Search This Blog

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Boost Your Sound Projection in 3 Easy Steps

From an Article in Strings Magazine:

By Judith Glyde

Projecting your sound is not simply a matter of playing louder; it’s often a question of improving your articulation. Both the left hand and right hand must do their parts in this quest for greater sound projection. The steps below will help you be heard on a passage that must project, either in chamber music (especially difficult for the cello or the inner parts in a chamber ensemble) or in solo repertoire with piano. These techniques should be used for fast as well as slow passages.

1. The left hand must always be articulate. In upward passages, tap the finger down. The motion should come from the knuckle joint—be fast and strong (like a piano hammer striking the piano string). The two photos illustrate the “before and after” of the motion—the complete action of the finger “striking” the fingerboard.

2. “Click” the finger off in downward passages. Make sure, when clicking off, that the lower finger is down before the action takes place. The two photos show the clicking off motion. Keep in mind that the hand must not move, just the finger itself.
3. The bow should be placed close to the bridge, weight should be added from the back and the arm, and the bow pulled slowly. It also helps, when playing close to bridge, to add vibrato.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Got to hear yourself

If you need to know how you are sounding with your intonation, rhythm and feel, best way to go about it is to get a Zoom H2 Pro Flash recorder. You cannot go wrong with this device it sure packs a lot of features to improve on your repertoires! It has a couple of mic patterns and recording modes to choose from. You can record stereo or surround and whatever needs you have to pick up recording on just your instrument or with others you are playing with. Then it can download recorded files via the USB to computer! It even has tuner and metronome to boot!

Friday, September 18, 2009

From my luthier's blog

Yes, we rent and sell Chinese violins. We’re not crazy about the idea, as I still feel that European instruments provide the best value long term in an instrument. That’s why in full size instruments we try to represent older European instruments whenever possible.
Things are changing however. The traditional violin making centers of Europe can no longer compete with the Chinese on price, and the quality of the Chinese instruments has continued to improve. Five years ago I’d have never dreamed of renting a Chinese instrument because of both poor quality and the fear that the instruments would self destruct within just a few years… after all, a few years ago they did exactly that. Now, especially in the smaller sizes, they have the best sound, and with instruments now being made to our specifications and dimensions, they now hold up well over time and clearly provide the best instrument for kids to learn on.
But what of the German instruments? Sadly, it appears many are no longer German themselves. Paul Prier is a European trained bow maker and is one of the owners of JonPaul Bows in Salt Lake City. His father, Peter Paul Prier, is a Mittenwald graduate and founder of the American School of Violin Making in Salt Lake City. Allen Gatchell is a graduate of Mittenwald and the owner of Gatchell Violins, a wholesale supplier to the trade. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen both of them and it’s led to interesting conversations about German law and how Asian instruments are now being sold as German.
Evidently for an instrument to be called German, it must be made in Germany “40% by value”. Instruments are being imported from Asia in a basic state, with pegs, fingerboard, bridges and other finishing touches being provided in Germany. Comparing German and Chinese labor rates means that it takes very little finishing for the instrument to exceed that 40% threshhold and miraculously become German.
According to Gatchell, virtually nothing in the lower price range in the way of German instruments are still made start to finish in Germany. Yet many shops still represent them as such.
The question is, do the shops selling what they advertise as inexpensive German instruments even know the truth? Probably not. They’ve been duped as much as they’re duping their own customers.

You can check out his blog at:

Just begun to take lessons on Bass

In the beginning of this year I had taken up the acoustic bass. Only to find out it would take me more time (life is so short!) to get used to the physical challenges in handling this 1/2 sized beast of an instrument than I care to invest in. So to me my perfect solution is the one I have found in the NS Design cello bass!
The video demo on this instrument is the perfect example of where I am at. I am just not as good as the guy though!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Much excitement in the string world

Check out Brittan's got Talent on youtube. There is the eScala girls and the Bond girls! With Stringfever being around no longer cloistery classic, chambery, folksy music! Oh no it's all hanging out there! I have another set of video bar at the bottom of this blog.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Violectra Instruments

Are another breed of instruments that I have a maybe in the future! A number of well known musicians own them. Check out their website!

Can you play a fiddle like a cello?

Of course you can! This is a very exciting subject for me because that is one of my dreams is to be able to play this very moving etheral instrument from the Gates of Istanbul! The door that peers to western nations. Here are a few things about the Kemenche or Gadulka!
The kemençe of Turkish classical music (Armudî kemençe) is a small instrument closely related to the Byzantine lyra, 40-41 cm in length and 14-15 cm wide. Its pear-shaped body, elliptical pegbox and neck are fashioned from a single piece of wood. Its sound-board has two D-shaped soundholes of some 4x3 cm, approximately 25 mm apart, the rounded side facing outwards. The bridge is placed between, one side resting on the face of the instrument and the other on the sound post. A small hole 3-4 mm in diameter is bored in the back, directly below the bridge, and a ‘back channel’ (‘sırt oluğu’) begins from a triangular raised area (‘mihrap’) which is an extension of the neck, widens in the middle, and ends in a point near the tailpiece (“kuyruk takozu”) to which the gut or metal strings are attached. There is no nut to equalize the vibrating lengths of the strings.

Kemenche in production
The pegs, which are 14-15 cm long, form a triangle on the head, the middle string being 37-40 mm longer than the strings to either side of it. The vibrating lengths of the short strings are 25.5-26 cm. All the strings are of gut but the yegâh string is silver-wound. Today players may use synthetic racquet strings, aluminium-wound gut, synthetic silk or chromed steel violin strings.
Formerly the head, neck and back channel might be inlaid with ivory, mother-of-pearl or tortoise shell. Some kemençes made for the palace or mansions by great makers such as Büyük İzmitli or Baron had their backs and even the edges of the sound holes completely covered with such inlays with engraved and inlaid motifs. (wikipedia Encyclopedia)

Of course this is very similar to the Gadulka and here are the facts:The Gadulka (Bulgarian: Гъдулка) is a traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument. Alternate spellings are "gudulka" and "g'dulka". It is a descendant of the Hudok or Gudok. Its name comes from a root meaning "to make noise, hum or buzz". The gadulka is an integral part of Bulgarian traditional instrumental ensembles, commonly played in the context of dance music. The Russian gudok, meanwhile, ceased to exist as a folk instrument for several centuries. All present instruments are replicas, based on several parts of gudoks found in the Novgorod excavations. There have been several attempts to revive the gudok in music. Borodin's opera Prince Igor contains a "Gudok Player's Song", which is an artistic reconstruction of how the gudok may have sounded.
The gadulka commonly has three (occasionally four) main strings with up to ten sympathetic resonating strings underneath, although there is a smaller variant of the instrument in the Dobrudja region with no sympathetic strings at all. Only the main melodic strings are touched by the player's fingers and the strings are never pressed all the way down to touch the neck. The gadulka is held vertically, with the bow held perpendicular in an under-hand hold.
One possible origin of the Gadulka is the lira, the bowed Byzantine instrument of the of the 9th century AD and ancestor of most European bowed instruments.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cello care

Your cello is a delicate instrument so be mindful of it for cleaning, storing, maintaning, repairing and transporting it.
♥ CLEANING Your cello should be dusted off once a week, or just before a performance. Use a slightly damp (with water) cotton cloth. If you have rosin build up that won't come off with a damp cloth, use a very small amount of commercial violin polish. Do not spray your cello with silicone or wax. "Less is more."
♥ STORING You should keep your cello in a place where it will be away from children, and not likely to be knocked in the normal round of household living. It is not necessary to put your cello in its case, unless you will be traveling with it. In fact, putting the cello in and out of its case more often than necessary will lead to unwanted scratches. On the other hand, if the place where you keep your cello is full of unruly children or pets, you may want to keep your cello in a hard case whenever it is not in use. If you will be away from your cello for several weeks or months, it may be wise to loosen the strings a little bit, but not all the way, lest the bridge fall off.
♥ THE BRIDGE You should examine the bridge once a week to make sure that it is nearly perpendicular to the belly of the cello. If it slants too much it could snap in half, or be pulled over by the tension of the strings. You may adjust the bridge by loosening the strings slightly and grasping the bridge firmly with both hands, moving it into correct position. The feet of the bridge should fit flush on the belly of the cello, centered between the f holes, and approximately in line with the notches in the f holes.
♥ THE ENDPIN When you set your cello down, make sure the endpin is not sticking out where some careless person may kick it accidentally and send your cello flying. Some cellists sharpen the endpin to a fine point and stick it in the wood floor or carpet when they perform. This may be dangerous, and is bad for the floor. Instead I recommend an endpin holder with an adjustable strap, such as the Xeros Anchor, which may be purchased from many shops for about $10 US.
♥ STRINGS People who clean their strings more than once a week are much too picky. Clean the rosin off your strings about once a month with a cloth with a little alcohol on it. If you miss a month it's no big deal. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO GET ANY ALCOHOL ON YOUR CELLO!! It will eat the varnish. If you rarely play in public, you don't need to change a string unless it appears to be starting to break. If you perform more often, you should replace all your strings once a year in order to prevent a string breaking unexpectedly in a performance. Change strings one at a time, without loosening the other three. Don't put a gut or nylon string (even if it wound with metal) in a fine tuner, it will break the string. Always keep an extra set of strings on hand, just in case. Don't play with your strings too high or low from the fingerboard. Too high and you will have to use too much strength to press down the strings. Too low and the strings will buzz on the fingerboard. At the end of the fingerboard, near the bridge, the strings should be about 3/8 of an inch above the fingerboard.
♥ PEGS There is no substitute for pegs that fit well. If they don't fit well, your pegs will either slip or stick. It doesn't help much to use chalk or peg slipping compound. Find a luthier to ream out the holes for your pegs, and make them work right. Gut or nylon strings may be fine tuned with the pegs alone, but steel strings require fine-tuners on the tail piece.
=SCRATCHES Over the years some scratching is inevitable, so don't get too upset over a small scratch! Small scratches should just be left alone. If you have a very large nasty looking scratch, take your cello to a good luthier to be touched up. If your cello is a cheap student instrument, it doesn't really matter too much what you do to it. If it is an expensive antique, leave it for experts.
=CRACKS It is not possible for the average cellist to fix a crack. Your cello may crack in the seams, or anywhere. Take it to a good luthier to be repaired.
♥ CLIMATE Weather, temperature and level of humidity affect every cello. Cracks may develop from either high or low humidity. A good expensive cello should not be used outdoors. Keep your cello at home in a room with a level temperature and humidity, if possible. Some cellist place humidifiers inside their cellos, through the f holes, but these are not really necessary or very effective. Get your cello a thick padded case that will help moderate temperature changes when you travel with it.
♥ TRANSPORTATION If you travel by yourself, you may get by with a soft case. Get one with lots of thick padding to moderate temperature changes. But if you go on tours with your orchestra, and your cello is stashed away somewhere with other instruments, they will move around, and your cello may be damaged unless it is in a hard case. Hard cases are heavier than bags, so get one with wheels. It doesn't matter if it costs $200 or $2000, as long as it is hard on the outside, and grips your cello firmly on the inside. It should also have a place where you can carry a large music folder.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spanish version of allthingscello

Since I am a Latina and go to Colombia, S. America just about every two years I thought I might want to add on a latina version of the blog. It may not be the same as this one but neverthless my goal here is to invite dialogue and information sharing about all things cello as well as other ones in the violin family! Especially seeing the need of this after my first cello play in Colombia. Before I left for Colombia last time I went, I needed a cello to practice since I was staying a whole month. I had already been playing for almost 2 years and was taking on this pretty seriously and It would have been a real bummer not to be able have one to practice on. Little did I know the surprises I was going to have when I started searching for someone with one in the city of my destination which is Barranquilla. First of all that there were only 3 cellists in the whole town! Second of all that the dear young lady that I found who leased me one had an interesting story of her cello training. She reluctantly as a young school girl took on cello preferring violin! So she dutifully studied and practiced her instrument until she was able to get trained on the violin. So now she is both cellist and violinist. Not only did I have a cello but was able continue lessons from her! We put together 3 pieces and had my first recital with her.
I was sooo nervous! But it went ok. My audience were just my friends and relatives and those who were honest with me told me that I sounded better the more I played. (I had to gulp down some wine to calm my nerves!) Hopefully with the blogs I may stir some to take up cello in those cities that have little exposure to cello. Barranquilla, Colombia is not the only metro city that has only a few in a latin country there are many others.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tradional vs. Innovative

When the compact Disc came out there were a lot of skeptics that said that the sound was too edgy-to this day I sure don't know what they mean by that. Some of them has gone as far as owning tube-driven amplifiers and claim that the sound is warmer. (talk about taking two steps back in time). Back in the 80's when I bought my first CD player I also bought a cheap cd with easy listening classical music. Nice to hear music like that with no hisses or scratches!
There is this cello I am saving up to own. The instrument looks space age but the sound from this thing is loud and even and a lot of well known cellists including Yo-Yo Ma owns one. The article on the latest String issue downplayed the ability of the material -carbon fibre to resonate a good cello sound. Even one of my favorite artists (besides Yo Yo Ma) owns one. Another great aspect of this particular cello is the shape. This one does not have those C bout cornices to dig into my thighs! And say goodbye to right shoulder soreness from playing the A string. It was invented by a cellist from the Boston Symphony Orchestra Luis Leguia-a great guy. Check out his website! (link on the side of this post)

Jumping into cello music world

I had just joined a cello group called The Atlanta Cello project. What a day that was. I drove quite a ways from my part of town towards north Atlanta to have my bass and cello lessons. Then load up my gear and go to a thru way (I have never been through before) and find my way to this meeting. After setting up chairs and stands and warming some, we got to play together a simple piece.
That was nice. I am only beginner-intermediate player and all of a sudden our group coordinator picks this piece that has alto clefs in it and all of sudden I felt like kinderdener in the 5th grade! I tried my best to play but peetered out and felt like crawling away(I had already begun to push in my endpin). She then places me with some that were in another group playing the bass part. I felt so comfortable playing that I didn't want to get out of that one. Then we broke up into group of different levels and I learned a lot from that. If you are a student cellist, look for a group that meets and plays together. The challenges you face with that will be of great help! Happy celling!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cello music

The violin string family a lot of times has been thought of as just an instrument that is dedicated to classical music. When I first started playing cello, I was frustrated to only find performers that dedicated their skills to just that. I am happy to say that no longer is the case. Yo yo ma has widen his repetoir to nearly all kinds of music. I am awed by Joraine the canadian pop singer who uses her cello in her talents. I got really turned on to the cello after Listening Loreena Mckennitt's cellist Caroline Lavelle who is has her own brand of music. Apocalptica brothers act like they got tired of classical and play metal music with it though I prefer their tamer tunes.
Just like an electric guitar or the drums in popular band, cello rocks! This blog is dedicated to sharing all thing cello. Every kind of info and every aspect of it as well as every cool thing!