Pronunciation: pit-see-KAH-toe

What is Pizzicato?

Pizzicato is a playing technique wherein the playing style of a stringed instrument involves the pinching or plucking of the string. It is an Italian word that means “pinched” or “plucked.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves the pinching or plucking of strings with the finger.
  2. Pizzicato creates a percussive sound, rather than flowing or sustained.
  3. Pizzicato is a technique that can be played on stringed instruments such as a violin, cello, viola, or guitar.

Understanding Pizzicato

Pizzicato is mostly used for the violin family musical instruments, such as the violin, cello, and viola. However, the playing technique can also be applied to the guitar, as well as the piano, where the pizzicato is employed as direct manipulation of the strings. The sound, rather than flowing or sustained, becomes more of a percussive sound that’s popular in jazz, rockabilly, or bluegrass music.

When a string is plucked, the complex timber sound is called inharmonicity. When a stringed instrument is played with the bow, this inharmonicity disappears.

Related Terms

Ostinato Ostinato is a musical figure defined as a motif or phrase that is repeated persistently in a musical composition. more

Improvise Improvise is an act of spontaneous creative activity in musical performance, particularly prevalent and essential in jazz music… more

Comping Comping is a term typically used in jazz music, which describes the musical accompaniment of a jazz soloist. more

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