Dear Musicians,

This is issue #64 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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In the last two articles, we used a short melody and gave you some examples on how to deduce chords, variations and a rhythmic accompaniment. We will now study the melody itself: how to structure it, how to develop it?

Often, the melody is the part of a music piece that is the easiest to remember. Indeed, we can sing it, aloud or in our mind. When the melody has lyrics associated with it, the words reinforce the melody even more as the main musical element, at least as the most obvious one. The melody may be compared to the plot or scenario of a film: it consists of what is happening, it is the element by which attention is attracted. It is the main discourse.

All music are not necessarily built on that model. Rhythms, chords, special effects may also constitute the pillars of a piece of music. In every case, a finer analysis will help you to discover that an accompaniment is in fact made of several combining melodies. The main melody is put forward by various techniques and this is why it is better perceived. But a well trained ear will be able to detect several secondary melodies that together make up the accompaniment. The techniques used to develop a melody also apply then to create secondary voices and other accompaniments.

What is a melody? An elementary observation shows that it is a sequence of notes played with a given rhythm and that has a beginning and an end. It forms a unit in a piece of music. It is often used several times, identical to itself or with variations.

One could set up a classification system for melodies, based on the starting and ending notes. A melody may start on any note. It may then go in the direction of the last note, but it will often temporarily stop on one or more intermediate notes, so as to "rest" on them before going further. Here is a practical exercise: whenever you listen to a piece of music, locate the starting note, the intermediate notes and the final note. You will notice that from one piece of music to the other, the structure of the intermediate notes in relationship to the first and last notes, will be quite variable.

One could consider that when the melody starts, it "knows" where it is going. The listener who hears the first notes for the first time does not necessarily know where it is going, but his interest is attracted by the sequence of notes and he follows it, each time wondering where the melody is going. When is the last note reached? How do you know which note to use to finish the melody you have started?

Harmony (a technique about sequencing chords) and counterpoint (a technique to combine melodies) can give you some rules about that, by taking into account the induced chords of the melody, by the "tonality" in which the melody is played, etc. But do not forget that these rules have been in fact deduced from the observation of the great composer's melodies of the past and so represent what has been accepted in the past as "good music". Music preferences change with time and even at a given time, various musical cultures may have various opinions on that. Therefore, it may be interesting to go back to the origin of music, to its perception as something agreeable or not, which is finally completely arbitrary and only depends on the personal preferences of the listener.

When you compose and listen to a melody, what is the impression you get from it? Does it look complete or does it create the impression that something else must follow? Is it conclusive, interrogative or evasive? It has some similarity as writing a story. At which point is the story finished? It may be when all asked questions in the story have been answered. But if you want to keep the reader waiting for the next chapter, induce some thinking from him or just leave him in doubt (if it is the expected effect), then you will not answer every question presented by the story. It is the same with a melody. But how do you know if you did ask questions and answer them in a melody...? The words of a story and the notes of a melody are not really of the same nature and have no strict correspondence.

The answer is simple: just listen to your melody. Listen to it several times. What is the impression you get? If it stops there, does it look like an end, or is there still a tendency or desire to hear one or more notes after it? In the last case, find the notes that are missing and add them. Then listen again, do it again, modify,... up to the time when your melody gives you the impression it is finished and expresses what you want.

You may need some experience and practice doing that, but when listening, relax, try to perceive your melody as though you hear it for the first time. Here are some examples of melodies that give the impression that something is missing:




And here are the same melodies, completed so as to produce a more conclusive impression:




In each case, you can in fact complete the melody in various ways. The result is tested by listening.

As a melody starts on a note and ends on a note, when we select two given notes, we can construct a melody between these two notes. This may trouble the classical harmony or counterpoint expert, as the standard exercises of these disciplines impose a tonality that rigorously limits the selection of the starting and ending notes. This viewpoint is valid if we consider tonality as the main foundation of the music piece. But we can also take the melody as the foundation and it will then induce the harmony and the tonalities that will build the piece of music. The two viewpoints may be justified (if they really need to be justified...).

It is true that the choice of the starting and ending notes will have an impact on the structure of the melody. By taking two notes at random, there will be cases more easy to handle than others regarding the way to conduct the melody so that the last note produces a conclusive and ending effect. The cases used in practice in classical harmony are indeed more easy to handle than the general random case. The other cases will require more practice and trials to find the intermediate notes that will bring a conclusion with the last note.

Starting with two random notes, how do you create a melody? How do you go from Brussels to Paris? The more direct road will be the scale. By using for instance C and C (octave), the melody will be:


But as driving along the highway, it may be quite monotonous... We will see in the next article how to select secondary roads, byroads and explore the lost paths so as to increase the interest and richness of the melody.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Percussion notation

Pizzicato Professional includes several tools to write percussion instruments.

First you can select the number of lines in a staff. It is common to write the orchestra percussion instruments on one line. To do that:

Sometimes the notes heads are modified to write the percussions, to distinguish each instrument. The cymbal is often drawn with a cross note. The note head tool can thus be used to personalize the percussion instruments, for one note at a time or for all the notes of one or several measures (Edit menu, Change the notes heads...).

The last point is important only when you want to hear the score with correct percussion instruments. Often, in a synthesizer or a sound card, percussions are assigned to a keyboard key. For example the cymbal, the snare drum, the bass drum,... have each one an equivalent note on the musical keyboard with which to play them. The GM (General Midi) standard assigns in this way a percussion map to specify the instrument corresponding to C, the one corresponding to C #,... Maybe this distribution is practical on the musical keyboard, but if you write then your percussion part on one staff, the score is very difficult to read, because the instruments seem ordered in an arbitrary way (example : a bass drum with 5 additional lines, an instrument with a B flat but very acute,...).

Pizzicato includes a tool to reassign each percussion instrument to a specific line of the staff. In this way, you can specify your notation conventions: if you want for example a low C for the bass drum, an high C for the snare drum, you decide. You can reach the percussion map as follows:

You can then write your notes as you want and Pizzicato will play the percussions correctly.

These tools help you easily write most percussion parts of a score. For printing and for listening.

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

Print your Pizzicato scores in PDF files

A file with the "pdf" extension is a document that everyone can read, print, publish on the Internet and transfer by email. Would you like to create such a file with your Pizzicato scores ? It is possible, and even for free. A user of Pizzicato gave us this information so that you can all use it, thanks to her! The software allowing this is called CutePDF. It is free software for Windows that can be installed as a printer. When you print a Pizzicato document (or any other document in Windows), select the CutePDF printer and the software asks a name for the PDF file to create.

This small jewel may be downloaded on the software editor site, which seems to be a light version of a more sophisticated software, but this light version is already very effective. The address is:

On the left of that page, you will find two links entitled Free download and Free Converter. Download and execute these two files so as to install them. The next time you restart the PC, it is in order.

Installing a Pizzicato upgrade on Mac OS X or Windows

When you want to install a Pizzicato upgrade on Mac OS X, do not modify the default options of the installer. The too common error is to select "/Applications/Pizzicato 3" as the destination folder. As the installer always add "Pizzicato 3" at the end, you will then have /Applications/Pizzicato 3/Pizzicato 3. If the preceding installation was correct, the new files are not installed correctly and nothing works anymore. Keep the suggested path : "/Application" and everything will be correct.

On Mac as well as on Windows, avoid suppressing or moving Pizzicato folders and files, unless you know exactly what you do, or Pizzicato will not function anymore. If Pizzicato does not function correctly, you will see it quickly because it will quit automatically after a few minutes.

If you think you have not installed the upgrade correctly, just install the original program and then the upgrade again.

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

The scale and the musical keyboard

We have seen that there are 7 notes named C, D, E, F, G, A, B. The next note is again called C and the sound generated vibrates exactly two times faster than the sound generated by the first C. This interval from the first to the second C is called an octave. In a more general way, an octave is the interval separating a note from the next note bearing the same name, such as for example from G to the next G. Here is an example with C:

[image available on the site]

This series of notes from C to C is called the scale of C. As this diagram is repeated higher and lower, we will limit ourselves to explain the contents of the notes from C to C. The same explanation is valid between two successive C.

These notes correspond to the white keys of a piano or organ keyboard. You can easily locate them by observing that the black keys are laid out by groups of 2 and 3 between the white keys. The C are the keys which are just to the left of a 2 black keys group. Here is an illustration:

[image available on the site]

The white keys located between the 2 C follow the same order as on the staff:

[image available on the site]

The black keys of the keyboard are also notes that can be played. They are located between specific white keys. With 7 white keys and 5 black keys, you thus get 12 different notes. The thirteenth note is again a C and the same diagram is repeated...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on music The scale and the accidentals on our site...

Music on the Web...
Music related links

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 3.2.3 will soon be available for free on our site, in the "Customer services" section, under the Free Upgrade page. Check that page in the following days.

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!