Cello: History, Fun Facts, and Benefits of Learning


The cello has been delighting music lovers for hundreds of years now, thanks to its lively and vibrant sounds and warm tones that match the human voice pitch.

 The cello comes from the violin family and is often referred to as the violoncello. It is a bowed string instrument with four strings generally adjusted in perfect fifths: from low to high.

 This solo instrument became an indispensable part of Western music not abruptly but gradually through a sequence of artistic transformations and realistic requirements. While the cello is a popular instrument, its history remains unknown to many people.  

History of the Cello instrument

 The history of the cello is linked with other stringed instruments like the harp and lyre that were extensively used by ancient civilizations to make music. The cello came to the limelight for the first time in northern Italy in 1550. It is a member of the violin family and was initially called bass violin. In Italy, it was called viola da braccio.

Andrea Amati was the first person who got exposure for making the cello. While Amati was not the inventor of the cello, he rose to popularity for building cellos for Charles IX King of France. Paintings from the 12th and 13th centuries depict the violin, indicating that it existed in the music of that era. However, the cello was developed in the 15th century.

The reason for the cello’s late entrance into music was, in part, due to the trend of the sound ideal in Western European music. Back then, vocal music had supremacy over the whole music field. That meant the singers of that time would practically decide the ideals.

 Extensive performance practices during the fifteenth century led singers to realize they needed a tone with high pitch and nasal. In other words, there was a demand for a sound that associates closely with today’s Eastern music. The need for this tone led to the creation of what is known today as the cello.

 Antonio Stradivari is credited for determining the standard size of the modern cello. After 1710, he started to create celli that measured between the two original dimensions of the instrument (too large and too small). Other cello makers around Europe soon adopted the cello size introduced by Antonio Stradivari, making it the standard size for the instrument.

 Cultural transformations and the demand for different tones furthered changed the sound of the cello. For example, there was a need for sounds that can be heard by larger audiences rather than soft sounds made for private, limited audiences.

 Cello makers made innovations and alterations to the instrument to enhance its volume, precision, and receptiveness. For instance, they raised the bridge to intensify string pressure and increase volume. The neck and fingerboard were also stretched and re-angled for clarity and responsiveness.

 Today, the cello has made its way into different musical genres. It has even got its dedicated style called Cello rock - a subgenre of rock music, underscoring gothic sounds. The modern cello is an interesting instrument, thanks to the innovations and improvements made to it. This instrument’s versatility ensures that it will continue to delight music lovers for hundreds of years.  

Fun Facts

There are specific facts about the cello that many people don’t know. Here are some fun facts about this instrument:

Fun facts about the Cello instrument

Fun facts about the Cello instrument

  • Cello is a shortened form of the Italian word violoncello, which means ‘small large violin.’

  • The cello is said to be the second-largest bowed string instrument in the world after the double bass.

  • The oldest cello that exists to date is known as The King. Andrea Amati built it between 1538 and 1560. You can go and see this instrument at the National Music Museum in South Dakota.

  • A person who plays the cello is called a cellist or violoncellist. 

  • Initially, sheep and goat guts were used to make the cello strings. However, the modern cello strings are made of metallic material.

  • The plural form of the cello is celli or cellos.

  • Historically, cellos played in groups had thicker black hair on a denser bow and cellos for solo playing had white hair on a lighter bow.

  • Cello is closely associated with European classical music.

  • The cello has not always had four strings. In Germany and the Dutch areas during the 17th and 18th centuries, celli with five strings were prevalent.

  • The cello is used commonly in Jazz, Rock, and Pop music.

  • Liz Davis Maxfield and Mike Block are two of the most popular cello players in the world.


Why Choose the Cello? 


Learning to play the cello comes with many benefits. Here are some reasons why you or your children should learn to play the cello:

 Learning to play a musical instrument like the cello is an inclusive process. It includes a combination of learning styles that make it easy for students to concentrate on their unique preferences. As you play the instrument, new connections come into play in the brain that can improve other areas of your learning. For example, playing the cello can improve your child’s math and scientific abilities. Take a look at these studies that provide evidence about the benefits of music for cognitive development.

 Playing the cello is a challenging task. It can be physically and mentally tough, which means your child will learn to face challenges and work hard. When they finally master the art of playing the cello, it will provide them a sense of satisfaction and reward.

Learning to play the cello develops the area of the brain that is responsible for memory recall. It is worth noting here that musicians have better sensory perception than people who have not got music training.

Playing the cello improves motor control, besides boosting sound interpretation skills and visual-spatial processing.

 Children who get music lessons have better speech and memory and are more emphatic than children who don’t get music lessons.

 When children play the cello, they understand the importance of time and teamwork. Playing the cello in a group and maintaining proper timing during the play will develop skills that can translate into desirable professional attitudes during adulthood.

If you would like your child to learn how to play the cello or other instruments, contact us now

Learn more about Cello lessons at Stage Music Center in Winchester MA

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Rose Bogossiancello