Dear Musicians,

This is issue #89 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

In our last article, we have analysed various ways to improve a music composition by playing on different rhythmic levels.

Rhythmic levels are simple rhythmic patterns superposed in a musical composition so as to make it more interesting. They play an important role when creating various atmospheres and to make these atmospheres evolve along with a music composition.

The evolution of the atmosphere through a piece of music is essential to generate interest in a music composition. It is the essence of music composition. The atmosphere or emotion is transmitted and is modified and made to evolve with time. The auditor is brought into an emotional, ambiance or more intellectual travelling, but we avoid keeping the atmosphere unchanged too long or the composition will become boring (except of course if you want to bore the auditor...).

The essence of music is a change in time, so the art of composing is to organize the way to change things along a piece of music. This change can be expressed on many aspects: melody (the main melody is varied, transposed, or is alternated with other melodies, it is played with other instruments,...), rhythm (with various interactive rhythmic levels), chords, instruments, effects (crescendo, acceleration, staccato, accents, reverb,...) and the general form of the composition.

You can learn to plan a music composition simply by establishing the way the general atmosphere will evolve, and then specify more details, step by step.

We will examine one simple example of this method, mainly based on rhythmic harmonics, to create a small music composition.

1 - The general plan

We first need to establish the general direction of the composition.

This general cycle is often applied in a book or in a film. The film starts with a standard ambiance, a routine. An external element happens and brings the spectator into various situations intended to resolve the external element and go back to the original routine. Of course, thousands of other scenarios are possible, you can imagine them.

To help you in the process, you can for instance imagine a real life situation that contains the sequence of emotions. For instance, you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining. The postman rings at the door for a package to deliver. You see on the package that it comes from your girlfriend (or boyfriend). You remember your last week's dispute, you feel worried, "what the heck is going to happen now...". you sign the receipt, go back inside and start to unpack the box in a hurry.. You read the accompanying letter and you understand that he(she) accepts to marry you and that the box contains many rose petals... Great, the sun (which was suddenly more dark...) is shining again. You can find any other more inspiring examples !

2 - More details...

Before starting Pizzicato and creating an empty score, let us take some time to analyse this further in details and define the instruments and the way we want to express this sequence of emotions.

Here is a feeling that is quite clear and yet also subjective and quite free (composing music requires you to be free to choose). The Beatles are probably quite calm compared to an excited Metal or Hard Rock group!

We can imagine a complete calm, with practically no motion in it. It could be expressed by a chord played nicely with the string instruments of an orchestra. A Major Seventh chord can make the grade. Or a minor seventh chord. Listen to the following example (C Maj 7):

Listen to the example...

A slight motion can be introduced by changing the chord, making the atmosphere more interesting while still being quite calm. Here's an example:

Liste to the example...

A repeating rhythm, with slow rhythmic harmonics, may also establish a calm atmosphere, like a routine. The musical ambiance is then more rich and interesting. The same sequence being repeated over and over, with non agressive rhythmic elements, it produces the feeling of a routine, something that happens with calm, in a predictable manner. Here is an example:

Listen to the example...

The "predictable" factor is of course opposed to a sudden, unexpected change, which inevitably breaks the calm atmosphere. We will use it later.

In the case of a calm, quiet rhythmic pattern, the choice of the tempo must be slow or moderate. You could hardly imagine a fast rhythmic sequence bringing about calmness.

That is an important question: how do you start a piece of music? At the beginning there is silence... which means no atmosphere at all. We must go into the requested ambiance, the calmness. How do you do that?

Once you have first established the rhythmic pattern or atmosphere you want to begin the composition with, there are at least four ways to start the composition.

The first one is simply to start the rhythm with no transition. We go right straight into the first requested ambiance.

Listen to the example...

The second one is to use a volume fade in, starting the volume from zero and increasing it up to a normal value.

Listen to the example...

A third way is to introduce the instruments one by one, which is another way to create a transition from silence to music. The auditor has the opportunity to notice the instruments that appear and that bring about the full expected atmosphere.

Listen to the example...

Another way is to create a transition structure that introduces the coming of the first ambiance, like a "bridge" between silence and the music. The word "bridge" is often used in music to mean a small section designed to make a transition between two different main sections of a music composition.

Listen to the example...

How can you increase the tension in music? There are thousand of ways to proceed.

On the rhythmic level, you can for instance increase the tension like this:

Listen to the example...

Listen to the example...

Listen to the example...

On the harmony level (chords), there are chords that are more apt to express tension. The minor third interval (C - E flat) introduces a tension, as well as the false fifth (or augmented fourth) like C and F#.

By using chords that contain more and more of these intervals, you can increase the tension. The diminished seventh chord contains a superposition of these minor thirds and by simple addition of intervals, they also form a set of false fifth, which create a high tension. Bach uses it many times in the Toccata and Fuga in D minor, which is then resolved into a minor or major D chord:

Listen to the example...

In the above example, the diminished seventh chord is constructed progressively, creating an increasing tension, which is then released (or resolved) by another chord. This chord not only does not have all these dissonant notes, but these notes were moved toward pitches that are now more consonant. This make a natural transition to a more calm atmosphere. The calmness of the beginning may again be expressed.

So this is one way to prepare a music composition.

In our next article, we will see how to assemble all this into a coherent piece of music, of course with Pizzicato! (if you do not have a license, you will be able to make it with the downloadable demo version).

Until then, I suggest you imagine a few scenarios that you can make into music yourself. Have a nice time!

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

Creating a split measure

It is sometimes useful to split a long measure in two parts at the end of a staff and the beginning of the next staff. You can do this easily with Pizzicato Professional by doing the following (example of a 4/4 measure to split into 3 beats+1beat):

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

Selecting the measures to play

In linear mode, Pizzicato will begin to play the score at the first visible measure. Thus you can easily determine the starting measure with the horizontal scroll bar. In page mode, the first visible measure is the first measure of the current page. If you want for example to listen several times to a precise passage, select the cursor tool and place it in the first measure to play. The playing will begin there. You can also select the measure with the selection tool and the play will begin at the selection. To repeat a passage several times, check the "Loop on x measures" and insert the numbers of measures you want to hear several times in the score tool bar. The passage will be played and played again until you click STOP. In the dialog box appearing when clicking on the "..." button in the score tool bar, you will find another possibility to specify the first and last measure to play.

Repeating an accidental already in the key signature

Pizzicato handles accidentals automatically, following the commonly accepted rules. When a flat or sharp is already in the key signature, Pizzicato will not draw it just in front of the note. Similarly, when an accidental is present in a measure, the same note in the next measure automatically refers back to the key signature.

In didactic scores for the beginner, it may be useful to be able to remind to the performer that an accidental must be played or more generally to remind him the rules by displaying an accidental explicitly. There are two ways to do that.

First, you can use the "Graphic symbols" palette in the tool menu. You will find there the accidentals as pure graphic symbols, so Pizzicato will not interfere with them when playing the note.

The second way is to drag the note to another pitch, add the accidental and then drag the note back to its correct pitch. Be sure to drag it to a pitch that does not also have the same accidental at the key signature. The accidental will stay with the note.

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

Key signatures

The major scale of C

The notes series from C to C is called the major scale of C. Each note of the scale is called a degree of the scale. The degrees are numbered from 1 to 7 in Roman numerals (i.e. I to VII). The last note being the same as the first (C), it is also called "degree I". Here is the major scale of C with its degrees:

As we have seen, each one of these notes corresponds to a white key of the keyboard. When a black key separates two notes, there is one tone between these two notes and if there is no black key between them, there is one half tone. The following table shows the degrees of the scale with the tones and half tones which separate them:

This succession of values (1,1,1/2,1,1,1,1/2) characterizes the major scale. In this example, the first note is C and it is thus the major scale of C.


This scale defines a context of notes called the tonality of C major. A musical excerpt written in C major uses only the notes of the C major scale, i.e. the 7 notes here above, avoiding the black keys located between them.

The principle of tonality is thus to limit the usable notes at a given moment in the musical discourse and in the same time intensifying the influence of other notes. The most significant degree in a scale is the first degree. In our case, it is the C note. The musical discourse will use this note as a point of reference.

The most significant degrees in a tonality are degrees I, IV and V. The musical sentences will be built by taking these degrees as a foundation. They will often be found on the strong beats of the measures. The musical sentences will have a tendency to move towards the first degree of the scale.

We will see that 12 different tonalities can be defined and used. Tonal music is based on using a context of notes on which melodies and chords are built. During a piece of music, the context may change to another tonality. This transition from one tonality to another is called a modulation.

In theory, in a tonal music work, it is possible to determine which tonality is present at any place of the score. Practically, this tonality system is a theoretical system used to explain how composers use the notes which are at their disposal to compose. This system is very helpful to orient a composer through his first steps, but it should not be regarded as a strict rule which one cannot transgress.

All the rules you will find in music are most of the time deduced from the observation of what sounds well in the musical works. The new composer will find in it a lot of interesting advices that can be used by him as a guide to develop his taste and musical inspiration. The error would then be to regard these rules as absolute laws and not as simple advices. When inspiration or taste indicates you another path to follow, skip the composition rules !

Let us go back to tonalities. The essence of classical music is based on the use of tonality. Most modern variety music (rock, jazz, disco, blues, funky…) are also based on tonality. Most music consumed by our modern society is thus tonal music.

There are of course music styles that completely escape from tonality and develop different composition systems. Contemporary music creates new approaches of music, of sound and of its notation. It is interesting to note that most contemporary music composers are people who have a good knowledge of the tonal system, its possibilities and limits. It could then be considered as an evolution of music towards other sound horizons. The point is to communicate this music in such a manner that it will be perceived and understood by most people. It will be the only success test of a music: does it communicate something which can be understood?

Let us see now how other scales and tonalities are defined.

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about key signatures 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

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Pizzicato upgrades

A corrective update of Pizzicato 3.5.1 is now available for download on page:

If you already have Pizzicato 3.5, you can download the fast upgrade 3.5.1 in the second part of the above page.

If you have an older version of Pizzicato, a series of upgrades 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!