Dear Musicians,

This is issue #52 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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We are happy to announce the publication of Pizzicato 3.1 Light, Beginner and Professional, for Windows and Mac OS X. The good news is that it is a free update if you already have Pizzicato 3.0.

The main new feature of this release is that Pizzicato has audio functions (Wave files, with extension ".wav"). Until now, Pizzicato worked only in MIDI. You may now add one (Pizzicato Light/Beginner) or several (Pizzicato Pro) audio tracks to an existing score.

You can add your voice or an acoustic instrument recorded with a microphone connected to your sound card. Pizzicato will play these audio tracks together with the written score. Moreover, Pizzicato may also create an audio Wave file combining the sound result of the score and the audio tracks. Such a file may then be used with your CD burning software to create an audio CD with your compositions and arrangements.

Pizzicato 3.1 also has an audio editor that you can use to modify a recorded or existing audio file. Volume may be changed, you may copy/paste/delete parts of the wave, modify it locally, create multiple loops, add effects,...

Release 3.1 also brings several improvements and corrections frequently asked by users. You may discover the details at page

You may right now download the update at or the new demo version if you do not possess version 3, at page


Let's go back to music composition. Last month, we have established two basic principles for music composition:

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

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

We will work here on a little melody to show how these principles may be used to find a second and third voice. You may apply it to your own melodies. We will use the following example:

You may download it and open it (with Pizzicato Professional 3 demo if you did not buy it) at First listen to it (use the little yellow triangle in the score window once the document is opened).

This melody does not show any chord explicitly. The main notes of this melody (the notes forming its structure) are the half notes. Their presence is enforced by their duration and by their position on the main beats of the measure (beats 1 and 3 here). The other notes are intermediate and transition notes. The shorter the note duration, the more the note may be considered a transition note and a free note in relation to a chord we would like to place in the measure.

For instance, let us consider measure one and use only 3 notes chords (triads). We find in that measure the notes "E" and "A". "E" occupies the first three beats. "A" may be either considered as part of the chord or as a note preparing the coming "B" note in the next measure (appoggiatura) and so of less importance to the chord of the measure. Having here only two notes, we decide that "A" will be part of the chord and that there will be only one chord in the first measure.

Those choices are of course arbitrary. Music composition is full of such arbitrary choices. This is what keeps composition unique. Everybody takes his/her own choices and as there are several possibilities, your composition becomes in some way "unique". Composing is learning to choose, while being guided by your taste and inspiration. It is learning to freely walk in the space of sound combinations while also succeeding to express what you feel.

If you review our explanation about the 3 notes chords (see page ) you will find that there is only one chord that contains both "E" and "A": the chord "A, C, E". This gives us the possible notes for the other voices. So as to have the full chord present, we will use "C" and "A", because "E" is already present during 3/4 of the measure.

For the second voice, we will use a whole note and for the third voice (the bass), we will use quarter notes so as to have a regular rhythmic pattern. We will use the root note of the chord (here the "A") for the bass. We have then:

So as to keep note reading easy for beginners, we have used the G clef even for the bass (the "15" number shows that the notes are played two octaves lower). The chord formed by these notes is called "A minor".

While listening to the second measure of the melody, we may notice that the next intermediate stable point is reached on the "E" note (the third note, which is a dotted quarter note). We can use it to change the chord. We keep the last chord for the two first beats and find a new one for the second part of the measure.

The two 16th notes are transition notes so we do not take them into account. The only constraint left is to use a chord that contains the "E" note. By referring to the above mention explanation, you can notice that there are three chords that contain the "E" note. Generally, while limiting chords to triads, there are three chords that contain a given note (at least when staying in the same tonality, which means here without adding sharps or flats):

As we have used the chord "A, C, E" in the last measure, we avoid that one (the purpose is to introduce changes and add richness to the music).

We choose the first chord, containing the "E, G, B" notes. For the second part of the measure, we place a "B" and a "G" (the "E" being already there):

For the next measure, we can for instance keep the bass note ("G"). As the other present note is "B" (in the melody), you can find two chords containing those notes:

We will select for instance the first chord (we could justify this by saying that the "E" note has been already played enough in the previous measures so that we select a chord with a new note in it) and add the "D" in the second voice and "G" notes at the third voice:

For the fourth measure, we keep the same note for the first two beats, in a similar way as in measure 2. Notice that the melody has the same rhythmic pattern than measure 2, with different notes.

For beats 3 and 4 of that measure, we have a "G" in the melody. Based on this constraint there are three chords available:

We select the third chord and add a "C" at voice 2 and "E" at the bass:

In a similar way, we can fill in measures 5 and 6:

Please note that we have also used transition notes on the bass and a "late" note on the second voice (the "D" is not part of the "E, G, B" chord of measure 6 but is part of the previous chord and resolves itself on the "E", as if the note was "late"). These freedoms of entering transition notes between stable chords may enrich the melodies and the sound results. They are only validated by the nice or interesting effects they can produce. Several possibilities are available and may be explored. You may download the above example at

The method used here to add voices is quite rudimentary, but it however contains the basic principles. The above example is not perfect and could for sure be improved or changed, according to what we want to express. What is lacking at this point is one or more criteria to better detect and filter passages that could sound not very good. These criteria should help us to guide our inspiration and select musical effects that will better fit our musical state of mind.

We will study next month an hypothesis regarding the "musical interest quantity" that evolves through a piece of music. This theory may help to understand the nature of more strict rules such as the parallel fifth and octave so much stressed in harmony and counterpoint courses. The rules of acoustic will help us to better understand this.

We suggest you to write some of your own melodies and to add voices to it by using the method exposed here. You may also work on the above example and make other choices than we did here. You will have another arrangement of the same melody. Have a nice time!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Percussion maps

With Pizzicato Professional, you may assign each note to a specific line of the staff. It is useful to write and listen to percussion instruments in a logical way. On a lot of synthesizers, percussion instruments are assigned according the General Midi standard. Due to the fact that there are very many instruments in that standard, a percussion score written this way is very difficult to read. The different percussion notation conventions need to assign an instrument to a given staff line. For example, you decide that the treble clef low D corresponds to the bass drum, that the second line (G) is the snare drum,...

To create such a percussion "map", open the "Instruments" view and select the "MIDI Parameters" configuration. Check the "Pr" box of that staff (Percussion). You have then a table which lets you select a percussion instrument for each note of the staff. See the lesson about the instruments view for more information about its use.

Notice that this function is simply a new attribution of the notes heard in comparison with the notes height on the staff. You can use it to create amazing effects, for example a table inverting the keyboard notes, so that when writing notes higher on the staff makes them lower in pitch. Try then to listen to a Mozart sonata...

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

Update for Pizzicato 3.1 - Audio functions

A free update of Pizzicato 3 is available. It is version 3.1 from June, 2nd 2006, for Mac OS X and Windows. It corrects various bugs found that could produce an error in the Pizzicato application, but also includes several new audio functions. 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.

The "P" and "S" check boxes

The "Instruments" view includes 2 check boxes named "P" and "S" for each staff. By default, the "P" box is checked. It means "Play". All the staves for which the "P" box is checked will play their notes. Disabling an instrument with this box, you can mute its notes, for example if you disable the soloist of a score, you can play it yourself.

The "S" box means "Solo". By default, this box is not checked. If you activate it for one instrument, all the others will be muted. If you activate it for some instruments, they will play their part and the others will not play. It is an alternative to the "P" box use. For example, if you work with an orchestra score and want to listen to some measures with one instrument only, check the "S" box of this instrument. Using the "P" box, you would have to disable all the other instruments to obtain the same result.

French or international note/chord names

You may select the way notes are named. Go in the Options menu, Chords library... item. You will find in the upper right part of that dialog a selection to name the notes "Do, Ré, Mi,..." or "C, D, E,...". Select your choice and click OK. The chords will then be displayed accordingly, for all documents.

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


Why add symbols?

The note pitches and the rhythmic values placed in the measures indicate to the performer the note sequence he must play. A piece of music played exactly as written will seem mechanical, without life or expression.

When a composer creates a musical work, he writes of course notes and rhythms, but he will try to transcribe on the score the way notes must be played, with what expression, with what feeling the piece must be performed.

He will add various symbols on the score to describe and transmit as precisely as possible the sound effect he wants to achieve on the auditor.

When a musician will play this score, he will take all symbols into account to understand what the composer wanted to express so as to play the score in the correct state of mind.

There is a whole series of symbols influencing the way the performer will play a score. We will learn the most common symbols..


Nuances specify the sound volume the performer must respect to play the notes. Here is the complete series, forming a progression of increasingly strong sound volumes:

The P comes from Italian Piano meaning softly. The F comes from Forte and means strongly and the M comes from Mezzo and means half or medium.

Start Pizzicato and open the Ex031.piz example. It contains the following measures. Listen to them to understand the resulting sound effect :

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about symbols on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3, 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!