BY KOUSHIK SAHA
DECEMBER 16, 2014
The cello is an exceptionally remarkable and charming instrument. It possesses a long history, as do its players and composers. The cello is a crucial component of orchestras, string ensembles, and various other performing groups, while still maintaining its position as a powerful solo instrument (Stowell, 1999). Its grand, majestic, commanding tones make the cello one of the most elegant instruments to play and perform, and thus it continues to hold a position as one of the world’s most admired instruments (Figure 1). The goal of this paper is to present a systematic review of the history of cello. First came Andrea Amati of Italy, in the early 16th century, who was the inventor of the cello(Hillard, 2002). Then the cello’s evolution over the cen-turies is discussed and its elevation to its current status in modern society. Famous cellists include Franciscello(1691-1739), who was the first known cellist to use thumb
Position, an “invaluable contribution to the technique of cello playing;” Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805), who was the only exceptional cellist who was also an outstanding composer; (Prieto, 2006) and the contemporary cellist Yo-Yo Ma, whose talent and performances have drawn unprecedented attention to the cello, while enriching music in various ways and dazzling cultures throughout the world with the beauty of music (“Yo-Yo Ma—Cellist,”2008). Finally, interviews with a number of professional cellists are also conducted and detailed in the paper.1
The modern cello, which is pictured at the left, below, also called the violoncello, is a bass musical instrument of the violin group, with four strings, pitched C–G–D–A upward from two octaves below middle C. Its playing range is depicted by the following notation:
During the 17th and 18th centuries the cello replaced the bass viola da gamba as a solo instrument. Also at this time, the combination of cello and harpsichord replaced the basso continuo, the keyboard instrument which usually was given the role of an accompanying instrument because the combination of cello and harpsichord filled out the harmonic texture of a musical group in a more satisfying manner. Gradually, Haydn, Mozart, and later composers gave increased prominence to the cello in instrumental ensembles and parts for the cello became standard.2
The cello is a versatile instrument that fits nicely and naturally into many different kinds of music. Notable works for the instrument include Bach's six suites for unaccompanied cello, Beethoven's five sonatas for cello and piano, the concertos of Dvořák and Milhaud, the sonatas of Kodály and Debussy, and the breathtaking Bachianas Brasileiras of Villa-Lobos, written for eight cellos and soprano voice.3
The classic cello is typically made from wood, although other materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum may be used. A traditional cello has a spruce top, with maple for the back, sides, and neck. Other woods, such as poplar willow, are sometimes used for the back and sides. Less expensive cellos frequently have tops and backs made of laminated wood.
A traditional cello has a spruce top, with maple for the back, sides, and neck. Other woods, such as poplar or willow, are sometimes used for the back and sides. Less expensive cellos frequently have tops and backs made of laminated wood.
Carbon fiber instruments are particularly suitable for outdoor playing because of the strength of the material and its resistance to humidity and temperature changes.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) as well as German luthier G.A. Pfretzschner produced cellos made from aluminum. It was claimed that aluminum cellos offer advantages over the wood basses and violoncellos, since they cannot crack, split or warp and are made to last forever. Further, it was claimed that they had a