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Although the name "TUBA" was originally coined by the Romans for their forerunner of the trumpet, the word is now universally associated with the large, fun-loving brass instrument that rumbles away besides the trombones in an orchestra.
The tuba originates from the early years of the 19th century - a time of feverish activity for instrument makers. The developments in science and industry meant that instruments could be built with a technical accuracy never before possible.
Composers, more ambitious than ever, demanded a wider choice of instruments for their new compositions. In particular, there was a need for a new bass instruments that would complete the brass section. It was the Tuba that filled this gap.
It was in 1835 that a patent was granted to two German companies for designing the new instrument. The new tubas were made in various sizes, ranging from deep to very deep and became popular in military bands and in orchestra.
- Two distinct designs of the brass instruments developed. the kind now more usually seen has the bell (the flared end) pointing up. This is the usual orchestral instrument, which is played sitting down. Another rather ingenuous design, called a sousaphone, was built specifically for marching players. The tubing of this instrument surrounds the player's body, while the bell turns through two right angels, finally resting on the player's shoulders.
The sound of the tuba is thick and heavy and not as brilliant or penetrating as the other brass instruments.
- In the orchestra its usual role is to add weight and depth to the bass section. it is also capable of playing melody with sensitivity and can be remarkably agile. Indeed, a number of 20th -century composers have written solo works for it.
How the tuba works
In a brass instrument, such as the tuba, the air is set in motion by the player's lips pressed hard against the mouthpiece.
- The shape of the mouthpiece is therefore very important. On the tuba, it is deep and cup shaped. This, allied to the wide, conical-shaped tubing, or bore of the instrument creates the tuba's warm, rich sound.
The number of different notes playable on the instrument is increased by the use of valves, of which the tuba usually has four. These are operated with the fingers and open and close additional lengths of tubing.
Did you know?
- A person who plays the tuba is called a TUBIST.
- The largest tuba, measuring 8 feet in height, would have stretch out more than 45 feet in length if uncoiled.