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Scroll down for information about the CD, and audio clips. Click on the CD cover image below, to be transferred to the Store page, to buy the CD.

  1. Introduction
  2. Audio Clips
  3. The CD Story: An Interview
  4. A Brand New Video Experience
  5. Marketing Concepts: Hi Signs, Dances and Merchandising
  6. Classical and Rock Influences in Von Cello's CD "Breaking The Sound Barriers"


Introduction

This page has audio clips of Von Cello's CD, Breaking the Sound Barriers. You can also find full versions of some of the songs and much more on his site at mp3.com, including: Von Cello's creation of a new style of cello playing in 1975,his guitar based songs, jams, cuts from classical and rock groups of which he was a member, and other compositions!

This CD tells a story: the story of a cellist going from classical to pop. It is in many ways a concept album, a journey, and is most enjoyably experienced when listened to straight through. These samples give an idea of each song, however in many songs the most interesting part is the bridge or the coda at the end. Other songs are interesting in the way they develop. Also Real Audio clips do not match the sound of my CD, which was mastered in 24 bit sound at New York's top mastering house, Sterling Sound (the same studio used by Paul Simon, Metalica, Cat Stevens and others). The better your stereo system, the better it sounds! So remember: if the clips interest you, you'll love the CD! You can purchase it by clicking on this link.

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Audio Clips

To listen to audio clips and/or download full versions the tunes (for 99ข) click below:

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/voncello3


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Liner Notes

by Aaron Von Cello

1. I Used To Be An Orchestra Player - Been there, but it wasn’t my dream. It’s difficult but liberating to strive to reach your true potential. (A great video song.)

2. Cello Man - A song about the mythical cellist who taught me how to play. (You don’t think I came up with all of this on my own do you?)

3. Anthem/Cello Player’s Rap - Rappers express anger about the deal society gives them. When I was a struggling musician I felt a lot of anger too, Yet by turning my anger into humor, I was able to survive. So, to all the struggling musicians of every type: keep the faith!

4. Lost In Cyberspace - My feelings when first having to deal with the internet. The end chorus is from Bach’s Cantata, “Sleepers Awake”.

5. Leading Me On - An artist struggles with inspiration, running to the shelter of an ordinary life, but is lead back to his destined path as if by an angel. If Bach were alive and writing pop songs perhaps they would sound like this. (Inspired by Bach's Cantata # 54.)

6. Brother John - This true story of a homeless accordionist is based on Schubert's"The Organ Grinder" from Die Winterreise, which has a repeating melodic figure, symbolizing an organ grinder playing in the winter. "Brother John" presents a modern parallel of tragedy.

7. Bach To The Future - I hope the old master smiles from the world beyond as he hears his great “Air” enter the space age.

8. Holes In The Sky - What do you think it means?

9. Jump On That Train - Written during a trip through the south, it’s your invitation to jump aboard the Von Cello express. The train has just left the station. Come on, enjoy the ride!

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The CD Story: An Interview

New Sounds Magazine (NSM): Is it true that every single note on your CD was played, sung or midied there by you?

Aaron Von Cello (AVC): Midied there, I like that. Well I guess the truth had to come out eventually. All the vocals, the cello, guitar and bass lines were performed live by me and I also laid down all of the midi tracks which include the drum, string, wind and sound effects lines.

NSM: You must have had some production help.

AVC: Actually I did all of the recording alone in my home studio with my Mac G3 using Logic Audio sequencing software. I started the year unable to even turn on a computer and now I’m using the most advanced audio/midi software available. It was time consuming at first, but I believe this knowledge will be helpful when I make a CD for a record label because I’ll understand the engineering process. After all, there’s more to making a record than just playing your instrument. I did have some help in the mixing stage, mostly to get some other ears involved.

NSM: It’s highly unusual for an artist to play all the parts on a CD, and quite impressive. Did you do this to impress people or do you see yourself as a new type of modern day soloist?

AVC: To be honest, I want people to know that I have many talents, but ultimately, I see Von Cello as a band. Mostly, I want people to be able to hear my pure vision of these pieces at this time. As other musicians and producers get involved, I’m sure things will develop differently, as well they should, to reflect the talents of all who participate.

NSM: You say a band. Do you plan to take your “act” on the road?

AVC: Most definitely. I’ve been performing since I was 4 and playing professionally since my early teens. To me music is a live thing. Communicating with people is the great thrill. One thing about playing classical music always bothered me; the audience must behave. I’m not satisfied until they’re dancing, singing and screaming.

NSM: And you believe people will scream over a cellist?

AVC: It’s happened to me many times! To tell you the truth, I won’t be satisfied until kids are lining up at music stores to buy electric cellos like they used to do to buy guitars. When I used to talk this way, a few years back, people thought I was a dreamer. Perhaps It’s time for them to wake up!

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A Brand New Video Experience

Von Cello is very visual. For starters, there is this big blue electric cello. But there are a whole range of new situations that can arise out of an iconoclastic, long haired maestro finding his way back to his rock ‘n roll roots.

Several Von Cello songs lend themselves to adventurous video plots about Von Cello’s confrontations with a world, sometimes hostile, other times amazed as he barges into pop culture with his striking blue “ax”!  On a large variety of subject matter, Von Cello songs paint vivid word pictures which would translate well to the video format. Video plots have already been compiled for many Von Cello songs. Music industry people may contact Von Cello for more information.

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Marketing Concepts: Hi Signs, Dances and Merchandising

by Aaron Von Cello

If you've watched the Little Rascals on TV, you may remember that they had a club. Whenever you saw another member of the club you had to give them the hi sign. Certain fraternities and other organizations have signs. Von Cello also has a sign. I got this idea when I had the unlikely job of leading a string quartet in several concerts with the infamous Plasmatics. Yes folks, it's true, Wendy O's band, who used to smash televisions, chain saw chairs and blow up cars on-stage, decided it needed a touch of class with the addition of a string quartet. Of course, we had to stand wearing butcher robes with sunglasses and headphones, but I do digress.

During a concert at the Ritz, this one totally wild slam dancing head banger ran through the crowd, knocking people out of his way, until he arrived just below me at the foot of the stage. He started to play air-cello, his left hand up by his head, his right hand down by his waist, bowing. Then he pulled his left hand down and raised his right fist. He repeated these motions again and again until some other people in the audience started doing the same. The other quartet members were bewildered. "Do you know that guy?", they asked. I said "No, it must be something about the cello."   It kept happening at every show.  Thus was born the Von Cello Sign!

There is even a Von Cello dance. This also began at a concert.  I was playing the song Cello Man and people were dancing and grooving when someone got the idea to start a line dance. At the time, I thought it was amusing, but I didn't give it much thought until several days later when I watched the video. Suddenly I realized that these people had invented a new dance, The Cello!

There's something about a cellist who can really rock that makes people get creative. These are just a couple of examples to show  that  Von Cello is not   your average, every day, run of the mill cello band (like a thousand others). Von Cello is The Von Cello Sign, The Cello Dance, CD's, videos, concerts, a line of Von Cello Electric String Instruments,The National High School Cell-Off, The International Von Cello Electric Cello Competition, the shirts, the posters (distributed to string programs nation-wide)...

In a word, Von Cello is not just a band, Von Cello is a movement!

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Classical and Rock Influences in Von Cello's CD "Breaking The Sound Barriers"

by Aaron Von Cello

Breaking The Sound Barriers is a CD which crashes through the imaginary walls that many people create between musical styles. In particular, it blurs the line between classical and rock. A cellist playing rock is already a crossing of a boundary, but that's just the beginning. (Isn't it weird that that's considered a boundary?)

This, my first solo CD, is somewhat autobiographical, and in many ways a concept album. It is a classical crossover CD about a cellist crossing over from classical to rock. It begins with, I Used To Be An Orchestra Player, and then goes into two songs about becoming a rock cellist. Next come songs that combine a classical influence with various popular styles showing how the cello can work in each. It ends with, Jump On That Train, which invites the listener to come along for the ride into the new world of rock cello! (The ride will continue in the next CD, moving into hard rock territory with Von Cello, the band.)

1. I Used To Be An Orchestra Player - starts out with the strains of a famous Kreutzer violin etude, symbolizing the drudgery that is part of becoming a classical musician. It quickly gets rejected and is replaced by spirited rock n' roll cello playing. The subject matter, however, is classical; it's about an artist once trapped in the restrictive orchestral system celebrating his musical liberation. The last verse is directed towards anyone who has the desire to leave a restrictive job to pursue his or her dream. After all, aren't we all orchestra players? The ending is a "classic" classical symphonic finale...with rock attitude.

2. Cello Man - A west coast retro-rocker about a distinguished cellist who at first appears to be a classical musician, but turns out to be an innovator of pop cello playing. It colorfully proclaims the spreading of this new style "for miles around". Who could it be?

3. Anthem/Cello Player's Rap - The Hendrix inspired anthem recaps the sentiment of freedom expressed in the first song. Some people think a cellist shouldn't play rock, let alone rap; but isn't this "the land of the free and the home of the brave"?

The music is based on hip hop but the rap is classical. If it sounds angry, remember, rap is usually angry and if you think classical doesn't get angry, listen to Beethoven's 5th! My rap expresses anger at a system which allows people of limited talent to become rich while many a true artist starves (true artists of every type). However, this piece is so angry, it's funny! Listen to the background sounds: the obligatory James Brown samples, the S.O.S. Morse code, the screams of "D.J.", "crazy", and "funky"... Then I take a long cello solo on a song about how I have to rap to make a living! It's a spoof with a serious message.

4. Lost In Cyberspace - has a semi-classical opening, including a hint of a musical motif which becomes the basis of the whole piece. It is first heard vaguely on a synthesizer, sounding like a vision from above. The cello picks it up from the earth below, first as a question and then as a directive. The cello then locks into a machine-like groove from which it hardly ever deviates. The machine-like quality is further developed by the industrial percussion sounds and the distorted guitar.

The vocals have the mildly unhappy, far away sound of a human, being swept up against his will into the bowels of cyberspace. The bridge is like the revenge of the nerds. (Imagine a video scene with zombie-nerds coming out of computers.) Despite the stilted pop beat of the piece, the concept is classical in its picturesque portrayal of modern life's restrictiveness ala Prokofieff or Charlie Chaplin. Musically, it employs the modern sounding whole tone scale, a favorite of Debussy, "the father of modern music". The chorus at the end is from Bach's Cantata # 147, Sleepers Awake. Harmonically, it fits surprisingly well into the music but it couldn't be further away in feeling: Cyberspace, roboticly programmed, and Sleepers Awake, floating in graceful simplicity. Yet, in the end, even Bach gets swept away into cyberspace like the rest of us. Sleepers Awake!

P.S. Did you notice the quote from Purple Haze? This, like the Bach, provides a contrast to the machine-like groove that cyberspace has forced us all into.

5. Leading Me On - The ascending space-beeps at the end of Cyberspace bring us up to the first piece on the CD which comes more from the classical realm than the popular. (In fact, the intro seems to come from Mount Olympus.) It is influenced by Bach's Cantata #54. I strongly recommend listening to the cantata and Leading Me On side by side (it could even be the basis for a radio show, hint, hint). Leading Me On is unabashedly inspired by Bach's piece in melodic feel and form, nevertheless, it has a percussive flow and a singing style which puts it in the realm of pop. Still, it has the angelic subject matter and instrumentation of a classical piece. In fact, it could even be played by a classical ensemble: 2 cellos, tympani, chorus, solo singer, harpsicord, piano, synthesizer (optional), and, last but not least, the triangle! (Listen to the triangle and notice when it is missing. Some say it is symbolic of the angel.)

6. Brother John - is also derived from classical music, this time combined with folk-rock. It is based on the true story of a homeless accordionist who I saw perform love songs on a cold New York City street. The fact that he also played operatic arias made me realize that there was an untold story here. As I stared transfixed, a man came over and told me the story of this musician he called Brother John. Though I was better off than he, I truly felt empathy with this other struggling musical soul. I decided, as witness to the inhumanity that this artist had to endure, I would write a song. I wanted it to be popular so that it would be heard, yet I also wanted it to also be in the tradition of the timeless German lieder. For inspiration, I turned to the works of Franz Schubert, considered the master of the classical song. I was amazed to find in one or his song cycles, a song that told a very similar story. It was called The Organ Grinder, the last song in Die Wintereisse. I realized then that Schubert must have witnessed a Brother John in his own day. Suddenly, I felt like Schubert was speaking directly to me. I decided that my song would be a modern reincarnation of his song. Both songs use a repeating melodic figure, and both address the suffering musician with respect.

7. Bach To The Future - This is an ethereal arrangement of Bach's famous Air from Orchestral Suite #3. I call it Bach to the Future because I float the melody in an atmosphere of spacey sounds and classic rock drumming, evoking the feeling that it is rising upward toward galaxies light years away. It owes something to Procal Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale (itself an arrangement of a piece by Bach) but it leans more on the classical side and would fit well into a creative classical radio format. Is it classical or is it rock? It falls right on that line between the genres, more than any other piece I know! The melody, to me, speaks of the overcoming of profound sorrow. I hope the message shines through.

8. Holes In The Sky - From the temple of Bach we are led to the heavenly intro of this CD's "magnum opus". This piece would fit just as well into a classical new age format as it would an experimental rock or college format. It hearkens back to the space music of musicians like Hendrix, the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, who in turn hearken back to musicians like Mahler, Strauss and Ravel, who all owe a debt to the later music of Beethoven. Space rock is a new style for the cello, but one that fits perfectly. I love how the spacey nature of the music is conveyed at the end without any sound effects, only the notes of the "band" and the cellos.

The words have several meanings. For now I prefer to remain silent on what I think they mean. What do you think they mean?

9. Jump On That Train - What better way to bring you back from deep space than with a train! Here the cello, in the tradition of the old American train song, pulls out all its locomotive stops. Though written in a blues-rock style, the extreme attention paid to evoking a scene, in this case a moving train, is classical in its intensity. In fact, the song is based on a cello etude, The Train Whistle (from my Ten American Cello Etudes, published by Oxford University Press). Many cellists from around the world have incorporated this etude into their classical performance repertoire. Originally inspired by the blues and rock n' roll, it returns here to its original home, the world of popular music. The words describe a trip through the capitals of southern pop music, including a humorous but appreciative nod to the "king" of rock n' roll. It also brings the CD full circle back to its rock n' roll beginnings. Finally, it expresses my hope that people will appreciate what this CD is all about. As the words say, "I hope you'll jump aboard the train today. We just keep rolling on!" This is just the beginning. Stay tuned!

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