I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with the discrepancies between how my cello sounds to the one playing and to the one listening. There are a whole lot of funky tones that show up only when you are right behind the cello. “The Sound” as I have dubbed it (it’s not there if I turn the cello to the side!) The strings sound downright twangy when plucked, as if she belongs in a country song (again, this goes away when not behind her.) I can live with these somewhat. They’re annoying, but they aren’t the real problem.
I’m incredibly glad that my teacher assigned me this miserable task of practicing everything extremely close to the bridge, because during this process today I discovered something. Leaning over in front of the cello while playing, I realized that the tone I hear from behind is completely different. I’m not just talking about the weird things that show up, but rather the sound quality is the opposite of what I thought it was. For example, when my husband said that bowing close to the bridge sounded lighter, more energetic, clearer to him, he wasn’t kidding. From behind it sounds heavy, aggressive, ugly. But it’s actually not! I turned her to the side as best I could and still play, leaned my head over, and listened. Not only was “the sound” gone, but it actually sounded really pretty near the bridge! Too bad it sounds like shit when playing properly. This also goes in reverse. When bowing farther away from the bridge, it sounds light, airy, mellow from my perspective. From in front it sounds gritty, doesn’t project, much darker. Not the feeling I thought it was at all!
So my question is this: is this normal or should my cello have more of a direct correlation between what I’m hearing from behind and what people hear in front? If my cello is normal, then I guess I’ll just have to get used to playing things the opposite of how I actually want them to sound, but if it’s not I’d like to know so I can see if there’s something I can do about this.