When I attempt left-hand pizzicato on an open string I get a resonance that is so loud compared to muted sound I can get with left-hand pizz on a stopped string that if played in the same passage the latter sounds like a mistake – if it can be heard at all.

Is there a way to bring the volume/loudness of these two variants more into balance?

Or are open and stopped left-hand pizz considered technically incompatible?

  • 1
    L.h. stopped pizz. needs more energy so gets played harder. Open needs less, but maybe you're just playing opens like stopped - too hard.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 8:55
  • Maybe it can be balanced – but honestly, stopped LH pizzicato is just not practical as anything except a virtuoso show-off technique. Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 13:26
  • Practice practice practice. Also, what leftaroundabout said. Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 14:01
  • @leftaroundabout that could be a good answer. Are there examples of open-string LH pizz outside of Paganini-grade stuff? And if someone asserted that even in Paganini-esque pieces there are no examples of open and stopped LH pizz in the same passage that would be a compelling answer.
    – feetwet
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 21:52
  • Do you have a passage in mind as an example? Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 0:56

1 Answer 1

  1. LH pizz is easiest and sounds best when you can get the most distance between the "plucking finger" and the "stopping finger." In other words, if the tempo allows, stop with 1st finger and pluck with 4th.
  2. That's not always practical. Paganini 24th Caprice and Tzigane use sparkling barrages of LH pizz. In particular, in the Paganini, you encounter descending scales where you use a single staccato bow stroke to sound the 4th-finger note*, then use 4th to pluck 3rd, then 3rd to pluck 2nd, etc. In this case the notes are quick enough that the loudness of the open string doesn't stand out so much anyway. But you can also experiment with the motion of your 1st finger as it plucks the open string—do you slide off horizontally? try to form a hook to grab as much of the string as possible? (*Footnote: a separate argument: I'm a big fan of using RH pizz instead of arco strokes for those notes that you can't do with LH, in both Paganini 24 and Tzigane.)
  3. Point of order: Paganini played on gut strings. The increased brightness of the open string is much less pronounced on gut.

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