Dear Musicians,

This is issue #45 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, CD publications, 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/Fax ++32 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2005, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

Warning : This letter is sent personally to email address ##3 given willingly by you while filling a form on our site, by writing to us or as a member of the press. You may unsubscribe at any time. Click here to unsubscribe.


We have just published a corrective upgrade for Pizzicato 3. This is version 3.0.3, for Mac OS X and Windows. The owners of version 3 may download it freely on our site, in the “Customer services”, “Free update” section.

Last month, we examined how to build a chord made of 3 and 4 notes with the simplest scale, the major C scale, which consists of the white notes of a piano keyboard.

You may consider the notes of one chord to constitute a small musical fragment. A complete work consists of a whole collection of fragments placed one after the other. But the idea is not to randomly gather some tens or hundreds of independent fragments. The point is that these fragments must follow themselves as though they were made to be together. This impression may be produced by the presence of similar elements in successive fragments. These similar elements can be notes, rhythms, chords or any combination of these elements. Thus, by creating a main thread, a coherent musical piece may be built. The desire to listen to this music is stimulated by variations and modifications that appear here and there in its fragments.

While initially limiting oneself to the sequence of chords inside the same scale (here major C), you can consider the major C scale as being itself a set of coherent notes and thus the fact of sequencing any two chords built with the notes of this scale is a way to ensure some musical coherence. In other words, the link between any two chords of the C scale is the fact that all notes belong to the C scale. In practice, you will notice by yourself that all combinations will not sound with the same richness.

Using Professional Pizzicato 3 (or its demonstration version downloaded on our website), download and listen to the example. Here is the beginning of it:

Click the small yellow arrow in the toolbar of the score window and the score will be played by Pizzicato. This file contains 6 independent fragments of 3 chords on the first page. We sequenced here the C chord with the 6 other chords of the scale, each one of them being built on the other 6 notes, by taking each time one note out of two. Each fragment starts with C, goes to another chord and then returns to C.

While listening, you will notice that the most harmonious fragments are fragments 2, 3, 4 and 5, although the "harmonious" term always remains a little bit subjective. For these 4 cases, you will be able to note that the central chord contains one or two notes in common with the C chord. This reinforces again the link between the two chords. In fragments 1 and 6, the C chord and the central chord do not have a note in common.

This Pizzicato document contains 7 pages. Page 2 is the same example but starting from the chord built on D (minor D, made of D, F and A). The 6 measures of page 2 all begin with the minor D chord which is sequenced respectively to the 6 other chords and then return to minor D. Then, pages 3 to 7 respectively start from the minor E, major F, major G, minor A and diminished B.

You will be able to notice that the most harmonious sequences are often those whose chords have one or two notes in common, but another phenomenon also intervenes to increase or decrease the harmonious character of these sequences. Indeed, the scale is built on a series of notes whose sound frequencies have precise mathematical ratios between them. It happens that certain notes of the scale are more significant than others, because of these mathematical ratios. The basic note is C. Then comes G, which is in a ratio of 3/2 vibrations with C. It means that the duration of 2 vibrations of C is equivalent to the duration of 3 vibrations of G. We also have F, which is in ratio of 4/3 with C, etc. As the mathematical ratio increases in complexity (i.e. fractions are made of larger numbers), the familiarity of the two concerned notes decreases. The furthest ratio away from C is formed by the B note. According to the notes present in the chords of this document, the combination of the mathematical ratios justifies that some combinations sound less harmoniously despite the presence of notes in common between the two chords. Conversely, in other cases the mathematical ratios enable to sequence two chords without any note in common, with an impression of harmony.

Three phenomenons are present:

These properties combine themselves to form the examples to which you can listen in this Pizzicato document. Listen to it and you will have an idea of the atmospheres you can establish using only chords with 3 sounds on the C scale. You will notice that some sequences are more apt to express a happy or a sad emotion, others are more neutral, others are frankly ungraceful, but sometimes this effect is wanted, as to express anguish or fear, therefore the chord is not to be forgotten!

So that you can print this document for reference in the continuation of this series of lessons on music composition, here a link to the same document in PDF format. Print it now for the rest of the exercise:

Once again, listen to the various fragments of this score. For each measure, determine the category to which you associate the sound atmosphere, according to your taste and impressions, among the following choices (you may add categories if you wish), by marking each one of them with a color on the printed score.

It is probable that a number of the fragments containing the Bb5 minor will appear in the last category. Indeed, this chord contains in itself two notes in significant dissonance: B and F, with the result that it is not very harmonious in itself. For this reason that chord will be often avoided, except when its unpleasant character is expected.

You will also notice that sometimes the chords are reversed, i.e. that they are not necessarily in their original order. For example, the major C chord is formed by taking one out of two notes starting from C. You have then C, E and G. The C, E and G chord is the chord in its fundamental position. By taking the same notes but changing the order and the octave, you get two other positions, called respectively the first and the second inversion of the chord:

The sound color which results from it is slightly different, even if it is the same basic chord. Because of the inversions, the mathematical ratios are modified and the sound result is different. Moreover, the upper note is also different and the ear perceives it extremely well.

Frequently, as in this exercise, a low note (in the second staff) accompanies the chord, for example with another instrument. This note is called the bass of the chord and it can be the fundamental note (C in the chord above) or one of the other notes of the chord (here E or G). Once again, the sound color changes, because of the different mathematical ratios which result from it and also because the lowest note (just like the highest note) is perceived more easily by the ear than the notes which are in the middle range. Thus while keeping the same chord, you can make a musical fragment evolve by modifying the positions of the notes of the chord and bass. This gives you a new technique to vary the sound impressions resulting from a chord sequence.

Each fragment of the document presented in this lesson can be seen as a stable point (the first chord), which moves towards another chord, then returns to the stable starting point. This is particularly true for the first series, using the C major chord as the stable point, because C is the main note of the major C scale.

We will now use the printed score in which you marked the atmospheres associated with each sequence, in order to create fragments of several successive chords. Start for example from a C chord and select a sequence in the first page. Let us take for example the sequence C - F - C, but instead of going back directly to C, let us keep only the first part: C - F. The second chord being F, go now to page 4 of the score, which contains all the sequences starting with F. Select a sequence of the same type. Let us take for example F - G - F, but let us use only the first two chords, F and G. We thus have now C - F - G. Go now to page 5, since the last note is a G. Take the sequence G to C to finally have the sequence C - F - G - C.

The principle of this exercise is thus to start from a chord and to select a sequence to another chord you like. Then without going back to the starting chord, go to the page which corresponds to the sequences on the basis of this chord, and so on. Like a domino game where you have two chords drawn on one domino and where you need to make two dominos correspond with the same chord. Here is a practical example in the following document: :

Listen to the result. The document contains several other empty measures in which you can now exercise yourself using these guiding principles and create several chords progressions. Take into account the following elements:

Next month, we will see how to manipulate and test chords progressions easier, thanks to the conductor view, the chords progressions window and the music composition tools of Pizzicato Professional 3. By then, I expect you to exercise yourself on the principles explained here!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Recording several voices on the same staff

With the musical keyboard, you may combine several rhythmic voices on the same staff. Do the following:

For more details, see the lesson on real time recording (2)

Managing courtesy key and time signatures - Automatic natural signs

A courtesy key signature is a key signature that appears at the end of a staff, outside the last measure, with the purpose of showing that the key signature is changing on the next measure (the one that starts the next staff). The reader is so warned about this change, so that he is not surprised when rapidly going to the next staff with his(her) eyes, so the word "courtesy". Pizzicato handles this key signature automatically, but you may remove this feature by going to the "Automatism..." item of the Options menu and by disabling the courtesy key signature. The same principle is also valid for time signature.
It happens that you sometimes need to write several exercises on the same page, in various key or time signatures, but while keeping independence between them. For instance, if the first exercise contains 2 sharps at the key and the second contains one flat, Pizzicato will automatically fill in two natural signs on the second exercise key signature, showing that the two sharps are no more valid. To avoid this situation, the Professional release of Pizzicato lets you create an "arbitrary" key signature. Create the key signature with one flat and then select "Arbitrary key signature". Pizzicato will not add the natural signs in this case. To force displaying the time signature in the beginning of a system, select the measure and call the Edit menu, "Measure parameters..." item. Check the "Time signature" checkbox and select "Forced".

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

Corrective upgrade for Pizzicato 3

A free corrective upgrade of Pizzicato 3 is available. It is version 3.0.3 from October, 4th 2005, for Mac OS X and Windows. It corrects various bugs found that could produce an error in the Pizzicato application. If you find any problem, please let us know, because we will publish corrective upgrades on a regular basis so as to satisfy the users of Pizzicato.
You may download it on page Warning: this upgrade is provided for people who already have Pizzicato version 3.0 (demo or bought version). If you still have Pizzicato 1 or 2, this upgrade will be useless.

Moving a tool

Pizzicato Professional lets you create new tool palettes as well as new tools. To duplicate, delete or move a tool, you just need to click the tool and move it slightly. A dialog appears to ask about the operation you want to do. Some users found that this dialog could appear too easily, simply when trying to select a tool. Indeed, if you move the tool slightly while clicking it, the dialog will appear. We have now added a condition for this dialog to appear: you must also hold down the CTRL key. It is implemented with version 3.0.3.

Consistency of measure justification

When you use the option "Adjust systems horizontally on the page" (which is the default selection in the page setup dialog), the justification of measure was done in a slightly different way than done with the automatic justification function. Pizzicato took into account the potential width of the measure (as though it was done in linear mode) to compute the content of the measure. Then Pizzicato widens or compresses the content of the measure to make it fit the page width. This resulted in having a slightly different layout than by using the automatic justification. In some case of very tight measures, it could even bring notes outside the measure. In version 3.0.3, we have corrected this problem: Pizzicato now takes into account the real width of the measure to adjust the content and so the result is the same than with the automatic justification.

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


Despite the various rhythmic values explained and the possibility to lengthen them with a dot or a tie, some rhythmic values are still impossible to write. For instance, how could you write notes during one third of a quarter note? Impossible, because all rhythmic values are based on multiples of two.

The irregular groups, also called tuplets, are groups of notes not being a multiple of a standard rhythmic value. Let us start with the simplest, the triplet.

The triplet is a group of 3 identical rhythmic values that must be played within the duration of 2 rhythmic values. Let us take an example with eighth notes. An eighth note has a duration of half a beat. Three eighth notes have a duration of one and a half beat. An eighth note triplet is a group of 3 eighth notes accelerated to fit within the duration of 2 standard eighth notes, that is to say, one beat. Here is how it is represented:

The three eighth notes are grouped by a curve (or a hook) with figure "3". It means 3 instead of 2. The three notes are played more quickly than their normal duration. The total duration of the three notes is equivalent to one quarter note. You can put four such groups in a 4/4 measure.

Here is an example with a quarter note triplet:

The three quarter notes must be played within the normal duration of 2 quarter notes. The group thus uses 2 beats of the measure. Open the Ex020.piz file and listen to it. It contains examples of quarter note triplets and eighth notes triplets:

Triplets let you divide durations into three equal parts such as the eighth note triplet which divides the quarter note into three parts. Notice that you can place different rhythmic values in a triplet, as in the following examples...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on Tuplets on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.0, a series of upgrades are available for Mac OS X and Windows, according to the version you presently have. To know the prices and possibilities, see the order page 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!