Dear Musicians,

This is issue #58 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 2007, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

Warning : This letter is sent personally to email address ##3 given willingly by you while filling a form on our site, by writing to us or as a member of the press. You may unsubscribe at any time. Click here to unsubscribe.


As this is the first newsletter of 2007, I want to wish you the best for 2007, especially in your music activities! A survey done last year shows that music composition is something people are very interested in. Expressing your emotions and deep feelings to others with music is the main satisfaction according to that survey. So we will help you to do just that in 2007, with new tools that will help you to compose music more intuitively.

A maintenance update of Pizzicato (3.2.1) is available for download at

We have started creating the first videos about the various aspects of Pizzicato. These videos may be used to better understand and use Pizzicato. In the following weeks and months, we will continue to develop them so as to cover the most important aspects of Pizzicato, as well for music notation as for the advanced composition tools. So from time to time, visit the video page at

In a recent article, we made some experiences regarding how two pure sounds interact and result in consonance and/or dissonance. We pointed out that there are two influences in action. There is a positive (consonance) and a negative (dissonance) influence. Let us try to define each one separately.

We may advance the hypothesis that dissonance occurs when the ear does not differentiate easily between two tones. Listen to the following sound example: son-5.mp3. Listen to it until you can clearly distinguish the three following parts:

  1. The sound is pure and starts to slightly vibrate within itself
  2. The sound becomes quite in disagreement with itself and dissonance occurs
  3. The sound splits more clearly into two distinct sounds and the ear may differentiate them, at which point the dissonance decreases

The middle part is the more dissonant. The above sound starts with two identical C notes (the ear only hears one sound at that moment). Then one of the C notes increases slightly up to D#. When the difference is not big enough to be easily differentiated, the resulting sound is dissonant and when the difference is bigger, the ear distinguishes the two notes and the dissonant effect decreases.

This factor is the "negative" side of music, the one that creates tension and roughness. What is the "positive" side then?

In the physical sciences, we find many occurrences of a natural phenomenon called "harmonic vibration". Basically, this phenomenon can be stated as follows: two vibrations are in some sort of natural relationship when they are multiples of each others.

Mathematically, we can refine this into: two vibrations are as closely in natural relationship as their vibration ratio is made out of the smallest integer numbers. As the integer numbers increase, the natural relationship has a tendency to decrease. There are many examples of this phenomenon.

For instance, a round table will look nicer if the plates are at equal distances to each other than if they are randomly distributed around the table. Mathematically, this is the same as saying that the circumference of the table is an integer multiple of the distance between plates. Here the "vibration" is expressed as a distance. A vibration may be described as something changing in a periodic way. One vibration is the full circumference of the table, the full table. One plate and its adjacent space is another period, one distance "vibration".

Another example is when you walk in the street hand in hand with your marital partner. If you synchronize your steps, there will be no disturbances felt in your hands, because you go both up and down together. Here, one step vibration is nicely synchronized with one step vibration of the other person. If your steps are not synchronized at all, you will feel your hands jolted by a "dissonance". What happens then when an adult walks hand in hand with a little child? As the child's steps are much shorter than the adult's, to walk smoothly, you should adapt your steps so that for every two or three steps of the child, you make one step yourself. You are then synchronized on a second or third harmonic ratio.

This also applies in the graphic arts, in nuclear physics (levels of energies of particles), in chemical sciences, etc... Why? This is probably something deeply involved in the way the universe is built. But at this point, we just need to observe it as a fact that can be used to organize and build nice and stable structures, whether musical or others.

How can we use this in music? We can predict for instance that a note vibrating at 440 Hz (vibrations per seconds) will sound well together with a note of 880 Hz (2 x 440) or with 220 Hz (440 / 2). We notice that other integer ratios will give nice results too, but as the ratio is made out of larger integer numbers, the natural relationship has the tendency to decrease. This does not mean that they will sound bad at all. It just means that they will no more sound like they have something in common. Let us define consonance as this "natural relationship". In other words, no consonance does not mean dissonance. It would just mean "neutral".

All right. So we have practical definitions of dissonance and consonance. These quantities can be measured mathematically for any set of two pure notes. But a natural note is not pure and has itself several "overtones" or harmonic sounds that are multiples of the fundamental note vibration. There are then many possible combinations and the way to compute the dissonance and consonance curves of a full orchestral score becomes quite complex as it needs to take into account every note playing and the exact harmonic structure of each instrument playing it, together with the dynamics (mf, pp, crescendo, accents,...) and the number of instruments playing. Only a software tool could do that.

With such dissonance and consonance curves in relation to the score, we could probably much better understand how harmony, counterpoint and orchestration are built. Their rules could be observed through this new viewpoint on music.

We should not make the error of saying that "dissonance = bad music" and "consonance = good music". Dissonance and consonance, as defined above, are just some measure of something that is physically happening as the air vibrates and the sound reaches your ears. It is a phenomenon. And looking more deeply into that phenomenon may help us to better understand how music is built and how we can better master music composition. Then we can relate it to our subjective experience of music and be able to compose music easier, which is the purpose of Pizzicato.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Creating random oriented melodies

With the release of Pizzicato 3.2.1 (15 January 2007), the music libraries contain an additional folder with music materials that can be used to create random melodies. Here is how you can start to experiment with it.

For more information on the Pizzicato music composition tools, see the lessons explaining them in details, starting at

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

16th notes in short notation

It is sometimes useful to simplify the notation of a measure including for instance a lot of 16th notes. Let us see the case of a 4/4 measure with the C and G alternated in 16th notes. This measure can be written in the form of C and G half notes beamed with a 16th note beam. Here is the process to follow (warning, the MIDI play will not follow):

In other cases, you can adapt this to 32nd notes for instance.

Specifying the colors of the notes

The "Graphic options..." item of the "Options" menu lets you select between three color modes for notes. Under the title "Use of colors", you may choose between:

If you want to freely assign colors (by deciding the color of each note, for instance to emphasize a theme or the function of some notes for a didactic purpose), the only way to do it is the following:

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

Composing music (4)

In this lesson, we provide you exercises to stimulate inspiration by creating melodies, rhythms and instrumentations. We will use the chords progressions made during the previous lesson. You can also use progressions from the Chords library - 3.piz document located in the Libraries folder.

Melodies and rhythms

A melody is a succession of notes played by an instrument. A melody is often made by musical sentences alternated with rests. We often speak of a voice, by analogy with the singing human voice. With each note of a melody, a rhythmic value is associated and specifies the duration of the note.

Just as for a chord, a melody will use the notes of a tonality at a given time. When several voices are played together and with different notes, they form a chord. The notes of a chord can indeed be played by different instruments.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (4) on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.2, 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!