Dear Musicians,

This is issue #81 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, 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 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2009, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

Notice : This letter is sent personally to email address ##3 given willingly by you while filling a form on our site, by writing to us or as a member of the press. You may unsubscribe at any time. Click here to unsubscribe.

Read all previous editorials on page

With this letter, we will start to examine the elements that make up a piece of music. As a house is constructed with bricks and mortar, music is also constructed with basic materials. The study of the elementary forms of these materials can help the composer to understand how to assemble them into a music composition.

The theory that follows is an approach I developed out of many existing theories and also out of some personal ideas as how to combine these many theories together.

It exposes the present status of my research into a better understanding of music and composition for everyone. Some concepts may at first sound a bit "mathematical" or esoteric for you. But I will try to develop them with very practical examples and applications, so that you will be able to understand them.

The purpose of this theory is to apply it to music composition, not to become a theoretician. Anyway, if you feel you miss something in what I explain in a letter, just tell me at and I will try to give more examples in the next letter.

The six basic ingredients of music

To analyze a complex phenomenon, we need to discover the ingredients of its mixture. For this purpose, let us consider music as being the combination of six simple phenomena. These phenomena are very objective and are observable by anybody who cares to listen to music. They are observable in every kind of music I can think of.

At this lowest level of music, we do not mean "emotion", "aesthetic" or any other subjective concept generally associated to music. We just mean basic, simple, physical phenomena that can be produced and recognized easily and methodically. This is the structural part of music. Here is a short review of these six elements.

Rhythm is obviously present in any music. It consists of the time intervals between two musical events and also of the duration of a musical event (a note for instance). The way notes are structured in time plays an important role in the final result of a composition. Rhythm gives life to music. As a house is built by assembling bricks according to their positions in space, then music is built by placing notes according to their positions in time.

Drums and similar percussive instruments mostly expresses the rhythmic aspect of music. Listen to the example and notice that various sounds are used to create a more complex rhythmic pattern:

Listen to the example...

Melody is the succession of notes that is so specific as to be recognized as an entity. Most of the time, we think about a tune by remembering its main melody. It often implies rhythm, as each note of the melody is remembered with a duration in relationship to the other notes. But when I say melody in this context, I mainly refer to the art of finding a series of notes played in sequence, that has its own personality and feel.

Listen to the example...

Harmony is basically the way to combine two or more melodies together so as to reach another dimension in music. It is the art to combine several notes played simultaneously to create specific atmospheres. A chord is a set of notes played together and it is the basis around which harmony is built. Counterpoint is more related to analyzing the way several melodies go together while keeping their own melodic lines independent. Harmony looks at the problem in a more vertical way by analyzing which notes can go together "harmoniously". We will resume this aspect by the word "harmony" and by that, we mean any and all cases when two or more notes are played together.

Listen to the example...

In the example, you hear string instruments that play together. This kind of arrangement is mainly used to create a specific atmosphere, but you can easily hear the melodies that are created by the lower and higher notes of this chord progression. Each time a chord is changed, at least one note moves to another position, creating a simple form of melody.

Sound is the air vibration that makes up a single note. A sound may have so many different characteristics that it is a whole subject of study in itself. All natural instruments have different sounds. With synthesizers, even more different sounds can be used in music. The human voice can be a very rich and expressive sound. Selecting a sound to play a melody, a rhythm or an harmony has obviously a great impact on the final result of a composition. Often called 'orchestration', the art of mastering the selection of sounds to play the various parts of a music composition is definitely an ability that the composer needs to develop.

Listen to the example...

Form is the way a music composition is organized in different sections. It is the way the different parts of a composition are assembled and made coherent as a whole. It has some similarity with rhythm, but on a larger time scale. A simplified form example would be: introduction - chorus - verse - chorus - ending.

Here is a very short example of a melody. It consists of 4 small musical phrases. You can easily notice that the first and third phrases are the same. The second and last phrases start the same way, but their endings are different. The form of a melody or composition is often expressed with a series of letters that show how the different sections are sequenced. In this example, you have A - B - A - C.

Listen to the example...

Effects cover any alteration that affects any aspect of the above five elements. Tempo variation (accelerando, ralentendo,...) is a way to affect rhythm. Glissando (going smoothly from one note to the other) will affect the rendering of a melody. Accents, nuances will affect rhythm, melody and harmony. Reverberation, equalizer will affect the sound rendering. There are many possible classes of effects, but we define them very precisely. They are labeled "effects" as soon as they modify the rendering of one of more of the other five elements of music.

The example contains a series of piano notes. You can hear a volume variation, then a tempo variation followed by a glissando (impossible to play that on a real piano: it is created synthetically).

Listen to the example...

So we have Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Sound, Form and Effects. Any composer would agree that music consists of at least these six elements. So mastering them is part of the road that leads to becoming a composer. This does not mean that somebody mastering these six elements will automatically be a composer, as there is much more to music than just these basic elements. You need to be able to use and combine these elements together so as to express what you feel deep inside yourself. Only then would you become a real composer. But as far as these six elements are concerned, you should understand them very well separately.

These elements are mutually dependent. Each one provides a specific viewpoint on music. You cannot isolate one of them as an absolute quality, except as a concept. Whenever you have rhythm in a music, you have at least a sound that transmits that rhythm to your ear. Melody and harmony also need sound and rhythm to express themselves. Effects can only be perceived through the variation it creates on rhythm, melody or sound. So in any small section of music, you will have many elements present at the same time. They form a series of tools to help you analyze or create music.

The common denominator of the six elements

Incidentally, there is a more basic element behind these six elements. Rhythm, melody, harmony, sound, form and effects have something in common. They represent different aspects of the same physical element.

This element is time.

Time is the essence of music. Without time, you would not be able to listen to music. Music is a dynamic structure built on time, as opposed to more static art forms like painting or sculpture.

The simplest rhythm that you can think of is a regular beat. It defines a time interval and that time interval is repeated over and over.

Melody and harmony are both based on combining air vibrations together so that they make a whole that is harmonious to the ear. The speed of the vibrations and the ratio between these vibrations are all concerned with time.

The characteristics of a sound is also a set of vibrations that make up a single sound. Again, time is the key to understand these vibrations.

Form is of course the way a piece of music evolves through time.

Effects is the variation (variation implies time) of the other five elements (each one being based on time).

So music is basically just something built on time phenomena evolving with time...!

This is just an observation to keep in mind, but to really start analyzing and creating music, the understanding of these six elements is a practical way to start acquiring composition skills.

Recognizing the six elements

I suggest you to listen to several pieces of music that you like and notice the presence of the six elements described in this letter. To help you in doing that, ask yourself the following questions:

The following links give you some suggestions to start with. You can find many music pieces from all styles on YouTube, at

Of course, each one of these pieces have the six elements, but focus on the given elements, as an exercise.

What is next?

The next step in this approach of music is to analyze these six elements through different viewpoints that are more related to the subjective side of music.

At least 9 different criteria may help you to influence the 6 elements. We will explain them in the next newsletter.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato

Aspects 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.

  1. If you do not yet have Pizzicato, download the demonstration version of Pizzicato 3, on page and install it by double-clicking the downloaded file.
  2. Download SharpEye at and install it by double-clicking the downloaded file.
  3. 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.
  4. Start SharpEye (Start, Programs, Visiv, SharpEye 2).
  5. Select item "Open image..." from the "File" menu and select the image file saved at step 3 here above.
  6. 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.
  7. Select item "MusicXML... Save" from the "File" menu and give a name to your score (with the XML extension).
  8. Start Pizzicato (Start, Program, Pizzicato 3, Pizzicato). At startup, select the Professional demonstration mode.
  9. In the "File" menu, select item "Import a MusicXML file..." and select the XML file saved at step 7 here above.
  10. 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:

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.

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

Methodology to create a score

To create a score, here is an effective method to get a correct page-setting and avoid making certain symbol adjustment operations twice. You can adapt it according to your needs. If you often use the same kind of score, you can create a template where several of these operations are already done and start from there.

  1. Start from the score template called "One linear measure", located in "Templates ==> Templates". Work in linear mode (popup menu in the tool bar of the score view).
  2. Add the number of measures and staves as needed.
  3. Fill in the instrument view, specifically the instrument names and select the sonorities to be played.
  4. Fill in the characteristics of the instruments (double click in front of the staves), specifically the measure numbers, the braces…
  5. Always in linear mode, introduce the contents of the measures: notes, rests, accents, symbols but not the symbols which extend over several measures (slurs over several measures, crescendo…). Use the automatic justification for the notes encoding ("J" check box in the tool bar of the score). If the measures have several voices, use the voice menu if those are too complex (popup menu on the left of the score tool bar). Add comments in text blocks, but only those related to the measures.
  6. Place the chord symbols if there are any as well as the lyrics.
  7. Select all measures of the score (Edit menu, Select all) then justify all (Edit menu, Justify). The measure widths are adapted to the content of the measures. You can specify a scale factor to modify the density of the score. It is accessible via the Option menu, Justification.
  8. Set the spaces between staves in an optimal way. This spacing will be used for all pages, therefore check if it is appropriate to all measures of the score.
  9. Switch to the page mode. If the page setup dialog does not appear, call it with the Page setup item in the File menu. Select the print scale (Pro version only), adjust the margins and disable the measures per system and systems per page check boxes. Pizzicato will optimize by taking the measure width into account. Check the "Calculate" box and validate.
  10. Review the pages and adjust the number of measures per system and systems per page as necessary by using the layout tool. Arrange so that the score is well distributed on all pages and that no a half empty page stays at the end.
  11. Once this is done, you can review measures and adjust symbols and add the symbols relating to several measures (large slurs, crescendo…). Add the title, the page numbers and any useful comment which must be fixed on a page. You can then print your score.

This method contains the main steps. Adapt it to your needs.

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:

To test the MIDI connection:

If the MIDI input does not work properly on MAC, try to disconnect the MIDI cable of the keyboard (but NOT the USB connector, which must stay connected) from the interface while you start Pizzicato. Connect it again when Pizzicato is started. If the keyboard sends any MIDI signal while Pizzicato starts, the MIDI of the Mac may not be properly initialized.

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

To enter notes step by step with the MIDI keyboard, see the following lesson:

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

The name and position of notes

Exactly as the alphabet has 26 letters from A to Z, the musical alphabet includes 7 letters assigned to the notes:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B

In this lesson and the next ones, we will work on the basis of the treble clef. Here is the position of these 7 notes when a treble clef is placed at the beginning of the staff:

The name of the treble clef (also called G clef) comes from the following fact : the loop in the middle of this clef is centered around the second line of the staff, which is the line on which the G note is located.

What about the names of the lower and higher notes? The same names are used again. Higher than B, there is again C, D,... Lower than C, the names are B, A,... Here is the result for the higher notes...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on notes and rests on our site...

The commercial page...

With the publication of Pizzicato 3.4, a series of updates are available for Mac OS X and Windows, according to the version you presently have.

If you bought Pizzicato 3.2 or 3.3, you may download Pizzicato 3.4 for free. The reference is the license number. All users whose license number is greater or equal to 12794 can update for free by going to the free update section on our website and download version 3.4. See page Install it and validate it with your original license/serial numbers.

Otherwise, to know the prices and possibilities, see the update order form 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!