Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eb Tuba

The blog is now hooked into the net enough for it to show up in Google searches, and the word that's getting hit is "tuba", whether regular or Eb. 

There are two Eb tubas in the Friday group. They come in a wide variety of styles, were much more popular back in the 40's and 50's, and have a range from the Bb below the bass clef to the Bb sitting at the top of the bass clef. Their range is meant to extend a few more notes in both directions, but they are rarely called for.

The confusing thing about Eb tubas is that their name suggests a transposing instrument, but they are not. They play the same music as the regular, larger Bb tuba, but have learned the differing fingerings needed to get those same notes. Back when I first wanted to arrange some music for them I could not find that information on the net, nor could I find a fingering chart.

Eb tubas are a great fit for a small ensemble, giving a great bass without being too big a sound. They can also be fairly agile, but can't play running lines like a cello or bassoon.

One of the aims of the learning materials is to give everyone a chance at the melody line. Working with Bill last Friday I realized he generally never played legato, even on Christmas carols where he would use legato when singing. Just mentioning that to him flipped the switch and his playing was immediately more melodic. He said the effort he had to make was much more mental than physical.

The other thing I noticed was that if he played the melody line with full tone, I could play the alto line on the flute and it sounded better that when Andy and I tried that with cello. My first guess is that the tuba has stronger upper partials on the octaves than the cello.

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