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Klengel Technical Cello Studies Vol. 1, Triads through three octaves.

I'm referring to two separate symbols. I looked here but nothing really matches.

First is the 0 with the dash beneath it. At first I thought open with harmonic but that doesn't seem right since I cannot find a convenient harmonic on the A string.

Second is the roman numerals. On violins those would represent string so I suspect it does here as well. It seems to be correlated with the 0 symbol as well which strengthens the idea in my mind that it represents harmonics. I am however not sure. Also the little a adds to the confusion since I don't remember seeing that anywhere before except for figured bass or something.

What are the symbols called? Where can I find precise information on how to play then. I'll be seeing my teacher again in a few weeks however I don't want to wait that long before I can practice arpeggios.

3 Answers 3


The ϙ sign is just the “finger number” for the thumb – high notes on cello are played in thumb position and the ϙ indicates the C is played not with any of the normal four fingers but with the thumb, which here lies on the 6th position, i.e. as a barre across the C on the D-string (Ⅱ) and the G on the A-string (Ⅰ). The E between those two notes is played in the same position (for the fingers this is 7th position!) with the middle finger (2, as you'd also write for violin).

The passage could still be played without thumb position, but that would require at least one fast position change; putting that entire C-major arpeggio from C to C in one thumb position makes it much simpler to play.

FWIW, I would tend to enter thumb position even sooner there, but also back quickly into 4th position after the high C, like

X: 1
M: 9/8
K: Cmaj
L: 1/8
V:C name="Cello" clef=bass
(!0!C,,!3!E,,!0!G,, !4!C,!3!E,!1!G, !thumb!C!2!E!thumb!G) | (!3!c!4!G!1!E !2!C!4!G,!1!E, !4!C,!0!G,,!3!E,,) | !0!C,,6

Here, the thumb settles on the C while the G is played with the index on the G-string (which can nicely be cheated as a part-flageolett).

  • Thanks for your response. What does the 'a' along with the roman numeral mean? Also what does "part-flageolett" mean? I read a definition which says that flageolett is the french name for harmonic. Does part-flageolett mean something like artificial harmonic? Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 10:59
  • 4
    The 'a' is the Italian equivalent of 'st' 'nd' 'rd' in English. eg 'IIa' = '2nd'
    – fdomn-m
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 11:11
  • With “part-flageolett” I mean you in principle still play the note as an ordinary pressed-down tone, but you don't need to immediately nail the intonation, rather you just aim for the flageolett, start playing, press down, notice how the pitch changes and correct, retroactively pretending the deviation was just a vibrato swing. This trick shouldn't be needed for such a simple arpeggio, but it can be a live-saver for long-jump position changes. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 11:15
  • Isn't that rather a lot of shifts on the way up? You're shifting on E, again on G. Why not instead perhaps 0-3-0-1-4-1-Thumb... ? Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:36
  • @CarlWitthoft yeah, that's probably better, though using only the 1st and 4th positions (before going to thumb) has the advantage that you know exactly where you're coming from. When I was a beginner, even two notes in a position like extended-3rd would usually throw off my intonation quite a bit, which is perhaps something that should better be practiced seperately, lest it mess up the change to thumb position. Although then again, the flageolett G would probably seperate these concerns enough that it wouldn't matter. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:44

The o-like symbol refers to the thumb. You finger that note with your thumb of your left hand.

The roman numerals refer to the string you play on. I is the A string, II is the D string, III is the G string, and IV is the C string.

  • Thanks for you answer. I marked the other as correct because it has more detail but yours is good too. So concise. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:43

A complement on string designation such as Ia, IIa, ...

You will also find from time to time "sul A", "sul D", "sul G", "sul C" or simply "A" or "D", etc. under the staff, usually with dashed lines to suggest to use the corresponding string instead during a given passage.

In exercice and studies, it removes ambiguity from certain fingerings and not following them may make the study pointless.

In musical pieces, it may correspond to a specific effect wanted by the composer, and you often find part of the same passage on different strings at different places in the piece.

These notations may be followed by the expression "ad libitum" or "ad lib." meaning that the choice of the string is ultimately left to the interpret.

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