Hot answers tagged

28

As a bowmaker, I would like to temper these answers a bit. Yes, if you leave a bow under tension too long, it will lose its camber (bend) faster. So that's true: one should get in the habit of loosening the bow. But- one, all bows lose camber eventually, even if they are loosened religiously, unless they meet some other untimely end beforehand, because ...


26

I'm going to suggest an alternative route. Get him an electric cello. The weak point in cheap instruments is the acoustics, and to meet the price point they have to be constructed in a more rough-and-ready manner. As soon as you go electric, you don't need those acoustics. Production is much more straightforward, and there are simply fewer variables with ...


24

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 ...


21

I'd add to Dr. Mayhem's list: You never know when something will interrupt your plans. You might be 20 mins into a planned 1-hour break, and then the doorbell rings, you welcome a friend, ... next thing you know you're going out for lunch and completely forgetting the tensioned bow. By making a habit of loosening the bow every time you get up, you'll ...


19

I assume it's french "si l'on veut" - "at one's pleasure" - "ad libitum". It means that the performer may decide freely playing the triples as written or to octavate them (as IMHO it isn't a slur but a 8va bracket).


16

There may be a small amount of "performance practice fad" about that, but for the most part it does serve a purpose. Breath is used in many styles of music as a cue. If you think about wind instrument players, for example, every phrase is preceded by a breath, and experienced players will take that breath in rhythm. As a rhythmic gesture, it can be used to ...


14

I would always loosen it off for that one hour break, for two reasons: Over time, tension will eventually damage the bow. Keeping tension on when you don't need to will just shorten the lifespan of the bow. Maybe not by much, but: It is so easy to slacken and then re-tension the bow, that you might as well just get used to doing it.


14

IANAMPT (music physical therapist), so take this as encouragement rather than direction. I would not let any physical disability short of losing your arm :-) stop you from trying to learn the cello. Find a decent teacher who can either work with you directly or refer you to a music-oriented physiotherapist to figure out a functional bow grip position ...


12

As a music instructor, I always advise against a person purchasing their first instrument. It's impossible to know for sure how well you will enjoy playing that specific instrument, whether the time investment of practice fits into your life, etc. So my advice is, if you like the cello, find a local music shop to rent one from. A monthly rental fee should ...


12

Yes, holes need to be added for the strings. Pegs for violin family instruments are usually sold as "blanks" that are ready for shaping and setting. Because of the wear and use of the pegs, the peg hole sizes in the peg box will vary, requiring each peg to be individually shaped to correctly fit the hole. This is usually done by a trained professional using ...


11

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.


11

Your mixed feelings about cheap instruments are correct. For electronic instruments such as keyboards, cheap ones are somewhat acceptable, because they are mass-produced from stable materials and structures, and most importantly, they work because their software works. Once they are correctly designed, they can be correctly made, and they will be playable - ...


11

They are absolutely acceptable. I recommend you look around on forums and generally on the internet to hear what real people are saying about the cello you're thinking about. I'm an adult beginner and I bought a cecilio CCO-500. It doesn't sound or look amazing, but it is serviceable. I spent money on Helicore strings and a new bow and it really gets the ...


11

The piano might not even be playing. If it is, it is indeed probably the best reference. However in other circumstances it is possible that you would play a slightly different pitch for (example) an E natural as the major third on a C chord, compared to the fifth on an A chord. To understand why this is, you need to understand how intervals (like major ...


9

It is actually misleading to think about this music in terms of chords as we know them, as the system we use to identify and speak about vertical harmonies was still under development during Bach's time. Bach had no concept of a "suspended chord" for instance. Bach did not think of chords the way a guitarist does (moveable stacks of exact intervals, with ...


9

There are multiple possible ways how this passage (Jupiter, bars 170-190 that would be, I presume) could be played. I'll discuss three of them: Two-hands, single-finger, single-string Here's a rendition of the passage where you can clearly see them alternating with both hands, each using just a single finger. So that would perhaps be the “correct answer”. ...


8

The answer to the main question in the title is : NO, be firm but as light as possible in your grip ! But it may take time to be achieved, and it does not always come naturally. Now to the details and the very good points you mention the bumping cello A cello is quite heavy, and is usually putting most of its weight on the pique and the upper part of ...


8

It is certainly acceptable to play notes in various ways - whether or not the conductor wants you to do that is up to him, but you should certainly be able to get higher volume by using two strings. Not sure what you mean by 'sacrifice assurance' - if you are worried about your position, you should just look at where you are moving to after this not. If it ...


8

Hmmm, no I don't think I've noticed a particular break-in period myself, but maybe I just haven't noticed. If you've changed brands or makes at all, you might just have to get used to a new feel. I have however, had days when it's very hard to shift smoothly, often due to weather. One thing that has helped a great deal is to take an almond and break it in ...


8

The safest place to put your cello is back in its case. It really doesn't matter how you put a cello down on the floor or on a chair: there's still a reasonably good (bad) chance that someone will trip over it, or tip a stand over onto it, etc. Yeah, I'm paranoid, but that's what happens when you realize your instrument is worth as much as a small car :-) .


8

Cheap instruments are almost always going to be a pain to play and upkeep, but you are right in that some are more playable than others. Cheap woodwinds and brass are especially bad in that the cheap, weaker metal that's used to make them along with awful designs make it really easy to damage them beyond repair. Luckily cheaps strings aren't nearly as bad in ...


7

The opening of the Sarabande, Bach Cello Suite No.2 has a D written to be played on both the D and the G string simultaneously, so Bach seems to have thought it was OK - this is not for volume but colour. Some editions call for the D to be played using 1st finger, others 2nd finger, but it doesn't seem to diminish the quality of the open D string. It is ...


7

I agree with Michael's answer. But there is another point of view : If you are considering composing a piece with this chord, especially if it is to be played with the bow, I would advise you to consider having two cellos or two different string players forming it (for instance if it is with a sufficiently high E or F# to be played by a viola or a violin). ...


7

It is common to play double-stops, certainly in solo pieces; and indeed also quite common to play 3- or 4-voice chords (these need to be "broken", i.e. you quickly excite the low strings and let them ring, then pull the bow up and sustain the high strings). Indeed the multi-stringedness might have something to do with what you call "synthetic" sound you're ...


7

Yes it is quite common. The technical term for this is double stop. Note, that independent of form of the bow the hairs are just fixed at the tip and the frog. So the hairs have really no choice but to form a straight line (but are deformed by contact with the strings). Even since the string arrangement is curved, it is easy to find an angle, where the bow ...


7

There are some things that will make you lose less: a big revelation for me was when I realized I was using way more bow and force than necessary. A combination of weight (literal weight, let gravity do more of the work than muscle) and a slow stroke using minimal bow length helped a lot. Also, the examples here are amplified; if possible, practice the ...


7

There might be a second question here, which regards the internal tuning of the cello strings, relative to itself. Cellos are typically tuned in fifths (C-G-D-A) of course, but there are pieces that require a different tuning (a technique called scordatura). In this case, wikipedia mentions that Bach's 5th Cello Suite was written for a scordatura in which ...


7

It's an Asus4 chord, which is a suspended chord where the third (C#) is replaced by the fourth (D). The fourth is carried over from the previous chord (D minor), and - as you've suggested - resolves to the third (C#) of the next chord (A major).


6

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 ...


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