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My understanding of how a violin works is: the left hand controls the pitch by pressing down on a certain position on the string. This changes the length of the vibrating section and therefore pitch. The right hand controls the duration and dynamics of the note. A guitar also works this way.

It would appear to me that one can only do left hand pizzicato on open strings, because no matter where you pluck the string, the note is the same. Obviously I am wrong. But how?

Do they use two fingers to execute one pizzicato?, i.e. the finger further away from the player controls the pitch, while the finger closer the player actually plucks the string? That would seem incredibly difficult!

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    It is. (Comments must be 15 characters long.) – Kilian Foth Dec 5 '17 at 15:13
  • It sounds complicated to grasp, but the logic is simple. However, though the logic is simple, the execution is much harder to grasp. Chicken or the egg...? – psosuna Dec 5 '17 at 20:50
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Well yes, you finger with one finger and pluck with another. And if you are playing Paganini stuff, you might finger a spiccato-bowed string with yet another finger.

If that seems incredibly difficult, that is not a wrong impression.

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As you surmise, one (on any string instrument) must finger the note with an upper finger, usually the pointer, and pluck with a lower finger.

I'll point out in passing that this generally produces a shriller pizzicato than two-hand pizz, because the pluck point is close to one end of the free string length. This enhances the overtones compared with the ideal pluck point of the midpoint of the free length. The latter enhances the fundamental for reasons which should be obvious :-) .

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