The cello, otherwise known as a violoncello, is a bowed instrument with four strings. It's a close cousin of the violin, viola, and double bass.
The cello can be played as a solo instrument, as well as in chamber music ensembles, string orchestras, as a member of the string section of symphony orchestras, and some rock bands.
It's thought cellos evolved in the 16th century from other similar instruments; instruments like the viola da gamba and the viol.
Cellos in the Baroque era used to be held between the performers' legs without any support. Nowadays, they come complete with a large metal spike, known as an endpin, which holds the cello up by digging in to the floor.
A cello can play from a low C, two octaves below middle C, known as C2, up to a high A, two octaves above its highest string. Each of the four strings is tuned a fifth apart, making up the notes C, G, D and A.
How to play
Just like other members of the string family, cellos make a sound when the vibrations from the strings bounce around inside the instrument's wooden body. The bow, made from wood and horse hair, is pulled along the metal strings to create a sound - but the strings can also be plucked.