Pizzicato or Slap is a dry percussive sound created by an extremely hard articulation like a 'pop'. There are two kinds of pizzicato — tongue and lip. For both, there is no air stream from the lungs involved; therefore, this technique produces a pitch resonance in the first octave only, low B- middle D# (up to middle F# by using the trill keys). The speed at which a player can produce repeated tongue or lip pizzicato is unique to each player. 


Production Tips


Tongue Pizzicato: The tongue is placed either between the lips or in a normal position (against the hard palate behind the teeth). Build up a strong pressure behind the tongue and then rapidly snap the tongue down/away from the teeth/lips to produce the 'pop' sound. Please note there is no normal flute tone in this sound as there is no air being blown through the flute. Experimenting with different tongue positions will result in different qualities and strengths of the tongues pizzicato sound. 


Lip Pizzicato: The lips are pressed hard together as if to say the syllable [pa] with the glottis closed. Build up a strong pressure behind them and release it quickly without actually vocalizing the syllable or expelling air through the flute— a strong 'pop' sound is created. There is no normal flute tone produced with a lip pizzicato. 


Sputato/Spit: Technically speaking, the pizzicato is a first octave technique only. However, if you allow a small burst of focused air to escape with the 'pop' gesture, you can create the illusion of a pizzicato in the upper register. This is more commonly called a Sputato or Spit Tongue, and sounds a bit like spitting. It does not create a clearly definable 'pop' sound, though, but more a hard airy articulation. 


Extended Variations

  • Pizzicato is often combined with a key click. 

  • It is possible to follow a pizzicato resonance with normal flute tone by simply releasing a focused air stream immediately.

  • For tongue pizzicato, a player can switch to double- or triple-tongue articulation syllables to reach a faster speed. The 'pop' sound is often not quite as strong, though.

Notation Examples
Video Examples

Flute 1

Tongue Pizz between and inside the mouth, Lip Pizz (without and with the flute)

Flute 2

Sputato/Spit: upper octave


Tongue Pizz between and inside the mouth, Lip Pizz, Sputato


Tongue Pizz between and inside the mouth, Lip Pizz, Sputato


Tongue Pizz between and inside the mouth, Lip Pizz, Sputato

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