Plucking the strings of a violin or other stringed instrument

"Pizzicato" is an Italian musical term that indicates a playing technique primarily used in string instruments, such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. It involves plucking the strings with the fingers instead of using a bow. When a musician sees the indication "pizzicato" in the sheet music, they are instructed to pluck the strings to produce the desired notes.

The term "pizzicato" comes from the Italian word "pizzicare", which means "to pluck" or "to pinch". By using their fingers to pluck the strings, musicians can create a distinctive sound that is different from the sustained and flowing sound produced with a bow. Pizzicato passages in a piece of music often stand out and provide contrast to the bowed sections.

Pizzicato can be performed in different ways to achieve various effects. Musicians can pluck the strings with their thumb, index finger, or a combination of fingers. They can also experiment with the intensity of the plucking, producing anything from a gentle and soft sound to a sharp and percussive attack. The duration of each note can be controlled by the musician, allowing for precise rhythmic articulation.

Pizzicato is commonly used in different musical genres and styles, ranging from classical to jazz, folk, and contemporary music. Composers often indicate pizzicato passages in their compositions to add color and texture to the overall sound. Musicians may switch between bowing and pizzicato within a piece or even alternate between the two techniques rapidly for dramatic effect.

In music notation, "pizz." is often used to indicate to pluck the strings. In contrast, when the composer or arranger wants the performer to play with a bow, the term "Arco" is used.

Example of Pizzicato

Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony, 2. Playful Pizzicato