Contrabass Tuba

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The contrabass tuba is a brass instrument belonging to the tuba family of instruments, the lowest instrument in an orchestra and of all brass instruments. The contrabass tuba is pitched and often plays a full octave below the most common Eb tuba and is tuned to Bb or C. This instrument is commonly found in opera orchestras and marching brass bands.
History of the Contrabass Tuba
The contrabass tuba has a history dating back to the early 17th century when the first patents for an instrument called The Serpent were first made. The Serpent was an early brass instrument that looked just like a snake with a curved, zigzag design, but it was the first to feature a cupped mouthpiece and a soothing tenor tone. The ophicleide (invented by Jean Hilaire Aste) developed the brass instrument by creating an upright design with depressed keys that would operate as tone holes, just like in modern woodwind instruments. The introduction of valve and piston-valve instruments in the early 18th century then ushered in the moment for inventor Wilhelm Wieprecht to patent his first bass tuba in 1835 and this brought about its entry into classical and brass band music.The Czech brass instrument maker, Václav František Červený, is believed to have created the first contrabass tuba in 1845, using his pioneering technique for creating conical bores from solid brass. German composer Richard Strauss was an early adopter of the contrabass tuba and Richard Wagner also championed the instrument in his 1857 piece “Ring of the Nilbelung”. The contrabass tuba is a less common feature of modern classical orchestras.
Inventor: Václav František Červený

Where to Buy

£2,300 - £5000

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How to Play

A brass instrument played by blowing air into the mouthpiece and pressing the valves to change the pitch of the sound produced.

In Popular Music

The contrabass range of a tuba can be heard in many popular music songs featuring a tuba. 'When The Saints Go Marching in' by Louis Armstrong, 'Quirks' by John Hadden and the 'Jaws' score by John Williams.

Famous Players

Arnold Jacobs, John Fletcher, Øystein Baadsvik

Close Relations

Tuba, Sousaphone
Video Credit: Tuba Tuba
Understanding the Contrabass Tuba
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