The Old-Time Herald Volume 13, Number 4

There’s Always Room for Cello
by Paul F. Wells
courtesty: Paul F. Wells

What instruments are appropriate in a band that plays old-time music? You need at least one strong melody instrument, of course. A fiddle, or perhaps two, will do quite nicely, thank you. Then, another instrument to either double the melody or weave a countermelody around it would be good. A banjo, mandolin, or additional fiddle can fill this role. There also needs to be something on the lower end of the sonic spectrum, an instrument that can provide both harmony and a rhythmic base for the other instruments. A guitar is usually the instrument of choice these days. On those occasions when something even lower is wanted, a string bass might be added to the mix.

But how about a cello for the bottom? If someone showed up at a jam or a dance today with cello in tow and asked to sit in, he or she might well receive some curious looks from the other musicians. However, as the photos here show us, cellos were by no means alien members of string bands in an earlier era.

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