what clef is cello in?
 

what clef is cello in?

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what clef is cello in?    02:17 on Saturday, May 14, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

LilLaree
(13 points)

Hi everyone,
I am thinking about learning to play the cello. I am learning to play the violin right now,
but want to learn another instrument. I want to know what clef is the music written in?

Do you think it will be easier for me to learn it since I have experience with strings?

Please voice all your opinions, I want to know what you think!
Thanks a lot, LilLaree

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Re: what clef is cello in?    08:29 on Saturday, May 14, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

hegyhati
(923 points)

Dear LilLaree, I think, it would definitely help, if You already know some stuff about the violin. Bowing, fingering positions are not new concepts for You. About the clefs: well, cello has a very wide range. In the first few years You will probably meet the bass clef. If You visit wikipedia, or just search on google for fingering charts, You will see, the range. This site has some stuff for cellist as well. Although I'm also just a beginner, please let me know, if You need any help. And good luck with the cello!

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Re: what clef is cello in?    09:31 on Sunday, May 15, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 1 vote

AmateurComposer
(85 points)

Hi everyone,
I am thinking about learning to play the cello. I am learning to play the violin right now,
but want to learn another instrument. I want to know what clef is the music written in?

Do you think it will be easier for me to learn it since I have experience with strings?

Please voice all your opinions, I want to know what you think!
Thanks a lot, LilLaree


Cello music can be written in three clefs, one of which you are already familiar with, namely, the treble clef which marks the middle C on the first ledger line below the staff. The most commonly used clef is the bass clef, which marks the middle C on the first ledger line above the staff. In between is the tenor clef, which marks the middle C on the fourth line of the staff.

Do not worry about the clefs. It will take you some time to familiarize yourself with them and to get used to them; much less time than it took you to be able to play the violin.


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Re: what clef is cello in?    15:13 on Thursday, June 02, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

PhilOShite
(150 points)

There is a 4th clef, and all the cellist moan about it and I don't blame them either. To the untrained eye, it looks like a treble clef but you play it an octave lower than written. i.e. middle C is on the 2nd space down. Mercifully, it is a clef used by older composers e.g. Haydn and Beethoven, but it is dying out now.

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Re: what clef is cello in?    10:44 on Friday, June 03, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

egretboy
(173 points)

Also, tenor clef (very occasionally). If you are just starting, you'll just use bass (luckily for you).

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Re: what clef is cello in?    11:01 on Friday, June 03, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

AmateurComposer
(85 points)

There is a 4th clef, and all the cellist moan about it and I don't blame them either. To the untrained eye, it looks like a treble clef but you play it an octave lower than written. i.e. middle C is on the 2nd space down. Mercifully, it is a clef used by older composers e.g. Haydn and Beethoven, but it is dying out now.



Any criteria to tell those apart? How should one know how to interpret the treble clef?


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Re: what clef is cello in?    19:26 on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

musicman1
(4 points)

I'm taking 5th grade level cello...all I've used is bass or 'F' clef.

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Re: what clef is cello in?    20:11 on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

AmateurComposer
(85 points)

I'm taking 5th grade level cello...all I've used is bass or 'F' clef.


So far, young person! So far! If and when you make sufficient further progress, you will eventually encounter the rest. Guaranteed.

Wishing you the best, I hope that you will be in the future a good enough cello player to comfortably play music noted by all cello clefs.


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Re: what clef is cello in?    14:43 on Thursday, June 23, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

DiesIrae
(24 points)

Any criteria to tell those apart? How should one know how to interpret the treble clef?


If it is the treble clef one octave lower it will usually be marked with a small 8 at the bottom of the clef. It is also common in vocal music for tenor male voices. Similar, a bass clef can be notated with a 8 bellow it to indicate an octave transposition. The 8 can also be placed above the clef to indicate an octave transposition up.

I'm not sure if this also appears on the movable C clef (alto/tenor clef). Has anybody seen this before?

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Re: what clef is cello in?    11:00 on Friday, June 24, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

AmateurComposer
(85 points)

If it is the treble clef one octave lower it will usually be marked with a small 8 at the bottom of the clef.


Well, this 8 indicator does not show up in the cello part of the score for Rossini's Guillaume Tell overture, nor the cello part of the score of Beethoven's Egmont overture, nor in many other cello parts in scores from that era. I believe that in those days the standard convention was octave lower. However, I am not aware of when this convention was abolished, or by whom. Does anyone know the history in this matter?

I read somewhere, though, that nowadays the cello performance parts are written in concert pitch, regardless of the notation in the scores.


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Re: what clef is cello in?    14:51 on Wednesday, August 03, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Scotch
(591 points)

The treble clef with pitches written an octave higher than to be sounded (with respect to concert pitch, that is--all this being relative) is not usually considered a "fourth clef". It was common practice in much of the nineteenth century. As a practical matter, you'll still find it in scores from the period, but since you generally won't find it in cello parts (that is, in what the cellist is actually reading), this is of more concern to conductors and people who study scores.

The main clue is the period in which the piece was written, but there are two others: 1) the notes surrounding (immediately preceding and immediately succeeding) the change to the treble clef and 2) whether there is tenor clef in the piece. You see, the point of the treble clef reading an octave lower was to obviate the tenor clef: The tenor clef makes this use of the treble clef unnecessary and vice versa.

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Re: what clef is cello in?    18:53 on Thursday, August 04, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Scotch
(591 points)

If it is the treble clef one octave lower it will usually be marked with a small 8 at the bottom of the clef.

Anthony Donato, Preparing Music Manuscript, p. 131: "The most common procedure is to use a regular treble clef sign for the tenor [vocal] part, since there is a general understanding that the tenor part sounds an octave lower than written. Occasionally one will see a small figure 8 attached to the lower part of the treble clef sign to indicate the octave transposition for the tenor part."

The piccolo uses the treble clef written an octave below concert pitch; the guitar uses the treble clef written an octave above concert; the double bass and contrabassoon use the bass clef an octave above concert. All these instruments use regular bass and treble clefs without an 8.

I'm not sure if this also appears on the movable C clef (alto/tenor clef). Has anybody seen this before?

In addition to its primary (transposed) bass clef, the contrabassoon also reads the tenor clef written an octave above concert as an auxiliary clef. This is a regular tenor clef without an 8.

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Re: what clef is cello in?    15:44 on Saturday, August 06, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

PhilOShite
(150 points)

Scotch and AmateurComposer, it may be the case that modern publishers have deprecated the practice of octave treble clefs for new music, but I can assure you that music does still exist in playable condition with this clef and it does get played and I can furthermore assure you that cellists moan when they have to use this clef.

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Re: what clef is cello in?    02:41 on Sunday, August 07, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Scotch
(591 points)

Scotch and AmateurComposer, it may be the case that modern publishers have deprecated the practice of octave treble clefs for new music...

I don't think either of us said anything about publishers "deprecating"; they just don't publish cello parts
with octave transposition for old music--and, obviously, not "for new music" either. Writers of orchestration textbooks, though, have been deprecating the practice (in old music) at least as far back as Cecil Forsyth in 1914.

...but I can assure you that music does still exist in playable condition with this clef and it does get played and I can furthermore assure you that cellists moan when they have to use this clef.

At this point you need to recognize that a treble clef is still a treble clef whether the instrument using it reads concert pitch or whether it transposes--by octave or by some other interval. There are only three clefs used in cello music.

Since cellists see the treble clef less often than they see the bass and tenor clefs, there are many cellists not very advanced whose ability to read the treble clef is somewhat faulty, yes, but these should not include anyone with a music degree. Nevertheless, I have encountered cello orchestral parts in which a former user actually penciled in note names where the part rose into the (untransposed) treble clef (and I'm very sorry, but I just had laugh when I saw this).

There is nothing tricky about transposing by octave at sight, however. Assuming the cellist is fluent with the treble clef (as every musician should be), the only tricky thing is knowing when you're intended to transpose and when you're not, and that's, as I said, primarily a matter for conductors and other score readers (of old music). No reason to "moan", in any case.


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Re: what clef is cello in?    13:49 on Sunday, September 25, 2011 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

PhilOShite
(150 points)

Scotch,

It would appear that deprecate does not mean what I thought it meant. When I have heard it used it is related to provisions in a standard that are allowed for existing work, but it is prefered that they are not used for new work. Sorry to have misled you.

Unfortunately, not all of us have degrees in music and judging by comments in Norman Del Mar's Anatomy of the Orchestra, even professional musicians do not like the practice. Whether it counts as 2 separate clefs or one is something that we can argue about all day, but to the man on the Clapham Omnibus, i.e. the original poster then they may as well be 2 different clefs because people who are at the level of the OP do have problems and need to be warned. It would be irresponsible not to say anything based on a point of pedantry.

   





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