First Public Performance on the Cello

I reached a new milestone in using the cello to make my first public performance. I chose the 'Our Kinda Country' open-mic as the occasion. It's a friendly environment where people are encouraged to perform and hone their skills.

I haven't mastered bowing technique as yet, so it's all pizzicato. When I was toying around with the mandolin I worked out chord shapes of up to four notes which gave me extended chords like maj7, min6, min 7b5, etc. I transferred this knowledge to the cello as both instruments are tuned in fifths. My techniques is the play the bass note and up to three higher pitched strings depending on what's required and that gives me quite a full sound. I'm glad I had a pickup fitted as the low end response of the cello tapers off quite markedly.

I chose three songs:

  1. Nature Boy
  2. Baby, Now That I've Found You, and,
  3. Write Me a Letter.

My approach is pretty much the same for the each song in that I start off with just a bass line and then later add the extra notes as chords to fill out the arrangement.

Nature Boy uses a min7b5 as the second chord. I use the same shape as a diminished and that works well.

Baby, Now That I've Found You is played in the key of Eb. The odd key provides me with a very rich C and Gm chord in the verse where the change from just playing a bass line to using chords is quite dramatic.

Write Me a Letter is a Davidson Brothers song. The challenge is to hold a bass note and play the intro section smoothly.

Lessons learnt

Twice the end pin slipped on the wooden floor which upset the rhythm somewhat. I used the rubber end instead of the spike but clearly I need a new approach. I think I'll use the drummer approach and take a carpet square and use the spike.

I need to practice using an amplifier as the string balance is markedly different between being un-plugged and plugged. The extra bass caught me by surprise and I had to change my technique to cope.

P. S.

There is a cello player from Kentucky by the name of Ben Sollee and he uses much the same approach that I use. The only difference is that he can use the bow and I can't. Time will change that. I was fortunate enough to see him perform live at Mossvale Park a few months ago. Unfortunately I wasn't able to have a chat with him as the festival minders were organising him. Pity, I could have learnt a great deal from him in a short chat.