Contemporary Cello Etudes

Studies in Style & Technique

Berklee Textbook featured New Arrivals
  • Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
  • Format: Book with Online Audio
  • Pages: 122
  • Dimensions: 9x12
  • Audio Tracks: 30
  • ISBN: 9780876391877
  • SKU: 00159292
  • Publication Date: January 02, 2018

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Learn the contemporary techniques and practices of the modern cello. These etudes were composed by a dozen of today’s most noteworthy and pioneering cellists, from a variety of styles. It is a vital exploration of 21st-century cello techniques that every contemporary cellist should know when playing music outside of the standard classical repertoire.

By exploring techniques such as chopping, pizzicato, improvisation, chords, ornaments, modes, polyrhythmic playing, and more, you will be prepared to play in a variety of contexts, including folk (bluegrass, Celtic, old-time), rock, funk, jazz (traditional and modern), world music, and accompanying yourself while singing. Each etude is introduced by its composer, with advice on the techniques/style covered, and an audio performance of the composition is available online. The collection is introduced with a foreword by Yo-Yo Ma.

You will learn:

  • 28 cello etudes, from beginner to advanced difficulty levels, suitable for both study and performance
  • techniques for rhythmic and chordal playing, including the percussive chop
  • stylistic ornaments, phrasing, and vocabulary emblematic of folk, rock, funk, and jazz styles
  • pizzicato techniques such as strumming, fingerstyle, walking bass, tremolo, and tapping
  • contemporary rhythm techniques, such as polyrhythms (2:3, 3:2, 4:3, 3:4, 4:5, 5:4), and stylistic grooves
  • strategies for melodic improvisation
  • techniques for using electronic looping

Etudes in this volume were compiled and edited by Mike Block, and composed by Ashley Bathgate, Mike Block, Stephan Braun, Rufus Cappadocia, Rushad Eggleston, Erik Friedlander, Eugene Friesen, Natalie Haas, Giovanni Sollima, Mark Summer, Jacob Szekely, Matt Turner, and Jeffrey Zeigler.

Mike Block is a pioneering multi-style cellist, singer, composer, and educator, who tours internationally in the Grammy Award-winning Silk Road Ensemble, as well as his own projects. He graduated from the Julliard School, founded the Mike Block String Camp, and is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music.

“The broad reach of skills included in these etudes can equip a cellist to participate in making music in any part of the world. I urge all cellists interested in contemporary styles to take a look, and to experience and enjoy the world of 21st century cello.”

Yo-Yo Ma, Multi-Grammy Award-Winning Cellist, Founding Artistic Director of Silkroad

“Block assembled an extraordinary group of cellists who are giving out their ‘inner secrets’ to practicing modern cello techniques. Any cellists who want to expand their vocabulary beyond western classical music and into the twenty-first century must get this fantastic book!”  

Maya Beiser, Founding Cellist of the New Music Group Bang on a Can All-Stars

“We need more ‘outside the orchestra’ material like this that explores the versatility of the coolest instrument in the world.”

Steven Sharp Nelson, Cellist (the Piano Guys)

“This new contemporary etude book is a wonderful addition to our cello teaching materials. Each etude has its own unique qualities. Teaching polyrhythms, as well as different types of position exercises, help all cellists to further understand the endless possibilities of cello technique. I wish to thank all the collaborators of this book; they truly have enriched our cello repertory.”

Richard Aaron, Professor of Cello at Juilliard School of Music and University of Michigan


Mike Block

Mike Block is a pioneering multi-style cellist, singer, composer, and educator, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the “ideal musician of…