3. Paperclips

Paperclips may be attached to various parts of strings to alter their timbre or pitch. As with Blu Tack, once the strings have been prepared with paperclips, it is possible either to bow or to pluck the strings. My preference is for circular metal paperclips, as they are less likely to be flicked off the string through its vibrations.

Figure 26.1 – circular paperclip, regular oval-shaped paperclip of metal, regular oval-shaped paperclip with plastic coating

Paperclips have been used in string music from the late 20th to early 21st century, including Clara Ianotta’s 2013 string quartet A Failed Entertainment, Mauricio Kagel’s 1967 String Quartet 1, and Olga Neuwirth’s 1995 string quartet Akroate Hadal.


Paperclips on the baroque violin:

I am not aware of any repertoire for the baroque violin at the time of writing that uses paperclip preparations. I have, however, used paperclips in improvisations on the baroque violin.


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

Video example 26.1 –pizzicato and arco with paperclip preparation


Suggested notation:

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