Dear Musicians,

This is issue #63 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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Let us continue to explore methods to develop a music composition, by using the principle that identical, similar or comparable music elements must be present to guarantee some order and cohesion inside a music composition.

A music composition is of course not only a logical exercise. Logic can help, but mainly to develop the composition. At the beginning, there must be at least one original idea, coming from pure imagination, totally arbitrary, without any "logical" reason. Its only reason to exist is the composer's decision to use it. He does not need to "justify" it, it is an arbitrary choice of his own, based on his personal taste and originality.

It is within the development of that original idea that logic and methods may help you, but even then, as there are numerous methods to develop that same original music idea, it is always the power of choice of the composer that will decide which method to use and when to use it.

The point to understand is that even when you use "methods" to compose, you always need to make personal decisions, simply based on your taste and on what you want to express. In other words, the existence of "methods" to compose will never be a substitute for you to decide what looks suitable or not in your music.

It is an essential point to understand in order to compose with a computer. It is never the computer that decides what you do; you use the various software tools as you want, in a similar way than the pianist plays on his keyboard to let the music ideas he wants to express come inside himself, and he selects them by listening to the piano sound effects.

In our previous article, we started from a two measures melodic idea and we deduced a rhythm, a series of notes and chords as well. We kept the rhythm and created melodies that were similar or comparable. Let us see an example of what we could deduce as an accompaniment to our composition. It shows of course only one possibility amongst the many choices we have.

By exploring the various percussion instruments, we select for instance the high conga and use two times the rhythm extracted from the melody of our last article. To explore instruments, see the lessons on the conductor view and the instruments of Pizzicato, even if you are only using the free demo version. We get:


Let us add a bass drum and use the rhythmic pattern of the first measure, but with all durations doubled. The dotted quarter note becomes a dotted half note, the eighth note becomes a quarter note and the half note becomes a whole note. We use this rhythm two times, together with the previous instrument. We get:


Up to here, we selected instruments and used rhythms identical or similar (double durations) to the original one. We will add here a new idea: a tambourine on the second and fourth beat of each measure. This will give some rhythmic regularity to the music:


We can then use the chords that we derived from the original melody (A minor and E Major) and we also use them twice:


Combining various percussion rhythms with chords can generally be done quite freely. There is no specific constraints, at least if the music keeps some global consistency. However, when we combine chords with one or more melodies, or several melodies together, if we do not take some additional precautions, the result may easily become quite chaotic or dissonant. Let us see this in some details.

When two or more notes are played together, experience shows that according to the notes that are played, some combinations are harmonious and some are not. It can be demonstrated that this phenomenon is related to the speed of vibration of each note and that the harmonious combinations have several vibrations in common while non harmonious ones have much less vibrations in common or none at all. Even at this level, one sees that the concept of identical, similar or comparable elements may also apply to select the notes that combine together harmoniously. Let us only conclude from this that this phenomenon is the basis for what we call chords, a chord being a set of notes that combine harmoniously. There are several types of chords and the theory of harmony develops methods to construct them and sequence them so as to get a harmonious result.

When chords exist in an arrangement, you can then create one or more melodies by using the notes of these chords with first priority. Between these notes, you can use the other notes, that are not part of the chord and are often called "transition notes". Their characteristic is indeed to make transitions between two other notes that are part of the chord and they often have a short duration.

We can apply this to creating a bass melody to our accompaniment and we will use the root note of the chords (the root note is the note on which the chord is built; for C major, made out of C, E and G, the root note is C), i.e. A for the first chord and E for the second chord. To give a regular motion to the music, we can use eighth notes for the bass rhythm. We get:


We can then add the original melody on the first two measures and use one of the melodic variations that we created in our previous article, to fill in the two last measures:


The melody of the third measure fits with the main notes of the A minor chord. A and C are part of the chord and B is a transition note, quite short. In measure 4, only the E note is part of the E Major chord, but the effect produced seems correct. There is indeed a quite similar chord, named "E 7", that contains the notes (E, G#, B, D) which means that, using that chord, the only transition note of the measure is F. This last "explanation", even if interesting to keep some logic of work, is not in itself necessary. Indeed, the fact of listening to the melody and hearing that it is nice and correct, is the only element having the final power to validate that musical choice.

Indeed, eventually, the goal of a music composition is to please its composer and its potential public, as well as to create the effect it was supposed to create on its audience by the composer. Any and all composition rule can only have the purpose to contribute to that goal.

As an exercise, I suggest you to imagine a short melody and to follow the same process as we did in this article and the previous one: create an accompaniment and melodic variations and assemble them into the beginning of a music composition. It is only by regular practice that you will succeed in music composition. Have a nice time!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Printing a score in a different format than A4

It is sometimes useful to create a score with a different size than A4. If you desire a smaller format, here is how to proceed. Let us take the example of a score used as a CD jacket (+/- 115 mm x 115 mm).

With the creation assistant (Professional version), create your score with the number of measures and staves you want. Let us take for example 36 soloist measures. Validate without computing the page layout.

Enable the reference marks tool (keyboard shortcut ":"). You will see 2 frames around the score (red and green). The red frame corresponds to the printer margin outside which nothing will be printed (physical limits of the printer). The green frame shows the space wherein Pizzicato will layout the measures and staves. We will modify the printer margins.

In the file menu, select the "Page layout" item. In the upper part, you will find the printer margins and the additional margins. These margins are placed graphically to show the left, right, upper and lower margins. Here are for example the possible values for these margins at this stage (warning, they are not the same for all printers, so adapt the operations) :

printer margins : left=3 - right=6 - upper=3 - lower=5

additional margins: left=7 - right=4 - supper=7 - lower=5

the page size is shown above : height = 296 - width= 209

Here is how to compute the new printer margins to obtain a 115 x 115 mm score:

Finally, select a value for the enlargement/reduction ratio. In our example, a 50 % value will give a correct result. To complete the example, select 6 measures per staff, no space for the title and check the "Distribute the systems on the page" box. Click OK (and recompute) and your page layout appears.

You can then work on the score and lay out the measures and staves, then print the pages. Now you only need to cut the paper to the desired size.

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

Beams management

With Pizzicato Beginner or Professional, you can customize the way in which Pizzicato beams the eighth notes and shorter notes. See the "Justification" item in the "Options" menu. By default, the "Beams creation" box is checked and the text box to the right is empty. Pizzicato groups the quarter notes by pairs in a 4/4 measure, by groups of 3 in a 6/8 measure,...

The text box can contain a set of numbers used to structure the number of beats beamed in a measure. By writing for example "2+1+1" for a 4/4 measure, Pizzicato will group the first two beats, then the third and then the fourth. If there are 8 quarter notes, you will get groups of 4, 2 and 2 eighth notes. Another example, "3+6+1+1+1" in a 12/8 measure will produce, if this the measure contains 12 eighth notes, the following groups: 3, 6, 1, 1, 1 eighth notes.

If you do not want to beam the notes automatically, you can disable the "Beam creation" box. In this case, Pizzicato will not group notes, but you can force a beam manually by placing a note while holding down the CTRL (Control) key. Notice that you can also use this function when you create beams automatically so that you can force a beam into existence. To remove a beam, use the appropriate tool in the main palette (the icon with 2 separated eighth notes) and the beam will disappear.

The manual modifications are saved with the notes. At any moment, you can click a note with the right button of the mouse (option-click on Mac) and reach the note edition dialog box, which shows if a beam is automatic, forced or inhibited.

Controlling the tempo

Pizzicato provides several ways to control the tempo of a score. Except as specified in the score, when Pizzicato starts to play the score, the tempo used is the one specified in the recorder window (windows menu) for version 2, or the one specified in the dialog that appears when you press the "..." button, for version 3.

When you add a tempo symbol (quarter note= 60,... in the tempo palette), Pizzicato Professional 2 and all versions 3 execute this symbol as a tempo change and thus influence the score. These symbols modify the tempo when they are executed by Pizzicato.

Another way (available with Pizzicato Beginner and Pro) is the data modification tool (in the Edit menu when one or several measures are selected). With it you can insert orders to execute in the measures. These orders are graphically invisible but influence the playing of the score. To change the tempo from a specific measure, select this measure and call this dialog box. In the left corner, select the "Tempo" box. To the right, check the "Fix the value to" box and write the desired value in the text area.

The tempo value at a any moment is determined by the last tempo instruction executed. When starting the score, it is the recorder window value (or "..." dialog box value), but after that the tempo evolves as symbols or data modifications are executed.

When you import a MIDI file, Pizzicato reads the tempo instructions and takes the first one to initialize the score. But the file may contain many other tempo changes, which will not appear graphically. If you want to remove these tempo values, you can select the measures and call the data modification dialog box. Then select the tempo to the left and, on the right, the "Remove the data" box.

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


When several notes are played together, these notes form what is called a chord. The notes can be played by different instruments or by the same instrument, like the piano, the guitar or the organ. The chords enrich music and let you express various impressions and atmospheres. They amplify the melodies and accompany the rhythmic patterns by giving them new sound colours.

When the notes of a chord are played with the same rhythmic value, these notes are attached on the same stem. Here are for example two chords of 3 notes each with a quarter note duration :

The total duration of the chord is a quarter note, because the 3 notes are played at the same time. With Pizzicato, open the Ex015.piz file located in the Examples folder. It contains examples of chords with various rhythmic values:

Listen to the result. In this example, all notes belonging to a chord start and finish together. With regard to the whole note (second measure), as they do not have a stem by definition, they are only superimposed to form the chord (this principle is also valid for the double whole note, which is an eight beats note and does not have a stem).

When a chord has a note placed between two lines and a note placed on one of these two lines, the convention is to place one of the two notes on the other side of the stem; this improves the score readability. Without that, the two notes would be partly one above the other. Here are some examples with one or more notes placed on the other side of the stem...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on music notation aspects (2) 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.

For users of Pizzicato 3, there is a free upgrade available: Pizzicato 3.2.2 can be freely downloaded on our site, in the "Customer services" section, under the Free Upgrade page.

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!