How to Play Thunderstruck By AC/DC Like 2Cellos
Overall, this is a medium level difficulty piece, which means that it will come with challenges, but is accessible at most skill levels with enough time working it out slowly.
In this video I show you all the main parts, with useful tips on how to play it well.
When 2Cellos premiered this video, it took cello into the mainstream more than almost any other piece of content. If you’re a cellist, it probably got sent to you at least a half a dozen times. What makes it so cool to people?
Many who like and share the video would probably say it subverts expectations and shows cello in a different light.
That is certainly a huge part of it, but leaving it there merely caricaturizes cello. And if that were true, why not a similarly classically associated instrument like bassoon or tuba?
The real reason in our opinion that the video was so viral is it really showcased cello’s inmate, mostly untapped variety of tone and musical awesomeness.
Given that this video inspired so many, we felt it was important to share how to play it with you.
This piece starts with a classical piece written for cello, but transcribed into a different key, and arranged so that it can quickly start morphing into the Thunderstruck theme.
It does so by cleverly turning arpeggios into a hocket. The thunderstruck theme itself is very simple conceptually. It is a descending scale that simply has the open A string playing in between every note.
The fast back and forth motion gives it a lot of energy and intrigue for the listener, but isn’t actually so crazy to play. In my opinion, the opening arpeggios are likely to be harder.
The most important part of bowing both sections is to commit to a very consistent contact point (where the bow pulls the string).
The best placement I found was to bow at or a little ahead of the balance point of the bow, about a third of the way down from the end of the fingerboard to the bridge.
You want a clean starting sound that you can intentionally dirty up for the rock sound.
One of the things that works so well about this song on cello is cello’s natural ability to play with “distorted” tones intrinsically – no pedals needed!
It’s been transposed (moved to a new key) so that it takes advantage of cello’s A string, instead of the guitar’s B string, as in the original. If you can master the bow control and speed, the glory is yours!
One bow stroke that isn’t technically required to play this fast but is the best, clearest, and easiest way is to use a bow technique called spiccato.
Using this technique you can take advantage of the cello bow’s natural bouncy nature.
Play close to the balance point of the bow (roughly where the bottom of the arch is) and use relaxed fingers to get the bow to bounce, even though you are only moving back and forth horizontally on the strings. It takes some practice, so we’ll make a video on it in the future.
Let us know if this video helped! We’ve been making cello lesson videos for a few months now, and there are over a dozen lessons to help you learn this wonderful instrument.
It can be challenging, but a most helpful and rewarding experience. Justin Lepard is your cello teacher. He is an accomplished cellist in LA, playing with a wide variety of musical groups and having solos in many films including Togo on Disney+ and The Invisible Man.