Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN800 - Revision of 2013/05/29




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Composition tools - The smart link

Subjects covered:

Watch also the following video:


The composition tools [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

This is the first lesson on the composition tools introduced by Pizzicato 3. It is an introduction to practical music composition tools.

The next lessons are reserved for Pizzicato Professional and Composition. They use the conductor view, which is only available in these versions. The conductor view is a musical desktop on which you can manage several scores, virtual music keyboards, instrument definitions and groups of scores that may be played together to build a music composition. It is a powerful setup to compose music, for light music, ethnic music, orchestral music, contemporary music or any other music style.

The difference between notation software tools and composition tools is that the later will provide ways and means to help you to answer the questions regarding what rhythms, what notes, what chords will be used in the music. Those tools will help you to arrange, organize, develop and implement your musical ideas into full score music composition.

Don't think that the computer will compose for you. This would be silly because a computer is not able to create. It can only combine the data it has by following the instructions it receives, and this it does very well and fast. So YOU are the composer and Pizzicato is your helper to execute what YOU want him to do. If you try to find a push-this-button-and-get-a-nice-composition software, Pizzicato is not the software you need. So you will have to work, create and imagine!

The first version of the composition tools was implemented in Pizzicato version 1, in 1995. You may find this system in the lessons on Composition Libraries (1) to (6) in this manual. Pizzicato 3 has kept the same basic principle but has made a much more user friendly interface to use them. Also, several new concepts and tools have been added to the original version so as to make it even more powerful and easy to use.

The basic principle is that music can be broken down into the following simple items : rhythms, melodies, chords and effects. Any music composition could be constructed on those basic building blocks. Music becomes a construction game, using simple building blocks to create structures and assemble those structures into more complex structures and into music compositions.

The first step is explained in this lesson : the tool that lets you combine those items together to build a structure. It is the first level of construction. You will learn how rhythms, melodies and chords may be combined, as though they were bricks to assemble with mortar. This tool is called the smart link.

The smart link [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

The smart link lets you take rhythmic values found somewhere in a score, melodic values found anywhere else in the score, chords in even another set of measures and combine them all into one or more measures. For Pizzicato Professional and Composition, the three items (rhythm, melody and chord) may even come from different scores (but all inside the same document).

It is like a mixer you can feed with rhythms, melodies and chords. The resulting music is a set of measures called computed measures.

We have seen that a measure may have one or more versions and that at any time, only one version of the measure is visible and active. In addition to that, a measure may also have a special version called a computed version. By default, the computed version is not present, but the use of the smart link function will automatically add a computed version to the measures as needed.

Any measure may become a computed measure. It will then memorize the resulting computed content in the computed version of the measure, in addition to its normal content and versions (which will always remain untouched).

The important point to understand with a smart link is that the original source of rhythms, melodies and chords stay connected to the resulting computed measures. A change in any one of the source components may affect the computed measures. It is like a spreadsheet: a cell may be recomputed when another cell - to which it is related - is modified. Let us explain this with some examples.

Notice that you may edit the computed measure content, but whenever you ask Pizzicato to update them, the change you made will be overwritten by the updated computed version. This simple melody could have been 16 measures long and be smart linked fifty times through all instruments of a full orchestral score. Pizzicato would have updated the full score from the changes you made in the original theme. Quite practical to test some changes in a score.

The melody is now two times faster with the same notes. The smart link is not only a copy of the melody but also contains several transformation parameters that may affect the content of the measures. Here is a brief explanation of the various templates proposed in the smart link dialog box:


The computed measure parameters [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

Behind the smart link function, there is a series of parameters attached to the target measure. They determine how the smart link must be computed. Each template found in the smart link dialog is in fact a predefined set of these parameters, with some of them being available in the right part of the dialog.

Applying a smart link to a measure attaches all these parameters to the first target measure. Those parameters are available at any time from the measure itself. They may also be added to a measure without the application of the smart link dialog. To access these parameters, click with the right button on a measure (without selecting a measure) and choose the Smart link parameters... menu. The following dialog box appears:

These parameters are divided into three sections : notes, rhythms and chords. We will explain them by section in the rest of this lesson.

When you validate the dialog, the parameters are attached to the measure. If you click on Delete, the parameters are removed from the measure.

These parameters are attached to one measure, but they may affect several measures that follow it. When displaying the computed versions of the score, Pizzicato draws a different background color for the measures that contain computing parameters, as seen in the beginning of this lesson. You can then easily differentiate computed versions with computing parameters and computed versions which are only affected by the parameters of a previous measure.

There are basically three sources that are combined to create the computed measures. Each source is independantly extracted from same or different measures and recombined to form the computed measure. These sources are the notes, the rhythms and the chords.

As the three sources may contain several measures, the resulting notes may fill much more than the current measure. To the right of the dialog box, a parameter entitled Number of affected measures may limit the number of measures that will be affected by the computation. If this parameter is "1", then this measure will only affect its own computed version. If this parameter is "2", then it will also affect the next measure computed version, and so on.

Note parameters [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

The note parameters affect only the pitch of the note but not its rhytmic value.

All these parameters may be used separately or may be combined. The resulting series of notes will then be combined to the resulting series of rhythmic values, as we will now explain.

Rhythm parameters [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

The rhythm parameters do not affect the pitch of notes but only their rhytmic values.

All these parameters may be used separately or combined. The resulting series of rhythmic values will then be combined one by one to the resulting series of notes.

Chords influence [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

Additionally to the various parameters that affect the notes, the melody may also be adapted to fit a given chord progression.

Application example [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

As the above parameters may combine each one with the others and as the source measures may contain practically anything that can be written in music notation, the number of possibilites offered by this system are numerous. You will need to make your own experiments and use your imagination to be creative with it. Here is a detailed example of application where we will create a random melody, with some given notes and rhythms and we will arrange it based on a given chord progression.

For the main melody, we will randomly use the notes of measures 6 and 7 and the rhythm pattern of measure 8. We will structure our score on the upper system, considering the lower system as a scratch pad where we prepare the notes and rhythms we need.

We say "for instance", because as the notes are randomly selected, the melody may look totally different on your computer. In fact, each time you ask Pizzicato to update the measures (CTRL/Apple key + R), a new melody is generated. Try it a few times. In all instances and according to the options we have selected, you will notice that:

If needed you may call the computed measure parameters dialog to modify the selected options. It is attached to measure 1, which has a different color background compared to measures 2 to 4 (those computed versions are the result of the parameters assigned to measure 1, but measures 2 to 4 do not contain parameters).

We will now create the second staff content, based on measure 6, staff 2. This measure will be used 4 times and will be arranged on the chords.

As no random option was selected, the second staff is unequivocally determined.

We will now create the third staff content, based on measure 6, staff 3. This measure will be used 4 times and will use the chords.

This example gives you one possible application. There are lots of possible combinations for the smart link function.

For Pizzicato Professional, this function may be combined to the features of the conductor view, which will give you a music destkop composition to create, arrange your musical compositions.

Two additional items have been added in the Edit menu since release 3.2 You can use them for the full score (if there is no selection) or for a selection of measures:

Adding smart link templates [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

In this lesson, we have first introduced the smart link dialog box, explaining a series of predefined functions. Then we have explained the various parameters that may affect the computed version of a measure.

A predifined function is a simplified set of prepared parameters, extracted from the full set of parameters. It offers an easy way to execute a specific functionality out of the full set of possibilites. You may add new templates to the list so that you can use them when working your music compositions. The following explanation is for the advanced user who wants to make a full use of this function.

The right list contains all the parameters that will be used when this predefined function will be applied on a measure. By clicking on one of them, the parameters appears to the right and you may set its value. A check box also appears to enable/disable the modification of this parameter when you use this template. The name of the template may be modified in the bottom right part of the dialog.

The default value is "1" and the parameter will appear so that you may modify it when calling the template.

In this case, only a part of the parameters are used. The left list parameters are left untouched in the target measure, so that you may combine this smart link with another one (Copy of rhythms for instance). This means that you may apply multiple smart links on the same target measure, providing that they do not transfer the same parameters. If they transfer the same parameter, the last applied smart link parameter will overwrite the first and will be used. Click on Cancel.

You may explore the various templates and see what default parameters they use.

To create a new template, click on Add and the dialog appears. Decide which parameters must be used (use the middle buttons to transfer parameters from one list to the other), their default values and if they may be modified when calling the smart link function. Give a name to your template and click on OK. You may also select an existing template and click on Duplicate. A template is created that duplicates the current template. You may then change its name and modify it.

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