Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN850 - Revision of 2013/05/29


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Composition tools - Using styles

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Watch also the following video:

What is a style? [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

Music is basically composed of notes and rhythms combined into innumerous possibilities. When you take some notes together, you have chords, which are little constructions done with notes. When you create a rhythmic pattern and some repeated melodic patterns played with specific instruments and chords, you have a style. So styles are a way to classify music.

A style is an association of several music characteristics that are specific to a mood, an atmosphere and that may then be recognized as having its own character and personality.

Practically, a style as used in most music software, arrangers and synthesizers is a set of predefined rhythmic patterns for percussion instruments and accompaniment instruments like the bass, piano, guitar,...

Each style has various patterns like an introduction, a main rhythmic pattern, a break or variation pattern and a final measure. You can assemble these building blocks into a full piece of music by disposing them one after the other and then by applying a chord progression to it that fits your melody.

In releases 1 and 2 of Pizzicato, we had created 20 styles with the first version of the library composition tools of Pizzicato. The way to use styles was quite complicated. We simplified it quite a bit with release 3.0, introducing the smart link function and the groups of scores, but there was still some specific and not so obvious operations to do to work with styles and chord progressions. It was still too complex. With the release 3.2, we have improved this process to the simplest possible way. You drag and drop styles and chord progressions into a score and you hear the result.

Even if most of the needed tools have already been explained in the previous lessons, here is a practical summary of how you can work with styles in Pizzicato.

Using the Pizzicato styles [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

In the Pizzicato libraries, you will find a folder that contains 35 prepared styles. Each style has at least the following elements:

Depending on the style, each one of these building blocks may have one or several measures. Some styles may have more than one of each of these blocks.

Music libraries / Prepared styles

Let us say that we want to create a rock composition based on that style. We will take a simple example of 10 measures. This style has a one measure building block. We will create it directly inside a score. We could also do it in a group of score, as seen in a previous example. Both ways are possible.

Music libraries / Basic libraries / Measure 4-4 / C Major - 3 notes chords / 12 measures - 2 chords/measure / C Major / 1- 100

This was a simple example, but you can in fact also mix various styles one after the other as well as use several little chord progressions (here we used a long 12 measure progression in one shot). Notice that you can also go in the basic chords library and drag and drop single chords at a time to replace a chord of the progression, or just to create your own chord progression. The possibilities are numerous.

Interactive styles and chords exploration [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

Until you know what composition or accompaniment you need, you may want to test and try a lot of them and also test and try chords. Here is the way to do that in an interactive way.

Instruments and templates / Harmonic spaces / C Major - 3 notes chords + dominant 7th

Importing styles from the Internet [Professional] [Composition Pro]

You may object that presently Pizzicato has only 35 styles. Here comes the next new function of Pizzicato. Pizzicato can import all style files that have the Yamaha style format. You can find literally thousands of style files on the Internet, some that you must pay for but a lot of them for free.

The style files that Pizzicato can import are basically any MIDI file with marker in them that separate the various sections of Intro, rhythm, break and end. The Yamaha style file format uses this so Pizzicato can import that kind of file. Notice that Pizzicato does not use the specific Yamaha information blocks that you find in such a file. It only uses the MIDI section of such a file. The corresponding file extension is "*.STY".

To find and download such files, just go on your preferred search engine page (for instance ) and type any combination of the following keywords: "free Yamaha style files". You will find thousands of them. Download them and put them inside a directory of your hard disk (not inside Pizzicato yet). Then start Pizzicato and open the conductor view. In the My library folder, add a new sub-folder (right-click the folder and select the New folder... menu item) where you will import the style files. Name it as you want, for instance "Imported styles". Then right-click on this folder and select either Import a style... or Import a folder of styles... and then select either one style file or the folder where you can have many style files. Pizzicato will then start working and import these files into your folder.

After this operation is done (if you have download some hundreds of style files, it may take some time), you will see each style as a Pizzicato document, with a few scores in it that you can use exactly as explained in the previous section. Notice that some imported styles will not sound very nice until you also use the real time arranger on them.

Notice that you can also import MIDI files and folders of MIDI files inside the library. Right-click a folder of the library and you will see the corresponding menu items.

Warning: be aware that the downloaded style or MIDI files may be copyrighted by their authors. According to the site where you download them, they may be available for private use only. Styles that you buy may have another type of licence. Consult the specific conditions of the site where you download them to know what you may or may not do with them. There are many free style and MIDI files that may be legally downloaded on the Internet but there are also sites that offer illegally "free" MIDI files to downloaded and by doing so, you act yourself illegally. So we can only invite you to act in an ethical way and only download the legally free MIDI or style files and respect the conditions stated on the site regarding the way you can use them (private or public use).


Extract the instrumental patterns [Professional] [Composition Pro]

Composing by using styles only may become poor after a while. You are indeed only using pre-existing musical structures and you may feel a bit restrained regarding your freedom to compose music. This is where Pizzicato offers you the more elementary music blocks that you can find in the various Pizzicato libraries.

Here is another function that may be used to create a vast personal library of elementary instrumental patterns. The principle is that you may take one Pizzicato document or a folder that contains many Pizzicato documents and create a decomposition of all the scores included in them and then classify all these measures by instruments. The result is a new library folder or document, containing individual patterns classified by instruments. Imagine you have 100 midi files of various origins and styles (but please use only legally obtained MIDI files, see the above warning). You import those files in one shot inside a library folder. Then you apply this decomposition function to create, out of these 100 files, a library of individual instrumental patterns of one measure each. You have then a lot of raw music material to start building you own composition. This aspect is mainly useful for the accompaniment instruments like percussion, bass, piano,...

This process has been applied to decompose the 35 Pizzicato styles, and the results are included in the individual instruments of the libraries. They may then be used outside the context of a style, which is much more creative than only using style: you create your own style by assembling individual instruments.

The way to decompose Pizzicato documents is very simple. In the library, right-click a Pizzicato document or a folder that contains Pizzicato documents and select the menu item entitled Extract individual instruments patterns... The following dialog appears:

  • With the two list, you can select which instrument(s) you want to extract from the source document(s). Click on ">>>" to select them all.
  • You can split all staves into single measures or keep the staves untouched (only useful to decompose styles).
  • You can sort the results into one document with groups for each instrument or into a folder with documents for each instruments.
  • You can specify a maximum number of results per instrument and globally.
  • You can give a name to the destination folder or document.
  • In the name of the scores that are created, you may or may not include the name of the original measure, so that you could locate it easily in the original source document(s).
  • When you click on OK, Pizzicato starts to work. Depending on the number of documents you want to decompose, the process may take some time. When done, you have a new individual instrument pattern library to explore.

Summary [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]

In the last twelve lessons, including this one, we have learned to use the composition tools offered by Pizzicato 3. Compared to the tools of version 2 (which still exist), we believe that an important step has been done to improve the tools regarding the user friendliness. We hope that music composition will progressively be accessible to much more Pizzicato users. We will continue in that direction and we are open to any suggestion from you that may accelerate this process.

Be sure you have understood the basic principles explained here so far. If not, then we suggest you to read those lessons again while doing yourself what is explained in them. You may then start or continue to compose music.

The richness of possibilities lies in the multiple potential combinations of the various tools and music structures you can use or create. You are the composer. Pizzicato helps you by providing notation and composition tools. You express your feelings, emotions and ideas by composing, so you are the one who decides. Good luck and compose well!

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