Dear Musicians,

This is issue #56 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 -
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Copyright 2006, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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In our search for a better understanding of the basics of music, we asked you last month to listen to and evaluate an audio file that consisted of 20 samples of one second each. Out of 12 answers received (13 with my own evaluation...) we have analyzed the results and built a graphic. Thanks to the 12 active readers!

The samples in the audio file were filed randomly. They represent 20 intervals. In each sample, there is a sound of 200 Hz (vibration per second) and another sound of 200, 205, ... up to 400 Hz. The evaluation asked was a number between -10 (diharmonious) and +10 (harmonious), 0 being neutral. Here is the graph that we computed out of these results :

As there are only 13 sets of values and only 20 different intervals, the curve is a bit rough and lacks precision. However, we can make the following observations:

This is to be compared with an existing study that have been done by several researchers in that area (for instance Plomp and Levelt, in Journal of Acoustic Society, Am. 38 pages 548-560, in 1965). They asked many people to estimate the "disonance" of two pure sine waves and they got roughly the following graph:

This is also drawn on one octave interval. But the measure is here only dissonance, as far as I can understand. It is like measuring only the negative feeling (disturbance) that you get when you listen to a sound. From this curve it results that the negative part of the feeling you may develop from a sound is more intense in the middle band. When the two notes are very close together, it does not create this feeling very much (the left band) and when they are more apart (right band) the negative feeling decreases down to zero.

The two graphs are not drawn with the same horizontal scale. The center of the middle band roughly corresponds to the first valley of our graph (around 210 / 225), because our experiment has asked the positive/negative combination of the feeling you have from a sound, so a peak in this other graph corresponds to a valley in our graph.

I believe music is more than just "I don't like it" or "it has no effect upon me". There must also be "I like it". There must be at least two forces in music, two influences. One of them is something that makes sound appear harmonious, agreable, nice,... The other makes sound appear disharmonious, ugly, disagreable,... They do not necessarily cancel each other when they are both present. I mean it is not the same phenomena than two people pulling on a string with the same force but in opposite directions, so that nothing moves because they cancel each other's effort.

Indeed, if you play two notes that are very "dissonant" when played together (as a minor second : click to hear it : exmid-001.mid ), the fact that you add other notes that are very "consonant" will not cancel the existing dissonance so that you get something neutral, neither beautiful nor ugly. Listen to the following chord : exmid-002.mid. It contains the same two dissonant notes as the previous example, but with three added consonant notes. The result is nice sounding. But if you are very careful, you can still locate and hear the two dissonant notes inside it. The dissonance is still there. It was not cancelled by other notes. But the resulting balance is quite interesting to hear now, despite the disonnance.

So it is not enough to classify a chord (which is a combination of notes) as "dissonant" or "consonant". A chord may have both in it and will not then necessarily be a "neutral" chord. The presence or absence of both characteristics at the same time in a sound gives it a quality that we can call "interest" or "lack of interest". The interaction of those two forces will then create motion in music, alternances of tension (exmid-003.mid) and peaceful (exmid-004.mid) sections. There may be also ambigious sections (exmid-005.mid), where the influences of dissonances and consonances are very intense and controversal.

The positive force (or consonnance) may be described as something that will "unit" the music so as to make it coherent or in agreement with itself. The negative force (the dissonance) will "split it apart", so as to make it "different from itself" or in disagreement with itself. The interplay between these two forces will develop motion, action and interest inside a piece of music.

A piece of music using only consonnances may be quite nice to hear but may also lack interest and annoy you. Or too much dissonnances may upset your tolerance band and then you dislike the music. So at this point we may say that music consists at least of three parameters that evolve during a piece of music:

The variations of consonance and disonnance influence in part the interest. But interest may be generated by many other factors like rhythm, instruments, special effects,...

In our next article about the basics of music, we will study more precisely how consonances and disonnances may be measured or deduced from a music score.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Volume or velocity crescendo?

Nuance symbols influence the note velocities. Contrary to the volume, which can be changed while the note is playing (crescendo on a tied note for example), the velocity parameter does only influence the note attack. Once the attack is played, the velocity of this note cannot be changed anymore.

The main symbols palette includes two types of crescendo. The standard crescendo is using velocity, but it has no influence on a tied note, as explained above.There is no problem to use this with a series of 16th notes for instance. The velocity will progressively increase for each note.

If you want to create a progressive crescendo on held notes, you have to use the volume crescendo (on the palette it is drawn in blue, with a little "v" letter for Volume). This one will progressively modify the volume and the crescendo will be heard correctly.

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.

Creating a dynamic pause

Here is how you can transform the static pause from the palette into a dynamic pause that will influence the playing of the score (Pizzicato Professional):

1. Double-click the pause in the palette
2. Check the "MIDI play" checkbox, then click "Define play..." just to the right.
3. The "Start" item must be set on "Attached note"
4. Fixed lenght of 0 measure, 1 beat, 0 unit
5. Value = 20
6. Activate the "Local change" checkbox and disable the "Relative values" checkbox.
7. Click OK twice.

When placing the symbol on a note, Pizzicato will take a tempo of 20 per quarter note, during one beat, which will slow down the playing of this note. You can modify the tempo value (20 at step 5 above) and the effect duration (1 beat at step 4) to influence the pause.

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:

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

Composing music (2)

We will first learn how to use an accompaniment style. We will then study how a style is structured and how you can modify it or create a new style.

Using the accompaniment styles

Pizzicato contains 20 documents with musical libraries oriented towards styles of light music:

They are available in the File menu , Open template… item in the Accompaniments sub-category. As an example for this lesson, we will work with the Rumba style. Open this document. Its main view appears as follows:

This structure is the same for all styles. Only the instruments and the library contents are different. The basic idea of an accompaniment style is as follows: each instrument of the group plays the rhythmic and melodic structures repeated in a regular way (on 1 or 2 measures or more). At every instant, the notes played by all instruments are coordinated by a chord progression which is the same for each instrument. This common chord progression leads all instruments in an harmonious way.

Let us take the simplest case to start. A chord progression is provided as an example for each style. By holding the Control key , double-click on the Example score. The sequencer view opens...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (2) 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!