Need tuba help quick!
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November 7, 2012 at 9:31 am #15049
I am trying to figure out what kind of a tuba I have. Is it Bb, C, or Eb?
I’ve looked up fingering charts on the Internet to try to play a scale on it, and nothing seems to work. I can’t figure out what octave I may be in, either.
I started by using trumpet fingerings to play a C scale (Bb concert), and that worked–but then I realized that would mean I was playing a C tuba, which I’m not sure is probable.
Simply put, I’m at a complete loss here and I’m hoping that someone out there can give me some quick and simple guidance.November 7, 2012 at 10:13 am #15051
If you play trumpet fingerings and you get Bb scale you are playing a Bb tuba. Open lowest fundamental is Bb, a C tuba concert Bb would be first valve and follow the trumpet Concert Ab scale fingerings.November 7, 2012 at 10:43 am #15053
That’s what I thought. But in looking at the tuba fingering charts, I don’t see those fingerings represented. For example, low C I am playing open, but in my fingering chart it says that low C is 1+3.November 7, 2012 at 11:12 am #15057
Trumpet fingerings and Tuba fingerings are basically the same, except that the Bb Tuba is “self-transposing.” So, if you play an open note and get a concert Bb or F (use a piano to compare… or a tuner), then you have a Bb tuba. If you are playing an open note and getting a concert C, then you have a C tuba. The Eb Tuba is unlikely, based on what you’ve said.November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am #15059
So if I play an open note and get a Bb concert, is that called a Bb or a C (on the tuba)?November 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm #15065
Bb tuba plays in concert pitch, and its music sounds as written in bass clef. If you get a Bb when you play open, it’s called a Bb (NOT a C, even though you’d call the same fingering a C on trumpet). BBb tuba is a non-transposing instrument. The low Bb that comes out would be written as the Bb below the 2nd ledger line underneath the bass clef staff. (The exception would be if you are playing music scored for an English-style brass band, where the bass parts are sometimes written in treble clef and transposed the same way trumpet parts are. But for most American-published music–anything you’d play with a concert band or orchestra–the tuba would play/read in concert pitch.)November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm #15076
Thank you, Christine–I think that’s the concept I’ve been struggling with. So even though we call it a Bb tuba, it’s really pitched in C–since it doesn’t transpose, correct?
I have heard this about trombones, too–sometimes they’re referred to as Bb trombones, even though they don’t transpose.
Why is this?November 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm #15077
Because their open fundamental note is Bb, and overtone/partial series is based on Bb (just as a trumpet’s fundamental is Bb concert). As opposed to an Eb tuba whose fundamental is Eb–however, I believe that Eb tuba parts (unless, again, they are scored for English brass band) are also written in concert pitch, and the tuba player would have to know the fingering combinations for the different instrument. Tenor trombone is called a Bb instrument because its fundamental in 1st position is Bb (as opposed to an alto trombone which has Eb as its fundamental… and I’ve never played an alto trombone but I believe it’s scored in concert pitch but using alto clef and has different positions than a tenor trombone… I remember having to read some really old orchestral trombone parts in alto clef… we played the alto trombone parts on tenor trombones, reading concert pitch in alto clef. Correct me if I’m wrong, more legitimate trombone players… I was a euphonium major who doubled. 😀 ).November 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm #15079
Some older orchestral Bb tenor trombone parts were also often written in tenor clef but still in concert pitch. Also, if you have an F attachment on your trombone (or a 4th valve on your euphonium or tuba, which essentially puts the instrument in F when the 4th valve is depressed) there are additional positions/fingerings to learn. Being a low brass player requires all kinds of mental gymnastics. 😉November 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm #15222
All tubas are written in concert pitch, which is cool because you don’t have to know things such as what “concert g” or “concert c#” means. It’s not cool because you have to learn different fingerings for different tubas, but oh well. Bb trumpet = C tuba. Low brass instruments are non-transposing, so none of that “written C sounds the name of the instrument” stuff applies.November 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm #15225
Thanks Christine and tuba_goddess. I have it all straight now.
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