Wednesday 4 January 2012

Why Can't a Cello Laugh?

The classic cliche in movies, when a sad scene's music is required, is "Bring up the cello!" This misguides the listening audience into believing that the only emotion a cello can express is "Triste" (sadness). I want to object to this and in a serious way.

A cello can be happy, and droll, and joyous, and even abstract (in the sense of Dvorak and other 20th Century composers), but this aspect of its emotional landscape is far too often overlooked.

Without meaning to decimate the incomes of various popular cellists whose income swells and depend upon this fallacious equation between sadness and cello, I want to protest against this. Cellos can laugh, and they ought to be allowed to! Anyone who doubts this need go no further than two works of Beethoven: Cello Sonata Op. 69 in A, No. 3, and the Archduke Trio (which, by the way, also includes some of the saddest music ever written (Part 3), but which culminates in a hilarious "F**k it, Life Goes On!" conclusion.

There are many other examples that illustrate that the cello can do more than pluck tears, but those will suffice for the moment.

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