Dear Musicians,

This is issue #82 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 -
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Copyright 2009, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 

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Read all previous editorials on page

This month, we have the pleasure to announce that Pizzicato has found a new companion software, EarMaster. This software is developed by a Danish company and is really wonderful for ear training.

It answers the questions related to how you can learn skills like singing in tune, recognizing intervals, chords and scales, playing with high rhythmic precision, and much more. It gives you numerous practical exercises to increase and develop these abilities.

You can discover EarMaster at and buy it on the main Pizzicato order page. By using it, you will also increase your familiarity with the basic elements of music, as we describe them in this letter. So, become a better musician and develop your skills with EarMaster!


You can now watch all the Pizzicato videos on YouTube, on Arpege Music's channel at


A free corrective update, Pizzicato 3.4.3 will soon be available. Consult


Back to music composition. Last month, we analyzed music as a composite of six basic elements: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Sound, Effects and Form. These are the bricks that build up a piece of music. Each one of them can take many different shapes and aspects, but the important point here is to be able to recognize them and know that they exist.

These six elements are very elementary. By thinking about them when you listen to music, you can watch how the composer used these basic blocks of music.

Now, what is the next level in building a piece of music?

If we can observe the presence of these elements in any music, it does not mean that we are able to create a piece of music just by knowing that these 6 elements exist. Being able to observe the various kinds of bricks that make up a house does not mean you can yourself build a house. Another level of approach must be studied. Other skills must be developed.

We will cover here a series of viewpoints on music. They may seem arbitrary. They are! But you will find that each one corresponds to a subjective concept, to something that can be observed and experienced by the attentive listener.

The advantage of these viewpoints on music is that you can use them to shape music the way you want. They form an intermediate way to describe how music evolves. They represent an expressed form of music that lays between your global concept of a music and the real notes and sounds of that music.

They describe what the listener experiences while listening to a piece of music. But their main interest in music composition is that they give you a path to go from an idea or feeling to a real music composition, with notes and instruments.

We will analyze these viewpoints in both ways. The first one is the passive way. Listen to music and "see" the music through these viewpoints, so you become accustomed to your new "musical eyes". By doing so, you can establish links with the six basic elements of music and notice how each one of them may interact with each viewpoint. So this makes a lot of possible combinations. The second way to analyze these viewpoints on music is to apply these observations and combinations to the reverse process, which is when you have a conceptual idea of a music composition and you want to give it a substantial form with notes and instruments. So this is a path that can be used to compose music.

At this point, I have located at least nine different viewpoints that can be useful for music analysis and composition. Each viewpoint may be analyzed in combination with the six basic music blocks already mentioned or any combination of them. So we have many combinations and examples to cover for the next few letters. Let us start right away...

What do I really mean by the word "viewpoint"?

It is simply a specific quality of music that can be observed objectively and/or subjectively. You will find that some viewpoints are more subjective and others are more objective. But you, as a person, will be able to experience and observe the phenomenon I will be talking about.

To give you an example, if you look at a row of persons, you can objectively observe their relative sizes, whether they are male or female, the colors of their garments. More subjectively, you can feel their attitudes, whether they seem happy or sad, interested or bored. Well, the music viewpoints we will talk about are similar criteria, but they are applicable to a piece of music.

Keep this definition in mind while we inspect and analyze these musical viewpoints. They are "angles" from which we may analyze and view music.

Viewpoints and the layers of music construction

Before analyzing the first viewpoint, here is a useful description of the general process of music composition, related to the viewpoints. You can roughly divide the process of music composition into three main layers.

The starting point of a music composition may be many different things, but it sure must include your first idea of what you want to express with your music composition. Let's take an easy example. You love her very much (if you are a women, you love him very much :-) and you want to express this deep feeling into music. Well this "I love her (or him)" is the first point. It is the highest level of your composition. Your composition is expressed here in its purest form, as a pure idea or feeling or emotion that you want to express. This first step could be practically anything you can think of. The only condition would be that you really mean it and feel it as yours and you really want to express it. This is the top level layer of music composition, high in the sky, you might say. Now if you want to express this into a music composition, you have to go down to earth, into more practical actions then dreaming about your feelings...

Now, the lowest layer of a music composition is something that can be played by musicians so that the final music will actually express your original, high level feelings. To go from the ideas and feelings to a score full of precise notes and rhythms written on paper is not so obvious and many persons wanting to compose music will just become quite lost in the process. There is nothing like a 'unique universal method' to go from one pure idea to a nice music composition. There are only paths to go from one point to another.

The introduction of musical viewpoints is just another path to go from ideas to finished music composition. It is an intermediate layer, between high level concepts and real notes written on paper, ready to be played.

So we have:

1. Highest layer = Ideas, feelings, emotions

2. Intermediate layer = Musical viewpoints and their evolution

3. Lowest layer = a score with precise notes and instruments, as a combination of the six basic elements of music

So let us analyze the first proposed viewpoint.

Musical viewpoint number 1 - Orderliness

We could call it "order versus disorder" or "order against chaos".

Music is obviously sound that has been organized. For sounds that have not been organized, we use the word noise.

What is the basis of "being organized"? Of course, it is the introduction of order into a series of elements, so that they are well assembled together, they all fit together well. But what is order? How do you perceive that various elements have been assembled in an orderly fashion? A definition of order found in a dictionary says "A condition of regular or proper arrangement". Another interesting definition says "Logical or comprehensible arrangement of separate elements".

Let us take an example. Let us take many books and place them at regular intervals on a table, all in vertical position and facing the same direction. Let us say that on another table, the same quantities of books are just thrown there randomly. Any sensible observer will say that the first table represents order and the second table represents the lack of order, which is disorder (the word chaos would be used for an extreme disorder).

The books on the first table will obviously look like they have been arranged according to a predefined pattern. They are in similar positions, they are all books, they are the same distance apart from each other. From these observations, we can say that order will be noticed whenever a series of similar elements are present, arranged in time or space according to a regular pattern, a somewhat repeating pattern.

For our purposes, let us use the following practical definition:

The orderliness of a system is increased by the presence of similarities and decreased by the presence of differences, amongst its component parts.

The elements of a music composition are obviously assembled in an orderly way. A program that would assemble notes, rhythms and sounds on a complete random basis would never get agreements from people as to being a nice music composition.

But order is not an absolute quality. There can be many degrees of order. We can compare the two tables and say that the first table has more order in it than the second table. But compared to a fire where all the books are burning, both tables will look much more in order than the burning books. So it is always relative.

So we need to study the relative degrees of order inside music and specifically in relationship with the six basic elements of music.

Let us start with rhythm.

If we listen to a regular beat, we can say that - by the above definition - the order present in that beat is very high. Each note is the same (sameness is the highest level of similarity) and each beat is separated from the previous beat by the same time duration. This is the simplest rhythm that can be and it has a high level of order in it. All its component parts are the same, there is no difference. It is quite easy for the listener to notice this simple form of rhythm.

Listen to the example...

Listen to this simple example for a while and experiment what you feel about that simple rhythm. After a few beats, you can completely understand its pattern. You can easily agree with the rhythm and create it inside your head. There is no mystery left, it is so obvious. And it becomes rapidly boring and uninteresting.

If two musicians play a regular rhythm, but with a different tempo and with no attention to each other, what will happen? If you concentrate on one of the beats and try to ignore the other, you will find it regular and ordered. Same with the other beat. But the combination of two different rhythms will create a general atmosphere of disorder. Two things are there, but they are not synchronized, they are not arranged harmoniously with each other and at the same time they are part of the same sound context.

Listen to the example...

So there is a big difference in the component parts of the sound and at the same time there are similarities, as the two beats are each one repeated regularly and use the same sound. According to your tolerance level for order and disorder, you will be able to appreciate it by following the two patterns independently, or you will reject it as incomprehensible and you will not appreciate it at all. The perception of order is then relative to the subject who perceives it.

Now take a random pattern, with different instruments and with random beat durations.

Listen to the example...

There are too much differences and almost no similarities in this example. How do you feel while listening to it? Do you understand it? Do you like it? What is lacking in it? It does not contain much order and will probably seem like random noise to you. Almost no aesthetic value as a whole.

Now take the following rhythm.

Listen to the example...

What is your experience while listening to it? When you listen to the first few notes, you will notice that there are different durations between each notes. The notes are from the same instrument, so there is a similarity, but the durations will at first look much different and not comprehensible. But after a few moments, you will notice that the same pattern repeats itself. When you hear the pattern for the third time, you feel like you have understood the pattern and the first feeling of disorder will easily change into a feeling of order. Did you experience it that way?

If you play it again, your reaction will be different, as you now know that the pattern is regular and you have the pattern in mind. This shows you that by listening to a music many times, you can learn to understand its orderliness and at the same time the feeling of order will increase. Orderliness is then not only relative to the listener, but it can also change as the listener acquires a deeper understanding of the music he listens to.

The next newsletter will continue on that subject, as there is more to observe about orderliness and rhythm. As rhythm is a quite simple phenomenon, we will be able to analyze it much deeper and discover some rules that are applicable to music composition.

Right now, I suggest you watch the following YouTube videos. They are related to rhythm and percussion instruments. For each one of them, discover the effect they have upon you. Watch them several times and see if your viewpoint changes, specifically, the orderliness viewpoint, your feeling about how much order or disorder you can observe.

Then you can do the same with any music you like and focus on noticing the rhythmic orderliness generated by the music. In the next letter, we will analyze more about rhythmic orderliness.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato

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

Assigning colors to the notes

Pizzicato Beginner and Professional have an automatic color assignment function, based on the note name, the note frequency or the guitar fingering.

Select the measures you want and go in the Edit menu to choose the Assign colors to notes... item. A dialog box lets you assign colors to notes in four different ways:

From the note name - The leftmost color column lets you select the colors for each note name. Just click the color area and the color palette appears. Here, all C notes will be colored in light yellow.

From the note pitch - The two central columns are used to assign the colors to the 12 note pitches of an octave. Here the principle is that each note frequency (within one octave) have a specific color.

From the fingering - In a guitar tablature, it is possible to assign the fingering to the notes. The last column is used to assign a corresponding color to each fingering.

Black color - Is used to reset all colors to black.

If the Save chosen colors checkbox is checked, your color selection will be saved for the next call to this dialog. You can then customize the color table for note names, note pitches and fingering.

Notice that when you right-click a note (ALT+click on the Mac), you can edit the playing parameters of that note and the same dialog proposes an individual color selection for that note. This is also valid for Pizzicato Light.

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

Upbeats and uncomplete measures

Often, the first measure of a score contains less beats than the others. The music starts for instance on the last beat of the first measure and this is called an Upbeat. This measure is usually written as such, without filling the measure with rests. A 4/4 measure that would only contain one quarter note should be played and displayed as a one beat measure. There are other cases, for instance when repeat signs are crossing a measure boundary, where a measure should be displayed and played with a different number of beats than the natural content of that measure.

Pizzicato Professional gives a full control over the measure parameters, but with Pizzicato Beginner and Professional, an easy function can be used to handle that situation. Here is how to create an incomplete measure:

Fill in the notes or rests in the measure

With the right mouse button (ALT+click on Mac), select the Measures and staves menu item, then choose Incomplete measure or upbeat.

This measure will then be played correctly.

If you go again in the above menu for that measure, you will see that the Incomplete measure or upbeat menu item is now checked, which means that this measure has an incomplete duration. To reset the measure to its real duration, just use that menu again.

Print preview of the score

To see a "print preview", you may use the zoom (Professional and Beginner versions only). The upper part of the score view contains therefore a little menu with standard zoom values. Selecting for example 50% or even 34 % according to your screen size, you can visualize the whole page to print. The buttons "+" and "-" respectively increases and decreases the visualized size of the page.

How to make jazz play more natural? (Beginner and Professional versions)

In jazz, it is common to play a series of 8th notes by delaying slightly each off-beat note. It gives the effect of a triplet made of a quarter note and an 8th note. To create this effect, you can of course encode the notes in triplets, but you can also use the "Swing" function. Here is how to do it:

Listen to the result and you will hear that the notes are shifted. You can moderate the effect by choosing for example a value of 50. A negative value will produce the reverse effect. A -100 value on two 8th notes will correspond to a triplet made of an 8th note and a quarter note.

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

Note stems

We have seen that half notes, quarter notes and all shorter rhythmic values have a stem. This vertical line starts from the right side of the note head and moves upwards, at least in the examples seen so far. Its length does not influence the note and is purely a question of convention, readability and aesthetics of the graphical layout. According to the note head position on the staff, the stem can be oriented downwards. In this case, it starts from the left side of the note:

Generally, one acts so that the stem exceeds the staff the least possible while having on average the length given in this example. When the note is placed on the third line or lower, the stem is directed upwards. When the note is placed higher than the third line, the stem is directed downwards:

This is not a mandatory rule, because it does not at all influence the performance of the note. The same principle is valid for the eighth notes. When you draw rhythmic values with hooks, they also change orientation, but they stay on the right side of the stem. The hooks always point in the direction of the note. Here is an illustration:

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on music notation aspects (1) on our site...

The commercial page...

EarMaster 5 - Interactive Ear Training Software

Have you ever thought about what might be the difference between a good musician and a REALLY good musician?

The answer is very likely to be Ear Training!

Ear training is the process of connecting theory (notes, intervals, chords, etc) with music (the sounds we hear). The more you will exercise to recognize this connection, the more you will appreciate playing music, because you will learn to understand what you play.

For more information, go to

You can buy EarMaster at

Pizzicato upgrades

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!