From this week’s “Rockelbel’s Cannon” to the “Cello Wars” spoof on the Star Wars soundtrack, to the “Smooth Criminal” low-strung duel, the cello has gone viral. The last two videos saw over 5 million views each. Although cello rock has been around since the early 1990s, only recently has the world gone wild over the hottest member in the string family. Why are these videos going viral? Why is the cello so badass, and so good at rock arrangements? Why are so many musicians buying a cello now? Here are 5 explainations:
1) Range. From the deep, sonorous velvet of the low C-string to the passionate soprano of the A-string, the cello has a wide range. Many cellos, then, can recreate the tones and ranges of all instruments in a full rock band.
2) Versatility. Playing on such a wide range, right and left hand techniques can unleash their full potential. Producing a metallic, shimmery sound near the bridge can happen at any pitch necessary. Plucking strings on the cello sounds much more rhythmic than on the violin -- bassline, anyone?
3) Physicality. Cellists are more physically tender than any other instrumentalist. They embrace their instruments with their arms when they play; they cradle it between their knees. When collaborating, their open stance allows them to connect that much more easily. It’s natural and inviting. Passionate, but sensitive.
4) Cello types. As violinists carry the stereotype of being competitive, uptight divas, I have a feeling that cellists are a type. The sexy, relaxed type who are capable of producing the most beautiful, passionate melodies ever heard in an orchestral piece ... I'm a cello player and obviously unbiased. But they never demand the solos, and otherwise are unexpectedly reliable as they unite to form the rock-solid base of rhythm and harmonic roots. They’re like the cool marble floor of a house.
5) Collaboration. All of this makes it easy and fun for cellists to collaborate. Notice how, of all the typically “classical” instruments, the cello troupe is the most prominent? At my school, our cello group Low Strung is the only one of its kind; they perform rock show-like concerts. Cellos can be soloists, but they still mesh so well together too.
It’s easy to see that cellists like to have fun and celebrate the full potential of their instruments. While not everyone can be cello rock stars, for now at least we get to enjoy and dream of the instrument’s incredible possibilities.