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More Than One Way to Play the Cello

Frances-Marie Uitti

Changing the Rules of Cello Playing

by Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle

The cello is a very fine instrument - just ask Yo-Yo Ma - but it has some fundamental weaknesses. The most obvious one is that there's no way to play more than two of its four strings simultaneously.

Fortunately, a solution is at hand. Scratch that: two solutions.

One comes from the German cellist and composer Michael Bach, who has developed a curved cello bow with loosely strung hairs that can be drawn across all four cello strings at once. The result is a rich, warm mass of overtones that is a far cry from the broken chords cellists generally have to use to play, say, Bach's Suites for Solo Cello.

Frances-Marie Uitti, an American cellist and composer now living in Amsterdam, has a different idea. Over the course of several decades, she's become expert at playing with two bows at once – one in the normal position atop the strings and the other between the strings and the body of the cello – so that the number of string combinations available to her increases instantly.

Read more about this at the SF Gate website: