Video Tip of the Week: The Tenor Tuba from Mars!

A video installment in my daily series of tips. Please follow me on Twitter for the Orchestration Online Tip of the Day at @OrchestrationOL, or join the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback, resources, and advice. Tips of the Day for this week: Monday, February 04: The Tuba’s Powers of Projection Tuesday, February 05: The …

Tuba – Soloing

Use the tuba’s innate strengths of range and phrasing to craft an ideal orchestral solo. Solo tuba is a bit rare in the standard repertoire. The scarcity is due to several factors, like lack of opportunity for low-register soloing in the plan of a score; unfamiliarity with the tuba’s technique and solo tone; and the …

Tuba, Contrabassoon, and Bass Clarinet – Character and Differences

Orchestrators should know the difference between tuba, contrabassoon, and bass clarinet timbre, and score according to each instrument’s strength and character. This is the kind of tip I love sharing – a comparative look at instruments of similar range and utility, but quite different tone and technique – followed by an excerpt of a favorite …

Tuba – Tone

The tuba’s unique tone should be considered carefully when scoring brass chorales. In older scores, tuba is often placed on the same staff as the bass trombone. But don’t be fooled – these two instruments are nothing like each other. The fundamental wave-form of trombone or trumpet is saw-tooth, whereas tuba is more of a …

Tuba – Breathing

Orchestrators must be mindful of the amount of breath required to sustain a note or phrase on the tuba. Tuba can be a surprisingly agile, even delicate instrument, capable of great subtlety and range of expression. It’s in some ways the opposite of the bass trombone in the same lower registers. Some composers have used …

Tuba – Blending

Despite the hugeness of the tuba, it still has the ability to blend with great subtlety, if properly scored. This relates somewhat to the role of the tuba in most scoring. While it’s a powerful bottom end in a brass chorale, and an overwhelming color in a low brass unison, the average role of the …

Tuba – Powers of Projection

Never underestimate the tuba’s enormous powers of projection. Tuba is one of those instruments that gets overlooked quite often by beginning orchestrators, or added to a score as an afterthought – a little bit of extra weight here or there for the heavy brass. Actually, it’s quite a fascinating instrument, with great potential for interest …