gut strings

On How to Play a Baroque Cello: Gut Strings (Part 2) — by Guy Fishman

In last week’s blog, I outlined a brief history of gut strings in the 20th century. Here I complete my blog on gut strings, and also offer a bit of advice on their use. There is no doubt that the character of the sound of gut strings differs from that of steel. Gut has what is usually described as a warm sound. This is despite the fact that the surface tension of gut is much higher than steel, and the “buzz” that musicians often hear under their ears coming from gut strings is part of what propels the sound toward the listener. I have found that the variety of color between the strings and along the same string, especially on unwound gut, creates a great deal of interest in the [...]

By |2017-10-30T05:05:53+00:00September 29th, 2014|Categories: Baroque, Chamber Music, Repertoire, Teaching|Tags: , , , , , |

On How to Play a Baroque Cello: Gut Strings (Part 1) — by Guy Fishman

I will now attempt to shift the focus of my series on baroque cello from attempting to define what a baroque cellist is to getting to it and actually playing a baroque cello. Before I do, I would like to point out to the reader that for the vast majority of those of us who play period instruments came to them after we had gained experience on standard ones. Holding the cello between one’s legs, using a baroque bow, minimizing vibrato, and other elements that seem, in the minds of many, to be trademarks only of the period instrument movement therefore often feel as though they are diminishing something we’re used to, almost to the point of deprivation. It’s similar to dieting, in the sense that one often limits what [...]

By |2017-10-30T05:05:29+00:00September 22nd, 2014|Categories: Baroque, Self Discovery, Technology|Tags: , , , , |

On “What Makes a Baroque Cellist”: Foreign Languages (Part 1) — by Guy Fishman

Photo: painting by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) of the Gore Family (1775).   I began answering “What makes a baroque cellist?” in a blog posted last year. Since that time, some memories of my not-so-distant youth have been prominent among the many thoughts that are conjured by the question. I first encountered what we now call historically-informed performance practice when I was about 14. I had only been playing the cello for a couple of years, but my first teacher gave me tapes (yes, tapes) of cello concerti by Vivaldi and Boccherini, performed on standard instruments, very early during my time with her. I found that I felt an immediate kinship and attraction to music of the 18th century. Two years later, the film Tous les matins du monde premiered. I [...]

By |2017-10-30T05:10:53+00:00September 8th, 2014|Categories: Artistic Vision, Baroque, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , |

What Makes a Baroque Cellist — by Guy Fishman

I was once accused of playing like a baroque cellist. It was most certainly an accusation, and I don’t know what the coach was hoping to achieve by framing her opinion of my playing in such terms. Suffice it to say I was insulted, and the funny thing is, I don’t even know why. Okay, I was playing Brahms’s F major sonata, on a cello that had an endpin and two steel strings (the other two were wound gut). My partner was playing a Steinway M. Furthermore, and perhaps most revealing, is the fact that by the time I was being coached on this piece, during my second year of doctoral studies at New England Conservatory, I had already won a position with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, the nation’s [...]