Dear Musicians,

This is issue #61 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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In our previous article, we have seen that a music composition is made out of one or several melodies combined harmoniously. We have learned that a melody is a sequence of notes, repeated or not, with melodic or rhythmic aspects.

Thus melody plays an important role and we will take the time to examine it. Melody has two aspects:

Any method that can be used to explore, create and combine melodies may be useful to compose music. Pizzicato offers you several tools for that and we will explore them in the following articles.

But composing music is not simply assembling nice melodies and "hope" that they will sound well together. A music composition is based on coherence. The various parts must hold together well and form an organized structure, each one harmoniously combined with the others. If coherency is missing, the result will look like a random mixture.

So it is useful to discover what are the elements that produce coherence, so that they can be used to construct melodies. We will first engage in some theoretical and practical thinking about music. The following may seem unusual to a music or composition course, but it is probably often a missing element in such courses, as it concerns the very perception of what music really is. By keeping these basic principles in mind, the other aspects of music and composition learning may become much more profitable, because they can then aligned to the underlaying purposes of music. Let us start right in...

First of all, what is the building block of music? As elementary as it may seem, music is built with time as the primary element. If the graphic arts can be contemplated in a relatively static way, music can not be conceived without a time flow. Music is basically a change. If time would stop, no music could be heard. Even when you listen to a continuous note played by an instrument, this note consists of hundreds of sound vibrations per second.

The basic substance of music being time, what makes it agreeable or not, appreciated or not by most people? In a more general way, why is art appreciated? Very subjective question... Observation and personal experience of art appreciation may guide us to discover the common elements that could help us to develop the ability to compose music in a systematic way.

What is creating coherence in a music composition? It is the presence of order, the degree of organization in it.

Order can be defined as opposed to chaos, disorder, lack of organization. To take an extreme example, what is the main difference between a garbage heap and an art work?

Obviously, each part of an art work has been subtly worked, thought about, designed, evaluated,... so as to form a whole. It is the result of a plan and a desire to communicate an aesthetic effect through the impression it will have on the public. It is organized and ordered. On the contrary, the garbage heap is formed by several parts that were thrown together in a random way, without a global plan, with no precise order, each part coming from different and unrelated sources, none of which having any purpose to communicate something or to create a global aesthetic effect. It is unordered and disorganized.

Various theories exist on the subject of order and chaos (do a search with these keywords on the Internet to get an idea about that), but as far as we are concerned, we just need to notice that an art work is essentially based on some order and organization. Life and man seem to be quite interested by order and it is an essential part of music composition.

Another theory may be interesting in the frame of music composition: the theory of information (use these keywords also for a search on the Internet). It studies the quantity of information found for instance in a material structure or in an electric signal, in light, in sound,...

Applied to music, information may be considered as the quantity of new music material presented, as opposed to what could be predicted by the auditor. For instance, if a bass drum plays the same rhythmic note during ten minutes, it only presents something new during the first few seconds of its playing. Then the ear is accustomed to it and nothing new happens. The auditor can fully predict each and every note during the next ten minutes. No new information is given, interest decreases, boredom and disinterest occur. It is the presence of new information and change that keep the interest of the auditor awakened.

Inversely, a music composed of pure random notes, changing all the time without any predictability nor repetition contains too much information and changes and the auditor will not understand it. As far as he is concerned, such a music seems to be composed of chaos and randomness and is more comparable to the garbage heap example. He will call this kind of music "noise".

So what is order? Let us take some easily observed examples and let us see if we can draw some practical conclusions on this.

Let us take the example of the natural tree forest and a parcel where trees have been planted by man. In the first case, we will not found precise distances between the trees. They will seem to have been planted randomly. In the second case, the trees will be aligned at equal distances and angles. If we build a straight road through the random forest, the straight line will add some degree of order into the forest. It is indeed predictable as it goes exactly straight through it.

Let us consider an apartment building where each window has different forms and colours. Compared to a building where all windows are the same, it will look much less ordered. But if one of its floors has all the same windows, this fact alone will give some degree of order to the building.

As you find other examples similar to this, you will easily notice that the very idea of order is opposed to the idea of randomness. But what is randomness? In a practical way, randomness is the inability to predict what will be seen or perceived. How do you predict something? Simply by thinking in advance, with some kind of a mental duplicate of what you expect to see or perceive. If the picture you built does not correspond to what you perceive afterwards, then one could say that you could not predict it.

So what is the the relation with information? If you can predict exactly the content of a speech, then that speech does not bring to you any new information. Otherwise you would not have been able to predict it, do you? In the bass drum example, if after 5 minutes the rhythm suddenly changes, you would not have expected it if you had predicted the rhythm to stay the same all the time.

An ordered structure also seems to contain identical, similar or comparable elements. These common elements produce a feeling of unity to the whole and create the impression that its parts form a coherent whole and not just a set of disrelated and randomly assembled parts. If you look at a wall fragment that is painted with a repetitive pattern, you can by extension predict the aspect of the full wall, which is just the repetition of the same pattern.

Order is then related to the ability to predict what you did not yet perceive, geographically (repetitive patterns, trees in the forest,...) or as related to time (rhythmic pattern). In other words, we can also say that the presence of order helps an individual to get accustomed to what he perceives, to better understand it and appreciate it. Indeed, we are more likely to like what we can understand. The ability to understand and predict being quite variable from one person to another and also according to his/her life experience, the perception of an ordered structure inside a disordered structure will also vary from one person to another.

Let us put together these various observations in the form of practical principles that can be applied to music composition:

How can we apply this to music composition? Often, a music composition starts in with a very simple idea, coming from pure inspiration, by singing or playing on an instrument. Some notes, a rhythmic sequence, or some chords that we like and find interesting. This is justified by no other reason than our very appreciation of it. This is often the easiest part of the job when you start to compose music.

Then... euh, well then it becomes a more difficult problem. You do not know how to transform this idea into a full developed music composition. There comes the tough part of the work. Probably the four well known notes of Beethoven's fifth symphony were found by others at various times and locations, but only Beethoven developed them into a renowned full orchestral symphony.

Composing music is finding a musical idea and developing this idea into a full musical composition.

A musical idea may be very simple and common at the beginning, with no apparent possibility to create something wonderful with it. However, the bright and creative composer will take almost any simple musical idea and transform it into a very interesting piece of music.

May be you already experienced having found a little melody, a rhythm and then try to develop it with no success. You should understand that methods exist to help you develop an idea. These methods can be deduced from the above basic principles. But if you already have musical ideas, then it is an important point for music composition! You just lack some methods to help you develop your ideas. Pizzicato and the following articles will surely help you in that direction.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Encoding notes without stems in a measure - free measures

To create a free measure with notes without stems, you can disable automatic justification (Pizzicato Professional and Beginner) and freely place whole notes in the measure. With the Professional version, you can then change all the note heads in a quarter note head or another symbol (by selecting the measure and going in the "Change the notes head" item of the "Edit" menu). With the Beginner version, you can use quarter notes and reduce the stem height to zero. Pizzicato Professional also lets you create free measures. Select the measures and in the Measures parameters item ("Edit" menu), check the "Measure duration" check box and select "Free on the basis of a" with the value of a quarter note, for example. By keeping the automatic justification, Pizzicato will align the notes correctly and you will be able to listen to the result according to the number of beats present in the measure.

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

Pizzicato 3 and Windows Vista

So that Pizzicato 3 works fine with Windows

Vista, do the following after installing the program (but before starting Pizzicato):

In case Windows asks for confirmation in the above steps, you can confirm.

If you do not do the above steps, you may run into the following problems:

Pizzicato 2 and Windows Vista

So that Pizzicato 2.0.7 works fine with Windows Vista, here is the procedure.

To install Pizzicato 2 on Vista, do the following:

Then proceed as follows:

In case Windows asks for confirmation in the above steps, you can confirm.

To run Pizzicato, double-click the "Pizzicato" application found in the "Pizzicato" folder. Do not use the compressed "Pizzicato" folder (the one that was downloaded). You may even delete it so as to avoid confusion.

Share Pizzicato scores with others and on the Internet

If you want to send one of your Pizzicato files to a person who does not possess Pizzicato, you have several possibilities:

To display a score on a website, you can combine the .PDF graphic file with a .MID file of this score. Your visitors will be able to listen to the .MID file and to print the .PDF file directly from your website.

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

The name and position of notes

Exactly as the alphabet has 26 letters from A to Z, the musical alphabet includes 7 letters assigned to the notes:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B

In this lesson and the next ones, we will work on the basis of the treble clef. Here is the position of these 7 notes when a treble clef is placed at the beginning of the staff:

The name of the treble clef (also called G clef) comes from the following fact : the loop in the middle of this clef is centered around the second line of the staff, which is the line on which the G note is located.

What about the names of the lower and higher notes? The same names are used again. Higher than B, there is again C, D,... Lower than C, the names are B, A,... Here is the result for the higher notes...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on notes and rests 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!