Dear Musicians,

This is issue #53 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

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This month, we announce that the Pizzicato user's forum is on line. This forum has been suggested several times by users. It will help you to ask all your questions on line. Also, you may answer to the questions of less experimented Pizzicato users.

We hope this way to energize the Pizzicato user's community. You can reach the forum on page so as to create a long list of messages and discussions groups around Pizzicato and music. The forum is in English and French. Please use it!

We count on the most advanced users to help others by answering to their questions. Thanks to all and see you soon on the forum!


One of our purposes regarding the research on music composition tools is to be able to determine and quantify a number of objective parameters that may describe the musical content of a piece of music. The advantage of such "criteria" would be to orient the composer in his research for a given musical effect. They would form a kind of control panel with various instruments and indicators that the composer (beginner or experienced) could use to navigate through the music space. The composer would keep his full decision autonomy, but he could benefit from guiding principles based on obective criteria that he could follow or not follow at will. As far as I know, there are no such tools in a music software (tell me if I am wrong, I have tried to find such tools but I could not find them...).

To compare with sky navigation, the pilot has in front of him a lot of indications: air pressure, wind direction, altitude, external temperature, speed,... With all these measures he is able to take off, pilot and land his plane. However, these instruments are not determining his destination or the way to get there. He is free to go where he wants to and his devices help him to assemble information about the situation of his plane. Similarly, the imagined musical control panel would not compose for you, but it would give you some information about the musical situation in progress.

When I speak about objectivity here, I mean measures or observations that can be done from the musical score and/or deduced from the sound file of the score, without the influence of personal taste. An example would be a frequency analysis, a computation of the frequency ratios between all notes played together at a specific time, the note quantity played and its evolution along the music piece,...

As music is finally appreciated by you the auditor - and this independently of any objective analysis done by a computer - the practical difficulty is to associate these measurable and objective criteria to more subjective aspects of musical appreciation. The problem is not new and there have been several attempts to mathematically define the "dissonance" and "consonance" of several notes so as to link that to the beauty or ugliness of a musical passage. However, experiences demonstrate that some mathematically dissonant note associations may be of a good effect and that some mathematically consonant notes associations may be of low interest. The link consonance/beauty and dissonance/ugliness is too simplistic and does not take into account other phenomena of musical perception.

We mentioned last month a hypothesis regarding the "quantity of musical interest" which evolves through a piece of music. This criterion being quite subjective, we could try to define several objective criteria to measure the "musical interest".

Let us take a very simple example of a piece of music made of only one continuing note. Imagine yourself putting the CD in the player, ignoring what you will hear. The piece of music begins. You are first interested by the note. Then you ask yourself about what kind of development it will take. There is some kind of interest from your part. But as the note continues unchanged, your interest decreases and you get bored about it. Later, you decide that it was a wrong choice to buy that CD...

In fact, if the composer intention was to get you bored, he succeeded... But I am afraid that he will no more sell another CD to you. What was missing except newness, development, change, interest? If after some seconds the note would become a rhythmic pattern, exploring various rhythms, or if various instruments would play it so as to change the timber, the composer could go a little bit further before his audience would throw tomatoes at him.

You could define, for each aspect of music, a measure of the "richness" and "change" of notes, rhythms, chords, instrument timbers, nuances, special effects,... Then you could define a global measure of the richness and changing value of a piece of music along its duration.

We could define the richness and consonance of melody and harmony, but it would need to be related to the choice of the instruments playing the notes. Indeed, the sound content for a given note varies significantly with the instrument playing it. If you play a chord with the brass instruments, the effect will be quite different than with the string instruments.

Another aspect that could be measured is the similarity quantity and the cohesion of a piece of music. A piece of music has a specific form and often repeats the same passages or variation of them. These repeated and similar passages give a personality to the music. We could then define measures of cohesion for rhythm, melody, harmony,... which would be complementary information to changing values and richness.

The composition "control panel" would be represented by a series of evolving graphics for each measured parameter, in visual correlation with the staves containing the notes of the score. The interpretation of these graphs would be global and not on only one criterion like consonance, richness or others. A new way to envision music could appear. I think that with such a visual and interactive tool, music composition could become a much more easy to learn subject than it has ever been. In any case, Pizzicato will be innovative of this kind of tools for music composition.

Next month we will look more in details at the "objective" measures of consonance and dissonance. Have a nice Holliday!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

How to create a pickup measure ?

It is common that a piece of music begins with a measure containing only one beat, introducing the first measure of the piece. If the score is in 4/4, the first measure must contain one beat only. The graphic result can be obtained by disabling the automatic justification for the first measure, stretching the measure and then sliding the quarter note graphically to the center of the measure. If the solution is graphically correct, Pizzicato will play this measure, but it will directly play the first beat and then it will wait 3 beats to play the next measure. To avoid that, you can add three quarter rests (or one dotted half rest) before the quarter note. The playing will be correct, but graphically you will see the rests... With Pizzicato Professional, you will be able to hide these rests, but you will have a white space before the measure... Another solution is to place a 1/4 measure as the first measure and change in 4/4 for the next one, but it is not the standard way for music notation...

The complete solution is furnished by Pizzicato Professional, with the "Measures parameters" dialog box. You can reach it with the "Edit" menu, after selecting the concerned measure. It lets to determine the number of beats present in a measure, independently of the time signature. For the first measure, call this dialog and check the "Measure duration" box, then select "Fixed : 1 beat of a duration of a quarter note". Click OK. You can stretch the measure and now it will justify correctly for one beat. The graphic result is thus correct and the playing will be correct too. Consult the help dialog (F1) associated to this dialog box, because it will let you make useful manipulations (uncounted measures, mesures to count, ...).

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.

How can you play the written chords?

With Pizzicato, you can write chords symbols on the score. To hear these chords, they must be transcribed on a staff, which is quite easy to achieve. Add a new staff that will receive the notes of the chords. Then select this empty staff and go the "Edit" menu, "Chords...", "Convert chords into notes...". A dialog appears, giving you several options on the notes that will be used, rhythms... Type F1 (or the Mac Help key) to have a full explanation of these options or consult the user manual in the help menu, in the lesson regarding the chords symbols. When you click on OK, the notes appear on the staff. Note that you can also create a bass line on another staff. Use the same dialog and within the usable notes, select only the bass, in a low range (C-1 to G-2 for instance).

Print preview of the score

To see a "print preview", you may use the zoom (Professional and Beginner versions only). The upper part of the score view contains therefore a little menu with standard zoom values. Selecting for example 50% or even 34 % according to your screen size, you can visualize the whole page to print. The buttons "+" and "-" respectively increases and decreases the visualized size of the page.

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

Bar lines and repeats

The various bar lines

The bar lines seen until now are vertical lines delimiting the measures on the staff.

To terminate a score, a thin bar followed by a thick one is placed on the last measure:

To separate several distinct parts of a score, a double thin bar may be used:

It is often used during a key signature change or between the various sections or movements of a score.

In some types of music (especially contemporary), one does not separate the staves in measures. The staff is seen as a support for notes, but the concept of time slicing in equal durations is no more used. Performance is often much freer or follows other criteria specified by the composer.


It is common to play several times some sections of a music score, such as for example a chorus or a theme which is played twice. One could simply write the concerned measures twice, but it would be a loss of space and useless work.

Let us take the simplest case. A given number of measures must be played twice. To specify that, a special bar line is placed on the left of the first measure of the passage and on the right of the last measure of it. They are repeat bar lines. Here is a practical example:

The measures from 2 to 5 (i.e. the measures located between the two repeat markings) must be played twice. The musician who reads this score will thus play the measures in the following order:

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about bar lines and repeat 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!