Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Question-Why is the cello so difficult?


Jimbow
 Share

Recommended Posts

A talented lady cellist asked this question in another, unrelated discussion group. "Why is the cello so difficult?"

 

 

And then she answers: 

"Because bowing is more difficult than left-hand technique, and left-hand technique is damn near impossible, and you have to do both, and at the same time."

 

Some here might find this true or amusing (or both!)

 

(Sorry if this is an old joke.  As a non-player it was new to me.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 62
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I get a little bit peeved when I hear people talking about how 'difficult' stringed instruments are. For sure, it's easier to make a clear note on a flute, and anyone can hit a piano key the way Rubenstein did, just not as many in quite the same way ... but if you put a cello, or a violin in the hands of a child, it's not difficult. They are challenged by the progressive steps that they take to master the instrument and slowly get better, and yes, they will encounter difficult things on the way, even encounter their limits, and maybe it'll take a little longer for them to be tuneful. But I don't know a single person (good, decent or virtuosic) who plays a stringed instrument who ever thinks of it as difficult - even when composers found particularly challenging and purposefully difficult ways of stretching what it means to play the violin. People who believe that the violin is difficult, are those who have never learned. That's fine of its self, but when it prevents other people from learning something, because it's 'too difficult' it deprives them of an opportunity that an identical child might thrive in. It may be easier to thump humpty-dumpty out on a piano than a violin when you are five, but that doesn't make Rachmaninov easier to a pianist than Tchaikovsky to a violinist or Schostakovich to the cellist. That would be absurd. 

 

Anythign is difficult if you are intimidated by it. Every time I hear people say that stringed instruments are difficult, it is because they are intimidated by them and are passing their fears onto the next generation. That's sad. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 But I don't know a single person (good, decent or virtuosic) who plays a stringed instrument who ever thinks of it as difficult - even when composers found particularly challenging and purposefully difficult ways of stretching what it means to play the violin.

 

Anythign is difficult if you are intimidated by it.

If it's not difficult then what is it maestro Hebbert? :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A talented lady cellist asked this question in another, unrelated discussion group. "Why is the cello so difficult?"

 

 

And then she answers: 

"Because bowing is more difficult than left-hand technique, and left-hand technique is damn near impossible, and you have to do both, and at the same time."

 

Some here might find this true or amusing (or both!)

 

(Sorry if this is an old joke.  As a non-player it was new to me.)

Cello is not difficult, it's simply that the really talented people take up violin instead so these silly stories get started.   ;)  :ph34r:

And, of course, those who can't master cello drift on to the viola.  :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of my cello teachers said it this way:

 

The bow is for talking, make it talk. The left hand picks the words. 

 

I think the cello is not that difficult fundamentally, but mastering it takes dedication and focus. I've taken persons who've never played the cello, sat them down and said make the bow talk, put your hand here, grab the hair to the string. Take the bow for a ride. And in a few minutes they will pull a nice tone and be delighted. Bach's 5th suite is another matter. Much later. 

 

The cello is in my shop, every time someone comes in they gawk at it. Wanna try? I ask. I love showing them how to get a sound out of it. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So does the Violin, and the Viola for that matter.

I'm sure that some people find it a lot easier than others. That's just the way things are. I've played Guitar for decades and I know I'm pretty terrible at it, technically awful. I'm almost at the same level playing the Violin, yet if we compare the practice hours there is absolutely no comparison. It would be something like 100 hours on the Guitar to 1 hour on the violin.

One instrument is much easier than the other, for me. No doubt someone else will find it the other way around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frets? 

 

Haha, he guitar is a difficult, difficult instrument, I think the cello is easier to learn to a level where you can play with others faster.  In the classical realm. 

 

Each instrument takes an amazing amount of work before you reach a level where you have control of projection and sound quality. The cello is difficult because the intonation is wide open, the guitar is difficult because the intonation is closed. Both instruments require the performer to adjust notes relative to one another and the ensemble to be in tune. The strings of the guitar bend over the frets and much of intonation in advanced technique requires the player to adjust pressure and finger position to effect the best intonation. 

 

In shifting each instrument has a fingerboard that is more than twice the length on the violin and the player is called to move the hand all over the fingerboard. Just because there are frets does not mean that is easy, it's about the same amount of muscle memory training to hit the note. 

Really what a guitar does in cello language is to provide a fret which gives the player thumb stopping nuts in stations all along the fingerboard. 

 

Some days I don't know which instrument I would like to curse more, they are both torture devices from another universe. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jimbow, you have the coolest avatar on maestronet - do you dress so well on a daily basis or just for photos?

 

Well Martin, I have to confess that the photo is actually of a personal  hero of mine, Foster Brooks, whose example I try to emulate!

He is a man of impeccable taste in dress and manners although I have been told he sometimes drinks a bit much.

Friends have told me that I look somewhat like him - particularly when I 'drink a bit much.'

His talents are displayed on YouTube occasionally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can start cello in late childhood and still become a world-class cellist.  It has happened many times before.

You can NOT start violin at age 12 and become a world class fiddler.

 

You can play cello well into much older age than violin (typically). 

You can NOT sound good on the violin past your mid-70's (don't come back at me with but Mr. so-and-so did...they are either the exception or you have a personal interest in the individual)

 

Obviously, it's difficult to attain a world-class level, but based on these two facts, is it possible that there may be instruments that are 'more difficult' than the cello?

 

In a conservatory, a secondary piano student may play a Clementi or Beethoven sonatina more beautifully than the big guy who plays the Rach 3.

But it would be impossible for that guy who plays Rach 3 to even play Twinkle Twinkle as well as a fine violinist.  No exceptions. 

 

Itzhak Perlman had a good point in Art of Violin.  He asked how long it takes the average beginner to make a decent sound on the piano.  And how long does it take the average beginner to make a decent sound on the violin?  No comparison.

The average beginner makes a decent sound on the cello far sooner than on the violin.  I've seen it countless times. 

The 15 yr old cellist playing the Elgar can have moments where he sounds like the finest cellists around.

The 15 yr old violinist playing the Mendelssohn will have no such moments. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can start cello in late childhood and still become a world-class cellist.  It has happened many times before.

You can NOT start violin at age 12 and become a world class fiddler.

 

You can play cello well into much older age than violin (typically). 

You can NOT sound good on the violin past your mid-70's (don't come back at me with but Mr. so-and-so did...they are either the exception or you have a personal interest in the individual)

 

Obviously, it's difficult to attain a world-class level, but based on these two facts, is it possible that there may be instruments that are 'more difficult' than the cello?

 

In a conservatory, a secondary piano student may play a Clementi or Beethoven sonatina more beautifully than the big guy who plays the Rach 3.

But it would be impossible for that guy who plays Rach 3 to even play Twinkle Twinkle as well as a fine violinist.  No exceptions. 

 

Itzhak Perlman had a good point in Art of Violin.  He asked how long it takes the average beginner to make a decent sound on the piano.  And how long does it take the average beginner to make a decent sound on the violin?  No comparison.

The average beginner makes a decent sound on the cello far sooner than on the violin.  I've seen it countless times. 

The 15 yr old cellist playing the Elgar can have moments where he sounds like the finest cellists around.

The 15 yr old violinist playing the Mendelssohn will have no such moments. 

 

This just means the violin inherently sounds like crap and it takes extra effort to make sound ok. Who needs that? What a waste of human effort. 

 

The violin should be banned and all violins should be burned into ash. And violinists should be sent to labor camps.

 

Fornicate !the foul and screeching violin, a curse on humanity.  :angry:  :P    :lol:

 

Violins are so impotent it takes two of the inept contraptions to work in a quartet, it only takes one each of cello and viola. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, here's another crappy rosette I made two weeks ago.

 

And lovely clean interior with mindfully done bracing and glue blocking. 

 

And for the cello builders, a possible liner clamping solution:

 

Binder clips from stationary store. The guitar liners I use are the same size as cello liner and these binder clamps come ready to use. $5.00 $6.00 bucks and you have enough to do a whole cello worth of liner all at once. 

post-69241-0-53900200-1441069232_thumb.jpg

post-69241-0-46933300-1441069235_thumb.jpg

post-69241-0-09213300-1441069238_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The BWB or brown-black-brown motif is an old pattern I took/copied from a 19th century Arabic oud and used it in a rosette in 2003. I thought not much of it at the time, but as it turns out it's the most requested rosette pattern I make. It's traditional and seldom seen. 

 

The bracing and brace end mortices are pre-approved by Marcelo Barbero, financing is available, tax and shipping not included. 

 

Nice try Carbunckle, nice try. But you need to bone up on School of Madrid mid 20th century. 

 

___________

 

Finished this yesterday: Yeah and here's something modern, asymmetrical, but using the same simple old oudy motif. The asymmetrical design was by request from the customer. It's as good as any of the solid burl wood ugly rosettes the steel string makers seem to like. 

post-69241-0-56769100-1441073212_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Say a 6 yr old was entered into a 100 m race with the likes of Usain Bolt.

Usain Bolt runs under 10 seconds.  The 6 yr old runs it in 15 seconds, which is REALLY FAST for a 6 yr old.

Was that entertaining for you?

Are you marveling at how fast the 6 yr old is for his age? 

Are you expecting the 6 yr old to run a world class time in 3 or 4 years?

 

Now imagine that the Mendelssohn Concerto is the 100 m. 

Sorry, this event is only for grown ups. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Say a 6 yr old was entered into a 100 m race with the likes of Usain Bolt.

Usain Bolt runs under 10 seconds.  The 6 yr old runs it in 15 seconds, which is REALLY FAST for a 6 yr old.

Was that entertaining for you?

Are you marveling at how fast the 6 yr old is for his age? 

Are you expecting the 6 yr old to run a world class time in 3 or 4 years?

 

Now imagine that the Mendelssohn Concerto is the 100 m. 

Sorry, this event is only for grown ups. 

While listening to it's entirety, I thought what if I approached violin playing periods like I do for violin shop time- I'd get good at 12-14 hrs per day of playing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...