I've been YouTubing cellists playing blues, jazz, alternative rock and bluegrass (did you know Yo-Yo Ma along with some other musicians just released a bluegrass album? Awesome-ness!), and as I watched some of random cello videos I thought, "wow, that sounds great but something doesn't sound quite right..." I couldn't put my finger on it until I started practicing jazz pizzicato.
Here's a YouTube of Jazz Pizz:
I can think of soooo many things to do with this type of pizz!!
I was practicing it on my more expensive Li cello which is focused, brighter, cleaner and open. The cello that both my cello teachers prefer. However, as I was practicing it just sounded too clean and I was looking for a nice MEATY sound! I switched over to my other cello which is darker, less focused and with more overtones. And, voila! The sound I was looking for!
It then dawned on me that the reason I didn't like how some of the blues and jazz cellists sounded was because the sound (the "meaty-ness") just wasn't there, although the technique was.
I totally understand having a clean, focused sound is what is preferred in classical music and in fast tempo-ed genres like fiddling and some bluegrass where faster notes means more articulation, and therefore, a more focused sound is needed. But in other genres I think that isn't necessarily true - for me at least.
For example, when I think of Chicago Blues with its amplified distorted sounds, I don't want a clean focused sound from the cello. I want a sound that can get "down and dirty." Or when I think of hip hop or alternative rock, when there's a break in the rap or vocals, and the cellist comes in and plays a beautifully soulful tune, I don't want it to be clear and piercing, I want it to be warm, gooey, mellow...!
Therefore, I think depending on what sounds I want, it's important to have a couple of cellos, and its nice that I have two cellos that are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Since being warm or bright, or clean and focused is a characteristic of a cello and changing strings, bridge and even the soundpost can only do so much.
I'm hoping in a few years, I'll have the facility and technique to play whatever genre I want and to be able to pull off the sound that I hear in my head. I know, reaching for the stars there - but how awesome would it be to be able to play whatever musical thought I have rolling around in my head and have it come out in a wonderful cello tune! *sigh* ...years away...
I have an eclectic taste in music! Some examples of how wonderfully versatile the cello is.
From my new favorite cello album Learning to Bend by Ben Sollee:
Vocals with beatbox and cello! What else can you ask for?
One of my favorite "alternative rock" songs & cello group:
Two Cellos' Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal:
The Cello Guys' Star Wars spoof:
Yo-Yo Ma playing Dvorjak Concerto (one of my favorite pieces):
Gotta love the cello!! I wish I would have started playing this when I was younger! Although I think adult beginners are the ones that can truly appreciate the cello learning experience. Youth is wasted on the young...LOL! I know I'm starting to get "old" when I start thinking that way!! ..ugh.. :).