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Thread: Question about Tubas.

  1. #1
    Senior Member JoeGreen's Avatar
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    Default Question about Tubas.

    Is the BBb Tuba a C instrument? If it is why is it not named C Tuba?

    Also is it considered a Contrabass tuba or Bass Tuba?

    Then what about the CC Tuba or the EEb?

    Do the names have to do with the instrument transposition or something else?
    I adore art...when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.

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    The CC tuba is pitched in C; the BB-flat tuba is pitched in B-flat. Both the CC and BB-flat are called contrabass tubas. There are also the bass tubas, which are pitched in F or E-flat.

    From the searching I did, it seems that the term B-flat (as opposed to BB-flat) tuba actually is a "tenor tuba", which would be called in the US as a "baritone horn", but the old term is not needed anymore. So, when people say a B-flat tuba, they are talking about the same thing as a BB-flat tuba. Also, a CC tuba would be 1 whole step higher than the BB-flat.

    The two letter naming system came from the piano keyboard, with "lower-case letters in the middle register, capital letters in the next lower octave where trombones and euphoniums work, and double capital letters down in the range of big tubas. That's why we call them BBb and CC tubas."

    http://galvanizedjazz.com/tuba/Diversity.html

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    Tubas and their close relatives are a series of instruments of various sizes starting from the Eflat tenor horn (the smallest and thus the highest pitched one) to the BBflat tuba (pronounced double B flat). It is useful to know that each size step down is either a fourth or a fifth and that they all read treble clef in the same way. That is to say when any tuba, euphonium, baritone or tenor horn player sees for example the note d below the treble clef they all push down the first and third valve and blow with enough tension and pressure to set up the second harmonic of their instrument. It is only by virtue of the different sizes of instrument that different notes are produced by each player. Symphonic orchestral tuba players generally play an Eb bass tuba but they read in bass clef with no transposition. The clever thing here is that when you ignore the bass clef and read the orchestral part as if it were treble clef for Eb bass the same notes come out! Imagine G in the top space of the bass clef then the same note transposed up an octave and a sixth ( the required transposition for Eb bass tuba) it's an e in the top space of the treble clef. Both times it the note in the top space of the stave!
    BTW Baritone saxes (also in Eflat) can use this trick to read bass parts if the string bass is missing from a jazz group.
    So if the player has a BBb tuba and reads treble clef he calls it a BBb bass and if he reads bass clef he'll call it a CC bass tuba. Things in brass bands are complicated especially if you go from Germany to the UK then to the US. Even the names are different the Euphonium and Baritone get mixed up somewhere over the English channel so if you write for bands on either side of the ocean you really have to check what the transpositions of all the instrments are.

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    Senior Member JoeGreen's Avatar
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    thx for the answers guys.
    I adore art...when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.

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    lakshwadeep is correct.

    post-minimalist you are a bit off (most of what you said was correct for certain countries but does not apply everywhere)

    Here are several corrections and precisions.

    Tuba parts a most likely written in concert pitch (Nearly all orchestral literature, and band literature for North America) (Band parts in europe might transpose the part ,depending on the editor usually transposition is for Eb or BBb tuba)

    Orchestral tuba players with play all tubas and there is no generally ( in north america the "st
    andard" is to own a CC and a F tuba. (the Eb and BBb tubas are more popular for orchestra in Europe, (that sais every player has his preference)

    The system in which all players read transposed treble clef s the Brass band system, In north america Euphonium and Tuba most often read Bass clef.

    The tenor tuba and Baritone and Euphnoium are all different instruments , they are on the same pitch , but their construction and design id different thus giving evey one unique caracteristics.c

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    These corrections are accepted assuming that you're talking about North America. In the UK brass bands are the greenhouse for most brass players and as such they all learn to read treble clef. In Europe, orchestral Tuba players exclusively read bass clef with no transposition using an E flat insrument unless the part would be easier on a larger instrument.

    By the way the jist of my post was supposed to be that there is a large family of tuba type instruments which are all played more or less in the same way, but virtue of their size, produce different pitches.

    There is a labyrinth of insruments to navigate for any one intending to score for Band and that Orchestral tuba players can 'bluff' a treble cleff part by adding 3 flats and playing bass clef as can string bass players (I've done this in wind band!).
    Cheers
    and thanks for the clarifications.
    FC

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    Yes in fact I was referring to North America.

    I agree with you when you say:
    By the way the jist of my post was supposed to be that there is a large family of tuba type instruments which are all played more or less in the same way, but virtue of their size, produce different pitches.
    I might add, The only way to truly know the habilities of a tuba player in your town with be to go out to the bar/pub with him and talk with to know what he can do.

    Every tuba player out there has his own preference of instrument and might use whatever he feels is more appropriate for the gig.

    Thanks
    PM

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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicalEuph View Post

    I might add, The only way to truly know the habilities of a tuba player in your town with be to go out to the bar/pub with him and talk with to know what he can do.
    You mean how many golf balls they can put in their mouth, or how many pint they can drink before going for a **** or even how the played the cornet when they were young and still play the Carnival of Venice on the Tuba? I was a t college with Andrew Duncan who was (and probably still is) the Tuba player in the Halle Orchestra and this was usually the sort of stuff on the menu!
    FC

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    hmm..since I'm a euphonium player, here's my spiel:

    All Tuba instruments are in concert. The note beforehand has a different meaning than other instruments.

    An instrument is in Eb if the concert note is Eb and to obtain that note, one must play "C"
    An instrument is in Bb if the concert note is Bb and to obtain that note, one must play "C"

    Tubas are different because the fundamental note does not reflect concert, moreorless the open notes.
    Example: The BBb (which literally means Double Bb, or in the heimholz system ,ContraBb) the lowest open note is Contra Bb. Therefore, all open notes (including pedal are based off the Bb overtone series.)

    So, an F Tuba, Eb Tuba, and Bb Tuba can all read the same part. Each instrument will have different fingerings. Contrast, Bb Trumpets and C Trumpets DO NOT read the same parts.

    I hope this explains it.

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    Senior Member JoeGreen's Avatar
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    thank you very much, it does explain a lot.
    I adore art...when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maestrowick View Post
    hmm..since I'm a euphonium player, here's my spiel:

    All Tuba instruments are in concert. The note beforehand has a different meaning than other instruments.

    An instrument is in Eb if the concert note is Eb and to obtain that note, one must play "C"
    An instrument is in Bb if the concert note is Bb and to obtain that note, one must play "C"

    Tubas are different because the fundamental note does not reflect concert, moreorless the open notes.
    Example: The BBb (which literally means Double Bb, or in the heimholz system ,ContraBb) the lowest open note is Contra Bb. Therefore, all open notes (including pedal are based off the Bb overtone series.)

    So, an F Tuba, Eb Tuba, and Bb Tuba can all read the same part. Each instrument will have different fingerings. Contrast, Bb Trumpets and C Trumpets DO NOT read the same parts.

    I hope this explains it.

    This applies for bass clef readers (all orchestral music is witten in bass celf). If the parts are written in treble clef, as in british brass bands, then the reason for the different names becomes obvious.

    Even French horns and bass trumpets read bass clef in 'concert pitch'.

    The naming system for tubas relates to the length of the instrument. F, Bb and Eb instruments read the same parts in bass clef but they dont sound the same in the extreme registers, or even have the same range.

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