Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN730 - Revision of 2013/05/29


Composition Light

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Composing music (1)

Subjects covered:

Using the composition libraries [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

This lesson and the following will help you to take the first steps in computer-assisted composition. You must have read and understood the lessons about the composition libraries and to have done the practical steps of these lessons. We will not explain here the practical details on how to handle the libraries. If you need it, read these lessons again.

Please note that this lesson and the following are based on the music composition libraries as designed in Pizzicato releases 1 and 2. A more user friendly and intuitive approach is now available in Pizzicato 3. You will find these lessons further in the manual (Composition tools).

The lessons about composition libraries explained the practical operations of the Pizzicato composition tools. It is, in short, a division of music into basic blocks constructed with rhythms, melodies, themes and chords. These elements can be used and combined in thousand and one ways.

Now we're going to examine the use of these tools to really start composing. The suggested examples and exercises form an approach to composition more than a very well structured composition course. They give you raw material to work and show a systematic method to help you structure this raw material as you like it.

Pizzicato is delivered with several documents containing construction blocks with which you will be able to work out your first exercises. These elements are there to help you to approach the use of libraries. We will start by analyzing the contents of these documents.

Contents of the Pizzicato libraries [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

Start Pizzicato and open the Chords library - 1.piz document located in the Music folder, inside the DataEN folder. The main view appears as follows:

Each folder contains chords of a different type, i.e. of a different sound colour. Inside a folder, you find the same chord on each note of the scale. Double-click for example on the Major folder and you get a window displaying the following chords:

Double-click on the C Maj chord, a score view shows you the notes contained in it:

Close this score view and the chords folder. A chord is made of several notes. The way in which notes are distributed in the chord gives it a particular colour. There is a very easy way to locate the type of chord. Count the intervals (in half tones, i.e. in black and white keys of the musical keyboard) which separate the notes one from the other. Let us take the example above with the notes C, E and G. 4 half tones separate C from E. 3 half tones separate E from G. The combination (4,3) thus characterizes the Major chords. All chords located in the Major folder have this structure. The only difference between them is the starting note (here C). This starting note is called the fundamental or root note, because it is on this note that the chord is built.

Here is a table of the chords contained in this document, with the number of half tones separating each note from the other:

3 notes chords :

  • Major = 4 + 3
  • minor = 3 + 4
  • B 5 = 4 + 2
  • # 5 = 4 + 4
  • Sus 4 = 5 + 2
  • Dim = 3 + 3

4 notes chords :

  • 6 = 4 + 3 + 2
  • min 6 = 3 + 4 + 2
  • 7 = 4 + 3 + 3
  • Maj 7 = 4 + 3 + 4
  • min 7 = 3 + 4 + 3
  • min 7 B 5 = 3 + 3 + 4
  • 7 dim = 3 + 3 + 3
  • 7 sus 4 = 5 + 2 + 3

5 notes chords :

  • 9 = 4 + 3 + 3 + 4
  • Maj 9 = 4 + 3 + 4 + 3
  • min 9 = 3 + 4 + 3 + 4
  • 7 b 9 = 4 + 3 + 3 + 3

By using all chords of this document, you already have a very large variety of sound effects. Each chord itself offers a sound colour, but the sequence of two chords also creates a sound effect which depends on the two chords. We will further see an exercise allowing to create chords sequences. For the moment, we will listen to the sound colour of each chord and will observe that they are quite different. For each chord folder, do the following:

  • open the folder with a double-click,
  • open the score view by a double-click on the first chord of the folder,
  • with the space bar, play the chord several times,
  • close the score view and the folder.

You can also listen to several chords of the same folder. You will notice that the sound colour is similar, but that the chords of the same folder have different pitches.

A chords progression forms the basis of a musical work. The chords of this document are classified by types. We will further see the Chords by tonality.piz document which contains a classification of chords by tonality rather than by types. We will use it for the composition exercises. As we have seen in the music course, a tonality is a context of notes used at a specific time in a musical piece. The set of white piano keys form a context called the C Major tonality. A musical passage written in C Major will primarily use the notes of this context. So that this passage keeps coherence, we will thus use chords that contain only the piano white keys.

Close this document and open the Chords library - 2.piz document. The main view appears as follows:

It contains a series of folders with less current chords, formed by 4 or 5 notes. Listen to them as you did with the previous document. Most of them have a very pronounced and expressive colour. They will be used especially to create contrasted and coloured sound effects. They are not appropriate for all uses.

Close this document and open the Chords library - 3.piz. The main view contains 20 chords progressions in the form of folders. They are the example progressions of the 20 Pizzicato accompaniment styles. Each folder bears the name of the accompaniment style from which it was extracted. You may use these progressions in your exercises and compositions. You can also modify them. Double-click on the folder Chords-Bossa. A window displays the chords which it contains:

Close this window as well as the main view.

Now open the Melodies library.piz document. Its main view appears as follows:

Each folder contains melodies. In the library composition system, a melody is defined as one or several sequenced notes. Here is a description of the contents of these folders:

C 2-C 6

They are melodies with only one note. Open this folder and you will find all notes corresponding to the blank keys of the musical keyboard, from C2 to C6. By double-clicking one of the melodies in the folder, you display the note. As for all folders of this document, in the options dialog box (opened with a double-click on the folder by holding down the CTRL key), notes are random. If you combine them with a rhythm, you will get very varied melodies (even too much) on a very broad range. We will see that to exploit them better, the range will have to be limited.

C 2-C 6 Chrom.

Same as the previous folder, but it also contains the black keys (accidental notes) of the musical keyboard.

2 notes up

It is a series of 2 consecutive notes forming a melody going up. Double-click this folder. The first element is named C-D2. By double-clicking it, you can view these two notes in a score view. By using these melodies in your exercises, you will be able to notice that the resulting score will contain groups of 2 rising notes, distributed between C-2 and C-6.

2 notes down

It is the same principle, but with 2 consecutive notes forming a melody going down.

3 notes up

It is a series of 3 consecutive notes forming a melody going up.

3 notes down

It is a series of 3 consecutive notes forming a melody going down.

4 notes up

It is a series of 4 consecutive notes forming a melody going up.

4 notes down

It is a series of 4 consecutive notes forming a melody going down.

Melodies 1 to 15

These melodies folders contain various mixtures of melodies which you find in the folders previously explained. Melodies 1 is a sequence of 4 notes going up or down. Melodies 15 are notes taken randomly. By passing from melodies 1 to melodies 15, the notes are gradually more and more dispersed.

All these folders constitute library melody elements which you will use for the exercises.

Close this document and open the Rhythms library 44.piz document. It contains rhythmic elements for a 4 beats measure. Here is the main view:

The first 5 folders contain 4 beats duration rhythms, with whole notes (labeled with "1"), half notes (labeled with "2") and quarter notes (labeled with "4"). Inside each folder, the name of an element specifies the type of rhythm it contains. The number are used for the rhythmic values of notes (1,2,4) and when a number is prefixed with the "R" letter (for Rest) it is a rests (R1=whole rest, R2=half rest and to R4=quarter rest). The letter D is used for a dotted rhythmic value (D2= dotted half note= 3 beats). An element named for example 4+R4+2 thus contains one quarter note, one quarter rest and one half note, which make a 4 beats measure. Consult the contents of each folder by opening and closing the folders and the elements in them.

The 5 folders located on the second line contain sequences of 4 beats organized so as to be able to create longer rhythmic sentences. As in the English language, music is often organized in sentences intersected with rests. The first two folders are beginning of sentences. The two following continue a sentence and the last finished a sentence. This classification of measures as pieces of sentences is rather subjective. It nevertheless helps to create diversified musical sentences. Consult the folders contents to have a practical idea of the classification. Some rhythmic elements are in several categories.

The 16 folders located lower are rhythmic sentences of 1, 2, 3 and 4 times a "4/4" measures. Inside each one, you will find one or more of the previous files. They represent various combinations of musical sentences built with those.

The documents Rhythms library 34.piz and Rhythms library 68.piz contain the same kind of rhythmic models respectively adapted for 3/4 and 6/8 measures. The measures in 6/8 also contains eighth notes in rhythmic value (labeled with "8") and eighth rests (labeled with "R8").

By modifying the options of the rhythmic folders (in particular division and multiplication factors of the rhythmic values), you will easily be able to get different rhythms and different measures. By dividing for example by 2 the rhythmic values, 4/4 measures become 2/4 measures and instead of having a mixture of whole notes, half notes and quarter notes, you will get half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes. We will further see the practical applications in the exercises.

Close the document now. Among the elements which play a part in the composition of a musical work, there is of course the choice of the instruments which will perform it. Pizzicato contains several documents with soloists instruments and groups of prepared instruments, as well for classical music as for light music. These documents are available by the Open template item in the File menu and are classified under various sub directories.

Open the template named Orchestra instruments located in Orchestral sections. It contains most of the instruments of a symphonic orchestra, classified by families (woodwinds, strings, brass, percussions). It also contains various instruments as the organ, the piano, the guitar as well as soloists voices and a choir section. Sections of instruments are also prepared by families. Each score of this document contains only one measure. The full name, the short name, the sound reference to a GM standard synthesizer as well as the position in space (left-center-right) are preset. By using these templates, you can build an orchestra very quickly. Select the instruments in the desired order and Pizzicato builds a score containing all these instruments. We will explain this again in the exercises.

Close this document and open the various templates located in Orchestras. They contain several configurations of symphonic orchestras corresponding to various works of reference (symphonies 2 and 9 by Beethoven, 6 by Tchaikowsky, the Ravel Bolero, Rhapsody in Blue of Gershwin, The Planets - Holst). Examine the instruments which compose these various orchestras as well as the values associated with the instruments view.

Explore the Chamber Music category. It contains various small groups of chamber music ready for use.

Explore the Light Music category. It contains 20 groups of light music from the Pizzicato accompaniment styles. Each one of them contains in particular 5 staves for percussions. Pizzicato indeed provides a standard template for percussion encoding. Open each score and observe the various instruments which compose them.

Now explore the Percussion category. The sub-category named General MIDI template contain the staves of the standard template provided by Pizzicato. All styles of accompaniment are based on these templates. They require a compatible GM synthesizer so that the instruments correspond. You will find the details of the percussions instrument distribution on the hard paper guide delivered with Pizzicato.

This lesson reviewed the Pizzicato constructions blocks for rhythms, melodies, chords and instrumentations. The next lesson will explain the use of the Pizzicato accompaniment styles. These styles are entirely built on the principle of the musical libraries. They contain melodic and rhythmic elements specific to each style. Although these styles are oriented towards light music, they form a good approach of what can be done starting from the composition libraries. After analyzing these styles, we will do composition exercises based on the elements exposed in this lesson.

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