Pizzicato: notation, notation, notation.

When I first started the Flute Colors project and preparations for the website, I analyzed a lot of sheet music. I wanted to know how different composers notated the extended techniques. Some notations are very common. For example, the notation of key clicks and harmonics, but for other techniques composers use different ways to make it clear what extended technique they meant.

During my studies with Wil Offermans I was used to his way of noting the techniques. For pizzicato he used an accent as a notehead:

Other composers used this notehead with or without a dot:

I am currently working on a major project with new compositions by Dutch composers. In one of the pieces, pizzicato was added and the composer used this notehead:

You can encounter these three possibilities when playing pieces in which pizzicato is played. Thinking about notation is an important part of a composition or arrangement. For the Flute Colors Magazine I have to decide which format is best for a piece. Especially pizzicato needs a lot of attention. I always tend to use the accent as a notehead, but if you have to play a lot of pizzicato it’s not good for readability. So when there is a lot of pizzicato to play, I tend to choose a different notation.

Fortunately, most composers add an index to their piece. As long as it’s clear which sign means pizzicato, it’s fine.


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