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Topic: Tuba or not Tuba?

  1. #1

    Tuba or not Tuba?

    The insert for JABB describes the tuba as a "Bb Tuba". I've consulted several orchestration books that list a Bb tuba as a "tenor tuba" and one that calls it a "tenor tuba (euphonium)". The JABB tuba's range extends to the C on the treble staff and goes below the generally stated ranges for the Euphonium (2 Eb's or Bb's below middle C). My best guess is that the instrument is a Euphonium and the JABB range includes all the pedal tones. What I am most concerned about is, is this a wide bore instrument, like a tuba, or a narrower trombone-like bore (what some books refer to as a baritone horn)? My other concern is that all the sounds in this patch came from a single instrument (not using a smaller tuba for the upper notes and a larger one for the lower). I want to be sure that what I write can be played live by one performer without having to switch instruments.

    The Garritan Personal Orchestra also includes several tuba patches but does not describe them in the manual. In fact, there is also a "contratuba" which is not listed at all. I am trying to match them with what I see in my orchestration books (Bb, F, BBb, and CC). This is important, because, while I can deduce the comfortable ranges from looking at the keyboard mapping in Kontakt, the books tell me which fingerings are difficult and other performance considerations which I am trying to take into account when orchestrating. Again, this is all geared toward an eventual live performance. I don't mind if the parts are a little difficult at times, if I am trying to get accross an interesting musical idea. But there's a difference between difficult and impossible and I'm trying to respect those limitations.

  2. #2

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    I've used the Tuba in JABB, and I think it's a BBb tuba (i.e., one octave below a euphonium). I used to play euphonium in college concert orchestra (piano is my main instrument), and I had a usable range from pedal tone Bb to high D (Bb1 to D5). While I may have had the largest range among my section mates, a pro could easily add a half-octave to an octave more.

    A BBb tuba, with three valves, has a conventional low note (without pedal tones) of E1 (adding a fourth valve theoretically brings it down to B0, but I'd question intonation on such a low note). Its conventional high note is Bb3. I've heard Dave Bargeron cover a wider range than that in one solo. Nevertheless, I probably wouldn't write passages stretching higher than F3.

    I hope this answers your questions.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Steinway A104030
    Sonar X2 (professional), Finale 2011, JABB 3, GPO

  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    Where the heck is our resident euphonium expert when you need him? Oh professor Jim, Oh Snorlax?

    Now here is the tuba played by our drunken tuba (GPO) player.


  4. #4

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    EJR, don't worry, it's a BBb Tuba. The JABB tuba looks like it's using a conventional 3-valve bass tuba with the extended range, which can be easily attained. If you campare it to the Euphonium in CAMB, which is a 4-valve instrument, they go down to the same note, but the Euphonium has a higher range, while the Tuba in CAMB, which is probably a BBb 4-valve instrument, goes lower than it's JABB counterpart and stops a note short of it.

    Yes, a euphonium is a Tenor tuba, it is a Bb instrument, but it's not the Tuba in JABB. I'm note sure of the origin of BBb, but that usually describes Bass tubas. Calling the Tuba a Bb tuba was probably just a mistake in the book, even though it is still technically right (it is a Bb instrument).
    Anthony Abruscato

    "There are only two types of music: Love Songs and Pirate Music"

    HP Pavillion dv6171cl w/ Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit, 2 GB Ram, 250 GB 5200 RPM HD + an external 300 GB HD. GPO, JABB, CAMB, Sibelius 5.1, Finale 2008a, and a demo copy of FL studio.

  5. #5

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    It's a BBb Tuba.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  6. #6

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    Okay, this is the first I've heard (or read of) a tuba with an extended range. The JABB tubas goes to an octave above Middle C, which is higher than any of my Dan Dean Euphonium instrument/articulations -- and sounds better. The GPO tuba goes about to the middle of the treble staff (not quite as high as in JABB, but still higher than DDE). That's why I was thinking that the JABB tuba must be a Euphonium -- and why I was confused that the range went lower than I've ever seen described for a Euphonium.

    Since I have to use one of the Garritan patches to complete my orchestration (and I don't want to buy GMB just for one instrument) the obvious question is: how much does it sound like a Euphonium?

    When the piece is playe live, the tenor trombone player will double on the Euphonium. I know a lot of them do. I don't think it is very common for a tenor trombone player to double on a BBb tuba, so I want to avoid that, if possible.

    Comparing the two Kontakt instruments, the Garritan tubas sound sweater, less growely and less muddy -- more like a low French Horn -- which is what I want. This is how I remember Euphoniums sounding when I have heard them live. But, I am not an expert. My memory could be playing tricks on me. If the part is going to sound terrible on a Euphonium, I'd rather know about it now. Then I can change my brass section from a tenor bone doubling on Euphonium + Bass Trombone, to Tenor Trombone + Bass Trombone doubling on tuba. But my preference is for the tenor tbone player to double on the Euphonium.

  7. #7

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    Most people think of Tubas as the double bass variety even though it is a whole family of instruments (wide bore conical). In the manual it is called a Bb Tuba to differentiate it from a C (CC), F, or Eb Tuba.

    It would be unusual to call a Euphonium a Bb Tuba even though it technically is a Tuba. Calling it a Bb Bass would not be unusual though. The BBb Bass/Tuba is pronounced Double Bb Bass/Tuba being one octave below the Bb Bass/Euphonium.

    So if you think of them as Basses, the nomenclature would go as follows (in descending order).

    Bb Bass/Euphonium
    F Bass/Tuba
    Eb Bass/Tuba
    CC Bass/Tuba
    BBb Bass/Tuba

  8. #8

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr View Post
    Okay, this is the first I've heard (or read of) a tuba with an extended range.
    In professional orchestras, Tubas will have more than 3 valves in order to extend range and improve intonation.

    Comparing the two Kontakt instruments, the Garritan tubas sound sweater, less growely and less muddy -- more like a low French Horn -- which is what I want. This is how I remember Euphoniums sounding when I have heard them live.
    They may be F Tubas which are more agile and melodic than the bigger CC abd BBb Tubas.

  9. #9

    Lightbulb Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    Shall we tell him about "5/4", "6/4" and "7/4" tubas?
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  10. #10

    Re: Tuba or not Tuba?

    Quote Originally Posted by GDG View Post
    Shall we tell him about "5/4", "6/4" and "7/4" tubas?
    Oh go ahead. And be sure to include leviathans such as EEb and BBBb Tubas of which a few where made many years ago.

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