Aluminium foil or paper may be threaded through the strings of an instrument to create a percussive effect. Aluminium foil can be moulded around the string or strings so that it is secure enough not to be dislodged through playing, but loose enough to vibrate against the strings. Paper has a softer, less metallic tone. As it can slip more easily from the strings, it can be folded so as to attach more securely. Attaching paper securely can be time consuming and sometimes must be attended to pre-performance.
An early example of such a preparation appears in Biber’s Battalia (Biber, 1673/2007, pp. 8–9), which requires the violone players to thread parchment through their strings. When bowed, the parchment rattles, producing a percussive effect reminiscent of rifle fire.
More recent examples can be found in Mauricio Kagel’s String Quartet 1 (Kagel, 1967), where paper is threaded through the strings of the violoncello, and Anahita Abbasi’s string quartet Distorted Attitudes IV / Facile synthesis (Abbasi, 2015), where aluminium foil is attached to the strings of the violoncello.
Aluminium foil/paper on the baroque violin:
Aluminium foil may be threaded or moulded around the strings of the baroque violin, in the same way as with any other string instrument.
The following is an example of aluminium foil preparations played pizzicato and arco on both open strings and with stopped options.
Video example 28.1 – pizzicato and arco with aluminium foil preparation
Figure 28.1 – aluminium foil moulded around the strings of the baroque violin
Likewise, paper can also be threaded through the strings of the baroque violin. Folding the paper into a fan, or concertina-shape, can help it stay in place and maintain contact with each string. It may be necessary to also fix the paper to the edges of the fingerboard with a small piece of Blu Tack.
The following is an example of paper preparations played pizzicato and arco on both open strings and with stopped options.
Video example 28.2 – pizzicato and arco with paper preparation
Figure 28.2 – folded paper threaded through the strings of the baroque violin
Above the stave, “Attach aluminium/paper” and “Remove aluminium/paper”, with a bracket over passages that should have the preparation applied.