Discover the Cello with Classic FM
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.
Cello Suite No.1 in G major (1) Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750 : Germany) Soloists: Mischa Maisky Record label: Deutsche Grammophon Catalogue ID: 4777442
Cello Suite No.1 in G major (3) Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750 : Germany) Soloists: Steven Isserlis Record label: Hyperion Catalogue ID: CDA
Cello Concerto in B minor Opus 104 (1) Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904 : Czechoslovakia) Conductor: Seiji Ozawa Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra Soloists: Mstislav Rostropovich Record label: Erato Catalogue ID: 2292 452522
Cello Concerto in B minor Opus 104 (3) Antonin Dvorak Conductor: Jun Markl Ensemble: Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Soloists: Zuill Bailey Record label: Telarc Catalogue ID: TEL 32927
Cello Concerto in E minor Opus 85 (1/2) Edward Elgar (1857-1934 : England) Conductor: John Barbirolli Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra Soloists: Jacqueline du Pre Record label: EMI Catalogue ID: CMS 5673412
Cello Concerto in E minor Opus 85 (3) Edward Elgar (1857-1934 : England) Conductor: Alexander Briger Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra Soloists: Jamie Walton Record label: Signum Catalogue ID: SIGCD 116
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