alike!).

It consists of a software library that helps to add music features to a program written for Mac or Windows. You can easily add a display area showing music notation, as well as play the score with real time following.

Your program can also import and export MIDI files, musicXML files as well as Pizzicato files and it has access to all music information (notes, pitches, rests, clefs, symbols,...). It can also modify these information and structure a brand new score from scratch.

This developer tool (called "Music Notation SDK", SDK = Software Development Kit) is quite unique, enabling to develop Mac and Windows applications with many music capabilities. With it you can easily develop specific software for education applications and to help musicians and composers.

The big advantage is that you can use this kit to handle music scores information, without the need to write tens of thousands of lines of code just to display, play, modify or create music scores.

It runs smoothly with the developer tool xCode on Mac as well as with Microsoft Visual C++ Express 2010. Accessing the library is done in C through a DLL or a Dylib. Three types of licenses exist: for personal use, for commercial use and for education. You will find the detailed specification, as well as a demo program and pricing and conditions on our new site dedicated to this product:

Feel free to ask any question to me at


Let us continue our discovery of the basics of counterpoint.

As an extension to the technique explained in the last article, we can now arrange four notes against one note.

Third species of counterpoint

We still work with two voices, in the context of two melodies played together.

Three cases can be analysed, with the three following examples.

1 - When all notes follow each other (with no skip of notes):

Listen to the example...

The first, third and fifth notes form a consonant interval with the other voice and the second and fourth notes form a dissonant interval. In other words, the notes forming a dissonant interval are surrounded by notes with a consonant interval, exactly as explained in the second species of counterpoint.

2 - The third note can be dissonant if the others are consonant. Here is an example:

Listen to the example...

More precisely here, the third note forms a fourth (dissonant interval) with the bass note and it is surrounded by two notes forming a consonant interval with the bass.

3 - A more specific case is also proposed, when the second note, being dissonant, is followed by a skip of a third to arrive on a note making a consonant interval. Here is an example:

Listen to the example...

This case may seem slightly arbitrary (as well as the rest in fact...). Let us remember that these articles about counterpoint are based on the book from Johann Joseph Fux, Gradus Ad Parnassum (1725), one of the first books explaining counterpoint, that Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven have studied with attention.

In most treatise on harmony and counterpoint, the original reasons and motivations often seem to be lost or neglected, which gives the student the feeling that these rules are simply strict and authoritative, without a full understanding of the real why. There is also the liability that, from one generation to the other, the authors - not understanding themselves the real original reasons for the rules - may add and/or alter the rules arbitrarily according to their personal music perception (willingly or not).

The result is that the original information is lost and that this area of knowledge becomes more authoritative than logical, which makes it more difficult to study. Maybe some did it in the past on purpose, so as to keep knowledge for themselves and keep an advantage and control over others, as this has been (and unfortunately still is...) often the case in the various fields of knowledge of man. However, this attitude is not shared by me in my search for making music and music composition more available to everyone.

I presently work on a research project to find these "original reasons" and their logical and natural explanations. By reading several books of various authors of different periods, it is more and more obvious that these reasons are related, much more than believed nowadays, to the mathematical proportions not only between notes but also between their respecive overtones (harmonics). Pythagore already expressed ideas in this direction. If you are interested, an nice book is the one from Paul Hindemith, The Craft of Music Composition). Another one is the first part of Fux's book, which concerns itself with the various types of proportions between numbers. Another possible source of information that I did not yet investigate is the Italian theorist Prosdocimus de Beldemandis and his treatise on counterpoint from the year 1412. I sure will keep you informed of my discoveries in that field, which will permit Pizzicato to evolve toward a more and more intuitive music composition, but based on the solid ground of a natural and inherent logic, cleared of a maximum of arbitrary rules.

While waiting for a more fundamental understanding of them, the rules of counterpoint form a sure way to build a music composition that will sound good (not necessarily express something, but sound good...). It is the case of the three examples above. The lesson to learn from this is that rules do not define precisely the exact reasons behind their existence and that one must use them with care and listen to the result obtained when one uses them (or when one doesn't use them either) and let our musical taste take the final decision.

As an example, if you analyse a few simple scores of Mozart or Bach, you will observe that composers have always done that. Take the example of the Horn duets of Mozart (you can find the scores freely here: ) and you will see that a few times, Mozart does not respect all the rules explained so far in these articles and meanwhile the music sounds good (as we could expect from Mozart...). You will also find that most of the time he does respect the rules. The art is then to know the rules thoroughly and be able to break them whenever they are more a limitation than a help.

Here is a practical example, where several combinations explained are mixed together:

Listen to the example...

By adding more and more combinations, the richness and rhythm independency improves. This is the way that counterpoint study works. By studying one type of combination with exercises, one can then combine them together when composing and progressively improve the melodic aspects of the music.

In addition to what we have seen here and in the last article, it is also possible to combine three notes with one. In this case, if the three notes are consecutive (with no skip), the middle note can form a dissonant interval.

Remember that the numbers written between the two staves are the interval formed by the two melodies. The consonant intervals are 3, 5, 6, 8 and the dissonant intervals are 2, 4, 7.

To prepare this kind of composition exercises, you can simply:

This exercise then gives you a structure that you can arrange in a style that you like. Here is for instance what the above example could be in a jazz style:

Listen to the example...

The transformation was done as follows:

As you can see (and hear) counterpoint is not only useful to write for a classical 4 voices choir. It can embellish all types of music. The trick is to build a solid melodic structure with the rules of counterpoint, and then add a specific character to orient it in a more personal style.

I invite you to play with it. Read again the previous articles and do the exercise and then transform it into your own style. Composing music produces joy in life and I propose to share it with you so that you can experiment it yourself. See you next month for the next example of this practical tutorial on counterpoint...

Dominique Vandenneucker
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

email: Phone 303-252-1270

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

Methodology to create a score

To create a score, here is an effective method to get a correct page-setting and avoid making certain symbol adjustment operations twice. You can adapt it according to your needs. If you often use the same kind of score, you can create a template where several of these operations are already done and start from there.

  1. Start from the score template called "One linear measure", located in "Templates ==> Templates". Work in linear mode (popup menu in the tool bar of the score view).
  2. Add the number of measures and staves as needed.
  3. Fill in the instrument view, specifically the instrument names and select the sonorities to be played.
  4. Fill in the characteristics of the instruments (double click in front of the staves), specifically the measure numbers, the braces…
  5. Always in linear mode, introduce the contents of the measures: notes, rests, accents, symbols but not the symbols which extend over several measures (slurs over several measures, crescendo…). Use the automatic justification for the notes encoding ("J" check box in the tool bar of the score). If the measures have several voices, use the voice menu if those are too complex (popup menu on the left of the score tool bar). Add comments in text blocks, but only those related to the measures.
  6. Place the chord symbols if there are any as well as the lyrics.
  7. Select all measures of the score (Edit menu, Select all) then justify all (Edit menu, Justify). The measure widths are adapted to the content of the measures. You can specify a scale factor to modify the density of the score. It is accessible via the Option menu, Justification.
  8. Set the spaces between staves in an optimal way. This spacing will be used for all pages, therefore check if it is appropriate to all measures of the score.
  9. Switch to the page mode. If the page setup dialog does not appear, call it with the Page setup item in the File menu. Select the print scale (Pro version only), adjust the margins and disable the measures per system and systems per page check boxes. Pizzicato will optimize by taking the measure width into account. Check the "Calculate" box and validate.
  10. Review the pages and adjust the number of measures per system and systems per page as necessary by using the layout tool. Arrange so that the score is well distributed on all pages and that no a half empty page stays at the end.
  11. Once this is done, you can review measures and adjust symbols and add the symbols relating to several measures (large slurs, crescendo…). Add the title, the page numbers and any useful comment which must be fixed on a page. You can then print your score.

This method contains the main steps. Adapt it to your needs.

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

Switching between documents in Windows with Pizzicato

If you open several documents with Pizzicato, you can switch between them with the following shortcut : CTRL + TAB key. It is indeed a standard shortcut applicable to any program.

Getting the tablature from the chords progression

When you add chords, Pizzicato suggests you a chord diagram that represents the chord for the guitar. By clicking on the diagram, you can select another one or create a new one (Pizzicato Beginner or Pro).

Starting with a chord progression, you can ask Pizzicato to create the guitar tablature for it. Here is how to do it.

You will then see the chords displayed as notes on the guitar tablature. Notice that you have a rhythmic option in the dialog. By default, Pizzicato will add a chord position at any change of chord, but you may select a position at every beat or every two beats,...

You can also see at for more details about the guitar tools, tablature and chords diagrams.

Playback of virtual instruments - Interrupted sound

According to the number of instruments playing together and the density of notes in the score, the processing power of a given computer may not be enough to play it all in real time. To avoid this problem, Pizzicato has a buffered playback function. This means that the sound of measures may be computed by Pizzicato in the background and stored in memory buffers. When Pizzicato plays the score, it plays the measures back from the buffers. You can in fact combine real time playing with buffered playing and select which instruments play in real time or not. You can of course also combine these virtual instruments with standard MIDI instruments.

Even if your computer is slow and does not have too much memory, you will be able to create an audio WAV file with the quality of the sound library. In future versions of Pizzicato, we will work on the speed and optimization of the audio playback functions in real time, so that more and more computers will be able to play all instruments in real time.

To select the audio playing mode, click on the "..." button in the score window tool bar. The dialog that appears show a popup menu called Audio playing mode. This menu has three possible choices:

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

The scale and the musical keyboard

We have seen that there are 7 notes named C, D, E, F, G, A, B. The next note is again called C and the sound generated vibrates exactly two times faster than the sound generated by the first C. This interval from the first to the second C is called an octave. In a more general way, an octave is the interval separating a note from the next note bearing the same name, such as for example from G to the next G. Here is an example with C:

This series of notes from C to C is called the scale of C. As this diagram is repeated higher and lower, we will limit ourselves to explain the contents of the notes from C to C. The same explanation is valid between two successive C.

These notes correspond to the white keys of a piano or organ keyboard. You can easily locate them by observing that the black keys are laid out by groups of 2 and 3 between the white keys. The C are the keys which are just to the left of a 2 black keys group. Here is an illustration:

The white keys located between the 2 C follow the same order as on the staff:

The black keys of the keyboard are also notes that can be played. They are located between specific white keys. With 7 white keys and 5 black keys, you thus get 12 different notes. The thirteenth note is again a C and the same diagram is repeated...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on music The scale and the accidentals on our site...

The commercial page...

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The answer is very likely to be Ear Training!

Ear training is the process of connecting theory (notes, intervals, chords, etc) with music (the sounds we hear). The more you will exercise to recognize this connection, the more you will appreciate playing music, because you will learn to understand what you play.

For more information, go to

You can buy EarMaster at

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What is BandLoot? is a website where bands can manage their band money together, as a band, in complete transparency and very easily. What more? It's completely free!

BandLoot enables you to:

Why use BandLoot?

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The story behind BandLoot

BandLoot was originally an internal project for our own needs, as we are all active musicians at the EarMaster office. After conducting a survey on, we have found out that 60% of all 2000 responding bands have had money issues, and that 5% even split up because of that. Musicians should not have to turn into accountants to make things work. This was enough motivation for us to share BandLoot with you and make it available for free.

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Pizzicato on Facebook

Join us on Facebook by clicking here.

Pizzicato upgrades

The upgrade to Pizzicato 3.6 is available for download on page:

We regularly release corrective fast upgrades on the same page.

If you have an old version of Pizzicato, a series of upgrades are available for Mac OS X and Windows, according to the version you presently have.

If you bought Pizzicato 3.4 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 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:

In the menu "You have", select the version you presently have. The page will be redrawn and will show the possible upgrades and their prices. To buy an upgrade, fill in the form and validate it.

We are at your disposal.

Our purpose is to place music in everybody's hands

and to bring people to more musical creativity

Use Pizzicato and make music!