What Is Pizzicato?

Orchestra Central is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

In order to get a clear understanding of this musical technique, the first question that needs to be answered is what is pizzicato exactly? Pizzicato is simply a playing style that involves plucking a stringed instrument with the fingers instead of using a bow or a pick.

How to Play Pizzicato on the Violin

There are two ways to play the violin in this way. One way is to extend the index finger on the right hand while gripping the bow, then reaching around it to pluck the strings, and the other way would be to hold the bow without gripping it as much, leaving the finger and thumb free by resting the thumb on the fingerboard of the violin and plucking with the finger. It is mainly a grip-and-pluck type of procedure, and it produces a percussive sound. While using it, a violinist can also lay the bow down altogether when plucking.

How to Play Pizzicato on the Cello

Playing pizzicato on the cello is a little different than playing pizzicato violin. To play it on the cello, catch and release the strings at the top with the left hand while keeping the right hand three inches from the fingerboard at the bottom of the instrument, then pluck with the index finger. When practicing left-hand pizzicato on the violin, the left hand should be placed in the 3rd position, or at the A string, to create the pitch while syncing the right hand up with it, plucking sideways with the extended finger, noting that the finger that is used to create the tone of the musical composition requires more pressure than the one that plucks the strings.

What Does Pizzicato Mean?

To further answer the “What is pizzicato?” question, the actual translation of the word means pinched or plucked. It is a method that was first used by Italian composer Claudio Monteverde, and it is often used in a high number of orchestral performances. It provides stringed instrument players with a great way to strengthen their left hand while focusing on getting the best pitch.

Some things to remember when playing pizzicato violin include:

  • Use the fingerboard to anchor the thumb on the right hand.
  • Don’t plucking too close to the bridge of the violin or cello so that the string won’t tighten up and produce a weak sound.
  • Practice maintaining a good hold on the bow while reaching for and plucking the string; Not using a fingernail to pluck, but only using the fleshy part of the fingertip to complete this action.
  • Strive to create a full sound with each note by not allowing the fingers on the left hand to stop the movement of the string.
  • Avoid leaving strings open, due to the fact that they will sound different from the fingered notes, and will be too noticeable.

The pizzicato technique is used in many genres of music such as classical, jazz and bluegrass, as well as in several other popular compositions. The way it is used depends on what type of instrument is being played. In addition to being used on a violin or cello, this technique can also be done on other stringed musical instruments, including pianos and guitars.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here