From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A large stringed instrument of the violin family with four strings.
In popular music and jazz
Though the cello is less common in popular music than in "classical" music, it is sometimes featured in pop and rock recordings. The cello is rarely part of a group's standard lineup (though like its cousin the violin it is becoming more common in mainstream pop).
In the 1960s, artists such as the Beatles and Cher used the cello in popular music, in songs such as "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," "Eleanor Rigby" and "Strawberry Fields Forever". In the 1970s, the Electric Light Orchestra enjoyed great commercial success taking inspiration from so-called "Beatlesque" arrangements, adding the cello (and violin) to the standard rock combo line-up and in 1978 the UK based rock band, Colosseum II, collaborated with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber on the recording Variations.
Established non-traditional cello groups include Apocalyptica, a group of Finnish cellists best known for their versions of Metallica songs, Rasputina, a group of two female cellists committed to an intricate cello style intermingled with Gothic music, Von Cello, a cello fronted rock power trio, and Break of Reality who mix elements of classical music with the more modern rock and metal genre. These groups are examples of a style that has become known as cello rock. The crossover string quartet bond also includes a cellist. Silenzium and Vivacello are Russian (Novosibirsk) groups playing rock and metal and having more and more popularity in Siberia.
More recent bands using the cello are Aerosmith, Nirvana, Oasis, Murder by Death, and Cursive. So-called "chamber pop" artists like Kronos Quartet and Margot and the Nuclear So and So's have also recently made cello common in modern alternative rock. Heavy metal band System of a Down has also made use of the cello's rich sound. The indie rock band The Stiletto Formal are known for using a cello as a major staple of their sound.
The cello can also used in bluegrass and folk music.
In jazz, bassists Oscar Pettiford and Harry Babasin were among the first to use the cello as a solo instrument; both tuned their instrument in fourths, an octave above the double bass. Fred Katz (who was not a bassist) was one of the first notable jazz cellists to use the instrument's standard tuning and arco technique. Contemporary jazz cellists include Abdul Wadud, Diedre Murray, Ron Carter, Dave Holland, David Darling, Akua Dixon, Ernst Reijseger, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Vincent Courtois, Jean-Charles Capon, and Erik Friedlander.
- Arthur Russell
- Jacques Offenbach
- André Jolivet
- Charlotte Moorman
- Kronos Quartet
- Kontra-Punkte (Stockhausen)