Five-string cello, its range and idiomatic compositional style

In the spirit of the age, and in the light of the composing tradition for a solo bowed instrument, my transcriptions are destined to a five-string cello, a typology that must have been very popular until the end of the 18th century. This instrument is the bass member of the “viole da braccio” family, that in this instance is played vertically, and it benefits from the tradition of composing for solo violin. But even more than being influenced by this, the style of composing for solo cello is deeply affected by the rich tradition of composing for the lute and the viola da gamba. These organologically distinct families of instruments have their own bass members, that share with the five- string cello the low-octave extension. Double stops and chords play nicely and easily on the violin, especially by virtue of its thin treble range, whereas on bass instruments it is more effective a style of horizontal polyphony. Horizontal polyphony may be described as the musical counterpart of the painting technique of “trompe l’œil”, by which the eye is deceived to see three dimensions on a two-dimension surface.