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The Physics And Science Of The Violoncello

1702 words - 7 pages

The violoncello, or more commonly known as the cello, is often referred to as the tenor of the string family. The name ‘violoncello’ literally means “little violone”- where ‘one’ means big and ‘cello’ means little. The violone was the lowest-pitched instrument of the Viol family. By the end of the 19th century, the term “violincello” has been more or less replaced with “cello”.
The cello has four strings, tuned in relations of perfect 5ths. This fact is derived from the phenomenon of the overtone series; a perfect fifth is the second overtone above the fundamental, and the first non-repetitious overtone. Therefore, relations of perfect fifths are the strongest relations in the musical language, and are used for tuning as well as major harmonic movements within classical pieces. From the top, the cello strings are: A3, D3, G2, C2- which is two octaves below middle C. It has the same open string pitches as the viola, except an octave below.
When cellos are bowed or plucked, the air around the string vibrates, producing sound waves. Since the strings are very thin, not much air is moved; therefore, it is mounted on a larger body. Because of the large body of the cello, it can produce a full-bodied sound. Since the physical characteristics of each individual cellos are different, the sound produced is also very slightly different.
The resonance of the wood makes it so that all cellos have a “wolf tone”. This is when the resonance is split into two frequencies, and the resonances beat with each other, making an unpleasant, growling, beating sound in nearby tones (usually around F or F#). A wolf eliminator must be attached to “get rid” of the wolf tone; however, “getting rid of” just means moving the tone to another pitch- to a one rarely or never used.

The instrument was developed in around 1660, and it was derived from the other bowed string instruments at the time; for example, the viola da gamba. The cello became more adaptable to play when wire-wrapped strings were invented in Bologna. The cello had replaced almost all the other same-sized bowed instrument by the 18th century.

The cello is usually made of wood, although materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum may be used in place. Luis & Clark is a very cello manufacturer that constructs carbon fiber cellos. They are suited for outdoor concerts and events because of its resistence and strength to temperature and humidity. The wood that’s used for construction includes spruce for the top, maple for the back, sides, and neck. The top and back parts of the cello are usually hand-carved. The sides are formed by heating up the wood and bending them. The body of the cello has two wide bouts at the top and bottom, and two C bouts at the middle. A bridge and two f-holes are in place below the middle part.
The top and back parts of the cello has purfling- a decorative border inlay. However, purfling is not just decoration; it is used to protect the instrument from cracks. Because of...

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