“I guess for a second, I thought a cello was a woodwind instrument and it is not.”
Rapper Lil Yachty took to Genius recently to acknowledge a mistake in his song “Peek a Boo.” There’s a NSFW line in the first verse that implies the cello is played by blowing, not bowing. (He then made matters worse by mixing up the flute and clarinet, but never mind. We're here to talk about the cello.)
Criticism was predictably quick and harsh, with everyone seizing the chance to discredit rap’s latest “it” boy whose trap-influenced songs are moving the genre in a new direction. Post-rap? Punk rap? Bubblegum trap? Nobody knows what to call it, nor does everyone in the rap establishment approve.
(If it’s any consolation, Mr. Yachty, composers Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms and countless others endured harsh criticism from the establishment in their day, too.)
While others look to shame Lil Yachty, we see an opportunity: here’s a young man unfamiliar not only with the cello, but also all the amazing music that’s been written for it.
So, for Lil Yachty and anybody else who doesn't know what a cello is, here's a quick introduction.
J.S. Bach: Suite No. 1 in G Major for Solo Cello, Prelude
They say the cello's sound is the closest of any instrument to the human voice.
Debussy: Cello Sonata
Progressive composers added special effects to the cello's palette.
Arvo Pärt: Fratres
The cello can be a compelling storyteller.
Antonin Dvorák: Cello Concerto in B Minor
Some composers saved their best music for the cello.
Zoltán Kodály: Sonata in B Minor for Solo Cello, 3rd movement
When needed, the cello can sound like an electric guitar.
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachanias Brasileira No. 5
Eight cellos! (And a soprano.) Enough said.
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2, 2nd movement
Wait, a piano concerto? Yes. Brahms gave the cello an amazing solo in this movement.
More to explore: