Dear Musicians,

This is issue #71 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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How do you create chords progressions in an intuitive way, without knowing the rules of harmony?

How do you add voices of accompaniment to a piece of music?

How do you "draw" a melody graphically and see it appear on the score so you can listen to it?

How do you "dress up" a melody with chords or how do you create a melody on existing chords?

If these questions already gave you some difficulties in the past, then this article and the following are designed to give you practical and usable solutions, based on the assistance provided by the composition tools of Pizzicato Professional 3.3.

Notice that you can use the demonstration version of Pizzicato 3.3 to follow and practice the examples that we will explain. Even if you do not have a Pizzicato license, you will find it advantageous for your training in music composition. You can download the demonstration version at the page.

It is also a new occasion to use the music composition tools, for those who did not try them yet.

We will indeed start on the subject with a new viewpoint and very practical examples, that you can easily use in other contexts - for example your music compositions.

Music Composition Help...?

When you hear about music composition help, the first idea that you should get rid of is that the computer would compose for you.

Nothing is more false!

It is NOT the purpose of music composition help, at least in the Pizzicato context and our way of thinking about it.

Composing music is creating music so that you can communicate it.

To create is to imagine something from nothing. To communicate is to transmit a state of mind, an atmosphere, an idea, an emotion. The computer has nothing to do with these abilities, even if it can sometimes simulate them.

So, be reassured, you will always be the composer!

What is music composition?

Music is a very large set - practically infinity - of sound combinations.

Composing music is thus selecting the sound combinations which will convey your ideas, your state of mind, your emotions, among the infinity of the possible sound selections. Simple, isn't it? You just need to be able to choose! Let us examine the process of choosing in more details.

When you must select a destination for your holidays, there are many places and possible formulas. As you do not have time to examine all the possible cases, you use criteria to reduce the number of possible choices. You look at the cost (here we have a criterion which drastically limits the choices…), the country, the formula, the duration of the holidays. Several choices are left and you can examine them to finally select one of them.

Choosing thus consists of examining then deciding. It only becomes complicated when the quantity of possible choices becomes close to infinity. It is then impossible to examine them all. The desire to examine every possibility leads to perplexity and thus to indecision. The result is: no music composition!

It is then necessary to work out methods to examine areas of possibilities. Then to compartmentalize in smaller areas, while eliminating what seems not to agree with what you want to express and while letting yourself guided by what expresses your idea, your feelings.

Any method that effectively helps you to examine and then decide will be a useful method of music composition. The composition tools provided by a computer have the only purpose to help you examine. Regarding the act of deciding, there is only one person who can do it: you.

What does the pianist do when he tries to create a melody while playing on the piano? He examines (by listening) the sound result that the piano produces following the movements of his fingers. Then he decides which combination sounds best for what he wants to express.

Nobody would affirm in such a case that the piano has composed the melody, would you? The piano was used by the artist to examine a certain number of possibilities. It is the same for the computer: it helps you to examine and then allows you to decide.

Dividing music

Conventionally, music is divided in three distinct fields: harmony, melody and rhythm. It is the first division. One divides for better reigning. The interaction of the three areas is used to analyze or structure music. You can carry out selections in any one of the three divisions.

Harmony is the art of creating and sequencing simultaneous sets of notes which produce a desired effect.

Melody is the art of creating a sequence of expressive notes, each one with its sound pitch and duration.

Rhythm is the art of managing the durations and the sequences of sounds in relation to time, in order to create the desired atmosphere. The form of a piece (the way in which its various parts are arranged: introduction, verse, chorus, end…) are a particular aspect of rhythm because it is indeed related to the time structure of a piece of music.

The three fields are interdependent. A melody has necessarily a rhythm. Harmony suggests melodies. A melody can induce harmonies. But the principle is that you can examine music using these three viewpoints and this can help you to structure music. You can consider music as a melodic phrase that evolves on harmony and rhythm.

Harmony - Chords

The first purpose of harmony is to determine which notes can sound correctly when played together. The next one is to be able to sequence such sets of notes in order to produce an expressive effect and an evolution of the atmosphere so generated.

The groups of notes which sound well together are called chords. A succession of chords is called a chord progression or an harmonic progression.

Imagine a tool that displays a series of chords and lets you click on them to hear them and to sequence them in any order you want. It would be a method to examine chords and harmonic progressions.

While listening to chords and trying multiple combinations (one click per test is intuitive and easy!), you can decide which chords to use. You become able to create harmonic progressions intuitively.

Pizzicato Professional 3.3 includes a tool called the harmonic space which allows exactly that. Let us see how to use it to create a harmonic progression intuitively:

It is one of the harmonic spaces, which we will take for this example. In this harmonic space, we will find chords with thirds and sevenths intervals, belonging to the major scales around C Major, i.e. F Major, C Major and G Major.

Notice that for your future experimentations, you have at your disposal several hundreds of harmonic spaces of this kind, sorted in these folders. You will be able to explore them freely, by using the same process as will follow. They contain other scales, other chords, other modes of possible sequences. The combinations are numerous and everyone can find interesting combinations.

So the first chord of the progression is a "C" chord. In this harmonic space, just to the right of the "C" chord, Pizzicato displays the list of chords that can follow the "C" chord, so you can examine them.

But the name of the chords is not very expressive. The best would be to listen to them with a rhythmic pattern in order to hear the sound result. Here is how to do it:

As of this moment, you can click in another colored rectangle so as to move this circle and directly hear the style played through the corresponding chord. You can then examine the various chords.

Make some tests. Notice that the clearest sound transition is obtained by clicking a new chord just before the beginning of a new measure (the rhythm which always comes back).

Here, the procedure becomes freer. The purpose is to examine by listening to several sequences and then select the one you like. Here is an example of this process.

Respectively click on "C", "F". Then "C" and "Bb", etc by using each time the "C" chord followed by each possibility suggested in the second column. If you find for example that you like the "A min" chord transition, click on the small "OK" button located on the right part of this chord (light blue) and the window will display:

The chord has been added to the harmonic progression. Pizzicato displays then a third column, with the chords that can be sequenced to "A min". While proceeding in the same way, test various sequences, starting from "A min" to the various suggested choices, or by using the full sequence "C", "A min", and the suggested choices.

Once you have chosen the chord, click on the small corresponding "OK" button and it will be added to the progression, for example "Bb". By using the same process, you get for instance the following progression:

You can click on another variation of a style and listen to it in the same manner.

Here you have composed a chord progression of your own! Was this so difficult?

The only criterion is taste. And do not fall into the trap of using another criterion: it is the more valuable final one. Do you like it? Do others like it? Does it communicate what you feel, your emotions, your feelings? If the answer is yes, then you are a composer! And no esoteric harmony or counterpoint rule will be able to defeat that.

The use of harmonic spaces includes other aspects. For a more complete and systematic description of harmonic spaces, see page

We will see next month how to use such a chord progression to structure a piece of music step by step and the various ways of doing so. By then, I suggest you a little practice of what precedes:

You can use any harmonic space of the libraries. You will be able to use these exercises in the following articles.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

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

Adding the figured bass symbols

In traditional harmony, it is common to display the figured bass under the notes, to specify a third (3), a sixth (6),… These figures can be added in four possible ways.

  1. You can create them in the chords libraries, in the form of new chords, using the Options menu , Chords library item. Only Pizzicato Professional can add chords to the original library. Notice that in this case, the chord notation will also include the name of the note, for example "C 6".
  1. You can add this figure under the staff by using text blocks.
  1. You can add it by using the lyrics tool, exactly as placing syllables under the notes.
  1. You can create a new tool palette (Pizzicato Professional only) and add to it the symbols of the main figured basses.

For solution (4), here is how to create a simple text symbol in a palette.

You will find all the explanations about the creation and the modification of symbols on page:

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

Transition from Pizzicato 3.2 to 3.3

The new Pizzicato 3.3 version uses two folders to organize its files, particularly for Windows Vista.

The application as well as all files no likely to be modified by the user (help, program, images) are installed in the standard program directory (in Program Files/Pizzicato 3.3).

The data and the work directory, the libraries, the templates (these files all can be modified or completed by the user) are installed in a sub-directory of "My documents", also entitled "Pizzicato 3.3".

These repertories are fixed and it is better not to move them nor rename them, because this could introduce disturbances into the operation of the software.

If you had a 3.2 or previous version of Pizzicato, your personal files were placed by default in the "Program Files/Pizzicato 3" directory. For your facility, you can transfer them from the folder "Pizzicato 3" into the file "My documents/Pizzicato 3.3", using the the Windows file explorer.

On Mac OS X, the data is in the same directory than the program. You can also transfer your personal documents from the old folder to the new one.

To export in audio with Windows Vista

Pizzicato 3 can export a score into an audio file of type WAV. The way Pizzicato will create the audio file is the following. When Pizzicato plays the score, it uses the sound card synthesizer or a software synthesizer to play the notes. The resulting sound is present at the output of the sound card and that is the sound you hear. This is also the sound that will be recorded in the audio file.

So that Pizzicato has the possibility to access this sound channel on Windows Vista, you should do the following:

MIDI YOKE installation under Windows Vista

For the use of VST instruments with Pizzicato (see our letter number 67), the MIDI YOKE free utility software is used to connect several MIDI software and Pizzicato. If you encounter a problem to install it under Windows Vista, here is a link to the solution:;action=display;num=1168918461

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



The idea is to modify a melody or a whole passage of a musical work in order to play it higher or lower in the sound scale. In the lesson on key signatures, we had listened to a melody starting with C and then to the same melody starting with E. It is an example of transposition. The melody was transposed two notes higher.

It is frequent to use transposition when composing a musical work. You can transpose a whole melody or some notes. It is a current composition tool because you can express several times the same thing while adding a change to it.

The simplest transposition is an octave change. For example, all notes are played one octave higher. They keep the same name. Open Ex027.piz. The first two measures contain a small melody which is transposed one octave higher in the next two measures:

Listen to the sound difference. The second melody is easily recognized as being the same one as the first, but it is played higher.


To specify a transposition, intervals are defined. The example above is a transposition of one octave, because there are 8 notes on the patch from the original melody to the transposed melody (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C). Here are the names of intervals with the number of notes contained in each:

Unison 1 note
Second 2 notes
Third 3 notes
Fourth 4 notes
Fifth 5 notes
Sixth 6 notes
Seventh 7 notes
Octave 8 notes
Ninth 9 notes
Tenth 10 notes
Eleventh 11 notes

Speaking about a third for example, one counts the note names contained in the interval, without taking into account the number of half tones. C and E form a third, because there are three notes in the interval: C, D and E. By counting the black and white keys, there are 4 half tones...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about transposition on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.3, 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!