The Cello is a beautiful instrument belonging to the string family of the orchestra. Other instruments in this family include the double bass, the viola, and the violin. The cello is the mid-sized instrument. It is played with a bow, but it can also be plucked for a different sound. The cello has only four strings, which are tuned in perfect fifths (C2, G2, D3 and A3), two octaves below middle C, and produces a haunting sound, an octave lower than the viola. It is quite a popular instrument among musicians, but some people might be put off learning how to play the cello due to its size. But the cello has a lot of potential. It can be played as a solo instrument, as part of a string quartet or string orchestra, has a role in chamber music, or in a full orchestra.
History of the Cello
Cellos developed from other large bowed instruments that were around in the sixteenth century. Two centuries later, the cello had replaced most of these older models. At first, the instrument was known as the violoncello, but by the twentieth century, it was custom to abbreviate the word to simply cello. At first, an apostrophe was required to show the missing letters at the beginning of the word (‘cello), but it is now common to leave out the apostrophe.
The Cello in Music
The cello is famed in music from the Baroque period. It also grew very popular with composers such as Benjamin Britten, Sergei Prokofiev, and György Ligeti in the late twentieth century. These days, the cello doesn’t appear as frequently in popular music as it once did, although it was used (or at least sampled) in a great many disco songs from the 1970s. But it is still used in classical concerts. These days, there are a variety of cello manufacturers. But all cellos usually have the same characteristics if they are of good quality. The sides and back of the cello are usually made out of maple, whereas the top is made from spruce. The tailpiece can be plastic, but more expensive and well-known brands are often made from ebony or rosewood. Ebony is also used for the tuning pegs. All cellos should also have an adjustable endpin, but you may need to buy this separately.
Buying a Cello
If you are interested in learning how to play the cello, do your research and make sure you budget for everything. Most new cellos are sold with a case and bow included in the price, but it’s wise to double check beforehand. There is also the matter of a stand for your cello (rather than leaning it against a wall), sheet music, an endpin, and extra strings. You might be able to buy a cheap cello second hand. However, it might not be in the best condition, so if you do this, take and expert with you. For a new cello, prices start from as little as a few hundred pounds for a simple model and go up to thousands for a top-of-the-range make.