Internally, the cello has two important features: The bass bar, found under the bass foot of the bridge, serves to support the cello's top and distribute the vibrations from the strings to the body of the instrument. The sound post, found under the treble side of the bridge, connects the back and front of the cello. Like the bridge, the sound post is not glued, but is kept in place by the tensions of the bridge and strings. Together, the bass bar and sound post transfer the strings' vibrations to the top front of the instrument and to a lesser extent the back , acting as a diaphragm to produce the instrument's sound.
Cellos are constructed and repaired using hide glue , which is strong but reversible, allowing for disassembly when needed. Tops may be glued on with diluted glue, since some repairs call for the removal of the top. Theoretically, hide glue is weaker than the body's wood, so as the top or back shrinks side-to-side, the glue holding it lets go, so the plate does not crack.
Cellists repairing cracks in their cello do not use regular wood glue , because it cannot be steamed open when a repair has to be made by a luthier. Traditionally, bows are made from pernambuco or brazilwood. Both come from the same species of tree Caesalpinia echinata , but pernambuco, used for higher-quality bows, is the heartwood of the tree and is darker in color than brazilwood which is sometimes stained to compensate.
Pernambuco is a heavy, resinous wood with great elasticity, which makes it an ideal wood for instrument bows.
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Horsehair is stretched out between the two ends of the bow. The taut horsehair is drawn over the strings to produce the cello's characteristic tone. A small knob is twisted to increase or decrease the tension of the horsehair. The tension on the bow is released when the instrument is not being used. The amount of tension a cellist puts on the bow hair depends on the preferences of the player, the style of music being played, and for students, the preferences of their teacher. Bows are also made from other materials, such as carbon-fibre—stronger than wood—and fiberglass often used to make inexpensive, lower-quality student bows.
The frog of a cello bow typically has a rounded corner like that of a viola bow, but is wider. Bow hair is traditionally horsehair , though synthetic hair, in varying colors, is also used. Prior to playing, the musician tightens the bow by turning a screw to pull the frog the part of the bow under the hand back, and increase the tension of the hair.
Rosin is applied by the player to make the hairs sticky. Bows need to be re-haired periodically. Baroque style — cello bows were much thicker and were formed with a larger outward arch when compared to modern cello bows. The inward arch of a modern cello bow produces greater tension, which in turn gives off a louder sound.
The cello bow has also been used to play electric guitars. Jimmy Page pioneered its application on tracks such as " Dazed and Confused ". This curved bow BACH. Bow is a convex curved bow which, unlike the ordinary bow, renders possible polyphonic playing on the various strings of the instrument. The solo repertoire for violin and cello by J. Bow is particularly suited to it: When a string is bowed or plucked, it vibrates and moves the air around it, producing sound waves.
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Because the string is quite thin, not much air is moved by the string itself, and consequently if the string was not mounted on a hollow body, the sound would be weak. In acoustic stringed instruments such as the cello, this lack of volume is solved by mounting the vibrating string on a larger hollow wooden body.
The vibrations are transmitted to the larger body, which can move more air and produce a louder sound. Tightening a string stiffens it by increasing both the outward forces along its length and the net forces it experiences during a distortion. Shortening a string stiffens it by increasing its curvature during a distortion and subjecting it to larger net forces.
Shortening the string also reduces its mass, but does not alter the mass per unit length, and it is the latter ratio rather than the total mass which governs the frequency. Thus shortening a string increases the frequency, and thus the pitch. This is a prime reason why the different strings on all string instruments have different fundamental pitches, with the lightest strings having the highest pitches.
The wood resonance appears to be split into two frequencies by the driving force of the sounding string. These two periodic resonances beat with each other. This wolf tone must be eliminated or significantly reduced for the cello to play the nearby notes with a pleasant tone. This can be accomplished by modifying the cello front plate, attaching a wolf eliminator a metal cylinder or a rubber cylinder encased in metal , or moving the sound post.
When a string is bowed or plucked to produce a note, the fundamental note is accompanied by higher frequency overtones. Each sound has a particular recipe of frequencies that combine to make the total sound. Playing the cello is done while seated with the instrument supported on the floor by the endpin. The left hand fingertips stop the strings on the fingerboard, determining the pitch of the fingered note.
The right hand plucks or bows the strings to sound the notes. The left hand fingertips stop the strings along their length, determining the pitch of each fingered note. Stopping the string closer to the bridge results in higher-pitched sound, because the vibrating string length has been shortened.
In the neck positions which use just less than half of the fingerboard, nearest the top of the instrument , the thumb rests on the back of the neck; in thumb position a general name for notes on the remainder of the fingerboard the thumb usually rests alongside the fingers on the string and the side of the thumb is used to play notes. The fingers are normally held curved with each knuckle bent, with the fingertips in contact with the string. If a finger is required on two or more strings at once to play perfect fifths in double stops or chords it is used flat.
In slower, or more expressive playing, the contact point can move slightly away from the nail to the pad of the finger, allowing a fuller vibrato. Vibrato is a small oscillation in the pitch of a note, usually considered expressive. Harmonics played on the cello fall into two classes; natural and artificial. Natural harmonics are produced by lightly touching but not depressing the string with the finger at certain places, and then bowing or, rarely, plucking the string. For example, the halfway point of the string will produce a harmonic that is one octave above the unfingered open string.
Natural harmonics only produce notes that are part of the harmonic series on a particular string. Artificial harmonics also called false harmonics or stopped harmonics , in which the player depresses the string fully with one finger while touching the same string lightly with another finger, can produce any note above middle C. Glissando Italian for "sliding" is an effect played by sliding the finger up or down the fingerboard without releasing the string.
This causes the pitch to rise and fall smoothly, without separate, discernible steps. In cello playing, the bow is much like the breath of a wind instrument player.
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Arguably, it is the major determinant in the expressiveness of the playing. The right hand holds the bow and controls the duration and character of the notes. The bow is drawn across the strings roughly halfway between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge, in a direction perpendicular to the strings.
The bow is held with all five fingers of the right hand, the thumb opposite the fingers and closer to the cellist's body. Tone production and volume of sound depend on a combination of several factors. The three most important ones are: Double stops involve the playing of two notes at the same time. Two strings are fingered simultaneously, and the bow is drawn so as to sound them both at once.
In pizzicato playing, the string is plucked directly with the fingers or thumb. Pizzicato is often abbreviated as "Pizz. Position of the hand is slightly over the finger board and away from the bridge. A player using the col legno technique strikes or rubs the strings with the wood of the bow rather than the hair. In spiccato playing, the strings are not "drawn" by the bow hair but struck by it, while still retaining some horizontal motion, to generate a more percussive, crisp sound.
In staccato , the player moves the bow a small distance and stops it on the string, making a short sound, the rest of the written duration being taken up by silence. Legato is a technique where the notes are smoothly connected without accents or breaks.
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It is noted by a slur curved line above or below — depending on their position on the staff — the notes of the passage that is to be played legato. Sul ponticello "on the bridge" refers to bowing closer to the bridge, while sul tasto "on the fingerboard" calls for bowing nearer the end of the fingerboard. Sul tasto produces a more flute-like sound, with more emphasis on the fundamental frequency of the note, and softer overtones.
The smaller cellos are identical to standard cellos in construction, range, and usage, but are simply scaled-down for the benefit of children and shorter adults. Cellos made before approximately tended to be considerably larger than those made and commonly played today. Around , changes in string-making technology made it possible to play lower-pitched notes on shorter strings. The cellos of Stradivari , for example, can be clearly divided into two models: This later model is the design most commonly used by modern luthiers.
The new size offered fuller tonal projection and greater range of expression. The instrument in this form was able to contribute to more pieces musically and offered the possibility of greater physical dexterity for the player to develop technique. Cellos are made by luthiers , specialists in building and repairing stringed instruments, ranging from guitars to violins.
The following luthiers are notable for the cellos they have produced:. A person who plays the cello is called a cellist. For a list of notable cellists, see the list of cellists and Category: Careers in cello vary widely by genre and by region or country. Most cellists earn their living from a mixture of performance and teaching jobs. The first step to getting most performance jobs is by playing at an audition. In some styles of music, cellists may be asked to sight read printed music or perform standard repertoire with an ensemble.
In classical music, cellists audition for playing jobs in orchestras and for admission into university or Conservatory programs or degrees. At a classical cello audition, the performer typically plays a movement from a Bach suite or a movement from a concerto and a variety of excerpts from the orchestral literature. Orchestral auditions are typically held in front of a panel that includes the conductor , the Concertmaster , the Principal cellist and other principal players. The most promising candidates are invited to return for a second or third round of auditions, which allows the conductor and the panel to compare the best candidates.
Performers may be asked to sight read orchestral music. The final stage of the audition process in some orchestras is a test week , in which the performer plays with the orchestra for a week or two, which allows the conductor and principal players to see if the individual can function well in an actual performance setting. Performance jobs include playing as a freelancer in small groups, playing in a chamber music group, large ensembles, or performing solo music, either live onstage or as a session player for radio or TV broadcasts or for recordings; and working as the employee of an orchestra, big band, or recording studio.
Many cello players find extra work by substituting "subbing" for cellists who are double-booked or ill. It is hard for many cello players to be able to find full-time, full-year work at a single job. McNeely found his music embraced by white and Chicano teenagers at Los Angeles venues such as the El Monte Legion Stadium and Grand Olympic Auditorium — though the pandemonium created at the height of segregation did not go unnoticed.
It was very, very prejudiced.
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His father worked as a porter for a shipboard casino near Santa Monica. His mother, of American Indian heritage, made and sold Indian blankets. Both parents played piano. But after a cousin died, the family inherited an alto saxophone that he shared with his older brother, Robert. In later years, his brothers would join his band — Robert on baritone sax and Dillard on bass. While working in a tire factory, Mr. McNeely purchased a tenor saxophone and performed at night with future jazz luminaries alto saxophonist Sonny Criss and pianist Hampton Hawes.