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3 Interesting Facts About the Cello That You Probably Don’t Know

The cello is considered to be one of the most beautiful sounding instruments with its warm, living tones and rich sounds. Although the cello is primarily associated with orchestral and chamber music, over the years it’s made the transition to more modern musical genres, including jazz, rock, and pop.

Like its cousin, the violin, the history of the cello dates back to the mid-1500’s and evolved from the earlier viola da braccio and the viola da gamba in the workshops of such famous instrument makers as Andrea Amati, Gasparo da Sala, and Paolo Maggini. Nicknamed the “violone”, the first bass violin designs with lower pitches were much larger than today’s instruments. But, in 1710, Antonio Stradivari began to develop what was to become the modern-day cello.

Nine cellos laying in a grassy field

Over time, changes were made to Stradivari’s design to improve the volume, clarity and responsiveness of the cello, resulting in a shift from a delicate timbre with extraordinary overtones to a greater fullness and luster. The first major work for the cello was Bach’s Six Suites, paving the way for such beautiful works as Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor and Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor.

Throughout the history of the cello, there have been many famous performers, starting with Luigi Boccherini in the mid-1700’s to Pablo Casals, Jacqueline du Pré, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Yo-Yo Ma.

Whether you’re just starting to take cello lessons or are a seasoned player, there are some very interesting facts about the cello that make its development a very interesting story.

3 Interesting Cello Facts

  1. The word “cello” comes from the Italian word violoncello which literally means “little large viola”. One of the oldest known cellos was crafted by Andrea Amati between 1538 and 1560 and can be found in the National Music Museum located in South Dakota.
  2. Cello strings were originally made with sheep or goat gut, but today’s strings are made from aluminum, titanium, and chromium. One of the most recent design changes to the cello was the addition of the endpin toward the end of the 19th century. Previous to this, cellists had to support the instrument with their legs.
  3. The cello’s range is deeply layered and very rich and, with its range and timbre, has long been thought to produce a sound which is very similar to the human voice.

Everything Else You Need to Know About the Cello

At Johnson String Instrument, we carry an extensive selection of outstanding antique, modern, and student cellos as well as bows, strings, cases, and other accessories. All of our products can be purchased through our online store.

From cello outfits for students as well as advanced players to electric cellos, Johnson Strings has been selling cellos for more than 40 years and developed a reputation for providing excellent customer care and up-to-date knowledge of the cello industry.

Shop cellos online from the Johnson String Instrument online catalog.

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