Musical concept: Pizzicato

Pizzicato is a playing technique when bowed stringed instruments, rather than using a bow, pluck notes with the fingers. The sound produced is percussive.

This technique was first used by the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) in his Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorida in 1624. The strings are usually plucked by the forefinger of the right hand.

The violin virtuoso Paganini was the first person to extensively use the left hand to pluck the strings while the right hand continued to bow.If you would like to hear how pizzicato sounds, the third movement in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 is a great choice, as the movement title is "Scherzo: Pizzicato Ostinato."

Here is a video clip of the movement by Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony:

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