2. Blu Tack

Blu Tack may be applied to strings in order to alter their timbre. Once the strings have been prepared with Blu Tack, it is possible either to bow or to pluck the strings. Blu Tack may also be placed on harmonic nodes. Depending on the placement of Blu Tack along the string, the pitch may be altered or distorted.

In recent composition for the modern violin, preparations such as Blu Tack have been used occasionally, appearing in the string writing of Australian composer James Rushford and Iranian composer Anahita Abbasi, among many others.[1]


Blu Tack on the baroque violin:

Blu Tack is easily applied to gut strings and has a similar impact to when used with steel strings. I frequently prepare my baroque violin strings with Blu Tack, either at specific nodes or random positions along the strings. When playing Blu Tack-prepared strings, particularly when bowing, care must be taken not to flick the Blu Tack off the strings. Specific pitches are only possible if the Blu Tack is attached in a specific place, and this may vary slightly from one instrument to the next. If specific pitch variation is desired while bowing, the string must be bowed on the same side of the Blu Tack as the left-hand fingers.


The following is an example of Blu Tack preparations played pizzicato and arco on both open strings and with stopped options.

Video example 25.1 –pizzicato and arco with Blu Tack preparation


Suggested notation:

Instruction to “attach Blu Tack to I/II/III/IV” and bracket above the desired passage. Instruction to “remove Blu Tack” at end of relevant passage may be necessary for clarity.


[1] For instance, in Rushford’s 2012 work Open Chain and Abbasi’s 2015 work Distorted Attitudes IV / Facile synthesis.