Dear Musicians,

This is issue #85 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 2010, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

We wish you a happy and musical year 2010 !

Before continuing our study of rhythm and time in music composition, I would like to communicate two things to you.

The first one is that ARPEGE and Pizzicato will be present for the first time at the international music exhibition "musikMesse" in Germany, Frankfurt, March 24 to 27, 2010. We invite you to visit us and see what Pizzicato can do for you. We will be in Hall 5.1, stand D58. You can find all information about this exhibition at:

Second, we have recently changed our security certificate on the international Pizzicato order page. We have updated all the links, but if you access our order page from an old favorite or from one of our previous emails, you may get an error saying the certificate is not valid. In that case, just go to the main Pizzicato site and then click the button to order Pizzicato, as this button links to the correct secured order page.


In the last article, I told you there were still 3 other ways to divide time in a music composition. We had studied the beat as the main time division, then the measure as a small group of beats that creates a new time division of a piece of music.

The next time division

While listening to music, you will easily notice that measures are also assembled into larger units. These can be the standard chorus/verse division, or the length of a given melody or chord progression, as well as specific sections like introductions, endings, or 'bridges', used go from one section to another section. We enter here in the field of what is commonly referred to as the form of music.

The building blocks are made of several measures and they are then assembled into a full piece of music. This is very easily observed in light music, rock, jazz,... Each section of the piece is often made out of a constant number of measures, like 4, 8, 12, 16,... For instance, blues and some related styles are often arranged on a pattern of 12 measures. The chords progression repeats itself after 12 measures. If you do not know blues music, once you hear it many times, you finally get the feeling about where you are in this 12 measures cycle. By the chords progression itself and the way the melody and the other instruments play, you can feel the cycle and know when it starts, when it continues and you can easily predict the end and know when the next cycle starts.

Experiment this for yourself as you listen to the following examples (from YouTube). Count the 12 measures and experiment the feelings resulting from the chords progression used. Focus on the cycle of 12 measures. Also hear the change of atmosphere created through them, particularly at the end of the cycle, when the feeling strongly urges to start a new cycle. This is somewhat subjective, but the effect is produced by real musical means (notes, chords, rhythms, instruments, effects).

Here is an example for classical music. It is a series of excerpts from fast tempo classical pieces. In most of these excerpts you can locate the repetition of melodies longer than one measure. Each one of them is a unit, a construction block. The composer can assemble them variously.

You will notice that in this last example, the blocks are more various. Some have a shorter duration than others. The composer can structure his music the way he wants. The presence of a structure that repeats itself, even with variations, helps the auditor to understand the music.

These various time divisions help you to orient yourself inside a piece of music, so that you can understand it better and so appreciate it better. This does not mean that you will necessarily analyze it explicitly and count each beat, measure, section,... The way I describe these divisions here is formal, but it describes a real phenomena that is there to be observed, explicitly or just as a subjective reality. You can appreciate music without knowing all this, as these phenomenon are working in the background, whether you notice them formally or not. But when it comes to composing music, it gives you a way to structure a musical piece so that these phenomenon will operate for you and create nice musical effects.

The next time division is just an extension of this idea. A piece of music can be made of one or more different but related pieces. For instance a symphonic work in 4 parts. Or the various structured forms of music, like the sonata form (see for instance the structure of a sonata at ). Here we observe the development of music on longer duration than the beat, measure or single melody.

The form of music may help the composer to develop his ideas. Often you just find a single melody with chords. How to make it into a full music composition? You already have one block. You can create a new block with similar chords but with other musical details, you can create variations. You can create a new block with a new idea and in some way connect it to the first block. Then you have a series of blocks that you can arrange and combine. Finally you have a full piece of music, based on music materials sufficiently related to the first idea you had and it makes a coherent music composition.

Last but not least...

We started from the beat and we extended the time period involved, to establish longer music construction blocks. Let's go back to the beat again and let's divide it in shorter durations.

We can here apply the simple division of the beat by 2, 3, 4,... and we get the various rhythmic values used in music. This is the principle of harmonics, as described in a previous article. Here are 3 examples as they appear on a score, for harmonic 2 (eighth notes), harmonic 3 (triplets) and harmonic 4 (16th notes).

Harmonic Spaces Library Listen to this example...

Harmonic Spaces Library Listen to this example...

Harmonic Spaces Library Listen to this example...

As the rhythmic values are integer divisions of the beat, they keep an intimate relationship to the beat. For instance, if we use triplets (3 notes per beat), each time we hear 3 notes, the duration of one beat elapsed. It is a simple ratio, easy to notice. When you have several rhythmic parts that play different rhythmic harmonics, the resulting sound is more rich and interesting. As an example, here is a combination of instruments playing a combination of harmonic 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Harmonic Spaces Library Listen to this example...

Next month, we will see how to combine these various harmonics together and learn some tips on how to use them in music composition. See you then!

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

This past week I had some time to work on a song I have written just for me.  I was working on the French Horns section and making subtle volume adjustments to them when I realized this might make a good article subject.

Watch this video, pay special attention at 6:40.  Notice in the three short songs the expressiveness the added symbols give to the music.  Notation symbols are small images used by composers to give the musician some direction on how the composer intends the music to be interpreted during that section.  Musicians can look at the symbols and make many variations to how they play their instrument giving the music more expression.

MIDI is a language invented in the 1970's to allow electronic music instruments (synthesizers or synths) to talk to each other.  Over time, MIDI expanded to allow computers to talk to synths and even to send information on how the synth should play the music.  Later, the manufactures of MIDI devices established a standard for how MIDI data should be interpreted by everything MIDI.  This standard was called General MIDI or GM.  However, GM was not required, and many manufactures discovered that moving beyond GM allowed them to make their instruments even more powerful and expressive.

Pizzicato, very nicely, translates notation symbols into MIDI data using GM.  Fortunately, the synths in your computer's sound card follow GM and even many outboard synths or sound modules, keyboards and softsynths or VST synths use GM to an extent.  Where this process breaks down is when a synth doesn't follow GM and the notation symbols you placed are no longer creating the desired effect in your music.  How can you overcome this?

Well, very nicely, Pizzicato anticipated this issue and has an excellent way to control how your non-GM synths play the music.  All three versions of Pizzicato have a window called Music Effects.  It looks like this:

Musical Effects Window

Pizzicato Professional has the added view of Global View which allows you to see the notation staff and the musical effects simultaneously.

Global View Effects Lane

I have drawn in a volume curve in both of the above examples to quickly show the functionality of the view.   The level of the volume is represented by the dark blue lines and it show the volume raising and then lowering.

Here is a quick description of MIDI.  MIDI has 128 notes and 128 controllers called controller codes or cc's for short.  Each cc has 128 steps of variability and usually they go from 0 to 127.  Some of the cc's have been given names through the GM standard and the names are followed by just about everyone.  As an example,  Modulation is cc1, Volume is cc7, Expression is cc11 (Expression is another volume control) and the sustain pedal is cc64.

Now here is where things can get confusing.  I have VST synths in my music composing system which between them use several cc's just for volume.  For volume I have seen used: Velocity, cc1 (Modulation), cc7 (Volume), cc11 (expression), cc13, cc14, cc17, Aftertouch, and even cc64.  It is easy to see where notation symbols can be less useful in the MIDI world.

In Pizzicato, you only need to define what cc you want to control using the drop down menu in the music effects window or in Pizzicato Professional, double click on the midi controller icons to define which cc the lane controls midi controller icons and, instantly you can control exactly how the synth plays the notes.   So for instance, if a synth uses cc13 for volume it could look something like this:

cc13 example

So where does this lead us.  Listen to some of your favorite songs.  Notice how the different instruments are constantly changing in very subtle ways.  Notice the violin or the electric guitar changes tone as they get louder or go into higher notes.  Notice the brass instruments get "brighter" as they get louder.  Even a small volume swell and fade can make a noticeable difference in something as simple as a whole note.  With Pizzicato, you can program your synths to imitate these same ideas using the musical effects windows or the controller lanes in Global View.  These subtle changes are what make music come to life, and give music the expression you feel.  These emotions cause you to compose, arrange or reproduce the music in the first place.  Read your synths controller information and make the necessary adjustments to the midi data.  You will be glad you put in the extra effort when the music sounds more real and has considerable more expression.

Try using the musical effects window or the controller lanes in Global View.  Please, feel free to write me with any questions you have about using MIDI cc's in Pizzicato or just Pizzicato in general.

Happy New Year.

Blair Ashby - email: Phone 303-252-1270

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".

(2) You can add this figure under the staff by using text blocks.

(3) You can add it by using the lyrics tool, exactly as placing syllables under the notes.

(4) 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.

Create a new palette or use an existing palette. To create a new palette, select the New palette... item in the Tools menu.

Open the graphic symbol palette. It contains a "coda" simple text tool. While holding down the CTRL key, drag this "coda" symbol into the palette where you want to add a text symbol and release it. A dialog lets you select "Duplicate". Validate. A new "coda" symbol appears.

Double-click this new "coda" tool. Modify its name in the upper part of the dialog and then click the "Create/modify…" button.

A graphic editor appears. Double-click on the "coda" small text displayed in the upper left part of the dialog. Modify the contents of the text in the dialog box and validate. Close the graphic window and the dialog of the symbol. The text symbol is ready. When you want to use it, select it and click in the score.

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

Dialog box or tool help

To find detailed explanations about a dialog box or a tool, you can use the contextual help. Place the cursor of the mouse on the dialog box or on the tool and press on the F1 key on the keyboard. The help of the concerned lesson opens.

Vertical Tuplets alignement

By default, Pizzicato does not automatically adjust the position of triplets and other tuplets vertically. The tie or bracket must be adjusted manually. When modifying the page setup or justifying or transposing, the adjustment may no more be optimal.

You can enable the automatic adjustment of Tuplets, vertically. In the Options menu, select Justification. Check the box entitled "Automatic vertical adjustment of Tuplets" and validate. This option is valid for the open document and is independent for each document.

If you wish to activate this option for every new document you create, modify it in the default templates (Pizzicato Beginner or Pro) found in the Pizzicato\Templates\Templates directory (version 2) or My documents\Pizzicato 3.4\DataEN\Templates\Templates (version 3).

Freely aligning staves and systems on a page

By default, Pizzicato automatically aligns the right and left borders of every staff on the internal margins of the pages. To disable this function, go in the "File" menu. Select the "Page layout" item and disable the "Justify systems on page, horizontally" check box, then click OK. You can the freely move the systems on the page, Pizzicato will not systematically align them right or left.

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


Despite the various rhythmic values explained and the possibility to lengthen them with a dot or a tie, some rhythmic values are still impossible to write. For instance, how could you write notes during one third of a quarter note? Impossible, because all rhythmic values are based on multiples of two.

The irregular groups, also called tuplets, are groups of notes not being a multiple of a standard rhythmic value. Let us start with the simplest, the triplet.

The triplet is a group of 3 identical rhythmic values that must be played within the duration of 2 rhythmic values. Let us take an example with eighth notes. An eighth note has a duration of half a beat. Three eighth notes have a duration of one and a half beat. An eighth note triplet is a group of 3 eighth notes accelerated to fit within the duration of 2 standard eighth notes, that is to say, one beat. Here is how it is represented:

The three eighth notes are grouped by a curve (or a hook) with figure "3". It means 3 instead of 2. The three notes are played more quickly than their normal duration. The total duration of the three notes is equivalent to one quarter note. You can put four such groups in a 4/4 measure.

Here is an example with a quarter note triplet:

The three quarter notes must be played within the normal duration of 2 quarter notes. The group thus uses 2 beats of the measure. Open the Ex020.piz file and listen to it. It contains examples of quarter note triplets and eighth notes triplets:

Triplets let you divide durations into three equal parts such as the eighth note triplet which divides the quarter note into three parts. Notice that you can place different rhythmic values in a triplet, as in the following examples...

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson on Tuplets 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!