from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
english , italian , french tuba
Two F tubas.jpg
Historic (around 1900) and modern (2004) F tuba
classification Aerophone
brass instrument
range Tuba range.svg
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / sound sample parameters missing Related instruments

Ophicleide , baritone horn , tenor horn , euphonium

List of tuba players

The tuba ( Latin for "pipe, tube"; plural tubes or tubas ) is the lowest of all common brass instruments . It has an upward-pointing bell, a beaker mouthpiece, three to six valves and, due to its wide length and the correspondingly strongly conical tube, generally made of brass, belongs to the family of the bow horns .


"Tuba" was the name for a brass or bronze wind instrument in the Roman Empire . It had the shape of a straight, elongated tube with a narrow bell, similar to a fanfare , and probably corresponded to the Greek salpinx .

Moritz Wieprecht bass tuba in F, 1835

Today, a tuba is the bass instrument of the bow-horn family . The first tubes were developed in Berlin around 1835 shortly after the invention of valve technology . Wilhelm Wieprecht and Carl Wilhelm Moritz received a patent this year for a bass tuba in F with five valves. The double bass tuba in Bb and C was developed by Václav František Červený in 1845 and patented in 1846.

Thanks to its more advantageous sound and more precise intonation , this instrument soon replaced its forerunners in orchestras, the serpent or bass horn and the ophicleide .

The bass and double bass tuba are used equally in the orchestra. In the orchestra, the tuba is usually single, more rarely double. Whether a part is played with the bass or double bass tuba is usually decided by the tuba player himself based on factors such as the required pitch, volume or timbre, the wishes of the conductor, the room acoustics and the like. However, some composers, such as Richard Wagner, dictate the design. An orchestral tubist in German-speaking countries has to master both designs with virtuosity. In the Scandinavian countries, England, France and large parts of America as well as Australia, the double bass tuba in C is mainly used. The alternative to the bass tuba in F in these countries is an Eb tuba.

In Concert both folk and symphonic embossing ( Concert Band ) is usually at least two tubes are filled. If they don't play in unison, they are usually in the octave of each other.

In jazz , the tuba played the bass role until around 1925, before it was replaced by the double bass . After the Second World War it celebrated a comeback in the amateur Dixieland .

Technology and moods

Double bass tuba in B

The main feature of the tuba is the strong expansion of the tube (wide scale ) in a ratio of up to 1:20 from the mouthpiece to the bell of the instrument.

When seated, the tuba rests on the thighs of the wind player, for smaller tuba players with particularly large instruments also on the chair itself. A special stand, shoulder strap or tuba belt ( Tubabelt ) is required to play while standing . The funnel usually points upwards and usually slightly to the left in the version with rotary valves or to the right in the version with Périnet valves (as seen from the player).

The fingers of the right hand are on the first three to five valves . The instrument is supported with the left hand and, depending on the construction, up to three additional valves are pressed for better intonation .

The tuba is played with a kettle mouthpiece.

The natural tones of the Bb tuba are:

B 2 - B 1 - F - B - d - f - (as) - b - c 1 - d 1 - (e 1 ) - f 1 etc.

Eb tuba :

Es 1 - Es - B - es - g - b - (des 1 ) - es 1 - f 1 - g 1 - (a 1 ) - b 1 etc.

F tuba :

F 1 - F - c - f - a - c 1 - (es 1 ) - f 1 - g 1 - a 1 - (h 1 ) - c 2 etc.

The tones mentioned in brackets can only be used to a limited extent, as they differ significantly from the corresponding tones that are equally tuned .

The fundamental tone or the lowest natural tone is also known as the "pedal tone". This can only be voiced on the tuba because it has a wide length . In practice, the player needs a lot of air and his breathing support to stimulate the standing wave of the fundamental in the tuba.

The tuba has a usable range of more than four octaves .

The notation is not uniform in international comparison: In Germany, Italy and England, notation is sounding (i.e. not transposing) in the bass clef. In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, the bass clef is transposed (bass tuba in F sounds a fifth lower than notated). In Switzerland, the treble clef is transposed (bass tuba in F sounds an octave plus fifth lower than notated).


"Normal" tuba and marching tuba
Tuba in stretched form, Markneukirchen
  • Bass tuba in Eb or F: It is the most common construction of the tuba, has a tube length of about 398 cm and about the same position as the double bass and the bassoon .
  • Double bass tuba in B or C: Largest and deepest of the common tubes with a tube length of about 541 cm. A very wide-bored form of the double bass tuba in Bb is the so-called imperial bass . This tuba in Bb has a base tube length of 580 cm, including all valve bends, the vibrating air column is extended to 966 cm (without quart valve).
  • Double tuba in B / F or C / F: combination of bass and double bass tuba (with tuning valve, as an additional switch valve).
  • Sub -double bass tuba in Bb: This instrument sounds an octave lower than the Bb double bass tuba. The deepest natural tone is the B 3 . This means that the lowest notes of the instrument already reach into the sub - sub-octave below the hearing limit . Sub-contrabass tubes are rarely built as individual orders. The basic pipe length is 1160 cm, with all valve bends an enormous 1932 cm (without quart valve).
  • Bombardon today generally refers to a deep, powerful bass tuba. The Viennese instrument maker Joh. Riedl named his twelve-key ophicleide in 1820 . By installing valves, he later circumvented Carl Wilhelm Moritz's patent and thus created a narrow, fully conical bass instrument. Especially in the popular and literary area, this name has been consolidated to this day.
  • Helicon , mostly tuned in Eb: Lying around the upper body, "slung" around the neck, played bass or double bass tuba with an approximately circularly wound tube, which is used in brass bands and earlier in church trombone choirs and was probably first built in Russia in 1845. Also "equestrian instrument" of the military, great sonorous sound.
  • Sousaphone : Modification of the helicopter with a somewhat larger and forward curved bell; mostly used as a two-part instrument (machine + body / funnel). The original form of the Sousaphone, with the funnel pointing upwards, wassuggestedby John Philip Sousa for the brass and big bands of the American military, because Sousa wanted to distribute the bass better.
  • A tuba used from around 1908 is named as a knapsack tuba, the tight winding of which resulted in a small instrument that was designed for military musicians . The compact design ensured that the Austro-Hungarian regimental musicians could take their bass instruments with them into the field or into maneuvers, in the so-called infantry knapsacks .
  • As Marschtuba or Marching tuba a tuba is referred to, having the usual handle, but a customized mouth tube has in order to play on the right shoulder lying, wherein the bell is aligned to the front. This design is preferred in military music or marching bands .


  • An elongated tuba without valves can be found in the Markneukirchen Musical Instrument Museum . The oversized bell was made as a masterpiece by a Markneukirchen master in 1913. Intended as a showpiece, the playable instrument was carried on pageants.

Instrumentation in orchestral formations

Tubist with the New York Philharmonic (1917)

Compositions for tuba (selection)

player , sculpture by Arne Ranslet in Hamburg-Harburg , 1982

World tuba day

In 1979, the American musician called Joel Day the International Tuba Day off, which is celebrated since 1982 every year on the first Friday in May. On World Tuba Day there are concerts, lectures and exhibitions all about the instrument. According to Joel Day, the tuba player does not find the level of respect and recognition he deserves. The tuba is often dismissed as unimportant and viewed as an "imposing" appendage.

See also


  • R. Winston Morris , Edward R. Goldstein: The Tuba Source Book. Indiana University Press, Bloomington / IN 1996. ISBN 0-253-32889-6 .
  • Hans Kunitz: The instrumentation 9. - The tuba . Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden 1994. ISBN 3-7651-1020-5 .
  • Wieland Ziegenrücker: General music theory with questions and tasks for self-control. German Publishing House for Music, Leipzig 1977; Paperback edition: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, and Musikverlag B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1979, ISBN 3-442-33003-3 , p. 176.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Tuba . In: duden.de . Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  2. ^ The Art of Tuba and Euphonium Playing. Alfred Music Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4574-0438-2 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  3. [1] www.schneideruwe.de Tubahistorien-Seite
  4. Martin Kunzler : Jazz Lexicon. Volume 2: M – Z (= rororo-Sachbuch. Vol. 16513). 2nd Edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-499-16513-9 .
  5. Winfried Pape: Instrument manual for string, plucked, wind and percussion instruments in tabular form . TB 264, Theoretica, Volume 11. 2nd edition. Musikverlag Hans Gerig, Cologne 1976 (1st edition 1971), ISBN 3-87252-055-5 , p. 148.
  6. ^ Joel Day: The History of International Tuba Day. 1996, accessed September 18, 2013 .

Web links

Commons : Tuba  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Tuba  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations