Tuba, (Latin, trumpet), lowest-pitched of the brass wind instruments, with a wide conical bore, three or four valves, a deep cup-shaped mouthpiece, vertically coiled tubing, and an upward-pointing bell. Patented in 1835 by the Prussian bandmaster Friedrich Wilhelm Wieprecht and the German builder Johann Gottfried Moritz, it was one of several attempts to provide a suitable valved brass bass for the wind band. Its antecedents include the serpent (an S-shaped, cup-mouthpiece wooden bass with finger holes) and the ophicleide (a keyed bass bugle). The tuba has a compass of more than three octaves. It is normally built as a bass in E-flat or F (lowest sounding note: second B-flat or second C below middle C) or as a contrabass in B-flat or C (lowest sounding note: second E-flat or second F below middle C). The B-flat contrabass is sometimes known as the double B-flat tuba. A tuba with circular coiling is a helicon: the sousaphone is a variety of helicon. Wagner tubas are four-valve instruments with a narrower bore, designed for Richard Wagner, who wanted a horn-like tone colour in parts of his Ring tetralogy. The term tuba is also applied to other low brasses, especially saxhorns.
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