This is issue #47 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.
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Copyright 2005, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved.
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Since several months, we are working on the new Pizzicato presentation site. It is now ready and published. You will find in it a data base on frequently asked questions about Pizzicato, user's testimonies, a more advanced presentation of the new tools to compose music, as well as a table comparing the various versions of Pizzicato (2 and 3, Light, Beginner and Professional). You can visit the site at: www.arpegemusic.com
Let us continue our practical approach of music composition. In the last months, we have learned and analyzed the following aspects of music composition:
- The principle of the "musical interest sequence". Starting from equilibrium, the interest is waked up by a disturbance and the interest follows the path to solve this disturbance and to go back to the stable situation. The point is thus to create a state of balance, to disturb it and to restore it. As simple as it may appear, this model applies to a great number of works and is very rich in possibilities. (see newsletter #43)
- The way chords are built and the fact that a melody using the notes of a chord will be in harmony with that chord. (see newsletter #44)
- The way you can sequence chords, based on common attributes: the scale or one or more notes. (see newsletter #45)
- A practical tool to encode a chords sequence and arrange it in a specific prepared style. (see newsletter #46)
This last step gives you a rapid result on a chords progression, but as the styles are all prepared in advance, this is a restricting limit on creativity. Let us see how we can improve this by creating your own original music styles.
Is there an easy way to describe what a rhythmic accompaniment is? What do we mean by "accompaniment style"?
On most sophisticated organs, digital pianos and synthesizers, you will find a rhythmic section that may create a prepared accompaniment in several various styles. You only need to play one chord (sometimes only one note is enough) on the lower part of the keyboard and the system will play a bossa-nova, a rock,... rhythmic pattern based on that chord, so that you can concentrate yourself on playing the melody and still be accompanied by a full orchestra that follows you when you change the left hand chord.
Technically, what does such an accompaniment consist of?
It is made of several instruments, often including percussion, bass, organ or strings pads, guitar or piano,... there are unlimited variations. You mostly find those accompaniments for light music, but the principles apply as well for any other music style, whether classical, commercial or contemporary music.
For each accompaniment instrument, there is a rhythmic sequence of notes, a melodic pattern, for instance notes going up and down. This pattern is often quite short: one or two measures. This pattern is played repeatedly for each instrument.
If the rhythmic values (duration) of the notes are well determined, it is not the case for the pitches of the notes. Indeed, a piece of music may often be described by the sequence of the chords it consists of. There is then one different chord for each measure or group of measures, or even several chords inside the same measure. Notice that at a specific time there is only one chord, but chords may follow each other rapidly inside the same measure.
We have seen that for a melody to be harmonious, it must mainly use the notes on which the current playing chord is built. So the notes used by the accompaniment instruments must be selected according to the chord being played at that moment. The reason why the accompaniment will be itself harmonious is that each instrument will play the notes of the same chords progression. The result is then coherent.
From one measure to the next, when you change the left hand chord, the system immediately adapts the pitches of the notes played by the accompaniment, while keeping the rhythmic patterns the same. The accompaniment cell adapts itself to follow your chords progression. Only percussion instruments do not take chords into account, because its instruments (bass drum, hi hat, cymbals,...) are not associated with a note pitch.
The principle used to create an accompaniment style is to select a number of instruments and decide for each one a repetitive melody, based on the C scale (you must well use a reference scale or chord to built it). Then the system will modify the notes so as to adapt them to the chords to accompany.
To create a repetitive melody for an instrument, you may put your imagination at work. Here is an example. Notice that all notes are based on the C chord (C, E, G):
There is here only one note at a time. It is a little melody that will be repeated. Download the following Pizzicato document and open it with the Professional Pizzicato 3 version (use the free demo version if you did not buy it): http://www.arpegemusic.com/download/excomp-010.piz In the Windows menu, select the Conductor view. This view displays colored blocks. Double-click the orange Guitar block to see the above score and play it (use the little yellow triangle in the tool bar of the score).
Here is another example, the blue block named Strings (Pizzicato). Open it and listen to it. It is composed of two staves of two measures. Once again, the notes used are the notes of the C chord:
The main difference between such examples and a main melody is the duration. An accompaniment often repeats itself on a short cycle, often one or two measures. By listening to the above examples, you will notice that it is well a little melody that you can sing and remember. It is however quite short compared to a main melody, which often will stretch over several measures. It is then a quantitative difference: the main melody may also be repeated, as it is often the case, but the full repeat cycle is much longer and will be done over several chords, enabling the melody to be more rich and subtle. An accompaniment melody will have a shorter repetition cycle and will often use only a short number of chords.
To create an original style, you need to put together several little rhythmic sequences for different instruments as here above, including percussion sequences, as the following examples (the red blocks in the above document - open them and play them):
By combining them, you have then several instruments playing together on the same chord in C. Double-click and listen to the example of the above document, entitled Ensemble (the blue/red/purple block).
The number of possible accompaniments is practically unlimited. A software or arranger often gives you a great number of prepared styles. For each one of them, the instruments and their rhythmic patterns are already assembled. Pizzicato, however, has chosen another approach. It gives you several instruments and melodic/rhythmic patterns that you can then yourself combine into innumerous original and personal styles.
In the conductor view of Pizzicato, observe the upper left hierarchical structure. You may explore this structure (click on the "+" to see what a block contains):
A block with two notes on it is in fact a score with a rhythmic melody. You may drag it on the left part of the window to make it appear as a colored block in the conductor view. You may then use it and double-click it to see the score and play it. Take some time to explore the various blocks and listen to them.
You may look at such a style as a cell to construct a piece of music. By combining a chords progression with it (which will affect the notes of the successive rhythmic cells) and by adding to it a melody that is in harmony with the same chords progression, you have most parts of a piece of music: your own personal music composition.
A style based on one chord may be considered as a stable point, something that runs along in a repetitive way. The music interest sequence may then disturb it by changing the chord, by changing the accompaniment cells, by adding rhythmic breaks, by removing/adding instruments,... The static accompaniment cell may then become dynamic and render the music work richer.
Our goal being to help you compose your own music, we will see next month the next step to help you combine what we learned during the last months: the chord progression must influence the various accompaniment cells so that they are all in harmony with each other.
Meanwhile, we wish you already a happy Christmas and New Year!
Designer of Pizzicato.
and applications of Pizzicato...
Discover the various aspects and applications of Pizzicato
Sending and distributing your Pizzicato scores to others and on the Internet
While working with Pizzicato, you may need to send one of your scores to somebody who do not possess Pizzicato. Here is how to do it, according to what the person needs to do with it:
To display a score on an Internet site, you may combine a PDF file with a MIDI file of the score, so that your visitors will be able to display, print and listen to it on your web site.
- If you want him/her to just listen to your score, you may use the MIDI export function to create a MIDI file. Go in the File menu, Export MIDI file... and select the default format and the name of your file. This file will have the ".mid" extension and you can send it attached to an e-mail. Any Windows computer or Mac will be able to play that file. This file may also be opened and modified by almost any music software.
- If you want him/her to be able to print the score, then you may create a PDF file from the score. On Mac OS X, you may do that by choosing the PDF printing option. On Windows, a free utility software named CutePDF may do that for you. While printing with Pizzicato, select the CutePDF printer and the software will ask you the name of the PDF file you want to create. You may download it freely on the editor's site and install it as a PDF printer: http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp On the left of that page, you will find two links: Free download and Free Converter. Download and install both, then restart your computer. A PDF file may be viewed by your correspondent and may be sent by e-mail so s(he) can see it and print it.
- If you want the file to be played while the score displays the notes in real time, you may send the Pizzicato file and suggest to your correspondent to download the free demo version of Pizzicato. S(he) will then be able to open your file in the Professional demonstration version and to play it, change the tempo, follow the score, play only some parts (so as to play himself/herself a part) or modify it temporarily. Without a license, s(he) will however not be able to save the file, except by working in the shareware mode, but in that case, the type of score that s(he) can open is limited. If you work with Pizzicato Light, it will be possible to print, play and modify your score with the Pizzicato shareware version.
advices for Pizzicato...
Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato
Corrective upgrade for Pizzicato 3
A free corrective update of Pizzicato 3 is available. It is version 3.0.4 from November, 17th 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 http://www.arpegemusic.com/clients3.htm Warning: this update 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.
The width of a measure
With Pizzicato Beginner and Pro, you can modify the width of a measure by using the measures and staves tool or the arrow tool, by clicking just to the left of the right measure bar and by moving the mouse. When you release, the measure is redrawn. Its contents are automatically adapted (widened or tightened).
If you do not wish its contents adapted, you can do the same operation while holding down the CTRL (Control) key on the keyboard. The measure width is modified but its contents do not move.
If the measure is the last of a system on a page, the measure bar is automatically aligned on the right margin and thus it does not work. You can bypass this limit by disabling the option "Adjust systems horizontally on the page" in the page setup dialog (File menu).
Modify the page layout
If you want to modify the page layout parameters in a score that is already created and has a page setup defined, do not forget to validate the Calculate check box in the right part of the page layout dialog box. It is only when this box is checked that Pizzicato will take into account the new layout parameters.
Dialog box or tool help
To find detailed explanations obout 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.
Musical basics and access to the Pizzicato music course
Braces and groups of staves
We have seen that staves playing together are connected by a vertical line on the left border:
This set of staves played simultaneously is called a system.
It is also common to connect the bar lines belonging to the same instrument group, such as for example the woodwinds, the brasses or the strings of an orchestra. Here are for example some instruments of an orchestra. The bar lines are connected by instrument families:
The groups of staves are delimited by a bracket including all the instruments of the same family. In this way, instruments are easier to locate, especially when the orchestra score has twenty-five or thirty instruments as it is sometimes the case.
...to read the full text, see the lesson about the characteristics of music notation 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!