PhilipKT

Question on cello sound: resonance under the ear/in audience

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So I took my friend’s Rovatti cello to rehearsal last night for a colleague. In my studio, the sound was complex and even, but didn’t sound very powerful under the ear.

My colleague mentioned the same.

But during intermission, I videotaped him while walking around the stage, and despite all the ambient noise of stage crew moving chairs, other players noodling, etc, the cello sound cut through everything regardless of where I was on the stage.

then I went I to the auditorium while he played Bach, Saint Saens and Dvorak. Regardless of how soft he played, the sound was big and full. He even overplayed a couple times, unnecessarily.

The sound was both great and powerful, even though under the ear it was subdued.

my question is 1) why the big different between under the ear and in the audience? And 2) can the under-ear sound be increased?

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41 minutes ago, matesic said:

This does sound rather like the "projection" issue again

If there is a post that already deals with this question, I’d be delighted if you could share? It’s very interesting phenomenon, and I’ve never experienced it to such an extreme. Under the ear the cello sounds wonderful, but doesn’t seem to have any power. From 20 feet away or 75 feet away or 100 feet away, it sounds marvelous, But without a sense of high decibel level. It’s just a sound that seems to carry and carry. Like the gentle voice that you can hear across a crowded room.

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My main Cello is a lot like that. Under the ear, in String qartet, it can be hard to hear what I'm doing at all. In fact, under the ear, it sounds very disappointing. But in a larger hall it overpowers the exact same string quartet. This is really not so great, actually, I'd like to hear myself when playing and feel more confident, and also I'd like to not overpower the others. 

I have he Impression that with Cellos, the sound under the ear has a lot to do with the back and Maybe the ribs resonating more prominently and at lower frequencies with Instruments that are loud under the ear compared to those that are not.

I also think the effect is bigger in Cellos that in violins. I've asked violinists to come stand next to mea and hold their ears where mine usually are, they were astounded by how big the difference is.

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Example: drums tend to project in a "figure 8" pattern, sound being produced from the skins or "heads" of the stretched membrane. One lobe - a circle - of the sound would be the top skin, the the other lobe - another circle - would be the bottom skin coupled by the shell or rim of the drum forming the intersection of the two circles of a "8" pattern. 

Our family of bowed instruments generally produces a larger spectrum of sound from the top.

The cello player's ear is generally located above the ribs, where less sound is produced. This area is considered a "null" where the sound is generally not heard as accurately ( to my ears. ) Sound happens at the top and the back, but above the ribs, what is it that we hear? Within the walls of a smaller room, where the sound is averaged by the reflections off the walls, it is more possible to hear the general spectrum of the player's "tone." 

The difficulty for the cello and the player in a small room, is that we tend to hear the room as well as the cello. On a larger stage, there are so many factors including the end pin length ( which changes the orientation of the top to the audience ) to location on stage/ or hall. For lower frequency instruments, the middle of a smaller hall is often the worst place to be as it is often a node of a lower frequency, making it difficult for the player to hear themselves. 

Cello projection is a better topic in many ways because the overtones are more in the mid-range of our hearing. If we are to better understand how our brains process pitch and amplitude, this might be the better way to go. I find that i enjoy listening to cellos and violas more than violins in a larger hall.

I used to play in a pit where the cellos were on wooden platforms next to a concrete wall that was the outer limit of a stage elevator. It was great to hear four cellos fill that small space in front of the stage. I doubt the audience heard what the player's heard, but cello pps ( especially on the c- and g- strings ) in that pit were the best. During some soprano or mezzo arias further upstage, what we could hear in the pit was better than anything that audio gear could re-produce.

My composite top guitar have tuned openings cut out in the upper left rib of the guitar, right below my face, where i can hear the pitches better, compared to a traditional acoustic guitar... but on bowed instruments we are generally at the mercy of those who hear us at a distance.

Yesterday, we recorded a viola student in a dance studio. We needed to prove that what we hear, compared to what she heard as the player, were different. Her instrument does not project well, though it has a beautiful warm clear-er sound. This was an exercise in showing her how much one needs to work to produce sound into a hall... as she needs to practice with more strength, as we do play differently at FF.

Efficiency and familiarity with an instrument is important for any player, but listening for what might project is an important study on focus and awareness. A pain... but saves $ if we can play a newer instrument for considerably less than more collectible names. 

As for the player hearing themselves, it is different for so many of us. For this young lady, i offered her a modern bow which has more core ( and consequently produces more overtones at larger volumes - for that particular bow ) and also an older bow that plays sweetly and filters frequencies. One certainly projected better than the other. But also sounded thinner to her at lower volumes. Then i asked her to soften and adapt her grip and the bow sounded warmer throughout the quieter passages. 

For this instance, the literature was solo Bach - suites - on a 15.5" instrument with wider lower bouts that has the resonance of a larger viola with upper strings that sound warmer but lacking complexity, emotion. She will be off to school soon and will likely find a newer instrument to further her studies a few years into her program.

 

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13 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

If there is a post that already deals with this question, I’d be delighted if you could share? It’s very interesting phenomenon, and I’ve never experienced it to such an extreme. Under the ear the cello sounds wonderful, but doesn’t seem to have any power. From 20 feet away or 75 feet away or 100 feet away, it sounds marvelous, But without a sense of high decibel level. It’s just a sound that seems to carry and carry. Like the gentle voice that you can hear across a crowded room.

I was recalling this one:

 

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6 hours ago, matesic said:

 

I was recalling this one:

 

Thank you! I just read it with great interest, and posted a video that I made a couple of days ago in response to one of Martin’s comments, very much appreciate you sharing.

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