I attended a concert once where a trombone soloist played his instrument pointing towards the strings of a grand piano (lid propped fully open, pianist depressing the pedal). The effect was amazing; the trombone made not only its fundamental frequency ring but also many overtones. The result was a powerful "echo" effect, shimmering and brilliant.

I'm wondering if anyone has tried a similar setup with cello. Would a cello solo playing a loud melody on its A string be a strong enough sound to cause a grand piano (lid open, sustain pedal depressed) to ring sympathetically? Does anyone know of a piece in the literature that does this?

  • 5
    Yes, it will work. Sympathetic vibration produced by a grand with open lid, sustain pedal held down, will happen from any source loud enough.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 13:06
  • Incidentally, if you want this effect and don't have access to a grand piano, there are effects plugins for digital recording use that emulate it. Some use modeling, and some use a convolution reverb based on the impulse response of a real piano.
    – Theodore
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 15:46
  • A fun experience but I doubt it's significant enough for a recital or concert. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 18:46
  • @Theodore there's a stomp-box for nearly any effect under the sun :-) . Hard to find a trombone with a built-in transceiver tho' Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


Generally yes. But you need to keep in mind that brass instruments tend to have quite some dynamic range. While it is possible to play the cello quite strongly you cannot get the same amount of loudness from it. Also it is quite easy to direct the sound of a brass instrument into the piano (well, not with all of them. Tuba for example does not lend itself to that very well). With a cello this is much harder.

So most likely if you were to do this you would get a much less audible effect.

Out of curiosity: Why was the trombone soloist playing a horn?

Edit: But it would be very well possible to install a little piezo pickup on the cello and install some small speakes inside the piano that transfer the sound of the cello to the piano.

  • to be clear, he was playing a trombone
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:45
  • So, yes, it will "work," but without being as directional as a brass instrument and without its dynamic range, probably not loud enough to be significant in performance. Is that the gist of it?
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 15:20
  • 3
    Yes, I used the word "horn" as slang for "brass instrument -
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 15:50
  • 3
    (Now I'm picturing Tower of Power's legendary "horn section" as composed entirely of French Horns...) Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 16:08
  • 2
    @DarrelHoffman Not exactly. Of course, if your instrument is too high you will only get high resonance. But what’s more important is having a strong harmonic spectrum, to stimulate as many strings as possible. But else you can do this in a large range of pitch. You can try this by singing into the piano.
    – Lazy
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 21:08

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