Rich History of the Cello

The cello’s organic tones have captivated listeners for years- drawing people in with sounds like the human voice. This was a once beloved instrument that became a staple of Western culture through cultural changes and demands. The history of this instrument is often unknown to many people, but it is no mystery that it’s a challenger for the most beloved.

Whether you are just getting into playing the cello, if you’ve been practicing for a while, or if you enjoy knowing about different musical instruments, the history of the cello is an interesting story. Indeed, its history of development is an excellent example of how humans will always try to find ways to create something new and beautiful, overcoming any obstacles and adapting. That’s what led to the invention of music that speaks deeply to us. So it’s not just the sound; it has a history and meaning too.

Brief History of the Cello and Interesting Facts

History of the Cello: Early Years

Ancient civilizations that existed before A.D. utilized stringed instruments like the lyre and harp to make music, create melodies, and accompany poetry. The history of the cello starts here, and at some point in time bow was added. There’s evidence from paintings from the 13th century that violin-type instruments were around back then. The lira, a Greek instrument which is sort of like a violin, is thought to be where they came from.

This is because, in the early days, there were two instruments that were used – the viola de braccio (meaning arm) and the viola de Gamba (which means leg). Although in the past the violin was preferred, rather than popular amongst aristocrats, most violins that we know today evolved from the de braccio design.

According to the Vienna Symphonic Library, it wasn’t until the first half of the sixteenth century that violin makers began creating what would eventually become the modern cello.

In the history of the cello, luthiers Andrea Amati (1581-1632), Gasparo da Salo (1549-1609), Paolo Maggini (1581-1632) are credited with the first bass violin designs, dubbed the “violone.” The instruments back then were usually the same size as what we see today– because it was hard to play lower tones without a larger instrument. Due to changing preferences and the need for added variety, instruments with lower ranges were created.

Solidifying the Cello Design

Before the 18th century, instruments that featured the F2, C3, G3, and D4 tunings were either a large bass instrument (measuring approximately 2’8” long) or a smaller variety that was about 2 ½” shorter. Back in the 1600s, metal wound strings were invented – and this made it possible to make much smaller violins. But then, in 1700-1710, people wanted to go even smaller – again. Even though they’re now a bit larger than they used to be, today there are none of the original ‘large small violins’ (what we call ‘viol.

Antonio Stradivarius (1644-1737) was the mastermind behind the size we now know today as a cello. After 1710, he started making them up to this new size and copycats followed suit. Many of his original pieces are still around in museums, so you can compare them yourself. This is what led to the emergence of virtuosos, such as cellist-broadcaster Luigi Boccherini. This is a innovative guy, not only did he use the cello for bass, but also playing some cool harmonic things and melodies. He showed that the cello could be used like other solo instruments.

The sound of the cello has changed over time and more cultural changes (including the French Revolution) affected the instrument. Around the turn of the century, people started making music more socially and commercially accessible. So we made some changes to the piano, it’s going to sound better and have better volume. We’ve got clearer tones and louder songs. It’ll sound great. These changes were made to both increase the volume of the string and make playing more comfortable: by raising the bridge, lengthening the fingerboard, and setting back the neck.

Although cello music was already around at this time, Bach’s Six Suites are said to be the first major work written for the instrument. Cello-related design remained pretty stable during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The only noticeable change is a little spike, which was introduced so it would be easier to balance.

Cellos Today

Cellos are still a big deal today and have been used in lots of different types of music. That’s because they sound great. The cello rock subgenre is for those who are interested in rock with a touch of classical and gothic music.

They are often found in symphony orchestras with up to 10 cellists. They provide a lot of support to other instruments, making them a very critical part of the symphony orchestra. I’m really interested in playing alone in various events like concerts. For example, I might perform a solo of a Cello Concerto piece followed by an orchestra. Some well-known composers for solo violin include Bach, Haydn, Dvorák, Vivaldi and Boccherini. Some of the greatest cellists in history were Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pré and Casals.

Interesting Facts About the Cello

Here are some of the most compelling facts about Cello:

  • The name of the instrument is really called ‘violoncello’ but everyone just calls it a cello. The full name in Italian means ‘small-large voil’.
  • The plural form of the cello is both celli and cellos.
  • Historically, cello players used thicker, coarser black hair on their bows. And in solo performances they have lighter white hair.
  • The neck of a cello is angled back to help amplify the sound. This is because the downward force applied by a cellist on the bridge increases if it’s positioned this way. When playing in an orchestra, it’s important to make sure you’re heard!
  • Cellists used to support the cello with their legs instead of an endpin in earlier days. The endpin was invented by S.F. Servais who used to be a performer as well as a tutor (good guy!).
  • Back in the day, cello strings were made of sheep gut. They were replaced by metal wiring for clearer sound and structural stability.
  • Cellos back in the day used to have five strings and were more popular in Germany and the Flemish and Dutch areas, unlike now where cellos only have four strings.
  • If a note is long, people might add a little whine or shudder to it to make it sound more interesting. This technique is called vibrato and is quite common.

As a rich, historical instrument and with the kind of intense sonic beauty that only it has, the cello is a one-of-a-kind. Its versatility has allowed it to stay relevant in today’s society, even though we’re so close to the other instruments we use.

Who Invented the Cello?

Andrea Amati is a key person to the history of the cello. He was the man credited with inventing instruments that we use today. He was born in Cremona, Italy and became the first member of the famous Amati family. His family would go on to become among the most well-known luthiers of their time.

Andrea Amati’s success at elevating the instruments’ status is attributed to his relationship with the royal court. At the time, cellos were seen as just a farmhand thing, but to them it was a sign of wealth. However, Andrea would commission nearly 40 instruments for the king from 1560-1578. Cellos became very popular after this and are now a common site around royal courts.

A number of instruments were popular for bass at the time, so why was Amati inventing the cello? Those other instruments had a few flaws. For example, the bass violin was not comfortable to hold. After some experimentation, Amati found a much better form. The improved model would allow players to play for much longer periods of time without experiencing any fatigue.

What are Some Cello Designs and Accessories?

The cello has changed over the years with various attachments, adding to the experience of playing. At Simply for Strings we have a range of designs for different levels of musicians. No matter where you are, we have the perfect design for your needs. We have many designs to suit a variety of skill levels. From ‘Basic’ to ‘Advanced’ via ‘Electric’, we have a cello for you. Additionally, these include both carbon fibre and steel framed celli.

Celli also have many accessories that’ll take your cello experience to the next level and make you sound awesome.

The most common accessories for celli are:

  • Cases – these are used to protect your cello and bow when you’re on the go. They also make it easy to store the instrument in a safe manner.
  • Rosin – this is applied to the bow hairs to make louder sounds come from the instrument. For more info on rosin for string instruments, read our no-nonsense guide!
  • Rock stops – these are helpful with cello slippage when the endpin is not on a rubber mat.
  • Wolf note eliminators – you can put these metal devices on the cello below the bridge or tailpiece to avoid wolf tones.
  • Mutes – these are used to change the sound of the cello; they reduce overtones and lower volume. Read our Guide to Volume Mutes for String Instruments.
  • Digital Metronomes – these markers help deliver a good sound.


The history of the cello is a long and interesting story. They were derived from the bass violin in the 1500s, as a smaller instrument that was easier to carry. At the time, there were mainly viola da gambas and some cellos. The violin and viola came in later with the cello. All these instruments were part of the viol family Andrea Amati created what we now know as the cello. Amati started making instruments for the French Court around 1500.

They must have been popular because by 1570 they were working on dozens of instruments. It is not entirely clear where or when cellos originated. What is known, however, is that they have been popular throughout northern Europe for centuries. From there, the instruments continued to evolve until the modern era.

FAQ for Rich History of the Cello

Who invented the cello?

The cello was invented in the 1700s by Antonio Stradivari. The cello is a string instrument and is the largest member of the violin family. The cello evolved from a similar instrument called the viola da gamba. It is most often used in orchestras and chamber music.

What is the history of the cello?

The cello is a stringed instrument that has been around for centuries. It first became popular in the 18th century and has since become an integral part of classical music.

The cello’s origins date back to the 16th century when it was called a viol. Viols were considered to be too heavy and cumbersome to carry, so they were usually played in stationary positions. The viol has later renamed the violoncello when it became more portable and easier to play while standing or walking.

Why is it called a cello?

A cello is called a cello because it is a string instrument that is shaped like a large violin.

The word “cello” comes from the Italian word “violoncello” which means “little violone”.

Who was the first person to play the cello?

The first person to play the cello is said to be Andrea Amati. He was a friend of Nicolo Amati, who was a lute maker. Andrea Amati wanted to make a guitar-like instrument that could be played with a bow, but he had no experience in this area. He worked on it for many years and finally came up with the idea of using horsehair from the mane of horses.

What instruments are related to the Cello?

Cello is part of the string family. It belongs to the subset of string instruments that are hollow inside, so sound can resonate within them. Violins are made of a variety of materials. The strings are what produce the sound. They’re pressed against the bow when played with. The bow’s handle and the strings are usually made of wood and horse hair. For example, the viola and cello are relatives of the violin, harp, double bass.

What is the oldest cello?

The oldest cello was made in 1681 and is now owned by the Smithsonian Museum.

What is the most expensive cello?

The most expensive cello in the world is made by Christopher Dungey and is worth $3.5 million.

What does a cello look like?

A cello is a stringed instrument that has four strings and a hollow body. It is the largest of the violin family and it produces a deep, mellow sound.

A cello can be played either standing or sitting down.

What is made of and what shape of a cello?

A cello’s body, or sound chamber, is made of wood and curves in two directions to form an hourglass shape. The front of the body usually has two large openings, called f-holes. These openings allow sound to travel outwards and upwards to create a fuller sound.

A cello’s neck extends from the body and supports metal strings that are stretched over its fingerboard. The bridge of the cello holds up these strings at the top end of the neck and determines how high they will be above the fingerboard when they are in the playing position.

What should I pay attention to when buying a cello?

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a cello, such as the size of the instrument, the type of wood, and the number of strings.

The size of a cello is measured in centimeters. The most common sizes for adults are 66 cm and 67 cm. The 66 cm is considered to be an average size for adults while the 67 cm is considered to be on the smaller side. If you have small hands or are just starting out, then you may want to go with a 67 cm.

The type of wood used in a cello can affect how it sounds and how much it costs. There are two types: spruce and maple. Spruce tends to be more expensive than maple because it requires more skill to work with it and because it produces better sound quality.

What are the most common types of strings on a cello?

The most common types of strings on a cello are G, D, A, and E.

Which famous composers used the cello in their music?

The cello is a string instrument that is larger than a violin and smaller than a viola. The cello is the instrument of choice for many famous composers including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Haydn.

The most common use of the cello in music is as a solo instrument. It can also be used alongside other instruments to provide accompaniment. For example, it may play along with the violin or viola in an orchestra or quartet.

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