What is this type of string music?
August 10, 2014 6:57 AM   Subscribe

In this silly video, at around 0:35s a cello starts playing in a way I haven't heard before. Is there a name for this particular style of string music? From where does it originate? Bonus points if anyone can actually find the music's source or even similar artists.
posted by saperlipopette to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds to me like cello with harmonics at the lower end of the register. Here's a video of cello incorporating harmonics, and another video where it's more obvious.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:13 AM on August 10, 2014

It sounds to me like a double stop - playing that low note on a lower string at the same time as the melody.
posted by moonmilk at 7:28 AM on August 10, 2014

It's certainly a double stop, thanks for the videos. I was more curious about the style of music, and where it comes from, as opposed to the technique used.
posted by saperlipopette at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2014

There is nothing particularly distinctive about the style of cello music in that video. It just includes some double stops, is all. If you like that sound, you might like this brilliant and legendary performance of the Elgar cello concerto by Jacqueline du Pré conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
posted by slkinsey at 9:34 AM on August 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

It also features a melody that is based on the pentatonic scale, which appears in music from all around the world. You may enjoy the Yo Yo Ma / Edgar Meyer / Mark O'Connor album "Appalachian Journey", which is great and features lots of stuff that reminds me of this.
posted by rossination at 9:48 AM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Similar artists: Zoe Keating
posted by tenaciousmoon at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2014

It reminds me of folk, Americana or Appalachian music forms. It's just that that particular style (at least its melodic components) is typically played on violin as opposed to cello.

Along those lines you might like the work of Mark O'Connor. His compositions are still violin-focused, but he's written some really interesting symphonies based on a similar sound. Copland and Bernstein sometimes veered into this style as well.
posted by Fiorentina97 at 10:36 AM on August 10, 2014

Also check out Jay Unger!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2014

It […] features a melody that is based on the pentatonic scale, which appears in music from all around the world.

That, and--especially seen the few notes the cello actually plays in this clip--really mainly that. The pentatonic scale provides a folksy, old-New-Worldy (Dvorak 9th Symphony!), or Eastern vibe; it's one of the first ingredients Romantic composers took to when exploring outlandish (exotic) melodic idioms. In this particular example, the pentatonic scale, the "Western style" appoggiaturas, the standard I-V harmonic progression, and the somewhat irregular rhythmical character of the melody provide, taken together, some stylistic ambiguity.
posted by Namlit at 12:33 PM on August 10, 2014

If you like that low groaning sound of the double stop here, you might like Mari Kimura's experiments with subharmonics, where she somehow gets the strings to play harmonics LOWER than the base pitch, rather than higher.
posted by moonmilk at 2:39 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

It isn't a pentatonic scale. It's in E minor. The use of the F# prevents it from being pentatonic. I agree that it's not very distinctive. It wouldn't be out of place in a chamber piece by most 19th century composers. It sounds like a stock attempt to create music that sounds "sad" or "mournful."
posted by John Cohen at 4:07 PM on August 10, 2014

Um. Sounds to me like the Yo scale which belongs to the pentatonic scales. In the respective a-parts of this example [assuming a structure of a(tonic) b1(dominant) a(tonic) b2(dominant)] this scale is transposed to:
b-c#-e-f#- g#
The two different b-parts do indeed mix in some other notes; there's a d# in the first of these and an a in the second that don't belong to the scale.
posted by Namlit at 5:39 AM on August 11, 2014

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