Cello Zone! Rosins I Use

“Which cello rosin do you use?”

…. is actually a question I am rarely asked!  This overlooked cake of hardened tree-goop not only allows us to bow the string*, but also plays a large part in our tone production.

I suggest that students apply a few coats of rosin (3 to 10 strokes, ΠV) before each practice session, rehearsal, & performance.  Partly for consistency, but also to avoid injury.  Without enough rosin on your bow, the hairs won’t properly grip the strings.  To compensate for the ensuing bow-slip, you will tense up and over-work your right arm; resulting in an injury similar to tennis elbow.  However, there is such a thing as over-rosining your bow.  If it’s too thickly coated, your hairs will get stuck in the string.  This results in a bow-tripping sensation much like stumbling from catching your toe on the sidewalk.  We’re looking for that Goldilocks principle: not too much, not too little – a few coats of rosin is just right.

With so many brands and prices, which one do you choose?  Thankfully, Johnson String Instrument Shop has made it easier for me to share the rosins I use via student wish lists!  Here are some recommended cello rosins for: (I) Students (II) Professionals and (III) …surprise! Percussionists.

*Without rosin the bow hairs can’t grip the string, no matter how hard you bow… it makes no sound.


Book a Cello Zone Lesson with Brian!

Live in Sun Prairie?

email Prairie Music & Arts:  info@prairiemusic.org,

cc: bgrimm@prairiemusic.org

Live on the west side of Madison?

email Monroe Street Arts Center:  info@monroestreetarts.org

cc: brian@monroestreetarts.org


Cello Rosins I Use –  For Students

Pirastro Cello Rosin

Pros:  Generally used in Spring/Summer (humid seasons); for light, fast playing.  Cuts well, can add an edge to your bow tone.  There are a lot of Pirastro rosins to choose from (almost too many…), surely one among their variety should be ample to cover the tone and grip needed for your particular strings: see here.

Cons: Heavy powdering, can irritate sinuses.  Sometimes tone is too bright and thin for classic cello repertoire.  Doesn’t grip as deeply as I need for power playing.

Still not sticky enough for you?  Buy the Pirastro Bass Rosin, it works great for cello!

Pirastro rosins have been developed and produced in Offenbach, Germany for over 200 years. Pirastro Cello Rosin is an amber color medium grade rosin specially formulated for use with cellos.


Hill Dark Rosin for Violin, Viola and Cello

Pros:  *Rosin of choice for two of my go-to luthiers!  Use as a final polishing layer in combination with other rosins; fine smooth feel with medium tone; not over-grippy.

Cons:  For a professional cellist, this rosin doesn’t grip strongly enough to stand on it’s own.  However, for students on smaller sized cellos (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, etc) it should do splendidly.

Hill Dark Rosin (green), the ultimate rosins, used by professionals worldwide. The Hill Brand rosins are wrapped in their own padded velveteen shell. This is the rosin that others strive to emulate. Used for violin, viola and cello, the amber (light) is slightly hard and has moderate powder. The dark (green) is slightly softer and grips better than the amber.


Professional Cello Rosin

Kolstein Cello Rosin

Pros: For the last decade this has been my favorite rosin!  Generally used in Fall/Winter (drier seasons); for heavy, rich playing.  More and more, I’ve been using it all year round.  The tone is complex, gorgeous.  Very grippy, results in a powerful deep sound.

Cons:  This rosin may be too sticky and coarse for some sets of lighter gauge strings.

Kolstein & Sons, Ltd. produces an outstanding rosin using their Ultra Formulation Supreme recipe. Very minimal powdering and excellent grip equate to quick response and consistent sustain for both the veteran and beginning cellist. A good rosin for players with respiratory difficulties.


Melos Baroque Cello & Bass Viol Rosin

Pros: Wow, I love this Baroque cello/viol rosin.  Though it’s made for traditional sheep gut strings, it still plays wonderfully on modern metal-core/wound strings.  Incredible glide, with even grip from fingerboard to bridge on all strings. Lighter tone than Kolstein; plays smooth; a finer grade.  It feels as if the bow hairs are melting into your string, like a hot knife through butter.  No harsh squeaking sounds on the A string.

Cons:  Have yet to find any, this stuff is near perfect in my book.

Melos Baroque Cello Bass Viol Rosin is superb for use with period instruments using gut strings. This Baroque version rosin is stickier than rosin for their modern counterparts. Melos founder Christos Sykiotis, himself a cellist, explains it this way: “The gut string sounds not easy as a metallic string. We shouldn’t press the bow in order to play so we need a stickier rosin to play easy.” Melos rosins are made in small batches from Greek pine resin and other natural ingredients.

Try a combination of their two modern cello rosins:  Melos Dark (fall/winter) & Light (spring/summer) Cello Rosin


Rosin for Percussionists

Kolstein All Weather Bass Rosin – I originally heard about Kolstein rosin a decade ago from a professional double bassist (and have loved it ever since).  This past weekend, I premiered a composition by percussionist Garrett Mendelow.  This duo piece included three sections: (i) guqin zither + pedal board, tape, singing bowls and crotales (ii) tabla and Indian cello (iii) bowed vibraphone.  We tried my Kolstein rosin on the bass bows + my Tatsuya Nakatani beach wood cello bow on the vibes.  The tone was delicious.  The vibraphone bars played smooth and spoke well.  OK percussionists, the secret is out! Get that Kolstein bass rosin, it’s even stickier than the cello version – you won’t need much.

Speaking of percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani… I had the immense pleasure of performing in his Nakatani Gong Orchestra this September.  It was hands down, one of the most unforgettable performances of my life. What a tremendous honor to learn directly from the bowed gong master himself (thanks Scott Gordon of Tone Madison for curating)!  I’ve been using one of Tatsuya’s hand made Nakatani-Kobo bows for about 3 years.  I love it.  The tone, the bite, the feel, the articulation…. his bows are incredible.  They are designed for gongs and cymbals, so I tried it on the vibraphone.  The Nakatani-Kobo bow spoke much quicker and with less pressure than a (often over tightened) double bass bow.  Percussionists, these bows are made for bowing metal, check them out.  I asked Tatsuya which rosin he prefers to use, his answer was: Pops Bass Rosin.


Alright Cello Zone studio, that’s all for today’s post.  I hope you find this helpful when selecting your next cake of rosin!  Follow the blog, like us on facebook and share with other cello friends.  Leave your comments below, what’s your favorite brand of rosin and why?

Happy Practicing!

Brian Grimm


9/8 | Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra @ Art In

Fri, 9/8 | 8pm $12 @ Art In

1444 E Washington Ave, Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Tone Madison presents:

Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra

Pennsylvania-based avant-garde percussion master Nakatani returns, this time leading a large ensemble of local musicians playing gongs. The Gong Orchestra uses Nakatani’s bowing techniques to create an otherworldly array of harmonics and textures. It’s a gorgeous, powerful sonic experience you won’t want to miss.

$10 presale, $12 day of, $8 for Tone Madison sustainers (patreon.com/toneMSN)

(September 5th) Update!

Curator’s notes by Scott Gordon via Tone MSN


“DoubleShark” EP by Lovely Socialite now available on Bandcamp!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to the #DoubleRelease show last night! Thanks to Jack Chandler & Art In for hosting. Thanks to Emili Earhart & Michael Groome aka And Illusions for sharing their soundscapes and sonic explorations & kicking off the show. Thanks to Jacob Bicknase, Cooper Schlegel, Joshua Agterberg & Alex Charland for sharing their beautiful compositions as Left Field Quartet – congrats on the release guys; killer set! Thanks to Jess Jacobson & Elizabeth Jesion for coordinating the Sharks&Crafts table. Thanks to my shark bros Ben Willis, Pat Reinholz, Corey Murphy, Michael A Koszewski & Abe Sorber, it’s always a pleasure and an honor to spend time together as Lovely Socialite (est. 2009!). #DoubleShark (& thanks to Scott Gordon of Tone Madison for this freakin badass picture!)

Be sure to check out Left Field Quartet’s new release “Please Take Us Seriously” >>


 

7/15 | Lovely Socialite and Left Field Quartet double release show @ Art In

click the pic and RSVP on our facebook event

DOUBLE RELEASE SHOW

Sat, 7/15  |  @ ART IN   1444 E Washington ST, Madison, WI

730p doors // 800p music

$10 gets you into the show

OR $15 gets you in + both CDs!

1st AND ILLUSIONS

2nd LEFT FIELD QUARTET – Please Take Us Seriously release

3rd LOVELY SOCIALITE – DoubleShark EP release

Lovely Socialite performing at The Shitty Barn in 2016. Photo by Connie Ward (c) In The Rushes Photogaphy

 🔗 Tone Madison Podcast: Lovely Socialite get leaner and louder

Lovely Socialite (lovelysocialitemusic.com) “DoubleShark” ep release
Lovely Socialite, formerly Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps, is a Milwaukee/Madison-based six-piece that combines the aesthetics of modern jazz with contemporary classical, driving rock, and hip hop. Lauded for their bold and intricate compositions, the group often draws comparisons to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The band’s original music combines strict notation with moments of improvisation and maintains a healthy balance of dark and heavy rock grooves with quirky jazz obscurities.


Left Field Quartet at UW Madison, where they met and cut their teeth together on Jazz.

 🔗 Tone Madison premieres Left Field Track “Straight Ahead F Blues”

Left Field Quartet  “Please Take Us Seriously” album release
Left Field Quartet is a collaborative group of Midwest-raised musicians specializing in eclectic, original music. With a unique and versatile tone, the group has scored plays and politically-charged events in the local community. What makes Left Field work so cohesively together is their adventurous desire for creativity in all of its multifaceted forms. “Please Take Us Seriously” is the band’s first official album release which combines gritty and fiery grooves with a personal touch and a playful sound.

And Illusions
And Illusions is a collaboration of local experimental musicians Emili Earhart and Michael Groome. With a focus on the psychedelic and long patient song structures, And Illusions occupies a wonderful space somewhere between noise music and kraut rock. It is at once meditative and soothing, a balancing act of angular and rounded tones.


 

CD Release: BC Grimm “Orbis Obscura” available via Other Obscura records

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Buy “Orbis Obscura” CD/Digital worldwide for $10 from Other Obscura record label

“Orbis Obscura” is a 35 minute “sci-fi tone poem” for Pipa (Chinese lute) with delay & fuzz pedals by BC Grimm. Now available world wide on CD & Digital from Other Obscura Records! Other Obscura is a label promoting the compositions and improvisations of artists in Milwaukee, Madison and the surrounding areas. Est. 2016.


ORBIS OBSCURA REVIEWS

From Tone Madison, 8/10:
Brian Grimm is something of an experimental-music powerhouse in Madison.”; ” …one of the most sonically untethered things Grimm has put out there so far—which is saying something, and also not a complaint. He uses this eccentric but relatively stripped-down setup to veer through an array of warmly distorted drones, sticky pulsating rhythms, and layers of scratchy texture. The release is also the first from a new Madison- and Milwaukee-focused label, Other Obscura”     

— Scott Gordon, Tone Madison

From Isthmus Daily Page, 8/12:
 Madison composer and cellist Brian Grimm’s meditative, experimental soundscapes blend modern improvisational styles with ancient Chinese string instrument technique. …Prepare to be transported into a beautiful dream.

From Dayz Of Purple And Orange, 8/15:
” – a totally immersive, blissed-out trip that transports the listener away to distant climes…simply beautiful!”; “…glimmers of ‘sci-fi’ noises bleed through the drones. Over the course of the 35 minutes it totally immerses the listener in wave upon wave of gorgeous drones and otherworldly noises – utterly bewitching. (read: full review)     

— Andy Uzzell, Dayz Of Purple And Orange


BC Grimm

Cellist & composer Brian Grimm grew up surrounded by Chinese string instruments of every sort. After initial lessons in Chinese music with Yang Wei (pipa) & Daxun Zhang (bass) of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Enesemble, he was lucky to then study guqin (zither), pipa (lute), gaohu (fiddle) & daruan (bass lute) in Hong Kong with members of the 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese OrchestraWuji Ensemble 無極樂團. Over the last 15 years Grimm has developed a deep language of Free Improvisation & Composition with groups such as The Brothers Grimm, Lovely Socialite, and Brennan Connors & Stray Passage. In conjunction with performing & teaching, Brian runs GrimmusiK Records – a label for all projects involving him & his brother AJ (classical & flamenco guitar).

BCG on cello + pipa by John Hiller Brumbaugh

BCG on cello + pipa by John Hiller Brumbaugh


 

10/9, 10/10 | “Toxic Consonance” CD Release Updates!

“Toxic Consonance” CD Release Updates!

Tone Madison was gracious enough to debut our new single, Humus, last week!  This 5/8 tune written by our cellist Pat Reinholz features driving rhythmic elements in combination with singing melodies.  The track opens with a distorted double bass solo by Ben Willis, and features some hardcore shredding on Gaohu (two string Cantonese bowed fiddle) by BC Grimm.  Listen to this sneak peak of the album – it sounds great, thanks to our incredible studio engineer Landon Arkens!

On Friday, 10/09 from 4-5pm Live on WSUM 91.7fm ~ Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps “Phones It In” for an interview with radio host Emili Earhart!  She’ll dig into the contents of the new album and try to pry out the inside scoop whilst premiering some of her favorite tracks off of the new album!  Tune in on-air or online!

The CDs are here and they are a pleasure to the eyes. A big Thanks goes out to our artist/designer Josh Newland – he really knocked this one out of the park.  Another special thank you to Sooper Dooper, we’re so spoiled to have a great print house/duplicator service right in our back yard.  Keep your eyes out in the coming months for a special ‘letter press’ Mrs. Phipps poster.  **We’re currently printing off limited run mirror board edition CDs, only available at live shows!

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Album Art by Joshua Newland. Check out the limited edition mirror board run on the bottom!

The T-shirts are here, the posters are in, it’s all coming together folks!  As the band gathers this weekend, we’ll be organizing all of the prizes to be shipped out to our Indie-GoGo supporters.  We really couldn’t have produced this album without your help, thank you so much!  Your rewards will be heading out next week!

We have a wonderful announcement: our friend and collaborator Dale Kaminski will be joining the show on Saturday! He’ll be performing live visual projections as PAKAPAKA Lightshow during the Lovely Socialite set! PAKAPAKA Lightshow always delights and adds an extra layer of narrative to some already programmatic music.  We are very excited and hope you will join us!


Join Us At The “Toxic Consonance” CD Release Shows!

Fri, 10/9 | $7 10pm @ Company Brewing (Mke)

735 E Center St  Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee LOVELY SOCIALITE “Toxic Consonance” CD release show with

WESTFAHL /NELSON-RANEY /MOLLERSKOV trio (Mke)

UGLY BROTHERS (Mke)

Sat, 10/10 | $5 8pm @ Bright Red Studios (Mad)

9 N Ingersoll Madison, WI

Madison LOVELY SOCIALITE “Toxic Consonance” CD release show with

PAKAPAKA LIGHTSHOW

LUNDBERG /PACKARD /PIREH trio (Mad /Chi /Mpls)

THROWAWAY (Ann Arbor)


2/06 | “Leo Johnson & The New Shoes” @ Madison Public Library for TWIN PEAKS party!

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Fri, 2/06  |  8-11pm  Madison Public Library – Central

NIGHT LIGHT: The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Twin Peaks Party: music, book signing, coffee, screen printing, costume contest, and more!!!

I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to put together a little 7-piece group called, “Leo Johnson & The New Shoes” (which I believe was coined by our very own Huckleberry Grimm) – comprising of Lovely Socialite members BCG, Abe Sorber, Corey Murphy & Pat Reinholz, joined by Geoff Brady (drums – Stray Passage, Yid Vicious), Rob Lundberg (bass) & Julian Lynch (sax & clarinet).  Over the past 2 weeks, Lovely Socialites, including Pat Reinholz, Corey Murphy, Ben Willis & myself, have been hard at work arranging the famous Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack from the show.   Recently, I sat down with Scott Gordon of Tone Madison at WORT for an interview on the arranging process – check it out here! >> Tone MSN – Brian Grimm on channeling the music of Twin Peaks


From the MPL:     Madison Public Library and the Wisconsin Book Festival are pairing up to present Brad Dukes, author of Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaksfor the Bubbler Night Light event The Owls Are Not What They Seem. The author will be visiting from Florida and discussing his book through a Q & A style platform.

Craig Grabhorn / c.Cal Design Studio . Artist-in-Residence, with other visiting print artists, will be hosting a Screen Printing party. Patrons are invited to bring their own T-shirts, canvas bags, etc. to have printed with a one-of-a-kind, Lynchian-inspired design.

Buy Twin Peaks screen printed posters by Patchwork Printshop

Tandem Press, local professional press and artistic laboratory, will display prints by Twin Peaks’ director David Lynch and discuss his creative experimentation process.

There will be Twin Peaks-inspired live music (Road House-style) from Leo Johnson and the New Shoes (music arranged by Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps): musicians include Julian Lynch – sax & clarinet, Geoff Brady (Yid Vicious, Stray Passage) – drums, BC Grimm (Lovely Socialite) – bass & cello, Corey Murphy (Lovely Socialite) – trombone, Abe Sorber (Lovely Socialite) – vibraphone, Pat Reinholz (Lovely Socialite) – cello.

More music and weirdness from Half Whale.

Plus we’ll have donuts stacked to the sky, coffee (black as midnight on a moonless night), and pie that is worth the stop. Twin Peaks-inspired cocktails and refreshments by Forequarter

Come dressed as your favorite Twin Peaks character and have your picture taken in the Black Lodge photo booth.

Come enjoy this Lynchian event!