Facts about the Tuba

For my last post of the year about different musical instruments I am looking at the tuba. The tuba is the largest and lowest pitched of the brass family of orchestral instruments.

You can read my previous posts all about the different instruments in the brass family here:

Facts about the Trumpet

Facts about the Trombone

Facts About The French Horn

What is the tuba and how do you play it?

  • The tuba is a member of the brass family of instruments, so called because all of these instruments are made out of, yes you guessed it, brass.
  • It is a very large instrument and is played sitting down with the bell of the tuba pointed upwards.
  • Like the French horn, the tuba is made of metal tubing curled around a number of times. There is a mouthpiece at one end and a very large bell at the other.
  • There are different sizes of tuba available to play, with the largest tubas producing the lowest notes. Each of these tubas has a different length of tubing in the instrument. The smallest, an F tuba has about 12 fat of tubing, with the largest, the Bb tuba having about 18 feet of tubing.
  • To play the tuba, the player blows air through the mouthpiece, pursing their lips as they blow. Air then moves along the tubing, vibrating as it goes to make a sound and this air escapes from the bell at the end (the bell is so called because it is shaped rather like a bell!)
  • The tuba is the lowest instrument because it has very long, and wide tubing compared with other brass instruments.
  • To change the pitch on the tuba, a player can press keys on the instrument opening valves that change the shape, or length of tube air has to pass down before it can escape from the bell. A player can also change the volume, or amount, of air that goes down the tuba, or slightly change the shape of their mouth as they play.
  • Someone who plays tuba is called a tuba player, tubaist or even tubist.

History of the tuba

  • The tuba was invented in the early 1800s, well the modern instrument’s ancestor the basstuba was, by band master Wilhelm Wieprecht and instrument inventor Johann Moritz.
  • The name of the instrument, tuba, comes from the Latin word “tubus” which means, unsurprisingly, tube. There were instruments called tuba before the modern instrument was invented. There was a bronze instrument used in ancient Greece and Rome that was called a tuba, but this was very different to our modern instrument. In fact the word tuba was often used to refer to any instrument that used tubing, like horns, trumpets or bugles. That is why, when the tuba’s ancestor was made by Wieprecht and Moritz it was called a basstuba, as it was lower pitched than any of the previous tubas.

Famous tuba players

  • Famous tuba players around the world include musicians Roger Bobo, Carol Jantsch and Velvet Brown.
  • Did you know that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, also played tuba?

Tuba World Records

  • On 7 December 2018, 835 tuba players played “Silent Night” as part of a performance of 13 carols and hymns at TUBACHRISTMAS in Kansas, USA. This gave them the Guinness World Record for being the largest tuba ensemble.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog post, thank you. I am always looking for ideas for the blog, so would love to hear from you with suggestions for topics you would like me to cover in the future. Also, if you would be interested in supporting me to keep this blog running, buying the books to review here, and supplies to make the DIY instruments, for example, I would be absolutely delighted if you would consider buying me a coffee using the following link: Buy Me A Coffee Thank you!!

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