This is issue #76 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.
We wish you a happy new year 2009
Lets make it a musical year!
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Read all previous editorials on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/editoriaux.htm
The method that we will examine this month requires a little more freedom and intuitive expression than the three methods examined in our last articles. Let us remember that the idea is to be able to create melodies on the basis of already established chords sequences.
Method 4 - Improvisation with the musical keyboard
The target is to listen to the accompaniment and gradually dare to play some notes with the musical keyboard in order to imagine and improvise a short melody in harmony with the existing chords.
If you have a musical keyboard connected in MIDI or USB to your computer, you can play the notes directly on this keyboard.
If you have a MIDI guitar (yes it exists!) or an acoustic instrument with a MIDI microphone adapter, you can use it to play the notes on your instrument.
You can also use the Keyboard window (or the Guitar fret board window) available in the Pizzicato Windows menu. In this case, you can click on the notes (or in the case of the keyboard, you can use the shortcuts as explained in the user manual on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual33/EN250.htm The use of this window is more restrictive than using a real musical keyboard, but it is already better than nothing and you will soon be able to learn some expressivity with it.
I suggest you to download the score including an example already used (Reggae with 8 chords) at page www.arpegemusic.com/download/excomp-106.piz Right-click this link and select Save the target as then save this document on the desktop.
- Start Pizzicato 3.3 (or its demonstration version), then open the above document (File menu, Open item). If you created your own examples as suggested in our last articles, use them preferably.
- In the Windows menu, select the Conductor view and double-click on the score displayed by a long coloured rectangle. Resize it so as to be able to visualize the upper staves. The score looks as follows:
- Open the Keyboard window using the Windows menu, Piano keyboard item (or the guitar fret board using the Windows menu, Guitar Fret Board item).
Notice that the exercise suggested here does not require you to master the musical keyboard. If you can already locate the main notes on the keyboard, it is sufficient. If you cannot, read the following lesson: http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual33/EN230.htm and you will be able to do it easily.
We do not expect you to listen to the above music and then be able to directly play the notes you like to create your own melody (unless you already master music composition and the keyboard). Thus we will split the problem into several steps in details.
1 - Improvising on each chord separately
The main principle is to listen to the chords sequences of the accompaniment that we have, then let you feel and absorb their atmosphere and finally play notes on the keyboard to learn how to locate the notes which sound well with the chord in progress.
In our example, there is one chord for each measure. If you listen to the whole chords sequence, you will not be able to follow the changes and to locate the notes which sound well, because they vary of course with each chord. The first step will let you concentrate on one chord at a time.
- In the score tool bar, check the box Loop on and to the right, use the "+" and "-" buttons to set the loop to "1" measure. Then click the small yellow triangle to start to play. Measure 1 will be played in a repetitive way, using the first chord only, a Major C chord (including C, E, G). Here are these notes on the musical keyboard:
- Start playing the notes as shown on the above keyboard and you will notice that they sound well with the atmosphere of the first chord. They are the notes of the chord and they can thus be used without fear.
- Now try to play other notes and locate with your ear those which may have a musical interest. You will notice quickly that the other notes can have interest, but especially when they are followed or preceded by the notes of the chord and when they do not last long (1 or 2 beats). They are called passing notes, because they create an interesting effect "while passing", but they quickly become tedious or even dissonant if you try to hold them longer or independently of the chord notes. With a little practice, you will notice that the melodies have a more correct and robust aspect when the main notes of the chord are used like stable points, for example over the first or the third beat of the measure or for longer notes or for the final note or for a note where the melody stays for some beats.
- Once these notes are located, let your fingers go on the keyboard and try rhythmic variations. You could start by simply playing a note for each beat or each two beats group. Alternate and vary now the notes length, while keeping the same attention on the choice of the notes which sound well and the passing notes which you had located. Try to insert regularly on the beginning of a measure a longer note belonging to the chord.
- When you master that for the first chord, click the STOP button (blue square). Go to the next measure using the horizontal scroll bar located at the bottom of the score. Then click on the yellow triangle to start the playing of measure 2 in loop and make the same exercise for the following chord, which is an A Minor and whose notes are:
- When you master this chord, go to the next one. You can see the notes of a chord on the second staff. If you click on one of these notes, you can hear it and search it on the keyboard using your ear.
This step may take quite some time, but it is necessary. Do not jump to the following step without being enough exercised for each measure of the piece. You should be able for each measure to identify the notes which sound well.
2 - Improvising on several measures
Each chord is a note context, as you can discover it by doing the above exercise. For each chord, you learn how to play what sounds well and to avoid what sounds bad. For a given chord, by practicing, you find your reference marks and memorize them. When you can do this successfully for a given chord and that you can correctly play 10 to 20 measures, without wrong note, you can say that you master this context of notes (chord). You could say that you memorized the layout of the rooms inside a house and you can locate the doors to pass from one part to the other without knocking your head against the wall (wrong note!).
But when the chord changes, it is somehow as if the rooms of the house remain at the same place, but the doors abruptly moved somewhere else. So take care of your head and watch this new configuration.
The target of the following exercise is to learn how to change a note context. It is a new ability that you can acquire when the above described ability - consisting in locating the notes sounding well and being able to play them correctly - has been mastered.
- Come back to the first measure and for the loop, set it to 2 measures. Start playing the score and you will hear the transition in a continuous loop, from C Major C to A Minor and back again.
- Take your time for that. The ability to acquire is to remind easily the note context of each chord and to switch on and off in time the reflexes which you had acquired for each chord separately.
- Then go to measure 2 and start the play again. Pizzicato plays measures 2 and 3 - A Minor and Bb Major. Do it until you completely master this transition.
- Then continue to work each two measures transition.
- When you master all the transitions by 2, start again at the beginning and work with a 3 measures loop. Then a 4 measures loop until you can improvise on the complete piece played in loop.
Here are 2 suggestions to stimulate your creativity and give a new dimension to the exercise:
- Select a sound that you like, you will work better. For that, open the Instruments window (Windows menu, Instruments item) and use the Family and Instrument columns to select the instrument of the first staff.
- Use a sufficient sound volume. The sound volume gives in itself a physical impact and a dimension which stimulates the creativity. Select the volume you prefer. The target is not to push the sound volume too high but to have a sufficient impact to cause emotion inside you, because this emotion will increase your musical creativity. This phenomenon is easy to observe: what about the difference of hearing a nice orchestra in a concert room or through a weak telephone line?
Do not discourage yourself: you will not master that exercise in 10 minutes. You will need at least a few hours to reach a satisfying result for yourself. But by practicing you do not waste your time. You really progress in notes and chords mastering, because improvising on chords supposes reflexes from your fingers and synchronization between them and knowledge about chords which follow one another. There is no miracle formula to improvise: it is necessary to work and work again.
3 - Recording your melody
Once you master the last exercise, the idea is to learn how to develop a melody. A melody is somehow like a sentence, with a beginning, a structure and an end. You start from a point and you move towards another point. Only one suggestion: work at it and do not discourage yourself. Play again and again. Listen. Test different rhythms. Once you find a melody, learn how to repeat it and memorize it.
When you finally find a complete melody (but it is also valid for a 2 measures melody), you can directly record the result in the score. Here is how to proceed.
- In the main palette (Tools menu , Main Palette item), select the tool showing a small musical keyboard (line 7, column 1). A cursor should then blink in the first measure. It is the place where the recording will start. If you wish to record starting from measure 3, simply click in measure 3 and the cursor will be moved there.
- Disable the loop check box. To start recording, click on the button showing a red disc. Pizzicato plays one measure to give you the tempo (4 beats) and then starts to play the accompaniment. You can start to play your melody. When finished, you can either stop the recording clicking one the stop button (blue square) or let Pizzicato stop by itself at the end of the piece. When the playing stops, Pizzicato displays the score you have just played.
- You can now listen to your improvisation again. You can modify it by using the note tools (for example to correct a wrong note) or simply start again (a new recording will simply erase the previous one).
4 - Conclusions
You will find here and there small melody diagrams which you like and you will learn how to reproduce them in your improvisations. They are the first signs of your progress in these exercises. You will also learn how to reproduce them from one chord to another, by modifying them slightly to adapt them to the chord. It is the beginning of an interior musical reflexion and formation of musical reflexes.
These diagrams are built inside you and you learn how to master and transform them to easily adapt them to other contexts. You enrich your rhythmic diagrams; you learn how to locate the series of notes which sound well for the passage of a chord to another, etc
Where are you going? Towards what you could call pure musical inspiration: musical reflexes integrated so well in your musical thought that you do not need to think about them. You express musical impressions directly and the technical details come "all by themselves". But do not mistake this: "all by themselves" only means "with such a perfect mastering that you do not think any more about it explicitly". And this is only possible with a dedicated, intensive and regular work.
But the result is an increasing musical expressivity, a pleasure of expressing in music what you feel deep inside yourself. Thus work at it and have a good time!
Designer of Pizzicato.
and applications of Pizzicato...
Discover the various aspects and applications of Pizzicato
Scan a score and modify it in Pizzicato
Do you have printed music you would like to hear, transpose or modify, without the need to encode it manually?
With the release of Pizzicato 3 Professional, it is now possible to combine Pizzicato with the SharpEye software, a powerful optical music recognition software. Here is a short guide for you
- If you do not yet have Pizzicato, download the demonstration version of Pizzicato 3, on page www.arpegemusic.com/demo1.htm and install it by double-clicking the downloaded file.
- Download SharpEye at http://www.visiv.co.uk/installsharpeye2.exe and install it by double-clicking the downloaded file.
- With your scanner, scan a one page printed music score as a first try. Scan it in black and white and in Tiff or Bmp file format.
- Start SharpEye (Start, Programs, Visiv, SharpEye 2).
- Select item "Open image..." from the "File" menu and select the image file saved at step 3 here above.
- Select item "Read" from the "Read" menu. The conversion starts. A percentage shows the progression in the lower part of the main window. Wait until the score appears in the main window.
- Select item "MusicXML... Save" from the "File" menu and give a name to your score (with the XML extension).
- Start Pizzicato (Start, Program, Pizzicato 3, Pizzicato). At startup, select the Professional demonstration mode.
- In the "File" menu, select item "Import a MusicXML file..." and select the XML file saved at step 7 here above.
- Validate the dialog that appears and your music score is displayed. You may listen to it using the button with the little yellow triangle, in the tool bar.
This is the main procedure. As the recognition level of musical symbols is not always perfect depending of the score complexity, there will be some little corrections to do. But usually, the time saved in encoding the score is considerable.
For more information:
- You may consult the SharpEye user manual (Start, Programs, Visiv, SharpEye 2 Manual)
- See also the Pizzicato lesson on importing MusicXML files on page http://www.arpegemusic.com/manual33/EN561.htm
As Pizzicato Professional 3 may be used in demonstration mode and as SharpEye may be used freely for one month, you may then try their combination before buying.
advices for Pizzicato...
Frequently asked questions about Pizzicato
MIDI input setup
Pizzicato lets you connect a MIDI keyboard to your computer to enter notes easily. By default after installation, there is not necessarily a selected MIDI input. To record notes directly from a MIDI connected keyboard:
Go in the "Options" menu and select "MIDI Setup...".
Double-click the MIDI input port to the left. In the dialog box that appears, select the line that contains the "MIDI" term inside the "Associated driver" menu. The exact expression varies with the sound card or MIDI interface you use (for example "SB MIDI Input", "MIDI Input", "USB MIDI IN",...).
Check that the MIDI plug named "IN" is well connected to the "OUT" plug of your synthesizer and vice versa. Also check that the notation convention used by the manufacturer of your MIDI interface is the right one. If not, you may need to connect the "IN" plug to the "IN" connector of your synthesizer and the "OUT" to the "OUT". It depends on the manufacturer, so check in your sound card or interface user manual.
To test the MIDI connection:
Press the "Esc" keyboard key, then the 'r' key (lowercase 'R').
A blinking cursor must appear on the score.
Hold down a key of your MIDI keyboard and press '3' on your computer numeric keypad. If a note appears on the screen, then the setup is correct. If a rest appears, there is a MIDI input setup problem. If you have several MIDI input choices, try another one. If not, your sound card is probably not setup correctly for MIDI input in Windows (warning, your sound card can work well for MIDI output and audio but not for MIDI input, because the driver is different).
If the test is OK, you are ready to record in real time and see the notes appear on the screen.To know how, simply read the two lessons about real time recording in the Help menu or on our website on page www.arpegemusic.com/manual33/EN430.htm
To enter notes step by step with the MIDI keyboard, see the following lesson: www.arpegemusic.com/manual33/EN250.htm
Splitting the right and left hands for the piano
When transcribing a MIDI file or a real time keyboard performance, Pizzicato can split up the left and right hands on two different staves in G and F clefs.
To record in real time the two hands at the same time, do the following:
First, prepare the two staves (F clef and G clef).
Place the MIDI recording cursor on the upper staff.
Go in the "Options" menu, "Transcription..." item. The "Transcriptions options" dialog box appears.
Check the box "Lower split point" and select the note that will separate the two hands. By default this note is the central C (value 60). A value of 61 will be C#, 62 will be D,... The "Listen..." button lets you play a note directly on the musical keyboard: click "Listen...", then press a music keyboard key. Click OK to confirm the choice.
Record in real time your performance on the keyboard, with the help of the metronome and the recorder window.
When you stop, your performance is transcribed using the two staves (left and right hand).
If you start from a MIDI file (already recorded), do the following:
Import your file and transcribe all staves except the piano staff that you want to transcribe with two hands.
Under the piano staff (not transcribed), add an empty F clef staff.
In the "Options" menu, select the "Transcription..." item and make the same changes as explained above.
Select the upper piano staff only and select "Edit", "Transcribe". The piano staff is transcribed and the lower notes are transcribed on the bottom staff, which represents the left hand.
In both cases, do not forget to disable the split option again, otherwise you will have a bad surprise the next time you will make a one staff transcription...
Musical basics and access to the Pizzicato music course
Composing music (2)
We will first learn how to use an accompaniment style. We will then study how a style is structured and how you can modify it or create a new style.
Using the accompaniment styles
Pizzicato contains 20 documents with musical libraries oriented towards styles of light music:
- Disco music
- Slow number
They are available in the File menu , Open template item in the Accompaniments sub-category. As an example for this lesson, we will work with the Rumba style. Open this document. Its main view appears as follows:
This structure is the same for all styles. Only the instruments and the library contents are different. The basic idea of an accompaniment style is as follows: each instrument of the group plays the rhythmic and melodic structures repeated in a regular way (on 1 or 2 measures or more). At every instant, the notes played by all instruments are coordinated by a chord progression which is the same for each instrument. This common chord progression leads all instruments in an harmonious way.
Let us take the simplest case to start. A chord progression is provided as an example for each style. By holding the Control key , double-click on the Example score. The sequencer view opens...
...To read the full lesson, see the lesson Music composition (2) 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!