Adapting Cello pieces

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Chasarms, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I am curious if there are any hidden dangers in using music transcribed for cello on DB. I have an opportunity to buy a fairly nice collection of pieces very affordably, noted as for cello. Some of which I could play now and some that obviously will have to wait for me to progress.

    My amateur eye seems to think it looks all too similar to DB sheets I have used. And as there are no printed fingerings or bowings, that doesn't seem to be a distraction.

    My thoughts return to the ideas of the DB "doubling" the cello an octave under and the DB sheets being an octave transposed anyway, but what am I missing?

    Thoughts? I'd ask my teacher but I am sure it'll be gone well before he is available to speak with.

    Edited to add that these are solos pieces with and without piano accompaniments, not cello section orchestrations.
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I got to play with someone's cello recently, and it's so much easier to play than the bass it's rediculous. Remember that, and have fun showing them that they can't shake the floor like you can...
  3. I don't think you are missing much.

    The only difference between bass and cello, aside from the way that they are made, and the tuning, and the way you hold it to play it...

    hmm actually why don't I start this off a differnt way: The only things about the cello that are the same as the DB are...

    well no... okay. There is a much larger range on four strings than on DB, plus a cello goes down to a low C (sounds as the C a minor thrid above open A string), where as on bass --unless you have a C extention-- only goes down to E. Because of this, the range written for cello is going to be very different. But you probably know that. YOu also probably know that cellos are tuned in 5ths, while basses are tuned in 4ths.

    You probably also know that bass music is written an octave higher than sounding. So what you are reading is written an octave higher than what you are playing on the bass (unless you are playing it all "8va" (which would actually be as written?), in which case, kudos to you!

    So I guess I'm just blabering, and I don't know what you are missing after all.
  4. Seems to me you might run into some difficulties in pieces specifically written for cello, where for example there might be an open string pedal point, or larger intervals which are harder to reach on DB. That said, where there's a will there's a way. You may find that the piece works better in a different key on DB, or certain sections might be better down an octave.
  5. If there are double or triple stops, you might run into some trouble and have to try different inversions. But guys like Gary Karr and Edgar Meyer have proven that there's little a cello can do that a bass can't.

    I've been working through the first movement of the first Bach cello suite at cello pitch (one octave up from the written parts). It's quite surprising how well it lays under the hands once you've put about a hundred hours of practice into it.
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Thanks folks. I did end up buying the collection. I have already experienced a few issues with notation going below the low E string.

    For what I paid for it, It is worth having around for reference.
  7. Just because it goes below E doesn't mean you can't play it...

    I find with Bach Suites, you can transpose the idea up an octave. I have a couple transcriptions of bach suites for bass in which they jsut transpose the lowest note, but I think that interrupts the continuity of the line.
  8. I love playing/pirating cello music on bass. Sometimes, I shove some things up an octave to avoid disrupting nice lines. Some of my current favorites are Popper's "Gavotte in D". Squire's "Tarantella",and Faure's "Sicilienne". They are very melodic, sound harmonicaly satisfying without the accompaniment, and use the full range of the instrument. Posessive cellists tend to wince and mutter whenever they hear "their" tunes bein played in the original bass (which I am sure was the intention of the composers).
  9. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    What I tend to do is rewrite them with the same feeling as the original piece. I won't just move everything up an octave but move certain phrases up an octave provided the original overall sound is still there. I listen to a recording of the piece and I read the music and interpret the feeling, if moving something up an octave is necessary but changes the feeling I'll look at the section before that and see if I can't build it to the the octave I need it to be.
  10. I just transcribed Kuchler's Concertino, III Mvt. ( Allegro Assai ), Op.15. It is a great little piece. Starts in Thumb pos. on the D string and the part with the a pedal tones works with harmonics out at the end of the fingerboard. It's not a cello piece but bass pirates have no respect for clefs.
  11. Sometimes, displacing a few notes really works on the Bach Suites. The part in the G Major Prelude for Suite One ( last ten measures ) that has the cello playing an open A drone and then fingering it right after, the drone note sounds good played as an open a on the bass. I had been stopping the drone with my thumb and then matching with a third finger but I recently tried and now prefer the open string. The same goes for the droned D's on the last eight measures.
  12. francky


    Sep 15, 2004
    Hi every body,
    I just switch from cello to db. I am currently tuning my bass in fifths, as does Joel Quarrington in Toronto. Let me tell you, this kind of tuning sounds so well.

    There is quite a few differences from db to cello. First, as simple physic notion: the strings are bigger, than harder to make them vibrate. You will have more difficulty to catch the foudamental if you use the kind of bow you use on cello.

    The spacing is quite different. Using the 3rd finger on db is rare, opposed to cello. But I really think that, down to the 4th position, the 3rd finger can be use easily.

    About the cello part adapted to db, it is almost the same, with some changes. For exemple, the second mvt of the Eccles sonata, the first beat arpegios are cutted off on db, because of the difficulty of getting a clean three string sound out of a fast quarter note.

    Anyway, I could discuss a lot if you guys are interesting!