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The string

bridge-tailpiece and in the peg box

The pitches of the strings between bridge and tailpiece vary from instrument to instrument.  Their contact with the bridge means they are well amplified.  Variations in pitch, dynamics and tone colour can, on an open string, be quite easily controlled. 

 

It is difficult to stop the strings because there is no fingerboard, but touching the string with high pressure and with a dense object (e.g., the fingernail) changes the pitch.  In this case, plucking/striking/bowing between the stopping finger and the bridge is louder and overtone-richer than between finger and tailpiece.

Harmonics are also possible. 

Video 51

Some plucked, struck and bowed tones between finger and bridge and finger and tailpiece.

Harmonics are also possible.

 

Video 52

Some plucked, struck and bowed harmonics between bridge and tailpiece. 

Hints, tips and extra bits

Struck harmonics in this area are difficult to distinguish from clavichord-tones.

A note on plucking

Plucking between bridge and tailpiece also makes a low, thudding sound.  This is very similar to the sound when the edge of the tailpiece is plucked. See Cello map link This sound can be (almost) isolated by damping (e.g., with the palm of the hand) at the bridge.   

Video 53

The ‘plucking tailpiece’ sound is isolated by damping at the bridge.  Firstly, the strings between bridge and nut are allowed to ring, then they are dampened.

A note on bowing

Bowing over the silk-wrapped part of the string close to the tailpiece produces a coarse sound.  This sound is similar to the timbre of a string bowed with excess pressure because, in both cases, the bow is unable to grip the string in the ‘normal’ way. 

 

Video 54

Bowing on the wrapped part of the string by the tailpiece.  The sound becomes less course and more pitch-based as the bow moves away from the tailpiece.

in the peg box

The pitches of the strings in the peg box also vary between cellos.  The two middle strings are the longest and therefore the lowest pitches.  Overtone content is weak and changes in tone colour are restricted because the strings are very short and damping effects at the pegs and nut are highHowever, there is some scope in dynamic range, especially on the two, longer middle strings.

 

Using a small, dense plectrum (e.g., the fingernail) or a dense, thin hammer (e.g., a thin metal stick like a knitting needle) or a tilted bow gives the clearest, most overtone-rich sound. 

Video 55

The strings in the peg box are plucked with the fingernail, struck with a knife and bowed with a tilted bow.  Firstly, the strings between bridge and nut are allowed to ring, then they are dampened.