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Carrying a unique history, the cello is a unique instrument that has undergone physical and melodic changes. Also known as the violoncelle (French), cello (German), or violincello the cello was classified as part of the violin family in the 13th century. The cello along with other string instruments were made with different types of wood and strings to bring out their musical personalities. The handle of the bow is made of wood and the strings of the bow are usually horsehair from horses’ tails. After two more centuries, the 15th century violin began its transition into the cello that we know today. Originally higher pitches were preferred over lower tones, but more acceptance grew for instruments with a variety in sound during this time period. Developed in the 16th century, violins evolved from viola da braccio in three registers– treble (soprano), alto/tenor and bass. The first people to make cellos were the renowned violin makers Andrea Amati (1581–1632), Gasparo da Salò (1549–1609) and Paolo Maggini (1581–1632).

Similarly, when playing with other instruments, the cello was classified as a ripieno instrument, or an instrumental part that didn’t play as a soloist during the later Baroque period. All thanks to Antonio Stradivari, today the cello can be considered a solo instrument after some alterations done in the 1700s to its structure. The body of the cello shrunk, and the ribs became flatter. The dimensions of Antonio’s revised cello are as follows: the body length 75–76 cm, 34–35 cm wide at the top and 44 cm wide at the bottom, and the ribs were 11.5 cm high. These measurements have remained up until the present. Taking this into account, Luigi Boccherini was the first person to treat the cello as its own voice. He included more use of tremolo, harmonics, sul ponticello and extending into a higher register for the cello.

The structure of the cello went under another round of alterations. The strings became thinner and were stretched, which made the sound clearer and the neck was put back on an angle. As well as the neck and fingerboard were lengthened. To cope with the increased pressure of the strings on the table the bass bar and sound post were also reinforced.

A full orchestra can have anywhere from eight to twelve cellos in it at one time. Cello has crossed over many genres of music. Recently, the cello has also become popular in rock music and got its own sub-genre known as cello rock. These days it’s common to see a cello being played next to traditional rock instruments such as electric guitars, electric bass guitar, and drums. In the history of the cello, famous classical cellists include Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pre, Zara Nelsova, Johann Sebastian Paetsch, Mstislav Rostropovichs, Janos Starker, and Maurice Gendron. Over time, rock and pop bands have also used the cello in their music. These include Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, ELO, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, and Panic at the Disco.