Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN822 - Revision of 2013/05/29


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Composition tools - Harmonic spaces

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Basic principle [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

An harmonic space is a set of chord progressions that may be sequenced and that give a specific atmosphere or style to a music. It can be very simple or may contain several chords sequences and types. Its basic purpose is to orient the composer in an intuitive way, by being able to select a final chord progression to use in a music composition. It is used in association with a score group - an object that you can find inside the main area of the conductor view. By using an harmonic space inside a score group, you may select the chords and hear the effects they have with the real time arranger of Pizzicato. The scores placed inside the group will take the sound colour of chords you select in real time. This is an easy and powerful way to create a chord progression, because you hear it and choose it just from you feeling, without any needed knowledge of chord theory. It is an intuitive approach to design a chord progression.

We will first see how we can use an harmonic space with the real time arranger.

Using the real time arranger [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

You will find some simple harmonic spaces in configuration 3 of the document manager, in Libraries / Instruments and templates / Harmonic spaces. We will use for instance the first, C Major - 3 notes chords + dominant 7th.

You can observe the various chord progressions "C - D min", "C - E min",... with their assigned colours. The rule of such an harmonic space is that after a C, you can have the chords as displayed here above. After a D min, you may have such and such chords, ... This is a simple example, as other harmonic spaces may have other rules.

The first chord is now fixed as C and Pizzicato suggests 7 chords that can be sequences after the C chord

Notice that the group is automatically resized when you add chords to the progression. On each chord of the progression, there are now 4 icons that you can use to:

You will notice that each chord is now assigned to a duration of one 4/4 measure. You may move the border between two chords by dragging the mouse over the border and click it to move it to the left (shorter duration for that chord) or to the right (longer duration).

Up to now, this is only visual, but here comes the interesting point.

We will now see how you can intuitively design a chord progression.

It is the fixed point for the real time arranger. When this circle is not present, the score is played with the chord present in the corresponding measure. But when you set this fixed point, Pizzicato continues playing the score with the chord being located at the fixed point (here C). You may now click in any of the chords suggested by Pizzicato and you will hear the change of tone in the rhythm. Try and click on each one of them. When you find one transition you like, just click on the OK button of that chord and the chord is added to the progression, as explained above. Pizzicato shows you then the next suggestions for possible chords in that harmonic space. This space represents here the 3 notes chords of the C major scale, as well as the dominant 7th chord, quite common in use.

When you click inside the circle, it disappears and the real time arranger continue to play the score with the existing chord progression. You may also disable the real time arranger by clicking inside the little yellow square present at the top of the group.

Warning - do not forget to delete this fixed point after you have used it, because otherwise Pizzicato will play all your score with that fixed point, even from other documents and they may sound strange to you because Pizzicato arranges them all in the fixed point chord.

Once you have found the chord progression you like, you may do two things with that group:

  • You can drag the little green square on top of the group and drop it outside the group. Pizzicato will create a full score of the group, including the arranged notes with the chords.
  • You can similarly drag and drop the little blue square and the score will only contain the chord progression. You can drag that chord progression in a document inside your My library folder to use it on other occasions. It is then part of your library.

You will find in the Pizzicato libraries numerous harmonic spaces. They are located in the Music libraries, Harmonic spaces folder and they are classified according to the types of chords (thirds, sevenths and others), by common notes and degrees to sequence. You can find them in the first area of configuration 4 of the document manager.

Since version 3.6.1, a check box entitled Do not arrange" is present in the play options dialog box. You can reach it with a right click on the score in the group and then select Play options... If you check it, the score will not be arranged with the current harmonic space of the group.

Editing an harmonic space [Professional] [Composition Pro]

Here is how to create a custom harmonic space or edit an existing harmonic space.

  • Open a new document and open the conductor view. In the document manager, configuration 1, right-click the document icon and select the New harmonic space menu item. The following dialog appears:

  • You can change the name of this harmonic space in the text box in the right upper corner.
  • The first list is a list that will contain the possible chord sequences. Click on the Add button. A new line appears in the list. Then click on the Add a chord... button. The chord selection dialog box appears:

  • Click on OK to select the default C major chord. The second list shows the C chord. Add a new chord in that list and select the F chord. This "C + F" sequence is a possible chord sequence in this harmonic space.
  • Click again the above Add button and add the sequence of "D min + F". Notice that a colour is automatically associated with the root note of the chord. The colour may be changed if you want to test another colour/chord convention. They will appear in the groups of scores with these selected colours.
  • Using the same principle, create the two following chord sequences : "F + G" and "G + C". The left list should now appear as follows:

The number "=0" is in fact a value that you can assign to that specific sequence. It can be assigned by selecting the line in the list and then changing the value with the upper slider in the right part of the dialog. It is presently not used by Pizzicato but this number, if assigned, should represent the relative quality or importance of that specific chord progression in the harmonic space you design.

  • The upper Delete button is used to delete one of the selected sequence of chords. The Up and Down buttons at the top of the dialog are used to change the order of the selected chord sequence so you can sort the list as you want.
  • The Modify chord... lets you change the chord selected in the second list. The Delete chord removes the selected chord of the second list and the Up and Down buttons may be used to sort the list of chords of the selected chord progression. By clicking on the colour square, you may select the colour associated to that chord.
  • If you check the Play the selected chord box, you will hear the selected chord with a string sound and you can adjust the sound volume with the slider just below it.
  • The Transpose... button lets you transpose all chords defined in the harmonic space.
  • The Structure... button is used to construct an harmonic space automatically, following a set of specifications that you decide. The following dialog appears:

Here are the specifications that you can give and that will determine the possible chords sequences that the harmonic space will contain:

  • To the left, a double list is used to specify which chords can be used. You can select a chord and move it from one list to the other with the four middle buttons.
  • The central table determines in which scales the chords can be used. It defines the harmonic context of the chords. The twelve notes can be used, in combination with the major scale and the three minor scales.
  • In the upper part of the third frame, you can select how many common notes can be accepted between two sequenced chords.
  • Just below, a menu is used to display the possible sequences of degrees inside the same scale or between two different scales. In each case, a table of 7 times 7 checkboxes is used to specify which degree sequences are possible.
  • If you click on Create, Pizzicato removes any existing chords sequences in the harmonic space and then build all possible chords sequences that satisfy the given specifications. So as to conntinue with the above example, click now on Cancel.
  • Click on the OK button.


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