inter alia: “Hey Richard Armitage, I think your G-string is a bit tight…”

That got your attention didn’t it?!  Nope, this is not a further investigation in to anyone’s underwear preference…

...just a little string instrument humor!

…just a little stringed instrument humor! **

I was listening to my old new favorite collection of music this weekend and remembering how much I love the sound of the cello.   A convenient coincidence I suppose given the Richard Armitage connection, but really, my love of the cello extends back a long way.  Where I grew up, music lessons were (and still are – for now) a part of the public school curriculum, beginning in the 4th grade.  We had our choice of instruments, and I ruled out horns right away  SO   MUCH   SPIT!!  (yeck – leave it to my kid to take up the oboe!)  I was much more attracted to the strings.  I really, really, really wanted to play the cello, but it would have meant hauling it to school on the bus every other day, and that seemed like a daunting prospect since even at 10, I would likely have been playing a full sized instrument.  Violin it was.

I was a proficient violinist.  I suppose that if I had bothered myself to practice more, I could have been more than proficient.  Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda…  In any case, by the time I reached high school,  I had carved out a more or less permanent place as the second chair of the second violin section.  If you know anything about string arrangements, you’ll know that melody is a preciously rare commodity in this section.   Feeling unappreciated (in my 16 year old brain) and seeking greener pastures, I changed over to the viola.  I like the sound of the viola – more mello than the violin, but without the bulk of the cello, but not quite the same.  Not a whole lot of melody to be found here either, but it put me in much closer proximity to the bass instruments (we non treble cleffers had to stick together in that sea of violins) and together we produced the back bone of the ensemble.  The vast majority of the music I encountered was classical.  I love classical music, especially Bach and Mozart, but imagine my surprise when I encountered a cello in a wholly different context.

I mentioned a while back that I had recently rediscovered the music of a band that I loved when I was in college, and that it really took me back.  This band was unique in any number of ways, not the least of which was their integration of the cello in their fusion of funk and rock .

See that guy there?  The one with the bass...yes, the one with the bass and the mohawk...he's also a cellist.

See that guy there? The one with the bass…yes, that’s him on the right too – with the bass and the mohawk…he’s also a cellist.

The bassist for this band, pictured above, is also a classically trained cellist.  The combination of sounds was something that, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I hadn’t heard before, and I liked it…a lot.  Take a listen to the two tracks here…the cello is prominent in the beginning, but is there throughout, bringing a depth to the sound that an electric bass alone can’t provide.

Big Bang Theory – “So Much More”

Big Bang Theory – “Livin’ in a Dream”

Richard Armitage has said that the cello comes closest of an instrument to sounding like the human voice…listen to this version of Led Zepplin’s Kashmir to hear what he means…

I imagine that Richard Armitage has the potential to be a pretty decent cellist….There are certainly plenty of extremely talented female cellists, but it is no secret that there are a lot of very well known male cellists.  I imagine that some of it has to do with the fact that men simply have larger hands and longer fingers which allows them greater reach over the fingering.  Longer arms can’t hurt in reaching around and gaining really deep bowing strokes either.  Long arms and long fingers Richard Armitage has plenty of!

I wonder if years playing the cello have anything to do with the famously open sitting position?

I wonder if years playing the cello have anything to do with the famously open sitting position?

**Check out a masterful list of music puns here