Glossary of non-Western cello techniques?

I remember reading about a book years ago that cellist, Frances-Marie Uitti (she invented a playing technique using two bows so that she could play four part polyphonic music on the cello), that would be a technical manual on alternative 20th century cello techniques. What she ended up publishing was a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to the Cello titled “The Frontiers of Technique” which:

In it the development of cello techniques is traced through the Darmstadt experimental era covering the uses of different bows and preparations, new repertoire, percussives, use of the voice and new uses of both hands.

I would still love to read a book length (or maybe dissertation length?) treatment of the subject, but as I was walking into the office debating whether to practice or do a little more organizing I had a tiny revelation that I should be documenting non-Western cello techniques in some form or another. I immediately told the wife of my plan to compile a glossary of world music terms that are relevant to the techniques and skills I’ve had to learn outside of orthodox music instruction channels.

Basically, the idea would be to have a place I can direct people to online (or in handout form for classes and workshops) to terminology from specific cultures so that I don’t have to continually define each and every term whenever I might write or talk about it. Ideally it would also give a description of how it can be done on the cello as well, and eventually might have audio if I get adventurous enough.

The biggest obstacle, is that I just do not know what all these ornaments, or techniques are called in the various countries. When I talk to Wendi (il Troubadore’s clarinetist) about some of the issues of translating non-Western folk music techniques to modern Western instruments we might refer to things like “that weird Bulgarian trill” (which I actually do know the name for: “tresene“) or what have you.

Knowing the terminology will just ease the issue of presentation, or even communication, but most importantly will also give some indication of the culture’s music of the technique from which it is being borrowed.

I realize that I haven’t gotten to blogging about the meat of anything here yet. Mostly I’m letting people smell the meal before it’s cooked, or maybe these posts are appetizers? Either way, keep reading folks, I’m sure I’ll have something with more substance here soon.

Practice [B]log

In the interest of charting my new found obsession with practicing, I’ve decided to start a “Practice [B]log.” Basically after each practice session I will take notes on repertoire or techniques worked on as well as my thoughts about the practicing process or the music itself.

I haven’t decided whether I want it public or not–not that I care so much who sees how much I practice–but I’m not sure I’ll even have coherent sentences (or even phrases, for that matter) about my thoughts. I have so many idiomatic ways about talking about music in my head that I’m not sure much of what I post would make any sense to anyone other than me.

For now, I’ll keep it private though maybe in the future it will go public. I don’t think I’ve quite come across anything like this (as far as the full content of blogs go; individual blog posts, maybe) so I might look around to see what might be out there just to see how other people are presenting things.

It’d kinda weird getting a little upset if it’s been more than a few hours since I’ve last touched the cello and I really don’t know exactly what the motivation is so maybe some thoughts about that will go in the Practice [B]log, or maybe even in this one.

Non-Western Cello Techniques

Eventually I will blog more about using non-Western cello playing techniques. There’s a whole world of music out there and finding ways to adapt those styles to the cello isn’t without some precedent, but obviously it’s not something that’s easy to find. Until then I leave the reader with a few videos and links.

A cello (Turkish) taksim:

If you like the above, then visit Uğur Işık’s MySpace page (I especially love his Alamanti–I’ve already downloaded it from and have started learning it).

Shubhendra Rao and cellist, Saskia Rao-de Haas, playing (Indian) Hindustani music:

Visit Saskia’s website and check out her really cool modified cello

Nancy Kulkarni playing (Indian) Dhrupad:


Cello Repertoire Wiki

This is more for my own sake, and also for the sake of not cluttering up this blog with lists of cello repertoire, but I’ve set up a Cello Repertoire Wiki so that I can quickly make a note about any repertoire I may come across for my Bibliography Project.

Mirage Bellydancers Spring Hafla 2009

Mirage Bellydancers
Mirage Bellydancers

This is a prewritten blog post as I will be performing at the Mirage Bellydancers Hafla this evening with il Troubadore.  If any readers are so inclined then please come to the show for live bellydancing, live world music as only il Troubadore can provide and then a show at the Knickerbocker Saloon afterwards in downtown West Lafayette.


Special guest workshop instructor and performer at the hafla will be Taletha from Louisville, Kentucky. We’ve been working with Taletha since January of 2007 and she’s always a joy to play for (and play with as she’s also a flautist!).

Show info follows:

Mirage Bellydancers Spring Hafla 2009
Purdue University
Class of 1950 Lecture Hall CL50
West Lafayette, IN 47907

doors open at 6:00pm
show beings at 7:00pm and ends at 9:30pm

Map to Mirage Bellydancers Hafla
Map to Mirage Bellydancers Hafla