Dear Musicians,

This is issue #93 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 2011, Arpege Sprl, all rights reserved. 


Read all previous editorials on page

Pizzicato will be present at the "Musikmesse 2011" in Frankfurt (Germany), from 6 to 9 of April, 2011. Visit us in Hall 3.1, stand A11, we will be glad to meet you!


Let us continue our music composition example. You can download the file containing the work already done here:

Right-click on that link and select "Save target as..." to save the Pizzicato document. Please note that you can use this document with the demo version so that you can follow the example.

Our first 4 measures establish an atmosphere of calm and then start increasing tension. The next four measures will continue to do so.

Increasing the tension with harmony

As we learned it in a previous article, there are chords that are more apt to express tension than others. The minor third interval (C - Eb) introduces some tension, as well as the false fifth (or augmented fourth), for instance between C and Gb.

In our composition, we have only used the following chords:

F Maj7 (F, A, C, E) and C Maj 7 (C, E, G, B)

These chords are based on a root note (F and C respectively) and they have a major third interval starting on that note (F/A and C/E), as well as a perfect fifth (F/C and C/G) and a major seventh (F/E and C/B). The presence of major and perfect intervals has the tendency to sound positive, optimist, happy, with no particular tension. This is of course quite subjective but it is an attempt to express with words the subtil feelings that music is able to express.

The root note of the chord (F or C in our example) appears in a particular way. When it also happens that this note is at the lowest pitch position at that moment, as it is the case here, the effect of the root note is even reinforced in its fundamental position. It is probably because the ear, listening to several notes together, will more easily locate the lowest note (as well as the highest note) amongst the notes.

The sound effect of a chord or of any set of notes is produced by the combination of the effects produced by the intervals formed between each pair of notes.

The major and perfect intervals, when constructed on a root note, have a tendency to reinforce the presence of that root note. This is explained physically by the fact that the pitches of these notes are in a quite simple fractional ratio of the root note. Let us take some examples.

The fifth interval has a ratio of 3/2. In the C/G interval, this means that the G note generates 3/2 more vibrations than the C note, in the same time interval. The ratio of 3/5 is sufficiently easy to perceive so that the ear associates these two notes as having a "family relationship" or vibration similarity. So it reinforces the main root note and so the fifth is quite important in a chord.

The major third gives a ratio of 5/4. When a C note produces 4 air vibrations perceived by the ear, the E note will have produced 5 vibrations during the same time interval. This ratio of 4 to 5 is still quite easy to establish by the ear and so the major third produces a feeling of harmony, similarity, affinity or a common base between the two notes that make up the interval.

If we take the case of a minor third, the mathematic ratio between the two notes is approximatively 6/5. This ratio is a bit more complex. For the false fifth (C/Gb) the ratio is about 11/8. Moreover, as most of the western music is based on the tempered scale, these ratio are in fact not that precise and some tension is added to most intervals.

It looks like the ear can easily or not easily establish a link between the two notes of an interval. If it can do that easily, then the interval seems nice and agreeable. As the ear has more and more difficulty to establish a link (because of the difference in the structure of vibrations), then the interval sounds more and more harsh and dissonant.

It starts with a slight feeling of tension when the listener can establish the link, but notices that this link is slightly off. He can however still imagine the link and correct it inside himself. If the ratio between notes become more complex, the link is more difficult to establish. When the links are completely disorganized and impossible to establish, the listener experiences a sensation of general confusion. An example is when all performers of the orchestra are independently tuning their instruments or playing a few notes with no coordination. This creates a confused noise.

The word "noise" is indeed defined in physics in a similar way: there is no relationship between the pitches in it. It is the difference between music and noise. Music organizes sound and establishes logic links between the components of sound. What is called "white noise" is in fact a set of all possible pitches put together. The result is that none of the pitches can be located specifically but they all merge to produce a global impact. White noise is similar to the wind blowing or high pressure air coming out of a tube. In such a sound, the ear cannot find any logical link.

You will find more information about the question of sound structure easily or not easily detected, with graphic and sound examples, in our letter number 83:

The detection of logical links between the sound components of a music generates the pleasure of listening, this detection being done whether intuitively, emotionally or with the help of mathematics or theories. If the structure is too easily detected or too simple, one gets bored with the music. The great masters have been able to create sound structures where the ear can establish so much interesting links in a personal way, that one can find a constantly new pleasure to hear it. The auditor can then contribute to the music he is listening to.

All this to explain how we can increase the tension, simply by using chords that have intervals where notes have a more complex ratio between them. In practice, you can use the following table of increasing tension in intervals, to use in music composition:

This is simply a rule of thumb, as most of the time, you hear a combination of several intervals, creating numerous possible rich, unexpected and interesting effects. For instance, a major seventh alone is quite dissonant, but together with a third and fifth, the result is quite calm and nice:

Listen to the example...

The result is often a conflict or a subtil game between intervals that are consonant and dissonant. The richness of harmony is created by a well balanced combination of these intervals given to us by nature to compose music.

Based on the above explanation, we select the 4 following chords to use in our composition:

F min = F + A b (minor third) + C (fifth)

D b min = D b + F b (minor third) + A b (fifth)

C min 7 = C + E b (minor third) + G (fifth) + B b (minor seventh)

B dim = B + D (minor third) + F (false fifth) + A b (diminished seventh)

Even if these chords follow the above principles, most of them are still choosen arbitrarily, as there are numerous ways to introduce chords with specific intervals.

To select a chord, the following rules can help you:

You can also use cadences, that are harmonic motions that can help you create solid and well sounding harmonies, like degree V to I of a scale (G to C for instance).

With experience and work, you will also become able to locate a nice effect and know which chords you must use to create it. A quite common effect in film music where a dramatic effect must be produced (suddenly the sky gets dark, somebody learns a bad news,...) is produced by using a minor or major chord and follow it with a minor chord, but a major third lower.

The first two chords above are using that effect:

F min ==> D b min

The F note is lowered a major third (Db) and a minor chord is built on it. The effect is typical and can even be sequenced more than one time to increase the effect:

Listen to the example...

By applying the chords to our composition, we can assign the notes in the measures in a similar way as in measures 3 and 4 and we get for instance:

Listen to the example...

You can download the composition with the above addition here:

The chords are not necessarily built on their root position (which means with the root note in the lowest pitch position). Inverting chords like that can also add and modify the sound effects, as some intervals from the chords are switched upside down.

Sure, our composition did not advance very much today, but I hope you have learned a few things so that you can choose chords by yourself more easily. See you next month!

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

How to make jazz play more natural?

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.

Copying and pasting chords

With Pizzicato Professional 3, you can select chords and copy them to another position. The trick is to use the drag/drop function used in the context of music composition tools. Here is how to do it:

The chord series is then copied to the destination.

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

How can you play the written chords?

With Pizzicato, you can write chords symbols on the score. To hear these chords, they must be transcribed on a staff, which is quite easy to achieve. Add a new staff that will receive the notes of the chords. Then select this empty staff and go the the "Edit" menu, "Chords...", "Convert chords into notes...". A dialog appears, giving you several options on the notes that will be used, rhythms... Type F1 (or the Mac Help key) to have a full explanation of these options or consult the user manual in the help menu, in the lesson regarding the chords symbols. When you click on OK, the notes appear on the staff. Note that you can also create a bass line on another staff. Use the same dialog and within the usable notes, select only the bass, in a low range (C-1 to G-2 for instance).

How do you number measures not starting from "1" ?

In the Beginner and Professional versions, you may change the number of the first measure, by a double-click in front of a staff with the measures and staves tool or the arrow tool. By default, this number is "1". If you set it to 110 for instance, the number of the first measure will be 110 and the following measures will be numbered 111, 112,...

You will also find the case where the first measure is not numbered for instance when the score starts with an incomplete measure. Set the first measure number to "0" and it will not be numbered. The second measure will then start with number 1.

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

Bar lines and repeats

The various bar lines

The bar lines seen until now are vertical lines delimiting the measures on the staff.

To terminate a score, a thin bar followed by a thick one is placed on the last measure:

To separate several distinct parts of a score, a double thin bar may be used:

It is often used during a key signature change or between the various sections or movements of a score.

In some types of music (especially contemporary), one does not separate the staves in measures. The staff is seen as a support for notes, but the concept of time slicing in equal durations is no more used. Performance is often much freer or follows other criteria specified by the composer.


It is common to play several times some sections of a music score, such as for example a chorus or a theme which is played twice. One could simply write the concerned measures twice, but it would be a loss of space and useless work.

Let us take the simplest case. A given number of measures must be played twice. To specify that, a special bar line is placed on the left of the first measure of the passage and on the right of the last measure of it. They are repeat bar lines. Here is a practical example:

The measures from 2 to 5 (i.e. the measures located between the two repeat markings) must be played twice. The musician who reads this score will thus play the measures in the following order:

...To read the full lesson, see the lesson about bar lines and repeat 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 3.5.3 is now available for download on page:

If you already have Pizzicato 3.5, you can download the fast upgrade 3.5.3 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!