Dear Musicians,

This is issue #66 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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Last month, we have examined techniques to help you to select notes in a melody. You have always access to the archives of our musical newsletters at

Starting with two notes (the first and the last), we can establish intermediate notes that will form the stable points of the melody. We can then join them with passage notes. The missing element was the rhythm, as we had envisioned the melody without its rhythmic aspect. Let us see how rhythm is organized.

Music is an organization of sound materials. The order we find in it generates interest. We can organize the notes on the basis of their pitch and relate them together in various ways as we did in our last article. Similarly, we can produce an impression of cohesion and order just by placing the notes in time in a structured way.

Most musics are based on the measure. The measure is a unit that cut time into equal slices. It is a way of partitioning a piece of music, to structure it into parts that can be envisioned and worked separately. Often, the measure is again cut into equal parts, called the beats.

Measures are graphically separated by vertical lines, called bar lines. Here are for instance three measures, the three spaces being separated by two central bar lines crossing the 5 staff lines vertically:

The 4/4 time signature at the beginning shows that each measure contains 4 beats (the upper 4) and that each beat is a quarter note (the lower 4). For more details about the time signature, see the lesson at

This time slicing into measures is not only theory. It corresponds to the way music is felt and the selection of the time signature depends itself on the music we want to write. Most musics give the impression that a beat repeats itself based on a regular and periodic duration. We can perceive that time goes by as the regular ticking of a clock. The speed of the beats determines what is called the tempo of the music.

Each beat does not necessarily have the same force or importance. While listening to music, we often notice that beats are grouped into small sets of 2, 3, 4 beats or more. In that case, we will write that music with measures of 2, 3, 4 beats or more. It is like a small cycle formed by a few beats.

What is specific to that cycle is that its beats are organized in a periodic way. Often, the first beat is the most important. It determines the starting point; it is a stable point, a marker in time that will form the basis on which the notes of the measure will organize themselves. It can easily be perceived, as that beat is often accentuated, it corresponds to important notes in the melody (starting note, ending note or intermediate note) and it will be the most frequent point of meeting of the various instruments in an orchestra.

According to the music style, beats and/or measures will be more or less perceived explicitly. Entertainment music places the beats and measures in a very explicit way. Percussions are by their nature very able to mark the beats. In slower music or less rhythmic music, beats and measures may be less easily perceived. In any case, this rhythmic aspect may serve as a reference and stable point for the progress of the entire piece of music.

Here are for instance 3 measures of 4 beats, each beat being played by percussion. The first beat has a powerful accent and the third beat a small accent. By listening, you can perceive each beat, the starting of the measure and the middle of the measure:


A rhythmic structure can then permit to communicate the perception of several rhythmic aspects. Adding rhythmic components can enrich the basic rhythm while also reinforcing the measure cycle. The perception is done at various time scales. Let us add a note between each note in the above example, with a lower volume:


A new component is now perceived. It divides each beat by creating another rhythmic stratum that can be distinguished from the others.

We can then combine several rhythmic strata together and obtain cohesion. The general cohesion is created by the fact the produced notes are in a simple mathematical ratio: 1 note of an instrument for two of the other, 4 notes for 1, etc. In the following example, we have added a component of 4 notes for each beat:


One can establish a comparison of these rhythmic strata to the harmonics of a natural sound, that contain integer multiple frequencies of the basic frequency. The presence of these harmonics enriches the sound, while keeping the general impression of its main pitch. We could speak here of rhythmic harmonics. The main harmonic is the measure and the various components are the rhythmic harmonics of level 2, 4,... The principle is the same, only the time scale changes.

In the above example, we have added at the end of the last measure, a rhythmic that "breaks" the regularity. When these three measures are played repeatedly, a new rhythmic stratum is perceived by the auditor. After a few listenings, we feel "instinctively" that this break is approaching and that the period of three measures will be back again. One can say that it is a rhythmic harmonic that has a frequency divided by three. A practical example of this harmonic principle is for instance the repetitive sequencing of a verse and a chorus.

These remarks about the rhythmic side of music were a necessary step. We will see next month how to put that into application to add rhythm to a melody. Pizzicato Professional can help you to easily create rhythms as above, even with the demo version. See page and try it. Have fun!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Rhythmic voices

Pizzicato can manage 8 rhythmic voices. By default, a small menu shows "1-8" in the upper left corner of the window, which lets Pizzicato manage the voices distribution of the notes you encode. Let us analyze different cases.

When the measure only contains one voice, Pizzicato automatically assigns all the notes to the first voice. If you try to add more beats than the measure can accept, a second rhythmic voice is created (the additional notes are written from the beginning of the measure). When you have a single voice measure which presents a complex rhythm, it can be useful to force Pizzicato to keep all the notes in the first voice. To do that, select the small "1-8" menu into "1".

If the measure contains several voices, you can keep the "1-8" option and encode voice by voice. This is important: fill in first a whole rhythmic voice (and thus the measure) before encoding the next one. If you try to encode a second voice before you achieve the first one, Pizzicato could consider that you continue the first voice because it is not complete.

You can also force Pizzicato to work by voice. In this case, modify the "1-8" menu into "1" to work on the first voice, into "2" to work on the second voice,... While placing this menu for example to "2", the notes which do not belong to the second voice appear in gray and the new notes are added to the second voice.

This principle is the same for the incomplete voices. Let us take for example a measure that contains 4 quarter notes as the first voice. If you want to add a second voice including a quarter note on the first and the fourth beats, you will have to place 2 rests between these notes to complete your rhythmic voice. Or you can check the "Incomplete voices analysis" box of the"Options" menu ("Justification..." item). This option lets Pizzicato analyze a second voice in relation to a first voice. For example, if your measure includes 4 quarter notes and if you place an additional quarter note above the third one, Pizzicato will understand that this additional note must be played as a second voice on the third beat, even if this second voice is not complete.

You can verify or analyze the way in which Pizzicato assigns the voices in the "Option" menu, "Graphism..." item. To assign a color to each voice, select the "Voice color" item in the note color popup menu. Pizzicato will display each voice in a different color.

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

Modifying a tempo symbol

The tool palette with tempo symbols contains different quarter note or half note tempo values. These values can be easily personalized. Place a tempo symbol in the score and then click the score while holding down the CTRL key. A dialog box lets you define the tempo value. When you click "OK", the symbol is adapted in the score.

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:

If you launch Pizzicato before activating that compatibility mode, there is a risk that the program will not work thereafter. In that case, or in any case of problem, do the following:

Unison: how to write 2 identical notes for different voices ?

A unison is generally represented by 2 identical notes, sung for example by two different chorists. To write these 2 voices in the same measure, one usually places the 2 notes at the same place, but with note beams in different directions.

For that, there is a trick. After you have placed the first note, if you click at the same place, you simply move the note. To introduce the second note, you must click a bit higher or a bit lower. The second note appears and you can then slide it at the same position than the first one.

Do not forget to introduce the voices one by one, then the voice management and the beam directions will be correct. Enter the whole first voice first, then the whole second voice, and keep the automatic justification active ("J" box in the score toolbar).

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

Using clefs

Octaves numbering

As previously explained, a clef is used as a reference mark to write notes on the staff. Until now, we always used the treble clef to locate the notes:

The number to the right of each note name shows the number of the octave. Because there is only 7 different note names, octaves are numbered to differentiate amongst octaves. Remember that an octave is an interval between two notes having the same name and thus comprising 6 other notes between them.

The 8 notes here above cover the extent of an octave. This octave bears number 3. The next octave starts with the C located in the third line space and bears number 4. You can easily write the notes of octave 4 in treble clef (the last C already belongs to octave 5):

Using the bass clef

The bass clef lets you write lower notes covering octaves 1 and 2. Here is the bass clef and the notes of octaves 1 and 2: read the full text, see the lesson about using clefs 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 3.2.3 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.

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and to bring people to more musical creativity

Use Pizzicato and make music!