Dear Musicians,

This is issue #51 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 2006, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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Last month, our editorial was the last of a series of 8 articles regarding various aspects of music composition. They included basic technology on chords, rhythms and melody, their use, their combination, as well as their corresponding tools in Pizzicato 3 Professional. These articles are available in the archives at

We start this month a new series of articles that will try to assemble and explain some rules regarding the way in which various melodies may be combined.

Traditionally, these rules are learned the hard way in harmony and counterpoint. Learning and applying them may take you years of practice. But I am afraid that if you work only with these techniques for years, while not also trying to compose by yourself on a free basis, you will not compose at all. But sure, you would receive a music certificate.

I have nothing against learning classic harmony and counterpoint the way they are taught in most public music schools (in fact I am doing it right now, just to take a new viewpoint on it so as to assemble the most important rules they convey). They can be learned extensively by people who want to reach a full knowledge of music. But they are only a path to composition, not a goal in themselves. So the error is maybe to consider them as the end purpose and in such a way, they can become a no through road.

In these articles, we will try to focus on practical aspects, with music composition as the main purpose. So do not consider the following as a counterpoint or harmony course, because it is not.

Counterpoint and harmony are basically a series of rules and exercises that you do step by step. In the exercises, you must apply the rules exactly and any violation is considered as an error (even if you like it when you hear it).

Counterpoint examines how two or more melodies will interact and sound correctly together. Harmony examines the way chords may be sequenced. They are complementary even if their exercises have sometimes rules that are contradictory (for instance in counterpoint, you should never use twice the same note in sequence while in harmony you may do so). Both introduce some arbitrary rules that may only find their explanation in their origin: they were designed for the human voice. For instance, some intervals are prohibited (7th in counterpoint) mostly because they were difficult to sing. The exercises are still done with the purpose of being sung by two, three, four or five human voices.

We can imagine that people who invented or contributed to counterpoint and harmony were just trying to isolate the rules of music so that others could just follow those rules and create music that sounds nice. By taking existing music that sounds good, they would then try to isolate the rules which that music was obeying. By examining a big quantity of nice sounding music, we could maybe find a set of rules that are common to all of them. However, this does not mean that another music would then also satisfy them. Inspiration and imagination are the first sources of music. And the fact that you find a music beautiful is the only valid criteria for that music, as far as you are concerned.

Rules may be used to avoid combinations of notes that "most people" would consider discordant or to advise note combinations that "most people" would consider harmonious. But the final effect of a certain note combination is often dependant upon the context where it is expressed, by the instruments that play them and also by the signification, the emotion and the atmosphere the composer is trying to establish. This means that you could take some note combination out of its context and those notes would sound poorly, while in their context, they make sense and are expressive. The point I want to make is that rules are only a guide. They are not the "music Truth". The real "music Truth" would be "Do I like that music? Do other people appreciate that music? Does it express something to them?". So the first thing is to keep that in mind when you study music rules. From that, we deduce our first music composition principle:

1. In composing music, personal appreciation is far superior to any rule. Rules are a substitute for pure inspiration.

This does not mean that rules are bad, they are not! This only means that if you find a musical pattern you like, then there is no need to check if it complies with a set of rules. This would be like eating something you like and then asking somebody else if you should appreciate it or not.

While learning classic harmony and counterpoint, a logical mind could be amazed about how the various rules may seem arbitrary and unrelated, even if they are applicable and useful. Here, at Arpege Music, we believe there must be another level behind all these rules. A level where all these rules could be explained and deduced from a very limited set of principles. Have these principles been discovered somewhere? I don't know, but they probably lie in the field of acoustics and frequency analysis. What I mean is a set of basic principles that could answer all the questions in the field of harmony, melody, chords and instrumentation. Why does a melody sound well? Why do some chords combine well and others not? Why some instrument patterns in orchestra sound better than others? Why do "parallel fifths and octaves" often sound poorly? There must be a set of natural principles that could answer all these questions. When they will be found and expressed in an easily, understandable form, we will then be able to understand music from its real substance.

Until then, let's be more practical. We know by experience that combining notes into chords (as explained in our previous articles) gives us harmonious results. This is backed up by the rules of acoustics and harmonics. A chord is a set of notes, with some harmonics being in common. Harmonics are multiples of the main note frequency. They make up the timbre of an instrument (why a C note played on a trumpet does not sound like a C note played with a flute).

When we play several melodies together, we can observe that they will sound pretty well if their harmonic contents will have frequencies in common. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that they form a chord. We can express this principle as follows:

2. When playing two or more melodies together, their main notes should form a chord.

When we say "chord" here, we mean the most common harmonious and pleasing chords (triads, seventh,...) that have enough harmonics in common. When we say "main" notes, we mean the notes that make up the frame of the melody, the most important notes of the melody.

How do we apply that? First, you need to know how a chord is built, otherwise you will not be able to establish if the notes of your various melodies fit into an existing chord. This is probably the most difficult aspect, as it requires some practice to "see" the possible chords in the various melodies.

We ask you to do two things before the article of next month:

Next month, we will learn a practical method of adding other voices to your melody.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Creating a dotted bar line

Here is how to create a tool that places a graphical dotted bar line, for instance to separate the first three beats from the last two beats of a 3+2 composed measure. Only Pizzicato Professional (2 or 3) will let you create new tools. Here is how to do it:

The most difficult part is the use of the graphical editor. See also the lesson on how to use it at page:

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

Corrective update for Pizzicato

A free corrective update of Pizzicato 3 is available. It is version 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 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.

Freely aligning staves and systems on a page

By default, Pizzicato automatically aligns the right and left borders of every staff on the internal margins of the pages. To disable this function, go in the "File" menu. Select the "Page layout" item and disable the "Justify systems on page, horizontally" check box, then click OK. You can the freely move the systems on the page, Pizzicato will not systematically align them right or left.

Adjusting the frame of the graphic copy

With Pizzicato Beginner and Professional, you can make a graphic copy of a score section, a measure, a stave,... To select the part you want to copy, you must adjust the window which contains that part so that you see only this part. For that, you can modify the zoom value, which will not modify the size of the part you copy. If you need to print the image with another program (Word, Corel, ClarisWorks,...), it is better to use a 300 DPI resolution in the dialog box. If you want to use the picture on the screen or on a website, 72 DPI will be enough. You can either copy the picture in the clipboard or to save it as a ".bmp" (Windows) or .pict (Mac) file and then use it as you like it.

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



The idea is to modify a melody or a whole passage of a musical work in order to play it higher or lower in the sound scale. In the lesson on key signatures, we had listened to a melody starting with C and then to the same melody starting with E. It is an example of transposition. The melody was transposed two notes higher.

It is frequent to use transposition when composing a musical work. You can transpose a whole melody or some notes. It is a current composition tool because you can express several times the same thing while adding a change to it.

The simplest transposition is an octave change. For example, all notes are played one octave higher. They keep the same name. Open Ex027.piz. The first two measures contain a small melody which is transposed one octave higher in the next two measures:

Listen to the sound difference. The second melody is easily recognized as being the same one as the first, but it is played higher.


To specify a transposition, intervals are defined. The example above is a transposition of one octave, because there are 8 notes on the patch from the original melody to the transposed melody (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C). Here are the names of intervals with the number of notes contained in each:

Unison 1 note
Second 2 notes
Third 3 notes
Fourth 4 notes
Fifth 5 notes
Sixth 6 notes
Seventh 7 notes
Octave 8 notes
Ninth 9 notes
Tenth 10 notes
Eleventh 11 notes

Speaking about a third for example, one counts the note names contained in the interval, without taking into account the number of half tones. C and E form a third, because there are three notes in the interval: C, D and E. By counting the black and white keys, there are 4 half tones...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about transposition 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.

Our purpose is to place music in everybody's hands

and to bring people to more musical creativity

Use Pizzicato and make music!