Tag Archives: cello

Singing and playing cello: Santa Lucia

19 Feb

This is an old recording for cello and voice but I was thinking back to it.  I plan to arrange and learn a couple more songs for cello and singing, as it’s incredibly difficult and also incredibly good practice / very rewarding.  The arranging for cello is also a neat process, because the arrangement can go from very simple to very complex.  In fact, learning to play and sing requires building up the arrangement from the simple to the complex in a very deliberate manner.  More on that process later!


Cello music for meditation?

1 Feb

Here’s a hypnotic and meditative video I made for Chromawheel Music, with cello trio.   Check the youtube video description for what’s going on musically.  We do this as a warmup in high school string orchestra, and here’s sheet music for that arrangement: https://payhip.com/b/B3RO

Oh Shenandoah Arrangement

30 Jan

I made an arrangement for my middle school string orchestra of one of my favorite folk songs of all time, Oh Shenandoah.  It’s from around the time of the American Civil War, and the lyrics are beautiful.  I recorded a demo of the recording for cello quartet in case the students wanted to hear it.  The photo is from Lake Onalaska, about 5 hours north of Chicago in Wisconsin.

Download the sheet music here.

Cello Cover of Punjabi bhangra tune Mitran De Boot

1 Jan

Happy New Year!  I did a bunch of transcriptions of bhangra songs with the help of Music Compass, figuring out the instrumentation, and scale/mode used.  I’ll write more on this process later!  I arranged this tune by jazzyb and kaurb for cello:




Rachel Lander Covers Daft Punk’s Get Lucky

22 Apr

I really like her take. The reverb is a nice touch.

Prf BBQ 2012 !

26 Jul

De-Mystifying the Cello Fingerboard!

25 Jul

The first through fourth positions are presented to progressing cellists to aid in establishing a mental map of the fingerboard.  The development of such a map is an excellent pedagogical goal; however, I have found the positions to be more hindrance than help, both in my own study of cello and in teaching.  The problem lies in the nomenclature: there is an underlying irrationality to the numbering convention that mystifies instead of clarifies the fingerboard.  Here I explore the cause of the problem, and present an improved alternative nomenclature drawn from my experience with the violin and the guitar.

The first through fourth positions on cello are problematic for two related reasons.  The first is the issue of arbitrary-seeming duplicates.  This is a stumbling block for many young cellists.  Why is there only a single first position, but two second positions– low and high?  The second reason is enharmonics.  For beginning cellists, the position names on the A string seem to be derived from a diatonic scale — D Major.  A reliance on a particular diatonic pattern to understand the numbering convention leads to confusion in keys with flats however, since for example in the key of Bb there is no first position on the A string— it just gets skipped over.  Another example of this is the position on the A string where the first finger falls on D# / Eb.  The conventional name ‘high third position’ makes sense in a key that ascends diatonically A, B, C#, D, E.  However, in the key of Bb this position would more intuitively be called ‘low fourth position’, since the diatonic pitches ascend Bb, C, D, Eb, F.

In contrast to the cello, the violin positions feature a correspondence between finger number in first position and upper position name, and thus the nomenclature is more intuitive.   Take again the A string as an example.  In first position, because the second finger is responsible for either C or C#,  it makes sense that there would therefore be two possible second positions: low and high.

Looking at the cello nomenclature through my guitarist-eyes,  I am immediately mystified.  Attempting any position nomenclature on guitar beyond a simple chromatic ordering of positions corresponding to frets one through twelve would be irrational.

Taking these observations from violin and guitar and applying them to the cello fingerboard suggests two requirements for a better alternative.  First, there should be correspondence between the finger numbers in first position and the higher position names.   Second,  the basis must be universal chromaticism rather than a particular (and therefore arbitrary) diatonic scale.

The following system meets the above two requirements (A string):

1 on Bb:  Half Position
1 on B:  First Position
1 on C:  Second Position
1 on C#:  Third Position
1 on D:  Fourth Position
1 on D#: Fifth Position
1 on E: Sixth Position (The intersection position)

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.  I am planning to update all my beginning cello books!

Paver Acoustic Ep Release!

3 Jun


Check out Capolavoro, featuring acoustic string quartet versions of some Paver songs.   Recorded at Soapbox with The Paver and Emma Dayhuff on bass and Becca Wilcox on viola!



Whitney on cello

10 Mar

I’m arranging a Whitney tune for cello.   Mostly because the soundtrack to The Bodyguard (1992) pretty much defined what singing is about for me at a deep neurological level, and I gotta rep that.   Well, defined emotive singing to synthy soul ballads, at least.    And it’s true, the human voice and cello perform an imitative dance.   So what better to arrange for cello, now, than  a little Whitney?

Actually, it’s an old Dolly Parton tune.   Never heard the original til today.  The nice thing is that the band backs Parton right from the beginning, which will make transcribing the first section much easier.  I was worried I was gonna have to sort out what Whitney was up to, structurally, as she free-forms it up acapella-style in the intro…



10 Nov

It’s done!