Dear Musicians,

This is issue #84 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

We wish you a happy Christmas and New Year time,
for you and your family. Let 2010 be a year full
of music, emotions and happiness!

Phone/Fax ++32 -
Visit our site:

Copyright 2009, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

In our last article, we presented a way to look at the rhythmic aspects of music through the use of harmonics.

Harmonic is just another term to say "multiple of". "2" is a multiple of "1". The quantity of "1" is doubled and you get the quantity of "2". So we say that "2" is the second harmonic of "1". Similarly, we say that "3" is the third harmonic of "1", etc.

When we say "quantity", what do we mean?

Well, we can apply "quantity" to practically anything we can observe in the universe. Length, weight, duration, size,... Nature is built on quantities. In music, we can apply this principle to the duration of notes and the time intervals between notes.

Music is a sequence of events happening on a time stream

Obviously, music is organized through time. Without time, there would be no music. Time is the main ingredient on which to build music.

We will not go into speculations about what time really is or is not. The explanation of what time is, is the subject of many interesting speculations by physicists as well as philosophers. Most of us seem to perceive time as something continuous in which things can "happen" and for our purposes (analyzing and composing music), this is a practical definition that we can use.

So, on a rhythmic point of view, we can place notes in a dimension called "time" and organize them. The result of this is a piece of music.

If we throw many notes randomly in a specific time interval, there is almost no chance to make some music that will be appreciated by anyone. So we need to put some orderly sequence of notes if we want to compose music.

Music is the art of dividing time

Considering time as a continuous medium, we can introduce order by dividing it into equal or similar intervals. Music becomes the art of dividing time intervals and making these intervals sufficiently related to each other so that they seem to make a whole that makes sense and conveys an idea, an emotion, an action to the person who listens to it.

In music, the most obvious time division is the beat. It gives you the relative speed at which you can predict other notes to appear. It establishes a time frame around which all the notes of the music will be organized. We talk about a tempo of 60 quarter notes (crotchet) per minute. This tells you that in one minute, you should play 60 notes. This tempo value may change and vary, but during the music it stays the general reference around which all the musical events will take place.

The tempo (general speed) of a piece of music will sure have an influence on the emotion or action it can convey. This has a direct relationship to what happens in life regarding time. As a general rule, for highly positive emotions and actions, the tempo will be faster than for lower negative emotions. The tempo of a funeral march will obviously be something slow. A happy dance will be faster. A music that accompanies car stunts in a film will have an adequately fast tempo.

So the use of tempo is very important in relationship to the emotion or action you want to convey. You can vary the tempo to change the general mood of your music, for instance going from a low level emotion (sorrow) to a higher level (enthusiasm), you can progressively increase the tempo. Many effects can be created with a change of tempo in a music composition. This is used to the fullest extent in film music, as the music must then convey the action or emotion of the scenes.

Listen to the following examples and examine them based on the tempo and what kind of emotion and action they convey to you (on YouTube):

Music notation and time

Since the early beginning of music notation, the need existed to represent time in a written form, so that a composer would be able to write his music for others to play.

As time is not something you can 'touch' or 'draw on paper', it was arbitrarily associated to a space dimension and represented as something that 'happens' from left to right on a piece of paper. Please note that this is only a practical way to represent time in a written form, as time itself has no similarity with space, on a physical point of view.

So we write the music notes from left to right on the paper and at the end of the line, we go to the next line and again from left to right. A note placed to the right of another note is going to be played after that note. Very easy.

Now, the beat is the main time division of the music. We must then have a graphic symbol to represent that main time division on paper. We often use the quarter note (crotchet) as the symbol for the beat :

The vertical line (either up or down), with the note filled in black, represents the quarter note. The tempo is often written explicitly at the beginning of the score, specifying how much quarter notes there are in one minute. So if we write the following:

Listen to this example...

it means 8 notes played at the same speed of 80 notes a minute.

Music written using only the beat will sound monotonous or will need imagination from the composer on other musical aspects to make it interesting (instruments, melody, chords,...).

The measure - Another way to organize time

The next natural way to organize time in music is by the use of measures. A measure is a group of beats that form a unit. It is not arbitrary, as it is related to a slower beat in relationship to the main beat (here, the quarter note).

For instance, the '4/4' measure contains 4 quarter notes. These 4 quarter notes form a musical unit that can be distinguished by the auditor. On a music score, the measures are separated by vertical lines and a time signature symbol at the beginning of the score shows how much beats are present in the measures. The following score:

means that two measures of 4 quarter notes must be played. To learn more about the time signature symbol, see the lesson on the time signature at

If all notes were played exactly the same, there would be no sense grouping the beats into measures, except maybe as an intellectual exercise. You could as well group them in 4 beats, 9 beats or 157 beats and nobody would hear the difference.

But in most cases, the division of time into measures that contain a given number of beats, corresponds to a time interval that is perceived as itself by the listener. It is a periodic time interval that can be recognized as a whole and that adds some personality to the music.

As the measures contain the same number of beats, there is a high level of order because the beats are perceived as a sub-division of the measures. Or you could say that the measures are perceived as groups of beats that form a unit. Both propositions are valid. They establish a relationship between two different time units : the beat and the measure.

How does one recognize or establish the perception of the measure then? The simplest way to establish the measure is to set the first beat into prominence, for instance with an accent on it, or by using a second instrument that will only play the first beat of the measures :

Listen to the example...

But there are many ways to achieve this. The melody will often assert its main notes on the first beat. Harmony can change on the first beat. New instruments or effects can enter on the first beat, ... You can also create a pattern of different instruments that will make the measure unit very plain and obvious.

The selection of the measure to use while composing a piece of music is quite important, as the mood of the piece will be much influenced by it.

Determining the time signature of a piece of music

When you hear some music that you want to transcribe in music notation, how do you determine the measure and the beat?

There can be more than one solution to this problem, but according to the above, you must first locate and perceive the main beat. This main beat is probably best defined in practice by the way you tap your foot on the ground to follow the music.

To find the tempo, count how many of these beats you hear in exactly one minute. Take a clock and start counting when the minutes change, then stop counting at the next change. If the number is between 50 and 140, you can probably decide it is a quarter note. If faster, it can be an eighth note for instance.

To find the measure, try to perceive a small group of beats that seem to form a single periodic unit and count how many beats there are in that unit. Standard numbers are between 2 and 4, but other numbers can be used also.

This is partly arbitrary. The basic principle to follow is to make music notation easy to read. In theory, you could almost write any music with any beat and any measure, but there are often only one or two solutions to make the music notation as clear and logical as possible for the person who reads the score.

Listen to the following examples of the use of various measures and notice the mood that is conveyed by each one. Notice also the various ways the composers divide the time and group beats together into measures.

Time division - the next steps...

There are still three other ways to organize, divide and group time in a music composition. We will examine them in our next newsletter. I suggest you to listen to many different music and hear them with the above explanation in mind, so that the measures, beats and time division and organization become part of your musical points of view.

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato

Pizzicato in US and Canada
An article about using Pizzicato in a real situation
By Blair Ashby, Pizzicato representative for US & Canada, Denver, Colorado

A few weeks ago a client of mine, Jim, wanted some help with a song he had written, however, he had some stipulations.  First it had to be playable live by his band and second, it had to be cheap.  He only had a budget for one hour of time.  He had a melody and chord progression already, he even had his guitar part worked out.  His band had put together an arrangement but he didn’t like it; he felt it was too similar to the other songs they performed.  He wanted something new.

This was a perfect situation for Pizzicato to really shine.  I created a new document and started in the Conductor window.  On the top left side of the window is the libraries pane.  The very first “+” sign is a document called “Instruments and Templates”.  When you click on the “+” it unfolds to show several folders.  About half way down this list is a folder called Harmonic Spaces.  Click the “+” next to it (you can also double click the folder or folder name) and three choices are presented to you.

Harmonic Spaces Library

A Harmonic Space is really just a tool which uses musical theories to define which chords are easily matched with other chords in a Harmonic or Musical Scale.  As I knew Jim’s writing style, I knew he had a tendency to write progressions using very few chords and almost never used chords with a seventh in them.  I chose the second Harmonic Space labeled: C-Major - 3 Notes Chords - Notes in Common.  This space gave me no more than 5 chords to choose from when starting from any of the chords; in other words, I wanted to limit my choices to only a few chords as I knew this would be adequate for Jim’s song.

I dragged the Harmonic Space onto the Conductor Window and instantly a new score group with this Harmonic Space was created.  I quickly created his chord progression by clicking the ok on each chord I wanted.

Harmonic Space and Chords

This whole process I’ve described so far took only a few minutes to complete, 55 minutes still left in the hour.  I was now ready to start introducing Jim to new ways of hearing his music.

I opened the Music Libraries folder.  In it are more folders and near the bottom is a folder called Prepared Styles.  I have purchased and downloaded hundreds of styles for Pizzicato.  I started previewing them for Jim by clicking on the Score icon which played the style for Jim to hear.  After a few styles Jim heard something he liked.  I dragged that style onto the Conductor Window, renamed the score after the style name and kept previewing new styles for Jim.  After 15 minutes we had found six styles which had something in them that Jim was attracted to.  All six were sitting in the conductor window.  40 minutes to go.

Score Group with Chords

We then started to listen to each style individually under the influence of the chord progression.  I dragged the first style into the score group and the real time arranger in that score group played the style through the chord progression.  We found that Jim really liked the bass line from that style but not anything else.  I muted the other instruments in that style.  Onward to style number two, then three and so on.  After 20 minutes we had the six styles narrowed down to just the instrument parts in that style that Jim liked.  And, because the score group played all the styles in synchronicity, Jim could hear what all the desired instruments sounded like while playing his chord progression.  We only had 15 to 20 minutes left in Jim’s budget.

This next step was easier.  By dragging the little square in the lower right side of the score we could make the score repeat as many times as we needed for each section of Jim’s song.  By copying the score we could place different scores in different places in the score group to achieve more a dramatic effect during the song.  For instance the bass didn’t play fast in the beginning nor the end but was the only instrument besides the drums which played during the bridge of the song.  Additionally, by holding the shift key and dragging the lower right square in the bass score to the left, we effectively doubled the tempo of the bass for the bridge.  Then on the last chorus we copied the bass score form the first chorus and now the bass went back to the normal tempo after the bridge.  Time spent?  18 minutes.  We had only 2 minutes left.

The Score from the Score Group

The last step was to click and drag the little green square in the top left of the score group onto the Conductor Window.  This merged all the styles into a new score outside of the score group.  I deleted the muted instruments, clicked print and only three minutes late, Jim was out the door with a printed score of his song for the band to learn their new parts from.  Time spent: 63 minutes.

When I heard the band play the song live a couple weeks later it was excellent.  The audience loved the bands new style, Jim was happy because it broke down some creative barriers in the bands musical arranging and I was pleased because once again it gave me an opportunity to help someone make music.  In my world, it just doesn’t get better than that.

Using styles and the score group feature are efficient ways to create high quality music.  If you have questions about using the score group feature or using styles in your music, feel free to contact me via email: or call me at 303-252-1270.

Blair Ashby -

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

Creative use of an external MIDI keyboard

One of the new features of Pizzicato Professional 3 is the virtual keyboard. Its purpose is to extend the playing possibilities of a single musical keyboard and let you play several instruments on one keyboard. This principle is frequent in a lot of synthesizers and it is often called "performance". It is a set of sounds programmed on the keyboard that can be used to play.

A virtual keyboard is a musical object that can contain several instruments. It gets its data from a musical keyboard connected to a MIDI input port. If you do not have a musical keyboard connected to your computer, you can nevertheless use a virtual keyboard but in a more limited way because using the mouse is not easy to play on a keyboard drawn on the screen.

The virtual keyboards let you setup a MIDI musical keyboard connected to the computer to play various prepared instruments. You can for example play chords that are then held while you play a bass whose notes are doubled by a vibraphone 3 octaves higher for example. Another area lets you play a melody, doubled by an oboe. All of this while having some keys reserved for percussions. The whole set is played from one keyboard only, as you program it.

To prepare and use a virtual keyboard with Pizzicato 3 (even in demonstration mode), see the page

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

Accessing the Pizzicato 3 help menu on Windows

If the Pizzicato help does not function correctly under Windows, delete the following files with the Windows Explorer:

My documents\Pizzicato 3.4\HelpPrefs.dat

My documents\Pizzicato 3.4\HelpRunning.dat

(If you have Pizzicato 3.2 or earlier, these files are located in C:\Program Files\Pizzicato 3.2)

Then start Pizzicato again.

If the help menu still does not work, you can start it from the Windows menu Start, All programs, Pizzicato 3.4, User manual.

You can also send a shortcut to the desktop from this menu, to access it easier.

Switching between documents in Windows with Pizzicato Professional

If you open several documents with Pizzicato Professional, you can switch between them with the following shortcut : CTRL + TAB key. It is indeed a standard shortcut applicable to any program.

Using templates

With Pizzicato Beginner and Professional, you can start on a template document of your choice. By default, when you launch Pizzicato, a score appears. It is by default a piano page. By going in the "Options" menu, "Global options" item, a dialog box appears. The "Template by default" option lets you select the score which will be automatically open when Pizzicato starts and when you use the "File menu", "New" item. A sub-folder in Pizzicato is called "DataEN\Templates" and contains several prepared score templates. According to the Pizzicato version you have, some templates will not open (for example Pizzicato Beginner does not permit size reductions, so reduction templates will not open with this version). The template by default is "Templates\Templates\One piano page.piz". If you often use the same score style, you can create a personal page layout and select it as the default template.

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

The scale and the musical keyboard

We have seen that there are 7 notes named C, D, E, F, G, A, B. The next note is again called C and the sound generated vibrates exactly two times faster than the sound generated by the first C. This interval from the first to the second C is called an octave. In a more general way, an octave is the interval separating a note from the next note bearing the same name, such as for example from G to the next G. Here is an example with C:

This series of notes from C to C is called the scale of C. As this diagram is repeated higher and lower, we will limit ourselves to explain the contents of the notes from C to C. The same explanation is valid between two successive C.

These notes correspond to the white keys of a piano or organ keyboard. You can easily locate them by observing that the black keys are laid out by groups of 2 and 3 between the white keys. The C are the keys which are just to the left of a 2 black keys group. Here is an illustration:

The white keys located between the 2 C follow the same order as on the staff:

The black keys of the keyboard are also notes that can be played. They are located between specific white keys. With 7 white keys and 5 black keys, you thus get 12 different notes. The thirteenth note is again a C and the same diagram is repeated...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on music The scale and the accidentals 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

News, links, ... - The need for arts in our lives. Melanie Richards, sounding the alarm for the arts, demonstrates how we are denying ourselves and our children an artistic way of living, thinking, and learning, thereby creating an artificial life for them and a legacy for the future that is wanting in substance. If we ask some difficult questions about where we are as a society today and what legacy we are indeed creating for future generations, we come up short on our understanding and living of the arts, and how we expose our children to their influence. This book brings up some hard truths about how we live today, and how a true exposure to artistic living and its benefits, especially that of using process as a tool for learning, would better prepare our children for life.

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!