|Newsletter #114 - 30 January 2016 - Music Software for Everyone|
After a long silence (our last letter was from May 2014...), here is the Pizzicato Newsletter again. A lot of things happened since then. Here you will find some news from Arpege. I was missing time to write this letter more regularly. But this year, I really hope to write a few of them !
First, you will find a corrective update of Pizzicato available on our site, it is version 22.214.171.124. It corrects a few bugs that were crashing the program, mainly on Mac, but also general corrections. You can download it as a fast (and free) update here :
Pizzicato was tested on Windows 10 and seems to behave correctly. Some users noticed that the Microsoft GS Wave Table synth was in some cases not present in Windows 10 and in such a case, Pizzicato can't use it. Some parameter or driver installation of Windows 10 can sometimes remedy this condition. In all cases, remember that Pizzicato can also play its own sounds by using the virtual instruments. Check the following page for more information : www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN930.htm
Pizzicato runs on Mac OS 10.10 and we did not receive problem notifications on El Capitan (even though I did not test it myself). We recommend to place the Pizzicato folder on the desktop instead of inside the Applications folder. The next major release of Pizzicato (I hope end of this year or beginning of 2017) will be more compliant to the Mac OS, which will make it more stable.
This year there will be several correctives updates of Pizzicato, so as to make it more stable and correct the most important bugs. The following years will see the range of music software of Arpege increase with new features and tools, always following the purpose of making music composition available to anyone, but also to improve music entry, score rendering, audio rendering (VSTi plugins) as well as to improve the user interface approach. This will not happen overnight, as I program alone, but be sure that I work with dedication toward it !
At the level of Arpege, the last two years have been quite passionate. This is partly the cause of my silence since then, as time passed quite (too) fast.
Since end of 2013, Arpege collaborates with the company Weezic for the development of a sofware library of music components that can be used to develop several different music software, as well for direct Web programming than for native applications on Windows, Mac, iPad or Android in the future. This library can be used by Arpege for its own future music software products.
Weezic is a dynamic Startup located in Paris, who was developing a tool for music practice directly on the Web. It is a site that gives you access to a sheet music library and that provides tools to help you to perform the music yourself with your instrument, giving you feedback of the correctness of the notes you are playing through your microphone.
Last July, Weezic was acquired by MakeMusic Inc, the company that develops the Finale software, the SmartMusic products and the Garritan Personal Orchestra sound libraries ( www.makemusic.com ).
Since then, Arpege collaborates directly with MakeMusic for the development of the Web version of SmartMusic. Arpege takes mostly care of the rendering engine that displays and animates the score inside the Web browser. It is a passionate adventure and collaboration !
The acquisition of Weezic by MakeMusic, as well as the mention of the collaboration with Arpege was the subject of a press release by MakeMusic, that you can read by clicking here.
For your information, I will be present at the TMEA (San Antonio, Texas) on the booth of MakeMusic Inc., where the preliminary version of SmartMusic for the Web will be presented. So if you are not far away, you are welcome to visit us !
We republish below an article about music composition, which stays of actuality for all of you who would like to compose your own music. I will stay dedicated to that purpose up to the end of my career : help you to experience the joy of creating your own music.
Discover in 10 minutes why Pizzicato is so different than other music software:
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Read all previous articles on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/editoriaux.htm
|Theory and practice of music
composition (parts 1 and 2)
You want to learn how to compose, arrange and understand music ? With practical examples ? You want to be able to apply this to your everyday musical activities, without a lot of preliminary knowledge in music ? So let us start at the beginning…
Regarding to elementary music theory, i.e. how to write music on the staff, what is an eighth or a quarter note, a sharp, a key signature,… you will find in "The beginner's corner" article an answer to these questions. This part of our letter is dedicated to describing what you see on a score and to explain the link between the score and what you hear. The complete reference of this music theory course is available at www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN090.htm
This is the ABCs of music notation. It does not approach harmony, counterpoint nor music composition but only the essence of the score and its musical language. If you do not know anything about that, I suggest you to read these lessons on line. They are easy and accessible to everyone (it starts with what is sound, the staff, the measure, the note names,…). It offers examples to listen to. You can follow it without problem using Pizzicato in demonstration version. You will then be able to understand the next leading articles of this (long) series which starts today to discover the nature of music composition and arrangement…
Composition or arrangement?
The main difference between both is that with composition you start from nothing whereas with arrangement, you start from musical materials already partially defined, as for example a melody and its chords.
But composition supposes arrangement and vice versa. To arrange a piece is to adapt it to be played with a set of instruments for which it was not adapted to. A simple melody with some chords can be arranged a thousand different ways, whether it is for a guitar solo or a symphony orchestra. This process implies creativity to construct a structured piece of music. You will need to create accompaniment voices, some rhythmic patterns and perhaps to adapt a chord here or there for a transition, etc.
To compose music is to find an idea and to develop it. The development involves arrangement, because the idea can of course at this stage be only a small air inside your head. Which instrument is going to play it? Which accompaniment will emphasize it best? This directly concerns the field of arrangement.
The required abilities for these two fields have much in common. We will no more strictly make the distinction in these articles, because both require to work the essential elements of music and to develop creativity. And this is really the purpose of our next articles.
How to approach music composition and arrangement?
Reading a score, playing an instrument or learning how to sing are activities requiring a lot of work to reach a high quality level. However, in these cases, the notes are already determined for you. This can impress the beginner. But thinking also about selecting which notes to play (as in composition), this is too much!
The idea to compose one's own music sometimes frightens even the experienced player. The composer's score is replaced with a blank sheet… How to fill it? From what elements? Which knowledge is necessary? Which criteria to use? The questions are numerous in the mind of the beginning composer.
And this can be easily understood. The infinite number of possible music forms may impress. Did you think about all the things music can express, about all its different forms? This is infinity!
Nature is like that: it offers seeming, huge and impressive complexities.
The control of these complexities supposes to fully study some simple elements that are the bases of a field. Then, by mastering these few simple elements, you can understand the mechanisms which produce this seeming complexity. For this, there are at least three steps:
Consider matter: gases, liquids and solids. They are primarily composed of elementary particles called protons, electrons and neutrons. Then look at what nature did with them: look around you now and see all the various things in the room. What a diversity, with only 3 different types of particles!
Consider light: an electromagnetic vibration of which the wavelength exactly defines the perceived colors. Now look at a nature landscape with the sun shining through a forest. What marvelous images with such a simple elementary physical phenomenon!
Consider electricity: a simple moving of electrons in matter. Then look at the computer on which you are reading this letter. If you knew the astronomical quantities of electrons that go through it in all directions, you would feel dizzy!
Many other natural phenomena follow this principle. The exact sciences of our modern time show many examples of them.
The goal of these articles is to apply systematically the above three principles to music:
We will start by enumerating 6 elements forming the basic music materials. Then we will examine a series of criteria which can modulate these basic elements. We will use a maximum of practical examples and of exercises to do using Pizzicato (even with the demonstration version, so that everybody can participate).
As a house is constructed with bricks and mortar, music is also constructed with basic materials. The study of the elementary forms of these materials can help the composer to understand how to assemble them into a music composition.
The theory that follows is an approach I developed out of many existing theories and also out of some personal ideas as how to combine these many theories together.
It exposes the present status of my research into a better understanding of music and composition for everyone. Some concepts may at first sound a bit "mathematical" or esoteric for you. But I will try to develop them with very practical examples and applications, so that you will be able to understand them.
The purpose of this theory is to apply it to music composition, not to become a theoretician.
The six basic ingredients of music
To analyze a complex phenomenon, we need to discover the ingredients of its mixture. For this purpose, let us consider music as being the combination of six simple phenomena. These phenomena are very objective and are observable by anybody who cares to listen to music. They are observable in every kind of music I can think of.
At this lowest level of music, we do not mean "emotion", "aesthetic" or any other subjective concept generally associated to music. We just mean basic, simple, physical phenomena that can be produced and recognized easily and methodically. This is the structural part of music. Here is a short review of these six elements.
Rhythm is obviously present in any music. It consists of the time intervals between two musical events and also of the duration of a musical event (a note for instance). The way notes are structured in time plays an important role in the final result of a composition. Rhythm gives life to music. As a house is built by assembling bricks according to their positions in space, then music is built by placing notes according to their positions in time.
Drums and similar percussive instruments mostly expresses the rhythmic aspect of music. Listen to the example and notice that various sounds are used to create a more complex rhythmic pattern:
Melody is the succession of notes that is so specific as to be recognized as an entity. Most of the time, we think about a tune by remembering its main melody. It often implies rhythm, as each note of the melody is remembered with a duration in relationship to the other notes. But when I say melody in this context, I mainly refer to the art of finding a series of notes played in sequence, that has its own personality and feel.
Harmony is basically the way to combine two or more melodies together so as to reach another dimension in music. It is the art to combine several notes played simultaneously to create specific atmospheres. A chord is a set of notes played together and it is the basis around which harmony is built. Counterpoint is more related to analyzing the way several melodies go together while keeping their own melodic lines independent. Harmony looks at the problem in a more vertical way by analyzing which notes can go together "harmoniously". We will resume this aspect by the word "harmony" and by that, we mean any and all cases when two or more notes are played together.
In the example, you hear string instruments that play together. This kind of arrangement is mainly used to create a specific atmosphere, but you can easily hear the melodies that are created by the lower and higher notes of this chord progression. Each time a chord is changed, at least one note moves to another position, creating a simple form of melody.
Sound is the air vibration that makes up a single note. A sound may have so many different characteristics that it is a whole subject of study in itself. All natural instruments have different sounds. With synthesizers, even more different sounds can be used in music. The human voice can be a very rich and expressive sound. Selecting a sound to play a melody, a rhythm or an harmony has obviously a great impact on the final result of a composition. Often called 'orchestration', the art of mastering the selection of sounds to play the various parts of a music composition is definitely an ability that the composer needs to develop.
Form is the way a music composition is organized in different sections. It is the way the different parts of a composition are assembled and made coherent as a whole. It has some similarity with rhythm, but on a larger time scale. A simplified form example would be: introduction - chorus - verse - chorus - ending.
Here is a very short example of a melody. It consists of 4 small musical phrases. You can easily notice that the first and third phrases are the same. The second and last phrases start the same way, but their endings are different. The form of a melody or composition is often expressed with a series of letters that show how the different sections are sequenced. In this example, you have A - B - A - C.
Effects cover any alteration that affects any aspect of the above five elements. Tempo variation (accelerando, ralentendo,...) is a way to affect rhythm. Glissando (going smoothly from one note to the other) will affect the rendering of a melody. Accents, nuances will affect rhythm, melody and harmony. Reverberation, equalizer will affect the sound rendering. There are many possible classes of effects, but we define them very precisely. They are labeled "effects" as soon as they modify the rendering of one of more of the other five elements of music.
The example contains a series of piano notes. You can hear a volume variation, then a tempo variation followed by a glissando (impossible to play that on a real piano: it is created synthetically).
So we have Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Sound, Form and Effects. Any composer would agree that music consists of at least these six elements. So mastering them is part of the road that leads to becoming a composer. This does not mean that somebody mastering these six elements will automatically be a composer, as there is much more to music than just these basic elements. You need to be able to use and combine these elements together so as to express what you feel deep inside yourself. Only then would you become a real composer. But as far as these six elements are concerned, you should understand them very well separately.
These elements are mutually dependent. Each one provides a specific viewpoint on music. You cannot isolate one of them as an absolute quality, except as a concept. Whenever you have rhythm in a music, you have at least a sound that transmits that rhythm to your ear. Melody and harmony also need sound and rhythm to express themselves. Effects can only be perceived through the variation it creates on rhythm, melody or sound. So in any small section of music, you will have many elements present at the same time. They form a series of tools to help you analyze or create music.
The common denominator of the six elements
Incidentally, there is a more basic element behind these six elements. Rhythm, melody, harmony, sound, form and effects have something in common. They represent different aspects of the same physical element.
This element is time.
Time is the essence of music. Without time, you would not be able to listen to music. Music is a dynamic structure built on time, as opposed to more static art forms like painting or sculpture.
The simplest rhythm that you can think of is a regular beat. It defines a time interval and that time interval is repeated over and over.
Melody and harmony are both based on combining air vibrations together so that they make a whole that is harmonious to the ear. The speed of the vibrations and the ratio between these vibrations are all concerned with time.
The characteristics of a sound is also a set of vibrations that make up a single sound. Again, time is the key to understand these vibrations.
Form is of course the way a piece of music evolves through time.
Effects is the variation (variation implies time) of the other five elements (each one being based on time).
So music is basically just something built on time phenomena evolving with time...!
This is just an observation to keep in mind, but to really start analyzing and creating music, the understanding of these six elements is a practical way to start acquiring composition skills.
Recognizing the six elements
I suggest you to listen to several pieces of music that you like and notice the presence of the six elements described in this letter. To help you in doing that, ask yourself the following questions:
The following link gives you a suggestion to start with. You can find many music pieces from all styles on YouTube, at www.youtube.com
Of course, each one of these pieces have the six elements, but focus on the given elements, as an exercise.
What is next?
The next step in this approach of music is to analyze these six elements through different viewpoints that are more related to the subjective side of music.
At least 9 different criteria may help you to influence the 6 elements. We will explain them in the next newsletter.
|Tips and Advises on Pizzicato|
See also the frequently asked questions on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/clients4.php
Pizzicato can manage 8 rhythmic voices. By default, a small menu shows "1-8" in the upper left corner of the window, which lets Pizzicato manage the voices distribution of the notes you encode. Let us analyze different cases.
When the measure only contains one voice, Pizzicato automatically assigns all the notes to the first voice. If you try to add more beats than the measure can accept, a second rhythmic voice is created (the additional notes are written from the beginning of the measure). When you have a single voice measure which presents a complex rhythm, it can be useful to force Pizzicato to keep all the notes in the first voice. To do that, select the small "1-8" menu into "1".
If the measure contains several voices, you can keep the "1-8" option and encode voice by voice. This is important: fill in first a whole rhythmic voice (and thus the measure) before encoding the next one. If you try to encode a second voice before you achieve the first one, Pizzicato could consider that you continue the first voice because it is not complete.
You can also force Pizzicato to work by voice. In this case, modify the "1-8" menu into "1" to work on the first voice, into "2" to work on the second voice,... While placing this menu for example to "2", the notes which do not belong to the second voice appear in gray and the new notes are added to the second voice.
This principle is the same for the incomplete voices. Let us take for example a measure that contains 4 quarter notes as the first voice. If you want to add a second voice including a quarter note on the first and the fourth beats, you will have to place 2 rests between these notes to complete your rhythmic voice. Or you can check the "Incomplete voices analysis" box of the"Options" menu ("Justification..." item). This option lets Pizzicato analyze a second voice in relation to a first voice. For example, if your measure includes 4 quarter notes and if you place an additional quarter note above the third one, Pizzicato will understand that this additional note must be played as a second voice on the third beat, even if this second voice is not complete.
You can verify or analyze the way in which Pizzicato assigns the voices in the "Option" menu, "Graphism..." item. To assign a colour to each voice, select the "Voice color" item in the note color popup menu. Pizzicato will display each voice in a different color.
Upbeats and uncomplete measuresOften, the first measure of a score contains less beats than the others. The music starts for instance on the last beat of the first measure and this is called an Upbeat. This measure is usually written as such, without filling the measure with rests. A 4/4 measure that would only contain one quarter note should be played and displayed as a one beat measure. There are other cases, for instance when repeat signs are crossing a measure boundary, where a measure should be displayed and played with a different number of beats than the natural content of that measure.
Pizzicato Professional gives a full control over the measure parameters, but with Pizzicato Beginner and Professional, an easy function can be used to handle that situation. Here is how to create an incomplete measure:
Fill in the notes or rests in the measure
With the right mouse button (ALT+click on Mac), select the Measures and staves menu item, then choose Incomplete measure or upbeat.
This measure will then be played correctly.
If you go again in the above menu for that measure, you will see that the Incomplete measure or upbeat menu item is now checked, which means that this measure has an incomplete duration. To reset the measure to its real duration, just use that menu again.
The Pizzicato Document ManagerIn the left part of the score or conductor window, you can see the document manager.
This part of the window can be displayed or hidden, by using the small "D" checkbox that is visible in the tool bar of the window. It means "Document manager". Click on that checkbox. You can now only see the score. Click again on it and the document manager is shown again. By hidding the document manager, you can have more screen space to see the score you are working on.
The document manager is an important part of Pizzicato. With it, you can manage and organize your musical documents, without the need to use the standard Windows or Mac open and save dialogs.
The blue buttons shown on top of it are the various configurations. According to the Pizzicato version you have, there may be more than two configurations, but these two configurations are common to all versions.
Configuration "1" is the default document folder, named My scores. It contains all the documents you create.
When you start Pizzicato, a new document is created and is automatically named with the date and time. If you do not modify this document and exit Pizzicato, this document will be automatically deleted by Pizzicato, but if you modify the score, it will be saved and kept in the My scores folder.
A Pizzicato document is represented by a green icon. The document contains by default one score, named Score 1.
You can rename the document as well as the score, by clicking on the icon with the right mouse button and selecting the menu entitled "Change name..." which brings a small dialog to fill in the new name you want to give it.
Click now on the blue button of configuration "2". It contains 3 folders. By clicking on a "+" icon, you can display what is in the folder. For instance, click on the "+" in front of the Examples folder. You see the list of all the examples that are used throughout the Pizzicato lessons.
To open an example, click on the "+" in front of it and it will show one or more score icon. Double click on that score icon name and the score will appear in the main part of the window.
When you right-click on a folder, for instance the Examples folder, you can ask Pizzicato to open all the documents of that folder and show their score icons, by selecting the menu entitled Open documents and folders.
If you now drag the mouse over the score icons (just drag, not click), you will see that Pizzicato displays the content of that score in a new, temporary window. You can browse many score just like that and see what is in it. Moreover, if you click it and keep the mouse inside the icon, you can hear the score play.
You can learn much more about this document manager, in the lesson dedicated to it. For instance, you can add other folders and organize them on your hard disk. See the lesson entitled The document manager.
You can of course still use the open dialogs of Windows and Mac. They are available in the File menu, Open... item.
If you want to delete a Pizzicato document, right click on its green icon and select the Delete menu item. Pizzicato will ask to confirm and delete the file.
Order one of the Pizzicato versions today on our secured site by clicking here.
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 184.108.40.206 for Mac and Windows by clicking here.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Music course for Beginners|
Read the full Pizzicato music course on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual36/EN090.htm
What is music?
Characteristics of a sound
...To read the full lesson and see the illustrations, see the lesson on Music notation on our site...
With EarMaster Pro 6, improve your music abilities:
|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]
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]
transpose, reduce scores and help our conductor to write his
own arrangements on paper"
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