Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Cello

The Cello

"The cello is like a beautiful woman who has not grown older, but younger with time, more slender, more supple, more graceful."

-Pablo Casals

I will probably be able to give a little more info, as this is my primary instrument.

The name "cello" comes from the Italian word "violoncello", which means, "little violone". The viol family where the cello got it's name was later turned into the violin family, where the instrument names came from Medivial Latin. By the turn of the twentieth century (1900-2000), it had become customary to call a violoncello " 'cello", the apostrophe indicating the missing six letters. Nowadays, we just use the word "cello" without the apostrophe.

Like the violin, a cello's strings are tuned in perfect fifths. The lowest string is two octaves below middle C, then G, D, and A. Unlike the violin, the cello is played sitting down, with the instrument between your legs. The cello also uses a horse-hair bow and pizzicato in the same fashion. For the cello, your hand forms a "C" shape around the neck. You use all four fingers on the string and your thumb is underneath the neck, supporting the hand. The notes, starting at the bottom and in the most basic position, are open C, fingers D,E,F; open G, fingers A, B, C; open D, fingers E, F, G; and open A, fingers B, C, D. These notes are played in 1st position, the postions continuing upwards on the cello.

This post does not go into extensive detail about the cello. For more information, go to

Picture taken from

Quote taken from

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Violin

"It seems strange to think that my violin was once a tree, but what else could have caught the music that lies within it, waiting for the touch . . ."
-from "Love Letters of a Musician" by Myrtle Reed, taken from
The violin is a musical instrument that was developed in Italy in the sixteenth century along with the other instruments of it's family. The Medieval Latin word "vitula", meaning "string instrument", is where the violin gets it's name from. The violin's full name is "violino", meaning "little viola". It is also known as the fiddle.

The violin is played underneath the jaw using 3 fingers on the string. The fourth finger can also be used. The hand is held in a "V" position on the neck. A horse hair bow is pulled across the strings to produce sound. You can also "pluck" or use "pizzicato", creating an airier sound. The 4 strings that can be played are E,A,D, and G, each going up in the musical scale from there: E to F to G and an A on 4th finger, A to B to C and D on 4th finger, D to E to F to G on fourth finger, and G to A to B to C on fourth finger. All strings are usually tuned in perfect fifths ( seven semitones), e.g. E is a perfect fifth above A.
This post gives you the most basic parts of the violin. You can go to for more information.

The Strings

Being a string player myself, I thought it was only fit if I started with the string group.

First of all, what exactly is the classification for the string group? Well, I could probably tell you, but for your sake, I decided to look it up. I got the definition of a string instrument off of Wikipedia. This is what they say: "A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings." And this leads me to my next point . . .

What types of instruments would fall into the string group? Well, think if any instrument that has strings and makes music. Got those in your head? Now compare your answers to the ones I got off of Wikipedia. I got that the most common istruments in the string family are guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and harp. Not commonly regonized is the piano, but it is indeed a string instrument.

Having so many instruments to do, I have decided that I will give each instrument it's own day. I know this means that this will go on longer than planned, but it will be worth it when I start saying things like " the woodwinds bring in a beautiful melody" (which I probably will say). So please be patient. And if you really don't want to read all of this, then wait a while. I will start with the violin (see next post).


I will be getting most of my information from Wikipedia, which as you know is not the most reliable site. Again, do not hesitate to tell me where you fell I need more information or a correction!

The Mysterious Maestro

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Music Groups

Before I go any further in this blog, my guess is that some of you will have no idea what I'm talking about when I say things like "the strings" or "the french horn". I apologize to the people who do understand and know what I'm talking about, as this information may take at least a week to get through. But then again, it's always fun to learn, isn't it? :)

I am going to be going through the sections of the symphony orchestra, which will give me four music groups. If anyone feels that I am missing information, please let me know.

The four music groups in a symphony are strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion. Throughout the week, I will be explaining each group and the instuments in it in more detail.

I hope you'll all learn something new from this!

The Mysterious Maestro

Friday, August 14, 2009

Music. It's the one language that everyone in the world can speak, the one way we can truly communicate with one another. It's the outlet for any feelings you might have. After all, "music is the universal language of mankind". -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As Ritcher once said, "Music is the poetry of the air". It is, as Robert Fripp has said, "the wine that fills the cup of silence". And I am hoping this blog will make you truly appreciate this wonderful thing that has come upon the earth. But more than that, I'm hoping you'll learn to love this medicine for the soul.

Lean your ear and listen- you may just hear a melody.