I am working on a composition of mine. When I transposed an already high section on the Cello to a different key it ended up having an A5 in it.

Is this possible to play for a good Cello player?


It is easy to play A5 (or, indeed, even A6) on cello as a natural flageolett. However (even if the airy sound of a flageolett is ok for your application), it won't help with any tones merely close to A5. So if that's just the very tip of a melodic line, you'll need to think of a position where also the other notes are feasible as non-flageoletts. The 11th position might be suitable, it has the thumb resting nicely on the third harmonic (A4 on the D string) and the A5 sitting quite reachable for the 3rd finger. This position works well for the keys of G to A; for ♭-keys it's not so nice (for instance the F5 lies uncomfortably close to the thumb).

So – it is certainly possible, though how well it can work out depends on the exact context. In general, please try to think about how passages can be played, not just if it's possible.


Yes. It is on the very top of the cello's range but it's possible. I would not write a lot that high in their range and if possible I would transpose that part down slightly.

The picture bellow shows you the typical range of the cello:

enter image description here

  • 2
    @NicolasAntor I agree with Dom that this is starting to be at the highest I would ever regularly write for cello. Actually, I start getting nervous, as a player, when it gets to C5 or D5. However, I've played pieces that even go as high as A6, the context matters a huge amount. If the line is mostly stepwise and takes its time approaching A5, or, alternatively, if I can go straight from A4 to A5 (and thus hear the octave leap as a glide up), then it isn't a particularly big deal at all. If I'm consistently in that range, but jumping all over the place it's extremely difficult. Jun 14 '15 at 2:07
  • Also, as @leftaroundabout points out, it's quite easy as a natural harmonic (normally produced by lightly touching the string at the position of D4 on the A-string). Jun 14 '15 at 2:08
  • Thanks guys for your quick answers. Acctually I wrote the composition for a team which has a pretty skilled Cello Player. I really just wasn't sure if it is physically possible to do so, because Sibelius marked the Note as red ;) Jun 14 '15 at 8:39
  • @NicolasAntor: Sibelius is apparently not to be trusted with deciding what's playable and what's not! Really, the absolute pitch of a single note is almost completely irrelevant to this. Jun 14 '15 at 15:28

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