Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

I'm thinking about switching to cello

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Zach Edmands, Sep 3, 2004.


  1. Zach Edmands

    Zach Edmands

    Jan 24, 2003
    Like some of you here, I made the transition from bass guitar to double bass. Initially, I did this because I thought it would be the easiest transition to a classical instrument. Two years later, I have learned much and heard much more classical music, and sadly, most of the music I enjoy and wish to play does not include the bass. Also, most of the bass concertos/sonatas I've heard are not on par with concertos/sonatas for other instruments such as the cello or violin. Moreover, I've really taken interest in string quar/quint/sextets, and I resent that I will not be able to play any.

    What is more, I have just started college as a music major, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to switch instruments and still be able to study music, since obviously, my cello performance will not be on par with the other students. Such is my dilemma. My choice now is to either keep on playing the bass and learn to love it, or move on to cello and play the music I already love.

    Any advice will be appreciated.
     
  2. Zach

    I say try the cello by all means. Now is the time to experiment before you get in too deep. Learning the cello would only bring a new dimension to your bass playing if you decided to switch back at some point. However, you will loose strength in your left hand that will take a while to get back if you drop the bass all together. If you aren't desparately in love with the bass, maybe playing something else is better, since as you say, the traditional bass literature is semi-lame (one of things you learn to accept if you play the bass) and if chamber music is your thing, the cello offers more oportunities. Plus that's one less bass player in the world to compete with for gigs. ;)

    Jon
     
  3. Savino

    Savino

    Jun 2, 2004
    nyc
    zach
    dont go man, yes, it is true that by comparison there is a much more vast classical repetiore for cello, mainly because the bass was not seen as a solo instrument until quite recently(relatively speaking), in all aspects of music, the double bass still holds much to be explored and is in every way as versatile as its smaller counterpart. most of that cello range lies on your fingerboard, just waiting to be played. dont make a decision based on the music you want to play, chose your voice and beautiful music will follow.
     
  4. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I think you answered your own question. You don't love the bass enough to play it on a daily basis, so just start over and play the cello. Take a year off and take some cello lessons and then jump back into school if that's your ambition.

    I've been diddling around with the cello of late, and it's fun, but all it's really done is deepen my appreciation for DB. You already have the cello repertoire in your head, so it shouldn't be difficult for you to play it once you get the mechanics down.

    Double bass is not something one can do with a half-assed approach. I think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you continue with an instrument you don't hear in your heart.
     
  5. Zach Edmands

    Zach Edmands

    Jan 24, 2003
    Thank you for the honest replies.

    How difficult of a transition would it be from bass to cello? Would I be able to learn enough in a year to get into a decent music school (like I did with bass)? Compared to bass, does the cello have more nuances of sound? To me, it sounds more sensitive of an instrument. How different is bow technique compared to a french-school french bow technique? Does a forum like this exist for cello? I think that would help me out a lot.

    One problem still remains: school. Should I keep playing bass this year and take the next year off to learn cello, or should I quit school right now, since it's only been going on a few weeks? I'd like to begin cello as soon as possible, but I don't think I have the time to play both bass and cello.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think you're best off getting a hold of a cello and starting and cease hand-wringing. All the answers to your first paragraph will take care of themselves. The rest are all personal questions that no one can help you with.

    And, no, cello is not a 'more sensitive' instrument. It's just as ticklish as bass.
     
  7. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Why in the world would the cello be more "sensitive" than the bass? All the same laws of physics apply to both instruments. Either instrument is only going to be as "sensitive" as the person playing it. And why would that even be a factor in choosing your main instrument? You pick an instrument that speaks to you and run with it. It's not just the sound/range of the instrument that you have to consider but also the role of the instrument in the music you have to consider. Bass is not for everyone, especially if you desire to be in a "spotlight" role more than a supportive one. Bassists play the bass because they love holding down the bottom and the "spotlight" thing is just the icing on the cake.

    -Scot
     
  8. Zach Edmands

    Zach Edmands

    Jan 24, 2003
    I was just asking some general questions about cello. The sensitivity of the instrument has no impact on whether I decide to play it or not, as I will adapt to whatever instrument I choose; I was merely asking a general question. Also, what I've come to love about the cello is that it can be both the spotlight or the backbone. The cello is also a bass instrument.
     
  9. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Only "girly-men" play the cello. :D

    Just kidding (or AM I?). I guess I'm still confused about the "sensitivity" thing. And the cello a bass instrument.....OK. Then so is the trombone. I don't really view the cello's function in a string quartet as a "bass" role. I see string quartet music as music without bass, which is cool. Music doesn't have to have bass to be good.

    Seriously, I know a very good bassist that switched over from cello. She says that playing some of the Bach cello suites on the bass is way rougher than playing them on the cello. So if you're already advanced on the bass you may find that the pieces you're struggling with on the bass (provided that you're challenging youself with some cello pieces like many bassists do) will be much easier to play on the cello (duh). I don't know, though, because I don't play cello. Just a thought. Give it a try and share your findings. If you're at a music school you must have access to a cello.

    -Scot
     
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Some of you guys may remember that I started a thread awhile back concerning doubling on cello. Since that thread, I've rented one from a friend to test the waters a bit. Realisation #1; I am, and always will be, a bassist.

    The reason I say that is, when I pick up the cello, I just keep thinking, "Damn, I could be playing bass right now". I love listening to great cellists. I just am not feeling it; it's too small, too light, I feel like I'm wearing borrowed shoes. The bow is too small, the strings are too skinny, it's too easy to play, if that makes any sense. Props go to anyone who can make music with it.

    I'm 47. With any luck, I'll get a couple more decades at least. I just have don't like the thought of using any of that time not trying to see how far I can take the DB thing. I'm pretty sure the cello's going back next month.

    This could all change when the DB gigs dry up on me :smug:.
     
  11. kraid

    kraid

    Apr 11, 2003
    I played the cello for four years before switching over to the double bass. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to play. The double bass is definitely the hardest to play string instrument.

    I often think of how easy it would be for me to play cello now that I've played bass for three years, but I love the tone of the bass and I do love playing it.

    I think you'll enjoy it if you decide to switch. Trying to play the Elgar on the double bass isn't quite the same. :smug:
     
  12. Zach Edmands

    Zach Edmands

    Jan 24, 2003
    Thank's for the links, Marcus. I really enjoyed the Bach video. How hard was the transition from cello to bass? Were you able to just pick it up and be able to play because of your bass experience?
     
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Who, me? I guess maybe that question was for Kraid...

    DB is not the hardest string instrument in my experience, because that's the sound I hear in my head. That's the whole point. If you "hear" cello, or bagpipes or nose flute, that's what's the easiest to play for you. That's your voice.

    When I play guitar or piano, I'm aware of the instrument's presence. When I play double bass, the instrument vanishes, and I'm playing music. That's the test.
     
  14. Zach Edmands

    Zach Edmands

    Jan 24, 2003
    Excuse me. I meant from bass to cello. I definantly understand what you mean by voices in your head, and I definantly hear cello. It is final. I am switching. Thanks for the advice, everyone.
     
  15. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    You should find the physical switch easy. Smaller, lighter, etc. You'll be glad when you're hauling the little thing around campus.

    If I could get used to the cello's proximity to my body, I could probably make some decent music on it. I have the same kind of problem with my EUB; it's really close.
     

  16. Zach

    There are several excellent online cello resources. Just do a google search. There may even be more information available than for bass.

    Jon
     
  17. Zach Edmands

    Zach Edmands

    Jan 24, 2003
    Well, I talked to my professor and we decided that I'm going to play bass AND cello this year and decide which one I want to stick with next year.