This is issue #50 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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In the past months, we have learned how to create a chord progression, a rhythmic pattern and how to combine them all in the conductor view of Pizzicato Professional 3. We will now start with our last example and examine how you can easily create a melody based on an existing chord progression.
There are lots of ways to create a melody. It can just come "out of the blue", by pure inspiration and no other influence. In that case, there is no rule to explain it, as inspiration seems to come from nowhere, or maybe from a knowledge accumulated through experience and which is not explainable in a purely logical way to somebody who does not possess that experience.
Melodies may also be inspired through the influence of rhythms, chords or various instrument sounds, acting as a causal agent, as a catalyst. It can also be computed, selected or deduced by rules, as in counterpoint or harmony.
We will see here how to create a melody based on a chord progression and a rhythmic pattern. We will start with the following document : http://www.arpegemusic.com/download/excomp-012.piz Remember that you can work this example with the free demonstration version of Pizzicato Professional 3, that you may download and install from our Pizzicato Internet site.
I suggest that you download that document and open it with Pizzicato. Then go to the Window menu, Conductor... You will see the following image in the main part of the window:
Each little rectangle represents a measure. There are 8 measures, on 9 instruments. To understand how to create the various parts, you may read our last letter (available on our site at http://www.arpegemusic.com/editoriaux.htm ). The upper blue 8 measures contain the chord progression, made out of 8 chords : C - F - G - C - Am - Dm - G - C.
As a first step, you should now listen to this score playing in loop, so that you can feel and familiarize with the sounds it contains. To do that, click on the dark blue background that encloses all the measures, so that the upper left name "My composition" is well in red (meaning it is the current score). Now click on the yellow triangle in the tool bar below the menu bar. You hear the score play in loop (i.e., the score starts back at the beginning when it comes to the end). Listen to the atmosphere generated by this little piece of music and to the various rhythms it contain.
The first important rule in a music composition is that it must be coherent and look like its various parts are in some way related to each other and in harmony or sympathy with each other. It is not just a set of various unrelated sound material put together. To create a melody that will be in harmony with this little accompaniment, we must select the notes to use and the rhythms to use so that the melody will have some similarity with the accompaniment, without of course just duplicating it, which would not add any interest to the music.
Regarding rhythms, if you listen carefully to the music and/or examine its various measures (just double-click a measure to see its content), you will be able to recognize at least the following rhythm patterns:
They can be used to create the melody. As they are already present in the accompaniment, they will serve as a link of similarity with the rest of the instruments, making the composition coherent. You may of course use other rhythms, to add new ideas to the composition, as for instance:
Regarding the notes to use, the harmony (chords) being already well defined (C - F - G - C - Am - Dm - G - C), you can use the notes of the chords. If you decompose the chords and write the notes on a staff for each measure, you will get:
You can see that for each chord, the notes have been written in the full range of the staff, so that it is easy for you to select notes even if they are an octave higher or lower.
The first approach should be to use only the above notes in their respective measures in the composition and to combine them with the rhythms. So let us start with a simple example. For the first measure, we will use the first above rhythm (4 quarter notes) on the notes E, C, E, G each one of them contained in the C chord (double-click the score named "Strings" on the first measure and then use the tool palette from the tool menu, "Notes and rests" to fill in the measure):
You may fill in the notes while the score is playing. At the next passage on the first measure, you will hear this first melody. For the second measure, you could use for instance the notes F, C, A (all part of the F chord) on the first rhythm of the second set of rhythms (half note + 2 quarter notes) and you get:
With this simple principle, you already have numerous possibilities to create your melody. To this simple technique, you could add the following advices:
- You can make the melody use a note for a full measure, giving some stability to the melody.
- You can use a measure of rest, with no notes in it. Indeed, a rest can give more importance to the preceding or following melody. A melody is not an unending series of notes. It also serves as a separator for various melodies and musical ideas.
- You may use the notes that are not contained in the current chord, but with some precaution: do not use long rhythm values for these notes. The best way to use them (but not the only one) is to use them as a transition from one note of the chord to another note of the chord (for instance if C and E are contain in the same chord, use the sequence C, D, E). Those notes should also avoid being placed in the main beats of the measure, for instance not as the first note of a measure, but more between the main beats. You can also use them as a note coming just near the main note of a chord (for instance in the C chord you could play C, D, C or C, B, C or as a grace note B, C or D, C).
- You may repeat the same note on various rhythms.
Here is an example on how you could use those ideas to complete the 8 measures:
You may download the final document of this example at http://www.arpegemusic.com/download/excomp-013.piz
Using the above simple principles you may now write several melodies on this accompaniment. Even with just these techniques, there are literally thousands and thousands of possible melodies. I suggest you to write a few ones. You may each time start over again with the original document and write another melody. You can also apply those principles to your own accompaniments and rhythmic patterns. Remember that our previous articles explained how to create accompaniments and chords progressions. Now you can also add your melodies. Have a nice time!
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When lyrics are written under the notes, you can align their positions. Using the tool that moves the lyrics, you must know how the SHIFT and CTRL keys modify it:
When you move only one text line, everything moves (all measures and staves of the instrument)
When you move a text line while holding down the SHIFT key (above the CTRL key), only the lyrics of the current measure move
When you move a text line while holding down the CTRL key, only the lyrics of the current system move
When you move a text line while holding down the SHIFT and CTRL keys, only the current syllable moves
In this way you can adapt the position of the lyrics, for example when a note goes too low. It is better to move the lyrics when they have all been encoded, otherwise you will desynchronize the positions and it will be more difficult to align them after. Do not forget that you can use 8 independent text lines that you can align independently. Every move of a line implies that all the lines below it will also move in the same way.
In Pizzicato 3, you also have a specific function. Select the measures and go in the Edit menu, Adjust lyrics... A dialog lets you readjust all the lyrics positions.
advices for Pizzicato...
Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato
Corrective update for Pizzicato 188.8.131.52
A free corrective update of Pizzicato 3 is available. It is version 184.108.40.206 from February, 16th 2006, 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 updates 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.
Problem with MIDI input or with the screen keyboard?
In Pizzicato 3, it sometimes happens that the MIDI input does not work or that the piano keyboard (Windows menu, Piano keyboard) is not reacting as it should. To correct that, go in the Options menu, MIDI setup... Double-click the left MIDI input and go in the "MIDI filter" button. See that every check box is checked in that dialog (except the System exclusive, which is not necessary). Validate and close the dialog and the problem should be solved.
Adding pages or systems?
Pizzicato is based on the measure as the main working block. Staves are made of measures. Systems are made of staves and pages are made of systems. To add a system or a page at the end of the score, just add the correct number of measures with the measures and staves tool. Double-click for example the last measure of the score with the arrow tool selected. A dialog box appears and let you add measures. Add for example 20 measures and a new page with new systems will be created. Warning: Pizzicato Light does not include this function.
Musical basics and access to the Pizzicato music course
The goal of MIDI
MIDI means Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Its purpose is to transmit the actions executed with a musical keyboard in a digital form.
It is a universally adopted language to exchange musical information between synthesizers and computers.
When you hit a note on a musical keyboard, the keyboard immediately sends a message to its MIDI output. This message communicates for example that the C-3 note has just been pressed. When you release the note, another message is instantaneously sent to express that the C-3 note is released.
If a pedal is connected to your synthesizer, the fact of pressing or releasing this pedal also sends a MIDI message expressing this action. Similarly, when you move a lever located on your keyboard, it also generates MIDI messages.
In other words, each action executed by the performer on his keyboard is translated and instantaneously sent as a MIDI message to the devices connected to it by a cable.
These standard MIDI messages only contain numbers which characterize the type and the content of the message. Those numbers are instructions which command a synthesizer what to play and how to play it. It is not a sound which goes through a MIDI cable, but only a set of instructions used to control a musical synthesizer.
When the computer wants to play a score on a synthesizer, it simply sends the necessary MIDI instructions to it, and the synthesizer produces the sounds, not the computer. The computer simply replaces the performer.
Therefore, the sound quality depends only of the synthesizer which executes the MIDI commands. MIDI does not have a "sound quality". A MIDI message simply gives the order "Play this note!" and the synthesizer executes it with its capabilities.
...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about MIDI on our site...
The commercial page...
With the publication of Pizzicato 3.0, a series of updates 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.
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