Cello

The Cello is an instrument that is fairly easy to start at an early age.
It is played in a similar way to the Violin, by rubbing the bow across the string. The Cello is played seated, held between your knees. It also comes in eight sizes, although anything above full size is rare. Commonly used sizes are 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4.

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More information about the Cello

The Cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of music instruments, which also includes the violin, viola and the contrabass. It is one of the bigger instruments in the string family. It plays notes that are lower than the viola, though not as low as the string bass. The strings on the cello are more than twice as long as the strings on the viola, producing rich and warm lower notes. The cello is used as a solo instrument, in chamber music, in a string orchestra and as a member of the string section of an orchestra. The symphony orchestra will usually include 8-12 cellists.

History

Celli were made as early as the mid-1500's. The first known maker of the cello was Andrea Amati. Andrea Amati's grandson, Nicolo is perceived as the best cello maker (luthier) of the Amati family, and the greatest maker of violins and celli of all times and the famous Italian string instruments builder Antonio Stradivari, was one of his students.

Description

The Cello is most closely associated with European classical music. The body of the instrument is hollow, making it a resonating box for the sound. Four strings made of animal gut, nylon, or steel are wrapped around pegs at one end of the instrument and attached to a tailpiece at the other. They are stretched tightly across a bridge to produce their assigned pitches. The violoncello or cello is the tenor voice in the string family and has been described as the closest sounding instrument to the human voice. It is the bass voice of the string quartet, as well as being part of many other chamber groups. It is today a very essential instrument, on its own, in quartets, and in orchestras. A large number of concertos and sonatas have been written for the cello. Bach and Beethoven were the first composers to make the cello a big part of their compositions.

Sizes

The Standard-sized cello is referred to as "full-size" – "4/4". However, cellos come in smaller (fractional) sizes, ranging from "7/8" down to "1/16" sized cellos. The smaller-sized cellos are identical to standard cellos in construction, range, and usage, but are simply 'scaled-down' for the benefit of children and shorter adults. A "half-size" cello is not actually half the size of a "full-size", but only slightly smaller (i.e., roughly half-size by volume, not by length). Many smaller cellists prefer to play a "7/8" cello as the hand stretches in the lower positions are less demanding. Although rare, cellos in sizes larger than 4/4 do exist. Cellists with unusually large hands may play a slightly larger than full-sized cello.

How it is Played

While shaped like a violin, the cello is much larger, it is held between the player's knees and is played
while seated. Its size and weight make's it too heavy to rest on your shoulder as violinists and viola players do. In modern orchestras cellists also support most of the weight of the cello with an endpin that extends out from the bottom of the instrument. In the 1800's the cello did not have an endpin, so cellists had to squeeze their knees together to keep the instrument from dropping to the floor. The neck of the cello is positioned above the player's left shoulder, the left hand is responsible for fingering the notes, while the right hand plucks or bows the strings, the bow is drawn horizontally across the strings

How the Cello is Made

The cello is typically made from wood which are glued together, these days, it can also be made using carbon fibre or aluminium. A traditional cello has a spruce top, with maple for the back, sides, and neck and ebony for the fingerboard because of its hardness and beauty.
Other woods, such as poplar or willow, are sometimes used for the back and sides, all in the effort to enhance the performance of the instrument.
All these parts are carefully carved and shaped and then glued together with special glue. After the body of the Cello is assembled and varnished, the four strings, bridge, tailpiece, endpin and various smaller pieces are added.


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Cello Accessories

The main accessories for the cello are as follows: -
  1. Case used to protect the cello and bow (or multiple bows) when travelling and for safe storage. They are often made of carbon fibre, fibre-glass, and less commonly wood.
  2. Rosin, made from conifer resin, is applied to the bow hairs to increase the effectiveness of the friction, grip or bite, and allow proper sound production. Rosin may have additives to modify the friction such as beeswax, gold, silver or tin.
  3. Endpin stops or straps keep the cello from sliding if the end pin does not have a rubber piece on the end (used on wood floors). Many Cellists often use a square or rectangle of carpet that can be secured under the front two legs of the chair as an endpin stop. This is however less likely to be seen in a professional arena and more used in rehearsal or in private.
  4. Wolf tone eliminators are sometimes placed on cello strings between the tailpiece and the bridge to eliminate acoustic anomalies known as wolf tones or "wolfs".
  5. Mute used to change the sound of the cello by reducing overtones. Practice mutes (made of metal) significantly reduce the instrument's volume (they are also referred to as "hotel mutes"). The most common mute is a rubber disc with two holes to fit the two middle strings. It sits just after the bridge and has a flap that can be placed over the top of the bridge to mute the vibrations travelling down it to the sound post inside the cello. These are especially used due to their simplicity and can be taken off or put on very quickly because they can be stored on the strings past the bridge.
  6. Metronomes provide a steady tempo by sounding out a certain number of beats per minute. They are adjustable to fit the tempo of the piece. Many models can also produce a tuning pitch of A4 (440 Hz), among others. These can, of course, be used for all instruments.
  7. Humidifier used to control and stabilize the humidity around and inside the cello and are popular with travelling cellists. Often, these are placed inside the cello itself or inside the case. Some players will not use humidifiers inside their cellos because they have the potential to drip, which may cause damage to the cello.
  8. Tuner sometimes used to tune the instrument. A tuner indicates if a played note is sharp or flat. People with perfect pitch do not have to use tuners.

 

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