The Evolution of the Cello Endpin and Its Effect on Technique and Repertoire

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Braun, William
cello; endpin; music; Musicology; Music Performance; Music Practice
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This document investigates how the concept of a lifting device has evolved into the modern endpin that is a now a standard part of the cello. The endpin has a unique history that, prior to this writing, has not yet been fully documented. The evolution of the endpin has caused significant changes to cello technique, as its use, or lack of, alters the basic posture and setup of the instrument on the cellist’s body. Written and iconographic evidence show that endpins and other lifting devices have been used throughout all eras of the cello’s history. There are many instances when an observable change in the repertoire can be traced to technical developments made possible by changing the lifting device, thereby affecting posture of the cellist.There are four main sections in this document. The first (Chapter 2: Construction) establishes the definition of the cello endpin and how this concept has changed throughout history. This includes the description of a wide variety of materials and devices have been used to make endpins. The second section (Chapter 3: Usage) looks at when endpins and other lifting devices have or have not been used. There was no standard method of holding the cello until the mid-eighteenth century, when the position of holding the cello off the floor with both legs was adopted by almost all cellists. Eventually, endpins grew to be preferred because they enhance acoustic properties of the cello and facilitate more advanced techniques. The third section (Chapter 4: Technique) examines the evolution of cello technique and performance posture from the perspective of the endpin. Each stage in this evolution has allowed for increased efficiency while reducing tension throughout the body. This culminates in the final section (Chapter 5: Repertoire) which discusses the ways in which these technical developments affected compositions for the cello.Two appendices follow the document that detail my reactions to and experiments with different endpins and associated postures. The first appendix discusses my perceptions of acoustic changes made on my cello by trying endpins described in Chapter 2: Construction. The second addresses my experiments with the postures and setups discussed in Chapter 4: Technique, giving my reactions to technical benefits and disadvantages created in each instance.Advisor: Gregory Beaver