Music Software Newsletter
Newsletter #110 - 4 September 2013 - Music Software for Everyone
Dear Musicians,

Here is our next newsletter about the Pizzicato music software and its applications.

To help you compose and learn to compose music in a more intuitive way have always been in my priorities.

During the seminars on Pizzicato that happened during July, the users could appreciate the set of tools helping them to compose, particularily the new module for harmony and counterpoint.

This module lets you easily and rapidly harmonize a given melody, while keeping the full control on the direction of the resulting arrangement.  In other words, the computer helps you to establish the nice sounding combinations at each step and you select the ones that correspond to you musical feelings.

This encourages me to continue.  For the years to come, Pizzicato will progressively become a more user-friendly, complete and easy to use software to compose more intuitively.

Thanks to all the Pizzicatists who support our work!

We wish you a nice reading.


Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato

All Pizzicato Music Software

Table of Content

3 voices Counterpoint - The next step...

Tips and advices on Pizzicato...

Music Course for Beginners - Key signature...

Which Pizzicato version would fit your needs ... ?

Discover in 10 minutes why Pizzicato is so different than other music software:

Pizzicato video

Watch the video!

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Read all previous articles on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/editoriaux.htm

3 voices counterpoint - two notes for one note

Lets continue our music counterpoint tutorial.  Even if Pizzicato now has a module to help you write counterpoint, we continue here to explain and comment the basic rules of counterpoint.

Remember that we follow here a practical approach, with the purpose of making this tool available to all and not in the rigorous (and sometimes autoritative) frame of mind in which some counterpoint courses are written. We hope that the experts will not blame us for this!

The next step of this tutorial will respect the rules established for 3 voices and combine them with the ones explained for the second species of 2 voices counterpoint.  As a summary:

  • As much as possible, we use the full triad with the third and fifth. In the purpose of improving the melodic line, we can also use the sixth instead of the fifth, or the octave, or both.
  • We avoid as much as possible a motion of the three voices in the same direction.
  • The rule that prevents a direct motion arriving on a perfect consonance is applicable between any two voices.
  • The first interval (formed between the main note and the first counterpoint note) must be consonant.
  • The second interval (formed between the main note and the second note of the counterpoint) may be dissonant, but only if this second note is a conjunct transition note to the next note, otherwise the interval must also be consonant.
In this type of counterpoint, we have two voices that have one note and the other voice has two notes (so a rhythm that is twice as fast).  This faster changing voice may be in the bass or in the two other melodies.

Let's take the following bass as an example:

Listen to the example...

and let's create two melodies that will accompany it, by following the above rules and of course by taking care at any moment that it sounds as expected.

For the first measure, we choose two notes in the main melody for each note of the bass.  The secondary melody will have only one note per bass note.  When two notes are played for one original note, the first must be consonant with the two other voices and the second note may be a transition note.  For instance:

Listen to the example...

The numbers show the intervals formed by each melody with the bass (without taking care of additional octaves). The second note of the melody (displayed in orange) is a dissonant note as it forms an interval of a second with the other two voices (D when the other notes are C and E).

Let us remember that dissonant intervals are all intervals except the fifth, octave, third and sixth (the second, the fourth and the seventh are considered dissonant intervals).

The chords built on the first and third beats are both consonant.  This rule of counterpoint enables that the second note of the melody builds a bridge between the two consonant notes, while being itself dissonant.  It happens that it sounds nice as the two main chords of beats 1 and 3 make a stable harmonic structure and the D note makes a transition between the two.  This is called a transition tune or a passage note.

For the fourth beat, the note is here consonant, but according to what follows, we could also make it conjunct to E (F or D) and make it into a transition tune.  As we can see here, we must look further than one note ahead, to forecast possible musical solutions.  Transition tunes help to keep the melody more regular and fluid.

Here is what the next measure could be:

Listen to the example...

We have used only consonances.  Avoid all voices going in the same direction.  It is better to have contrary motion, or at least one note that does not move (as between measure one and two above).

The search for solutions is done by keeping in mind the above rules and by testing the various combinations for the two added voices.  Once the principles are understood, to put them into application requires work and thinking!  Don't be discouraged, start in simplicities and read the rules again once in a while.  It is a question of practice.  Regularly, listen to the result so that it respects the musical direction that you prefer, as it this the most important point.  Here is how the rest of the exercise may look like:

Listen to the example...

We have again used a transition tune to make the melody go down regularly.

The module for harmony and counterpoint of Pizzicato can help you to build an exercise as this one, as it can help you rapidly browse the various combinations of notes that respect the rules.  You can then test them and select the ones you like the most and that correspond to the musical direction you want to follow.

Here is a simple way to use the counterpoint module with Pizzicato:

  • In the File menu, select Harmony and counterpoint wizard...
  • Select  3 voices counterpoint (on 3 staves) and validate.  Select a sound that you like.
  • Enter the melody or bass from which you want to start.
  • Click on the small green square above the first note and then click on the question mark that appears just below it.  Pizzicato will propose you two notes for the melodies, displayed in green.  A small arrow lets you browse the possible combinations and the yellow triangle lets you hear the solution:

  • Then click on the next square and go forward in the same way.  Sometimes it is necessary to select 2 or more squares, so as to analyse a solution based on several notes.  To do this, click on the first square and then on another square while holding down the SHIFT key.  This extends the time selection.
  • You can find more information on this here: www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN860.htm

Once the counterpoint is finished, you can apply the transformation principle explained in our previous articles so as to reach a more specific style of music.  Here is what it could be (but I'm sure you can do better than that :-) :

Listen to the example...
Take some time to practise this kind of exercise and become more creative!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

Music Software Newsletter
Tips and Advises on Pizzicato

See also the frequently asked questions on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/clients4.php

Creative use of an external MIDI keyboard

The purpose of a virtual keyboard is to extend the playing possibilities of a single musical keyboard and let you play several instruments on one keyboard. This principle is frequent in a lot of synthetizers and it is often called "performance". It is a set of sounds programmed on the keyboard that can be used to play.

A virtual keyboard is a musical object that can contain several instruments. It gets its data from a musical keyboard connected to a MIDI input port. If you do not have a musical keyboard connected to your computer, you can nevertheless use a virtual keyboard but in a more limited way because using the mouse is not easy to play on a keyboard drawn on the screen.

The virtual keyboards let you setup a MIDI musical keyboard connected to the computer to play various prepared instruments. You can for example play chords that are then held while you play a bass whose notes are doubled by a vibraphone 3 octaves higher for example. Another area lets you play a melody, doubled by an oboe. All of this while having some keys reserved for percussions. The whole set is played from one keyboard only, as you program it.

To prepare and use a virtual keyboard with Pizzicato 3 (even in demonstration mode), see the page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN830.htm

Dialog box or tool help

To find detailed explanations about a dialog box or a tool, you can use the contextual help. Place the cursor of the mouse on the dialog box or on the tool and press on the F1 key on the keyboard. The help of the concerned lesson opens.

Repeating an accidental already in the key signature

Pizzicato handles accidentals automatically, following the commonly accepted rules. When a flat or sharp is already in the key signature, Pizzicato will not draw it just in front of the note. Similarly, when an accidental is present in a measure, the same note in the next measure automatically refers back to the key signature.

In didactic scores for the beginner, it may be useful to be able to remind to the performer that an accidental must be played or more generally to remind him the rules by displaying an accidental explicitly. There are two ways to do that.

First, you can use the "Graphic symbols" palette in the tool menu. You will find there the accidentals as pure graphic symbols, so Pizzicato will not interfere with them when playing the note.

The second way is to drag the note to another pitch, add the accidental and then drag the note back to its correct pitch. Be sure to drag it to a pitch that does not also have the same accidental at the key signature. The accidental will stay with the note.

Order Pizzicato

Order one of the Pizzicato versions today on our secured site by clicking here.

Free upgrades

Buying one version of Pizzicato gives you the right to about 3 years of free upgrades.

If your license number is superior to 19000, you can download the lastest upgrade 3.6.1 Rev 1 for Mac and Windows by clicking here.

Advanced upgrades

At any time, you can upgrade to a more advanced version of Pizzicato, for a special upgrade price. See the upgrade order page by clicking here.

We are looking for...

... collaborators, partners and distributors, in any country, for the development of sales channels of Pizzicato. Write to:


Pizzicato in the 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.writing-music.com email: info@writing-music.com

Music course for Beginners

Read the full Pizzicato music course on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN090.htm

Key signatures

The major scale of C

The notes series from C to C is called the major scale of C. Each note of the scale is called a degree of the scale. The degrees are numbered from 1 to 7 in Roman numerals (i.e. I to VII). The last note being the same as the first (C), it is also called "degree I". Here is the major scale of C with its degrees:

As we have seen, each one of these notes corresponds to a white key of the keyboard. When a black key separates two notes, there is one tone between these two notes and if there is no black key between them, there is one half tone. The following table shows the degrees of the scale with the tones and half tones which separate them:

This succession of values (1,1,1/2,1,1,1,1/2) characterizes the major scale. In this example, the first note is C and it is thus the major scale of C.


This scale defines a context of notes called the tonality of C major. A musical excerpt written in C major uses only the notes of the C major scale, i.e. the 7 notes here above, avoiding the black keys located between them.

The principle of tonality is thus to limit the usable notes at a given moment in the musical discourse and in the same time intensifying the influence of other notes. The most significant degree in a scale is the first degree. In our case, it is the C note. The musical discourse will use this note as a point of reference.

The most significant degrees in a tonality are degrees I, IV and V. The musical sentences will be built by taking these degrees as a foundation. They will often be found on the strong beats of the measures. The musical sentences will have a tendency to move towards the first degree of the scale.

We will see that 12 different tonalities can be defined and used. Tonal music is based on using a context of notes on which melodies and chords are built. During a piece of music, the context may change to another tonality. This transition from one tonality to another is called a modulation.

In theory, in a tonal music work, it is possible to determine which tonality is present at any place of the score. Practically, this tonality system is a theoretical system used to explain how composers use the notes which are at their disposal to compose. This system is very helpful to orient a composer through his first steps, but it should not be regarded as a strict rule which one cannot transgress.

All the rules you will find in music are most of the time deduced from the observation of what sounds well in the musical works. The new composer will find in it a lot of interesting advices that can be used by him as a guide to develop his taste and musical inspiration. The error would then be to regard these rules as absolute laws and not as simple advices. When inspiration or taste indicates you another path to follow, skip the composition rules !

Let us go back to tonalities. The essence of classical music is based on the use of tonality. Most modern variety music (rock, jazz, disco, blues, funky…) are also based on tonality. Most music consumed by our modern society is thus tonal music.

There are of course music styles that completely escape from tonality and develop different composition systems. Contemporary music creates new approaches of music, of sound and of its notation. It is interesting to note that most contemporary music composers are people who have a good knowledge of the tonal system, its possibilities and limits. It could then be considered as an evolution of music towards other sound horizons. The point is to communicate this music in such a manner that it will be perceived and understood by most people. It will be the only success test of a music: does it communicate something which can be understood?

Let us see now how other scales and tonalities are defined.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about key signatures on our site...

With Pizzicato Composition Light:

  • Discover intuitive music composition

  • Music composition for everyone

  • Music course to help you compose your music

  • Only about $49 !


Pizzicato Composition Light

With EarMaster Pro 6, improve your music abilities:

  • Interval singing
  • Interval identification
  • Chords identification
  • Rhythmic dictation
  • Reading and playing rhythms
  • Rhythmic imitation and rhythmic precision
  • Melodic dictation

Logiciel Earmaster

The Pizzicato Music Software range of products
What version of Pizzicato would fit your needs?

1. Pizzicato Light is an introductory version to learn music, make exercises, write small scores (1 or 2 pages) and use basic MIDI and audio recording features. You can start practicing the music keyboard and make your first steps into music composition. [20 euros as a package, 15 euros as a download]

Note: The reference prices are in euros. To see the price in other
currencies ($US, $CA,...) go to the following page and select the

2. Pizzicato Beginner is a general purpose score editor, that contains most of the tools you need to write, print and listen to music scores for the choir, solo instrument or small orchestras up to 16 instruments playing together. [99 euros as a package, 67 euros as a download]

3. Pizzicato Notation is a full score editor that offers you all the notation features found in any other Pizzicato versions. It contains all the tools you need to write, print and listen to music scores, from the soloist to the full orchestra. [199 euros as a package, 129 euros as a download]

4. Pizzicato Guitar contains all the tools you need to write sheet music for the guitar or other fretted instruments like the banjo, the bass, etc. You can use a tablature or TAB, or a standard staff. A guitar fret board window helps you entering the notes and you can create chord diagrams. [39 euros as a package, 29 euros as a download]

5. Pizzicato Choir helps you write and print nice sheet music for the choir. Learn to sing your voice while Pizzicato plays the other voices. Increase your knowledge of music theory with the full music course included. [39 euros as a package, 29 euros as a download]

6. Pizzicato Soloist contains all the tools you need to write music for a solo instrument. You can print nice solo sheet music, whether for the brass, woodwind, string instruments or any solo instrument written on one staff. [39 euros as a package, 29 euros as a download]

7. Pizzicato Drums and Percussion is specifically designed for music notation of drums and percussion instruments. You can use up to 8 staves, each one with 1 up to 16 lines to which you can assign a percussion or drum instrument. [39 euros as a package, 29 euros as a download]

8. Pizzicato Keyboard contains all the tools you need to write music for keyboard instruments like the piano, the organ or the synthesizer, with up to 4 staves. [39 euros as a package, 29 euros as a download]

9. Pizzicato Composition Light introduces the concept of intuitive music composition for a small budget. This is where you can start exploring music composition like never before, up to 8 instruments. [49 euros as a package, 39 euros as a download]

10. Pizzicato Composition Pro offers you the most advanced tools for intuitive music composition, with no limits to the number of instruments. [149 euros as a package, 99 euros as a download]

Finally, Pizzicato Professional contains every function available in the 10 versions already described. You can use all the features for music notation as well as all the tools for intuitive music composition and combine them in the same software. [299 euros as a package, 195 euros as a download]

Get Pizzicato today and enjoy its features
for your music activities

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Godelieve Cuylits, clarinetist (Belgium) - "I transpose, reduce scores and help our conductor to write his own arrangements on paper"


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