Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Is the Cello the Best Instrument?

Is the piano the best instrument?

110 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

I play the piano. Ergo, the piano is the best instrument. Good thing I could clear that one up for everyone!


@The Lady of Shalott

Since her experience this past weekend, my little girl also thinks the piano is best. And the Pianola, playing Bumble Bee Boogie.


@The Lady of Shalott My piano-playing husband would agree with you wholeheartedly.

I agree with you when I'm drunk and belting show tunes in our apartment at 2am. I think our neighbors/passers-by on the street love us.

Judith Slutler

@Ophelia I'd come over and sing with you, that sounds great!


@Emmanuelle Cunt You are most welcome! You can even stay over and sleep on our supremely uncomfortable pull-out couch :)


@The Lady of Shalott But I play both the flute AND the piano! How do I choose?!


Thank you! My feelings exactly! ;)@j


The cello is 100% the best instrument. I am looking at my two cellos right now.

hahahaha, ja.

@Gnatalby: I'll just leave this here. I'm pretty sure that performance automatically impregnates anyone who watches it regardless of gender or sexuality.


@ietapi It's half sexy, half silly, all lovely. Thet are having cellorgasms.


@ietapi Oh my! That is amaaaaaaze.



Yoyo Ma, Zoe Keating, etc. Also, the range of the cello is closest to the human voice. Most beautiful instrument, on all possible levels. I feel very strongly about this.


Thank you for putting this in my life.


@cherrispryte The human vocal range thing is what I put in my write in answer on the linked poll. I totally agree!

I ran into yoyo ma once at my school in the hallway, I was more excited than a belieber.


YES. CELLO PLAYERS REPRESENT! There is nothing NOT wonderful about this instrument! (Well, I am still terrified by the spike. I feel like, given my klutziness/bad luck, I will somehow impale myself on the end of mine, and end up like a reap from Dead Like Me.)


@cherrispryte According to my mother I met Yo-Yo Ma and shook his hand. I was like five or six, though, so I have absolutely no memory of this event. (It was at a big Suzuki festival and his son was part of it? Something like that. No memory whatsoever.)


@Bitterblue I have several gorge marks on the back of my calf from hitting myself with the spike, which regularly poked its way through the zipper of my soft carrying case and stabbed me.

Anna Jayne@twitter

@Gnatalby I do not play the cello, but I am in a band fronted by a lady who plays the cello and it is PRETTY GREAT. Maybe the best. Definitely the most charming.


@Anna Jayne@twitter Do you live in DC? I will come see your band!


@Gnatalby Definitely. The cello always.


@oboe-d-amore I also enjoy an oboe, but let's be real, it's cello forever.


@cherrispryte Zoe Keating has at least half of my heart.

Faintly Macabre

@Gnatalby Cello all the way! I miss playing it so much. My parents still have mine, as they haven't been able to sell it, but I'm kind of scared to pick it up and realize I've forgotten all 9 years of study.


@Faintly Macabre You haven't forgotten! I went a long time without playing and then did and it was fine. I even remember how to read music.


@frigwiggin Zoe Keating's albums are the only thing that got me through grad school. I think my brain's developed a Pavlovian response to hearing her.

In less study-related things, RASPUTINA IS REALLY IMPORTANT.


The bass! Or, wait, maybe I'm confusing my love of bassists for a love of bass.

I guess cellos are okay, but man, bassists.


@SarahP Seriously, what is up with bassists. <3

Judith Slutler

@SarahP Ugh I tried to play string bass for so long, but my little fingers just couldn't do it. Bass is fucking magical.


@SarahP - I used to play bass. It was basically the best. I'm horrible now and have barely played in years, but if you want your children to ever be in rock and roll bands, heere is how to figure out what they should be:

Little kid activity to bandmember index
Always jumps out of too high tree branches: drummer
Always drawing: rhythm guitar
Always playing with star wars toys: keyboard player
Always playing with legos: bass player
Always playing doctor with neighborhood girls: lead guitar
Always "playing with themself": lead singer


@SarahP Oh, the bassists. You are causing me to get a faraway look in my eye...

fondue with cheddar

@leon.saintjean Having known a lot of musicians, yeah, that sounds pretty accurate. Except my brother is a drummer and he doesn't fit the drummer stereotype at all.

P.S. Legos are the best toys ever.


I don't understand the question and I won't respond to it.


I'm a clarinetist and tenor saxophonist who grew up in a family of fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and piano players. So my answer is: every instrument.

But mostly the clarinet.


@camanda Yes! The clarinet!

I mean, it would be the oboe, except those cost six times as much! So it's the clarinet! (Also awesome: you will never be called upon to sing and play at the same time. For someone as amusical and tone-deaf, yet stubborn enough to insist on playing something as me, this is a great benefit.)


@glitterary Also: oboe reeds. Because clarinet reeds just aren't annoying enough!


@camanda My family plays violin, viola, bass and regular guitar, double bass, mandolin, piano, and saxophone. So I agree with you that all instruments are best.


@camanda I just got a new pack of clarinet reeds that I haven't opened yet, even though the reed I've been using is splitting, because then I'll be forced to acknowledge that the reason my playing sounds bad is that my playing IS bad, not that I've just worn my reed out.


@glitterary What kind of reeds? Talk to me about reeds!!

I have been using legit the same box of reeds for seven years. I haven't been able to break one yet. And I judiciously rotate and soak and clean them, because I am cheap and also they are my reeds. (Get rid of your reeds, seriously, they are revolting?)


@camanda REEDS. Let's talk reeds. Bassoon reeds: they are literally the worst. And every time (EVERY TIME) I have gone to the music shop to buy reeds in the last 3 years, the salesperson goes "Yeah the cane shortage is getting reallllly bad... soon we just won't be able to keep reeds in stock at all. Good thing they make those plastic ones, huh?"
No. Not a good thing. Sh.


@Hekatompedon OH GOD PLASTIC REEDS KILL IT WITH FIRE. Good for projection, bad for an actual sound. Actually, I wouldn't even use them for that. I did pep band in college with my saxophone, and my preferred setup for the sheer volume was an open mouthpiece and hard cane reeds. It worked! Screw you, plastic reeds!


@camanda I use really quite soft reeds (Rico Grand Concert Select #2s) so maybe that's why they're constantly fraying? But it could also be because I just suck them for a bit before playing rather than soaking them properly like a civilised person. I bought some plasticover ones, and they're horrible. They feel all wrong. I can just about use them, but--just no. Also I get what you mean about "my reeds" because using a new reed is always harder than one you've played on for a while already.

Also! Where did your post with the lovely music recommendations go? I got the email notification but when I came to respond to it it was gone! I really liked your suggestions! My favourite clarinet piece(s?) is Five Bagatelles by Gerald Finzi, especially part 3 (which is the only one I can play!). Lovely, lovely. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbnqjEKj44A


@glitterary I can still see it up there! I had a recommendation post for @Decca disappear in an Open Thread one week and I legit could only see it in my posted comments page. So weird. Why does that happen? EDITH, WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Yeah, the softness probably doesn't help. Have you thought about trying a different brand at the same strength, see if they hold up better? I used to use Rico's Mitchell Lurie clarinet reeds and loved them, and I still use their LaVoz line on my saxophone, though admittedly my preference is for harder reeds. I currently use Vandoren Rue Lepic 56 reeds and they are literally the only Vandoren reeds I have ever been able to play on.


The best instrument is the one that is not a pain in the butt to carry on the school bus, i.e. flute, clarinet, or violin. Or even better, piccolo!


@cuminafterall Harmonica? Kazoo?



@Ophelia In school, I took this to the logical extreme and carried no instrument at all. I sang in the choir.


@cuminafterall (Actually, I really regret not learning an instrument! If I ever have a kid I will totally make her/him learn one. I might even take lessons with them.)


@cuminafterall No, no no. That makes the piccolo your fuckbuddy, chosen for convenience, not paaaaassion.

Choosing a cello sets you apart and gives you the opportunity to prove your love daily as you schlep.


@cuminafterall This is why my sister played viola instead of the cello. Dad refused to cart it to school for her.


@Ophelia OCARINA!

sarah girl

@cuminafterall This is most of why I played flute in middle/high school! I did not envy the trombone players and how their instrument took up a whole seat on the bus.


@cuminafterall Based on carry-ability, pianos are the WORST of all instruments. So difficult to carry up stairs and fit in trunks!


@rosaline I remember reading an anecdote about the Dave Brubeck Quartet showing up for a gig and the club owner looking at the equipment they'd brought with them and going, "Where's the piano?"


@Gnatalby Come talk with the bassoonists in the thread below. We feel you on that one home-slice.
Also, anyone else with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM ?
"I don't know what that is but I know I'm gonna break it!"


It is the marimba! Have you seen people play the marimba?!

Hamburger Hot Dog
Anna Jayne@twitter

@Hamburger Hot Dog yes!! Forever.


@Hamburger Hot Dog Accordion! Melody and harmony in one! It can be any instrument you want it to be!

Hamburger Hot Dog

@Amphora Exactly! I played flute and piano as a kid, but I didn't really think of them when I wasn't playing. When I picked up an accordion for the first time, it just made sense. Further proof that accordions are magical: the week after I got my first accordion, I found a stack of Palmer Hughes accordion books (these guys) at a garage sale.


@Hamburger Hot Dog Awesome! I'm in a klezmer band with a couple of badass accordion players that have really given me respect for the instrument (and the bicep power necessary to play it properly). One of them just got this: http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=764


@Hamburger Hot Dog Joanie plays the accordion.


When it come to the strings family, viola > cello > double bass > violin.


But my preference of viola over cello is miniscule at best.


Slightly better than the viola is the vertical viola it's pretty much the best of both the viola and the cello, though good luck finding one.


@Dancercise: Oh stop, already. Everyone knows the violin rocks over every other instrument in the world. Shall I start with the viola jokes?

(As the wife and mother of violinists, I could be a bit biased.)


@Bittersweet What's the difference between a coffin and a viola?

(My mom's a violinist and I play too. Biased indeed!)


@Dancercise I agree, but that's because I'm a violist. But the cello is a very, very close second. That deep, deep C string makes me quiver.

fondue with cheddar

@Onymous I've never heard of a vertical viola. And I don't know why, but it sounds naughty. Would you like to play my vertical viola?

hahahaha, ja.

This is kind of a long shot, but since we're talking about instruments, does anyone know of an erhu teacher in the DC area?


No love for the banjo?


@atipofthehat Oh, god. When played by William Elliot Whitmore, the banjo is the best thing ever.


@atipofthehat how bout the ukelele??


@atipofthehat: Q: What's the definition of perfect pitch?

A: When you toss a banjo in the dumpster and it doesn't hit the sides.


DRUMS. That is all.


I know they're the funnest instrument to play. Fact.


@olivebee What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A drummer. How do you know when a drummer is at your door? The knocking speeds up. What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend/boyfriend? Homeless.


@whizz_dumb What did the drummer get on his IQ test? Drool.


@camanda What does it sound like when you toss a drum set off a cliff?



@camanda But as an orchestra kid, we had more viola jokes than drummer jokes.

How do you tune two violas? Smash one of them.


@Amphora What's the difference between a coffin and a viola? The coffin has the dead person on the inside.

How many violists can screw in a lightbulb? None, they don't fit.

What is the range of the viola? As far as you can kick it.

Why don't violists play hide and seek? Because no one will look for them.


@camanda I just cackled like Mrs. Krabappel. HA.


@camanda How do you tell if a stage is level? The drool comes out both sides of the drummer's mouth.


I know what is not the best instrument - the trumpet. have you ever grown up in a household with someone trying to learn to play the trumpet. oh good god.

oh. good. god.


@redheaded&crazie: For grad school, my husband had to take practicums (practica?) in every instrument family. One day he brought home the oboe and made the worst noises I've ever heard, bar none. It was like he was strangling a cat, slowly and badly.

He practiced the trumpet at school.


@Bittersweet Q. What's an oboe good for? A. Kindling for an accordion fire.


@Bittersweet realistically my "how awful does learning to play x sound" criterion applies to a LOT of instruments doesn't it?

e.g. your excellent oboe example. violin i'd imagine is another. really any of the horns. ...


@redheaded&crazie one brother was a trumpet player. the other a drummer. I was in hell. I chose nice instruments like the viola and french horn.


@redheaded&crazie: Somehow I lived with the first several months of my daughter's scratchy violin playing much better than that oboe nightmare.

That's not to say that the oboe can't sound good, though. We heard Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin at the BSO the other night and the oboeist was amaaaazing.


@redheaded&crazie I see your trumpet and raise you a banjo.

My mom is a SAINT for sitting through two kids learning violin for a combined total of twenty years (due to our age spacing). The family dog, on the other hand, howled in pain for the duration every single time I practiced.


@Bittersweet I once played my oboe when my cat was in the room and she tried to climb my leg.


Timpani! TIMPANI. I'm kind of joking, but seriously, I was singing a piece a few weeks back and every time the timpani came in I got chills.
Alternately, taiko drums, which I played in college. Kind of. We had two good drums and the rest of us practiced on trash cans that had their lids taped over.


French horn?


@anachronistique: I lost that horn, lost that horn, found that horn...gone! Flanders & Swann forever.


@Bittersweet I may have giggled to myself this morning when the Gnu Song came up on shuffle. (What, you don't have Flanders & Swann on your ipod?)


@Sefe FRENCH HORN!! I picked it back up a couple of years ago and started playing with a local community band. Yikes! But managed to remember. I just love the sound of a (well-played) french horn.

There's this sweet little flute player who thinks that because he played mellophone back in the day that he'll be able to pick up the french horn JUST FINE. As he was looking over the horn music he said that it all looked "easy". He starts on the horn in two weeks. MWAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHA!


I will just sit quietly in the corner, rooting for bassoons. Though they're kind of in a head-to-head race with cellos.


@dale BASSOOOOOOOOONS . I'm here in the corner with you. When I first started playing, it was taller than I was by a few inches. I'm still not entirely sure I've got it beat.


@dale YES YES YES! BASSOONISTS FOR THE WIN forever!! <3 u soonie.
Also: Tenoroons, altoons, and sopranoons: yea or nay?


@Hekatompedon I am intrigued and mystified. Tenoroons? Please to be telling me more!
@Xanthophyllippa I'm jealous! I wish I had the ability to play a musical instrument. Sadly, I am sooooo much better at music appreciation.


My mother is totally on the cello bandwagon. I love them, but I think I might love violas just a hair more.


When the link directed me to "The Musicians" I almost spit out my coffee. I thought maybe each character would argue, or turn into a transformer? I don't know but it was funny!

I played the trumpet for a long time but it is not the best instrument at all (However, girl trumpeters 4ever woo!)

I love bassoons, dale, and I love bassoon players (more relaxed than the oboist, but still pretty fuckin' weird). Nothing is so sneaky as a bassoon.

But piano wins duh because you can drop it on a coyote who wants to eat you or on a menacing fellow and then his teeth will turn into approximations of piano keys and clatter one by one from his mouth.


Can I throw my hat in for the tuba? Yes, they're heavy to lug, but they're not just for polka or Sousa marches--they actually have a pretty respectable range of notes and tones! I've played since I was 11, and there's nothing more badass than seeing other girls playing a gigantic tuba.


O the hoot! O the hoot!
How he trillups on his flute!
O the hoot of Tinfang Warble!

Dancing all alone,
Hopping on a stone,
Flitting like a fawn,
In the twilight on the lawn,
And his name is Tinfang Warble!

The first star has shown
And its lamp is blown
to a flame of flickering blue.
He pipes not to me,
He pipes not to thee,
He whistles for none of you.
His music is his own,
The tunes of Tinfang Warble!


My brother took up cello at the age of eight almost wholly because of Jaws. He's quite talented in a number of instruments now, while I squeaked along for ten years as a mediocre violinist and then gave up. Of course, I have a job and he doesn't. Who wins? I have to know.


Clearly it's the Roland TB-303

Betsy Murgatroyd

Obviously it's the tuba. Which I took up in the 8th grade because I didn't want to be 30th chair clarinet for the rest of my school years. And I fell in love with it. Hard.
It's a very unappreciated and neglected instrument. Plus I got to sit in the back with all the percussionists and trombonists. And everyone knows they were the baddest and cutest guys in band.


@Betsy Murgatroyd Bad and cute is beside the point. Jesus Christ, brass players know what to do with their lips. Since discovering this courtesy of a cornet-playing ex, I am never ever going to turn one of those down.


Yes, the flute is the best instrument. (I play the flute).

More posts tagged "Is the flute the best instrument?", pls.


Former alto saxophonist and flautist reporting for duty. I wanted to play tenor, but the school didn't have one for hire. It was fun to play, but heavy, which is why I tried switching to the flute after a couple of years. Unfortunately, I was the first chair saxophonist and not very good at the flute, so it didn't really work out.

I still want to learn how to play the piano one day. But cello forever, the most beautiful. <3


Euphonium? Anyone? ANYONE?!

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