Dear Musicians,

This is issue #87 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

You will find on our site the full descriptions of the 11 versions of Pizzicato 3.5. Each page displays photos of the product and explanations about its various features.

You can now also discover the music typing keyboard, that should be available within a few months. The site is mainly in Italian but some articles are in English:

Remember that Pizzicato 3.5 is ready to work with this future keyboard. See page:


Before going further with our systematic discovery of the elements of music composition, here are some precisions about a question asked by a reader, regarding one of our previous articles:

"Within a composition, how do we select the time signature and on which criteria? When we start a composition, why do we use 2/2, 2/4, 6/8, etc. I can understand that a waltz is 3/4 and a march is 2/4, but what about selecting 2/2 or 4/4 as these have all 4 quarter notes ? When I listen to scores written in 2/2 and 4/4, I do not hear any difference."

The important point to understand is that a time signature or a measure, is a way to cut a composition into separate units, so as to give it a time structure.

In theory, one could write any composition using any time signature. A waltz could be written in 4/4 or in 5/8 without much difficulty. However, the written representation of the music would not fit at all its real time structure, based on 3 beats.

As we explained it, the beat is defined as the time unit on which the composition is structured. It is the first time division of you composition. It often corresponds to the way you tap you foot on the ground to follow the music.

The second time division assembles a few beats together to create a longer unit, so as to structure your composition. It is called a measure and defined by a time signature. The next division is the various parts of a form of music, like the verse, chorus, introduction, ending,... or any way to divide a piece of music or group several measures together.

To determine the time signature to use for a composition, listen to the melody, sing it or play the rhythm intuitively and count the number of beats that seem to create a repeating pattern. The waltz example is quite easy: one beat out of three is accentuated, which creates a measure based on three beats.

The most common choices are 2, 3 and 4, but you can find 5 or 6 or any other combinations. The easiest way to find it is to listen to which beats are accentuated. They normally mark the beginning of the measure, giving the impression of a new starting cycle. Determine the number of beats between two marked beats.

This number will determine the numerator of the measure (the "3" in the 3/4 time signature). To select the denominator, it is a bit more arbitrary. If a measure has two beats, you can as well decide that it is 2/4, 2/2 or even 2/8. The only difference will be the rhythmic values that will be used to display the notes. If each measure contains two notes, in the first case you will have two quarter notes, in the second case you will have two half notes and in the third case you will have two eighth notes.

According to your choice, the tempo will be different. If you want 60 notes per minute, you will have respectively a tempo of 60 per quarter note (2/4), 60 per half note (or 120 per quarter note) (2/2) or 60 per eighth note (or 30 per quarter note) (2/8). But if you listen to each version of the score, you will not be able to hear any difference, because it is only an arbitrary way of representing music graphically.

The general rule we may try to get from observation is to select the measure so as to have a balance of the rhythmic values used. If the score contains very fast rhythmic values (high rhythmic density), you will favor 2/8. If it is very slow, you may favor 2/2. But you will find examples to the contrary, so that one composer may use one way and the other another way... So you are free, too!


Our last article on music composition spoke about the division of the beat by 2, 3, 4 (or more) equal elements. These are the rhythmic harmonics.

If you take the case of a 4/4 measure (4 beats of one quarter note), you can fill them with 4 quarter notes to create a regular series of notes. This would be harmonic 1, each beat being present and giving a regular pace. A music composition using this from the beginning to the end would be rather monotonous, at least on the rhythmic side of it.

How do you introduce rhythmic variety in your composition? Two directions are possible, by using the principle of rhythmic harmonics.

You can first vary the rhythm of the melody by using the rhythmic harmonics. On the other hand, you can add one or more instruments that will accompany the main melody by using rhythmic harmonics of the melody. We will explore these two methods with practical examples.

This may seem quite simple to you, even idiotically simple. It is, indeed, but it is a practical method that you can use to build melodies and accompaniments. Read the following with the firm intention in mind to be able to apply it to your own melodies.

Improving a melody with rhythmic harmonics

Let's take a simple example: a melody built on a scale going up and down.

Listen to the example...

The principle of rhythmic harmonics is that they are built from the division of a given duration, in this case the quarter note. The fact that the division is exact creates a natural similarity. 2 in place of 1, 3 in place of 1, etc. The values that establish an easy to observe similarity are 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8, mainly.

Let us enter some rhythmic harmonics 2 in this melody, while keeping the same note sequence. Harmonic 2 is a division of the duration by 2, it is then an eighth note. We get for instance:

Listen to the example...

By listening to the melody, you can still notice the main beat. You notice that there are sometimes two notes played for a beat and it adds some interest and diversity to the melody. What I mean here is that the occasional presence of harmonic 2 has not altered the general perception of the basic tempo of the melody. At several points, the melody plays quarter notes that continue to define the general tempo.

What happens if all quarter notes are replaced by eighth notes, which means that harmonic 1 is replaced by harmonic 2? We get the following:

Listen to the example...

There are no more references to the quarter notes and you can no more listen to the contrast of rhythmic values. The rhythmic monotony becomes the same as in the first example, except that the melody is played twice as fast.

The interesting point to notice is that the missing of harmonic 1 (the quarter note) has removed the idea that there was an harmonic 2 and the notes themselves may as well be considered as quarter notes played faster, exactly like an harmonic 1 at a faster tempo.

In other words, this harmonic principle is something completely relative. You perceive harmonic 2 in relation to harmonic 1. If this last one disappears, the "1 to 2" relationship also disappears.

To get an interesting melody, you can mix various rhythmic harmonics. Variations are practically infinite. Here is another example:

Listen to the example...

By listening, you will notice that it is still easy to find the main beat. We use here an alternation of harmonics 1, 2 and 3.

As the principle of harmonics is relative, we could also consider the first example as being harmonic 4 of the full measure. A note that would fill a full measure ( a whole note) would be harmonic 1 and the 4 quarter notes would be harmonic 4.

This provides another way to use the harmonics. Let us use harmonic 5 of the measure on measure 2, giving a tuplet of 5 notes instead of 4:

Listen to the example...

Listening to it shows that the effect is quite different than the other examples. We have the impression that the second measure takes a faster tempo and that the next measure slows down again, without establishing a natural link between harmonics 4 and 5.

As it can be observed, the 4/5 ratio is not perceived as well as ratios of 1/2 or 1/3, and it introduces a break in the rhythmic flow of the melody, which is perceived as a lower understanding of the melody. We do not expect that tempo change, as it does not seem naturally related to the previous measure. This is even more obvious as there is no other instrument to enforce harmonic 4 of the measure.

These phenomena can then be used to compose a melody. Create for instance a sequence of notes you like. Add them into a series of quarter notes in Pizzicato (you can do that even with the evaluation version of Pizzicato).

Then create several variations by introducing rhythmic harmonics 2, 3 and 4 (16th notes).

Next time, we will show examples of the other use of harmonics: other instruments playing rhythmic harmonics of the harmony. Until then, use these principles to create a few original melodies!

Dominique Vandenneucker
Designer of Pizzicato.

Pizzicato in US and Canada

You can always contact Blair Ashby, at Aunyx Productions, Inc. for any information you need on Pizzicato and the way to use it.

Located in Denver, Colorado, Blair is the official representative of Pizzicato for the United States and English speaking Canada.

You can visit the site and buy Pizzicato directly at

email: Phone 303-252-1270

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

Shifting the rhythmic content of one or more measures

With Pizzicato Professional, you can shift the content of one or more measures.

To do that, you can use on of the composition tools: the copy and drag of the content of a set of measures.

Let us take an example. You have 4 measures of 4 quarter notes each and you want to shift the melody so that it starts on the third beat of the measure. Proceed as follows:

The principle of this function is to be able to move a rhythmic and melodic content. Using the same principle, you can for instance replace a melody written in 3/4 into a set of measures in 4/4. Open the score written in 3/4. Create a new score with enough measures in 4/4. Select all the measures of the 3/4 score. While holding down the SHIFT key, click and drag the first measure of the selection to the first beat of the first measure of the 4/4 score and then release the mouse. The score is automatically converted into 4/4.

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

The width of a measure

Starting with Pizzicato Beginner, you can modify the width of a measure by using the measures and staves tool or the arrow tool, by clicking just to the left of the right measure bar and by moving the mouse. When you release, the measure is redrawn. Its content is automatically adapted (widened or tightened).

If you do not wish its contents adapted, you can do the same operation while holding down the CTRL (Control) key on the keyboard. The measure width is modified but its contents do not move.

If the measure is the last of a system on a page, the measure bar is automatically aligned on the right margin and thus it does not work. You can bypass this limit by disabling the option "Adjust systems horizontally on the page" in the page setup dialog (File menu).

Slurs and ties

Pizzicato has 2 types of ties. The first one is the tie (notes and rests tool palette) used to tie two notes together, having the same pitch and showing that the note is held and only played once. To introduce a tie, select the tie tool (quarter note with a tie on the right) and click on the first of the 2 notes. The tie is automatically calculated by Pizzicato. Using the same tool, you can change its direction and erase it (by clicking again on the first note). The shortcut key is the "=" keyboard key, that you can use while pointing the note with the mouse (without clicking).

The slur is a different type of tie. Its purpose is to group 2 or more notes. It can include two or more notes of the same or different pitches. If the notes have the same pitch, the second note will be played, as opposed to the tie. The slur symbol is in the main symbol palette, in form of a curve, up or down. When the tool is selected, simply click on the first note of the group. The slur appears in a standard size. You can than display the control points with the marks tool (shortcut ":") to adapt the size, the form of the curve and the slur position. The slur can be created on several measures if necessary.

In both cases, Pizzicato plays the effect of the tie/slur. For slurs, by default Pizzicato links the notes at 100 %, which means that the stop of a note exactly corresponds to the beginning of the following note. This default value is fixed by a parameter of the instruments view, separately for each instrument. In the "Various effects" configuration, the "Dur." (Duration) column is place by default to 100 %. When you add a slur, you force Pizzicato to play notes to 100% of their duration. If you maintain the value by default in the instrument window, you will not hear the difference with the notes which are not linked. To get a contrast, fix the default value for example to 75%. All the notes which are not bound will be played with a very little staccato and the notes bound with a slur will play at 100%.

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

Braces and groups of staves

We have seen that staves playing together are connected by a vertical line on the left border:

This set of staves played simultaneously is called a system.

It is also common to connect the bar lines belonging to the same instrument group, such as for example the woodwinds, the brasses or the strings of an orchestra. Here are for example some instruments of an orchestra. The bar lines are connected by instrument families:

The groups of staves are delimited by a bracket including all the instruments of the same family. In this way, instruments are easier to locate, especially when the orchestra score has twenty-five or thirty instruments as it is sometimes the case. read the full text, see the lesson about the characteristics of music notation 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 3.5, a series of updates are available for Mac OS X and Windows, according to the version you presently have.

If you bought Pizzicato 3.3 or 3.4, you may download Pizzicato 3.5 for free. The reference is the license number. All users whose license number is greater or equal to 15589 can update for free by going to the free update section on our website and download version 3.5. 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!