Why I call him Rana…

Anyone remember this cartoon? (Sorry, YouTube won’t let me embed this one)

When I heard this cello for the first time, I flashed immediately to this cartoon, feeling a little bit like the puzzled dude who watches the frog leap to life, singing and dancing. Two days later I still feel like that every time I hit an open string (and most of the closed ones)

There is something thrilling about the resonance of this cello. I get immediate tonal feedback that I can FEEL – not just hear – on my eardrum, as well as this huge vibration from the cello body into my chest. My fingers ache from the height of the strings on the fingerboard in that good way that signals strength being built. The tones are so clear and resonant, I’m starting to hear (and feel) a lot of the sympathetic vibration stuff I’ve been told about all this time. I’m already feeling both more frustrated, and more pleased with my playing in a couple of days than over the last few months. Minuet in C sounded clear and bell-like when it sounded good. When it didn’t, I think Bach may have rolled over in his grave. Poor guy. Would he have composed if he knew millions of beginners would be making trainwrecks out of his music in a couple hundred years?

My hang up is that like that cartoon frog, this cello is just – LOUD. In the right hands, I would use words like strident, rich and full to describe that sound. For me, it’s just loud, bordering on obnoxious when I’m flat, sharp or my bow is at the wrong angle. My left ear ached after I’d been playing for a while this afternoon, but I can’t tell if it’s from the vibration or the volume. I haven’t ever heard of anyone going deaf from a cello, but you may have heard it here first.

It’s a little better with my bow than with the store bow – of course it doesn’t sound as good either – but at least I’m not making my own skin crawl. Improvement with this cello is going to be driven by the desire to avoid obnoxious noisemaking that might drive my neighbors to show up on the doorstep with pitchforks and torches.

I have a lesson tomorrow, I’m interested to hear what Kaia thinks – I have a feeling I’m just being a big wimp having moved from the sandbox to the big kid playground (metal bars and woodchips and a big slide, oh my!) If so, she’ll set me straight.

But so far that little cartoon frog haunts me every time I open the case and peer inside. So it’s fitting, I guess that the cello has earned the nickname “Rana” which in Spanish means frog.


About Eddie

Watch what happens when you give a writer a cello.
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4 Responses to Why I call him Rana…

  1. Yee says:

    A loud cello is a good thing. You can play with a torte mute when needed.

  2. The Neophyte Cellist says:

    Sounds like you’re having soo much fun. I’m ready your posts going ‘Yep’ My old cello was quiet, mufffled and dull. My new one sings when you get it right and wails at you when you get it wrong. She’s very unforgiving but in the couple of months I’ve had her, she’s really improved my playing. She’s also made me mega-critical of myself because it’s so obvious when I get it right and when I suck 🙂

    So, let’s see some pics! And how did it go with your teacher?

    • Eddie says:

      You’re both right – with cellos, loud is good. This one really sings. I do believe that about your playing improving after a couple of months – it’s pretty immediate feedback (SKREEEEECH!) of the kind I’m not used to getting. It’s been a pretty humbling experience. I’ve been getting away with murder (tonally) when it comes to CC. Dullness disguises a lot.

      My teacher is not enamored with it and pointed out a few reasons why – some fixable (strings, bridge adjustments), some not (a couple of weird wolfs and constrution issues). She disclosed fully that she’s not an expert on construction and encouraged me to take it to a second dealer for appraisal if i was really interested in it. But….

      Long story short, price for value wasn’t that great: she encouraged me to keep looking. After playing her cello again, then Rana, I can see why. Her’s sounds so rich and balanced accrossed the board and less nasaly than Rana- though the projection is pretty awesome.

      She did really like the bow – I borrowed a John Brazil Pernambuco and it sounds FABULOUS on just about everything it’s played on (including Cecelia). It’s made me seriously reconsider not upgrading my bow and cello at the same time.

  3. Yee says:

    I could never decide about upgrading my bow. I’ve always heard it’s like a Harry Potter wand shopping experience – I.e. you’ll just know… I think I am afraid that what I would love now would be totally different than in the future. Plus my teacher seems to like my current bow although it’s brazilwood. So, I’m waiting a bit longer, but I am very envious of situation.

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