A pull-off is a stringed instrument playing and articulation technique performed by plucking or "pulling" the finger that is grasping the sounding part of a string off the fingerboard of either a fretted or unfretted instrument. This intermediate- to advanced playing technique is done using the tip of a finger or fingernail on the fretting hand. Pull-offs are done to facilitate the playing of embellishments and ornaments such as grace notes. Pull-offs may be notated in sheet music or improvised by the performer, depending on the musical style and context.
A pull-off is performed on a string which is already vibrating; when the fretting finger is pulled off (exposing the string either as open or as stopped by another fretting finger "lower" on the same string, with "lower" meaning in a position that is lower in pitch) the note playing on the string changes to the new, longer vibrating length of the string. Pull-offs are performed on both fretted instruments (e.g., electric guitar) and unfretted instruments (e.g., violin). They are used to sound grace notes with the transition from one note to the other sounding gentler and less percussive because the string is not picked or bowed again by the typical picking/bowing hand to produce the sound of the second note.
In the transition between the initial and final notes, the string may vibrate in an inharmonic manner for several cycles if it is plucked with the fretting finger, because the string is being plucked in a part of the string not usually used for plucking. The result, a slight "quack" sound, may be particularly audible when the interval of the pull-off is large. This transition also consumes some of the vibrational energy in the sounded string, with the effect that the second note is generally much quieter than the original. On a low-pitched string that is being bowed on a stopped note, say, at the halfway point of the vibrating string length, the player may left-hand flick the string immediately prior to sounding the deep-pitched open string to help the string "speak". Without the left-hand "flick", there could be a half-second delay in the sounding of the deep fundamental.
On most acoustic instruments, this means the second note has little sustain. As a result, in acoustic music, pull-offs are primarily used as an embellishment. Performers of plucked instruments tend to use "pull-offs" when playing grace notes, usually in conjunction with multiple hammer-ons and strumming or picking to produce a rapid, rippling effect. In rock and heavy metal music, electric guitars are often performed with overdriven amplifiers and/or guitar effects such as distortion pedals and compression pedals are used, which add substantial sustain to the sound. With this type of electronic gear and a powerful instrument amplifier nearing the threshold of feedback, pull-offs can even be used to play sustained notes.
In a variation of the technique, often called a "flick-off", the pulling-off finger is dragged slightly across the face of the string while performing the pull-off. This results in the string being gently sounded, either by the player's finger callus or by their fretting-finger fingernail. This increases the volume and sustain of the pulled-off note, although the sound of the fretting finger dragging over the string may be audible on both an amplified instrument and on a brightly strung acoustic instrument.
Classical music of the late romantic period features numerous applications of the technique to bowed string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. In the classical context, the term is referred to as left-handed pizzicato.
When a player switches from arco (bowing) to regular pizzicato, the player normally requires a short pause to switch his or her bowing hand into pizzicato position and pluck the string. With left-hand pizzicato, though, a string player can play a pizzicato note immediately following a bowed note; thus, left-hand pizzicato provides a means to intersperse pizzicato notes into rapid passages of bowed notes. The string on which the note is played may be either open or stopped (fingered); the only requirement for using the technique on a stopped string is that the finger stopping the string be lower than the finger plucking the string.
Left-hand pizzicato appears most prominently in violin "virtuoso pieces" such as Pablo de Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen and Paganini's 24th Caprice.
The term pull-off was invented and popularized by Pete Seeger in his book How to Play the 5-String Banjo. Seeger also invented the term hammer-on .
The double bass, also known simply as the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The Double bass has a similar structure to the cello.
The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden chordophone in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and thus highest-pitched instrument (soprano) in the family in regular use. The violin typically has four strings, usually tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, E5, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings. It can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and, in specialized cases, by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.
In music performance and notation, legato indicates that musical notes are played or sung smoothly and connected. That is, the player makes a transition from note to note with no intervening silence. Legato technique is required for slurred performance, but unlike slurring, legato does not forbid rearticulation.
String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.
Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument. The exact technique varies somewhat depending on the type of instrument:
Tapping, also called tap style (tapstyle), touch-style, and two-handed tapping, is a guitar playing technique where a string is fretted and set into vibration as part of a single motion of being tapped onto the fretboard, with either hand, as opposed to the standard technique of fretting with one hand and picking with the other. Tapping is the primary technique intended for some instruments such as the Chapman Stick, and is the alternative method for the Warr Guitar and others. Tapped passages incorporate the techniques of hammer-on and pull-off, but with both hands freed to produce notes. Some players rely extensively or exclusively on tapping.
A hammer-on is a playing technique performed on a stringed instrument by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on to the fingerboard behind a fret, causing a note to sound. This technique is the opposite of the pull-off.
The fingerboard is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.
A fretless guitar is a guitar with a fingerboard without frets, typically a standard instrument that has had the frets removed, though some custom-built and commercial fretless guitars are occasionally made. Fretless bass guitars are readily available, with most major guitar manufacturers producing fretless models.
In music, strumming is a way of playing a stringed instrument such as a guitar, ukulele, or mandolin. A strum or stroke is a sweeping action where a finger or plectrum brushes over several strings to generate sound. On most stringed instruments, strums are typically executed by a musician's designated strum hand, while the remaining hand often supports the strum hand by altering the tones and pitches of any given strum.
The electric upright bass (EUB) is an instrument that can perform the musical function of a double bass. It requires only a minimal or 'skeleton' body to produce sound because it uses a pickup and electronic amplifier and loudspeaker. Therefore, a large resonating structure is not required to project the sound into the air. This minimal body greatly reduces the bulk and weight of the instrument. EUBs must always be connected to an amplifier and speaker cabinet to produce an adequate audible sound. The EUB retains enough of the features of the double bass so that double bass players are able to perform on it.
Playing the violin entails holding the instrument between the jaw and the collar bone. The strings are sounded either by drawing the bow across them (arco), or by plucking them (pizzicato). The left hand regulates the sounding length of the strings by stopping them against the fingerboard with the fingers, producing different pitches.
In classical guitar, the right hand is developed in such a way that it can sustain two, three, and four voice harmonies while also paying special attention to tone production. The index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers are generally used to play the melody, while the thumb (p) accompanies in the bass register adding harmony, and produces a comparable texture and effect to that of the piano. The classical guitar is a solo polyphonic instrument, and it is difficult to master.
A flamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar but with thinner tops and less internal bracing. It usually has nylon strings, like the classical guitar, but it generally possesses a livelier, more gritty sound compared to the classical guitar. It is used in toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of flamenco.
Violin acoustics is an area of study within musical acoustics concerned with how the sound of a violin is created as the result of interactions between its many parts. These acoustic qualities are similar to those of other members of the violin family, such as the viola.
String instruments are capable of producing a variety of extended technique sounds. These alternative playing techniques have been used extensively since the 20th century. Particularly famous examples of string instrument extended technique can be found in the music of Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutosławski, George Crumb, and Helmut Lachenmann.
The 3rd bridge is an extended playing technique used on the electric guitar and other string instruments that allows a musician to produce distinctive timbres and overtones that are unavailable on a conventional string instrument with two bridges. The timbre created with this technique is close to that of gamelan instruments like the bonang and similar Indonesian types of pitched gongs.
A third bridge can be devised by inserting a rigid preparation object between the strings and the body or neck of the instrument, effectively diving the string into distinct vibrating segments.
Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:
Piano extended techniques are those in which unorthodox or unconventional techniques are used to create the sound.
Playing the cello is done while seated with the instrument supported on the floor. The fingertips of the left hand stop the strings on the fingerboard to determine the pitch of the fingered note. The right hand plucks or bows the strings to sound the notes.