International Tuba Day – Musical instrument: Tuba

International Tuba Day - May 07,

A tuba is a massive brass musical instrument that has the lowest sound in the register. Few people know that she is the youngest in her family. With its appearance, the tuba completed the formation of a symphony orchestra, it happened about two hundred ice back. Since then, the composition of the orchestra is unchanged.

The dimensions of the tuba cannot fail to impress. If you try to straighten it out, you will get a straight six-meter copper tube. It is not surprising that any musician who plays the tub seems to be a dwarf against the background of the instrument.


The instrument makes a rich and deep sound. As we have said, he is the lowest of the whole brass wind community. However, some musicians can play on the instrument and high notes. This requires high performing skills. The quality of high notes is always easy to understand the level of a tuba player.

international tuba days

Tuba has a beautiful sound middle register, within which you can perform quite complex technical passages. This timber is very similar to a trombone, only in a tuba it is in more saturated colors.

The air flow on the tuba is huge, sometimes the performer has to take a breath on every sound. For this reason, the tuba is referred to as orchestral and ensemble instruments, the solo is rarely trusted. But lately, composers have broken down these stereotypes and composed concert pieces specifically for her. And they are trying to discover new facets of this “harsh” musical instrument.

Because of their size, a tuba is often considered “clumsy” and sedentary. However, this is not the case. By its technical capabilities, it is not at all inferior to other brass. Want to make sure? Listen to how the tuba copes with the rapid rhythms in the famous “Chardashe” V. Monty!

Interesting Facts

The beginning of the tuba takes before the onset of the Middle Ages. Even then, the musicians used a similar instrument, which was made of wood and leather.

Richard Wagner had his own unique tuba. He used her unique sound in his works. In musical circles, this instrument has a name – Wagnerovskaya tuba.

The largest museum of tubs is located in the city of Durham (USA). It stores the entire history of the evolution of this tool and totals about three hundred copies. The museum is located in the house of the Simonetti family. The exposition consists of five rooms, where tubas of the most different times are stored – from the origin of the instrument (first half of the XIX century) to the modern ones.

The record for the number of tubes in one orchestra was established in December 2007 in the city of Anaheim (USA). Then, more than a dozen Christmas carols were played simultaneously by 502 musicians!

The largest collection of things one way or another connected with a tuba belongs to the American Ralph Winston Morris, who lives in the city of Cookeville (USA). He collected 2286 items related to the tool. The beginning of the creation of the collection was about forty years ago. Ralph Winston Morrison himself is a music professor and teaches tuba in one of his state’s universities.

In the calendar, there is the International Day of the tube. Around the world, it is celebrated on the first Friday of May.

The largest tuba in the world has a height of almost 2.5 meters. The musician looks next to her a real dwarf.

The tool is made of a metal alloy, which is made on the basis of zinc and copper. Many musicians joke that a tuba is good to eat. The fact is that copper and zinc are useful vitamins. Therefore, according to tuba, if you eat at least one instrument in your entire life, health is guaranteed.

Previously, jazz ensembles used a tuba instead of a double bass. Why did this happen? Some bands performed in the open air. Rain could damage the wooden body of the double bass and degrade the sound of the instrument.

Tuba is the most expensive instrument from the copper family. For example, a tool from well-known German brands costs something like a new Peugeot or Volkswagen car.

Street musician playing tuba

The demand for tuba is one of the lowest among copper instruments. It gives way to more popular trombones and trumpets. Because of this, the tubes are made entirely by hand.

In the city of New Orleans (USA) the number of tubes per capita is the highest than anywhere else on the globe.

Our favorite children’s cartoon hero Dunno was just a tubist.

Also, Read about this Upcoming Event International Day without diets

Varieties and designs

Many, listening to the sounds of the tuba, are surprised how such a deep and soft timbre comes from such a large and heavy instrument. So it turns out thanks to a unique design. The tuba has a larger tube, a cup-shaped mouthpiece, and a wide bell mouth.

Tuba has two main varieties. The first is the classic tuba, which contains four types of instrument, dividing in their order. The second is Suzlon.

Classic tuba

This instrument is used in a symphony orchestra and plays it mostly sitting. A tubist holds the instrument vertically during the game, unlike a trumpet and a trombone. The tuba can be played while standing, but with the obligatory support in the form of a strap.

The classic tuba has hardly changed since the day it was published. The tool is cast from brass. Tuba has a large bell up to 75 centimeters in diameter. On average, this tool has four valve-valves. However, there are more – to six. Three valves reduce the sound produced by half, one and a halftone. The last fourth valve lowers the quart interval.

In addition to tubes with valves, the masters of this tool produce tubes and pumps. The latter type differs from others in its technical capabilities. Such tubes are most popular in jazz ensembles.

In most cases, the body of the tube consists of the following parts: the main tube, the mouthpiece in the shape of a bowl, valves, crowns, and a socket. Like all copper tools, the tube has conical and cylindrical tubes. Their length depends on the pitch of the tool.


It is a brass wind instrument with valves that do not differ from a classical tuba in range and fingering. However, there are differences in appearance. The trumpet of the sousaphone is above the head of the tubist and looks forward. This feature gives the sound additional brightness. The valves on the instrument are located above the waist of the musician directly in front of him. The weight of the sousaphone falls on one shoulder of the musician.

Most often the socket can be separated from the tool itself. This feature gives the sousaphone compactness during transportation. If you abstract from the appearance of the tool, then constructively it almost does not differ from the classical model. The sousaphone is shaped so that the tubist can easily carry the instrument or march with it.

The approximate weight of this type of tuba is about ten kilograms.

Application and Repertoire

The invention of the tube is connected with the need to strengthen the bass base in the wind and symphony orchestras. As a rule, one tuba player plays in the latter. The number of tubes in a brass band can go up to four.

Tuba is indispensable in jazz music. Without this instrument, it is impossible to imagine the performance of jazz in the street. Also, the tuba is always present in brass bands. Recently, ensembles consisting exclusively of tuba players have become increasingly popular.

In today’s understanding, Richard Wagner demonstrated the tuba in the symphony orchestra for the first time in 1843. The instrument debuted as part of his orchestra at the premiere of the opera The Flying Dutchman. Then many world-famous composers used the tuba in their works – these are the symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich, the ballet Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky, the Gogol-suite by Alfred Schnitzel, and the Planet by Gustav Holst, and the fifth symphony by Sergei Prokofiev, and “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin and “The Symphonic Metamorphosis” by Paul Hindemith, and many other classic works. Tuba, joining the symphony orchestra, completed its formation.

However, many composers and musicians believe that the tuba is more than just a bass instrument in ensembles and orchestras. Composers such as Paul Hindemith, Alexander Harutyunyan, Alexey Lebedev, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Franz Schmidt, Edward Gregson, Julian Barnes, Joseph Tal, Kalevi Aho, and many others made solo works for this instrument.

Tuba Performers

Huge popularity has no tuba. However, without it, it is impossible to imagine the performance of many famous works by brass or symphony orchestras. It is understandable – the bass is the basis of the harmony of the work.

Tuba Performers

Tubes are popularized by many talented musicians. The best among them today are Eystein Bodsvik, John Van Houten, Howard Johnson, Roger Bobo, John White, and Dave Bargeron. They all play in different styles – mostly classical and jazz.

History of creation

The life path of modern tuba began in the XIX century. Her ancestor is an uncle bass instrument. But the musicians did not like him because of the scarce technical possibilities. Also, not everyone liked the bass sound of this brass wind instrument. The musicians said that it was hard for them to play on an unclean. Yes, and with the recording of notes, many experienced problems.

The inventor of the modern tuba is the German designers Johan Gottfried Moritz and Wilhelm Friedrich Wiprecht. They patented the tool in 1835. For completeness, we must admit that the then tube looked different than today. The world-famous Adolphe Sachs brought it to its present form, and thanks to him the instrument became equal to the rest, and without a tuba, it is impossible to imagine a symphony or brass band. The tuba was recognized as a classic brass wind instrument in 1880.

Sousaphone appeared a little later. It was invented by John Souza. The sousaphone is a modern version of the bass helicon, which was first used in the US military band. However, he did not get accustomed there because of his specific sound. The helicon has a small bell from which the sound goes to the side. Therefore, it became necessary to invent a new instrument for the military orchestra, which later became a sousaphone. It originates from the end of the XIX century.

Tuba is a unique instrument and a full member of modern orchestras. Due to its low sound, it is very popular with composers who are not afraid to compose for her and solo compositions. You must admit that today it’s hard to imagine a full-fledged orchestra concert without a tuba. This rather young instrument came to music seriously and for a long time.